Every sport has an off-season, but not every athlete has a season off. That’s because we come hard wired to strive for our very best, to never be content with where we are, and to sacrifice a little rest and relaxation for the rush of endorphins that come after a grueling workout. Not to downplay the importance of recovering after your season comes to a close, yes, that is fully needed, but championship athletes take their off season training just as seriously as the actual season.
So with spring and summer baseball and softball in the books, many athletes will be looking to sharpen their skills in the off-season. A primary focus of baseball and softball student athletes is arm strength and throwing velocity. Whether you’re a starting pitcher, outfielder, infielder, or catcher, you have to be able to bring the heat when you when step on the diamond. Along with the basics of staying in shape, eating right, and keeping your priorities straight, proper strengthening of all the muscles involved in throwing is paramount.
The muscles involved in throwing a baseball can be broken down into two major groups: accelerator and decelerator muscles. Here’s a look at both:
Accelerator muscles: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Deltoid, Forearm, Abdominals, Obliques, Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Minimis, Quadriceps, gastrocnemius, just to name a few.
Decelerator Muscles: Teres Minor, Infraspinatus, Supraspinatus, Subscapularis
Almost every major muscle group contributes to the accelerating motion of throwing, not only that, but every weight room in America has equipment to strengthen and improve every one of those muscle groups, and for good reason.
If you want to be successful in athletics and maintain quality of life as you age, you take care of your accelerator muscles. Furthermore, the gross musculature that is used to accelerate the ball as you throw far outweighs those responsible for decelerating the throwing motion. So definitely, work to strengthen all of those major muscles.
Now look at the list of decelerator muscles. Not only is the list short and sweet, many athletes, even pitchers and quarterbacks, would be hard pressed to list and identify these four muscles that are so crucial to a ball player’s success, ability, and availability to play. So with the accelerator muscles always stealing the lime-light, we’re going to focus on strengthening those 4 decelerator muscles, more commonly known as the rotator cuff.
TIP: At Intermountain Acceleration, we use a specially designed throwing cord. The key is the biomechanically correct way it attaches to back of bicep and forearm to provide resistance, while allowing a natural throwing motion which improves arm strength and throwing velocity. Proper resistance is given through the forward throwing sequence and, just as important, through the return sequence, strengthening the decelerator muscles. Strong decelerator muscles will help prevent throwing related injuries. In short, training with our throwing cords, equally strengthens critical throwing muscles, reinforces critical throwing mechanics, balances the imbalance that traditional weight training creates, reduces the risk of throwing related injuries, and ultimately creates a whip like action in your throwing motion.
Active protection – Why strengthen the rotator cuff? First, strong decelerator muscles will help prevent throwing related injuries. In fact, the majority of baseball injuries occur during the deceleration phase of a throw. After the ball is released, arm deceleration forces are estimated to be twice that of acceleration forces while acting over a period of time that is twice as long. Conditioning of the decelerator muscles should help reduce the likelihood of injuries to these muscles. • HSSI