Pitching velocity secrets are in a lot higher demand than secrets to preventing injury. The deal is they should both go hand and hand. Who wants to increase velocity at a higher risk of injury? This is the problem with most pitching velocity tips is that they come with a price. I developed 3X Pitching with both pitching velocity and injury prevention as top priorities.
Let's face it, throwing the ball at your top velocity is risky but so is returning punts in the NFL. If we are going to enhance our ability while promoting a long and healthy career, we must understand how our bodies work and how to prevent injury. The American Sports Medicine Institute has already informed the public that pitching injuries spawn from three main factors; Overuse, Poor Physical Fitness and Poor Mechanics. To take this information further, I will list here the top 10 pitching secrets to prevent injury in order from the most significant to the least but still significant.
Pitching injury prevention secrets
- More Hip to Shoulder Separation - This is not only a major pitching velocity secret but it is also a major injury prevention secret. You know it is a good tip when it will increase both velocity and prevent injury. It will prevent injury because it allows the arm to stay relaxed while the body builds the power instead of the arm working to build the power. Optimal hip to shoulder separation will put the throwing arm behind the ball through release. If the pitcher has poor hip to shoulder separation then his arm will get out front early, preventing proper pronation. This is also critical for good deceleration which promotes arm health.
- Increase Your Stride Distance and Power - I would bet that pitchers who have longer strides, have less arm issues than pitchers with shorter strides, but I have no research to back this up. I am making this claim strictly from my experience playing, coaching and analyzing this game through my career. The theory is that a short stride will prevent the pitcher from building more stride power which will force the arm to generate most of the velocity. This will then lead to more wear and tear on the arm and then eventually an injury. Increasing your stride distance is the first step towards injury prevention. The next step is increasing your stride power.
- Do Not Swing Your Arm - The arm should never swing out of the glove, especially behind the back or way above the shoulder before the shoulders fire towards the target. This is what leads to the infamous inverted W or in laymen's terms the M. It puts the arm in what is called the "Red Zone," this is the zone where the shoulder and elbow are most vulnerable because there is more torque being applied to the joints based on the positioning. To prevent over abusing the arm, we must train it to follow the body and not lead the way. The revolutionary approach to pitching velocity called 3X Pitching has proven that when the arm starts the delivery, the body takes a back seat which reduces velocity and leads to injury. This swinging of the arm is a sign that the arm is taking control and in return, most of the stress.
- Do Not Pull Down to Release - It feels strong when your arm is firing towards release and you start pulling down on your forearm to force your arm through its final path to the target. This pulling down of the forearm makes it feel like the ball is screaming out of your fingers tips. This may increase velocity but it comes with a big price. The price is the effects of overworking the forearm muscles. These are small muscles that when they fatigue, the body losses the fine motor skills of the hand which will effect your pitch grips. Most important, it will put more wear and tear in your elbow. This pulling down of the arm is not a component of hard throwers. It is what pitchers do when they are struggling with transferring stride power into core torque and then the velocity of the ball. Instead of pulling down to release, work on more hip to shoulder separation and good forearm pronation.
- Build Joint Integrity Weekly - Just like eating, taking a shower or brushing your teeth, if you want to pitch at your top velocity through a long career then you must perform rotator cuff exercises to strengthen your cuff two times per week. You would be surprised the amount of pitchers who never do this. Post rotator cuff surgery, if I miss a few weeks of joint integrity training while in-season, my shoulder stability begins to fail. It is amazing how quickly I can loss this stability and strength. This loss of stability overtime will definitely lead to injury. For a complete rotator cuff program check out the 3X Pitching Velocity program.
- Develop More Core and Leg Strength - If you have weak legs and core then where will your body get its power? The shoulders and arms. I have worked with pitchers who are so weak in their core and legs that when they try to increase their stride distance, their arms start flapping like a bird trying to take flight. If you look at some of the biggest legs of pitchers in Major League Baseball you will find a ton of healthy, hard throwing pitchers. Nolan Ryan is probably the best example of this in my lifetime. He stayed in the upper 90's even into his 40's. He has tree trunks for legs and he never had a serious pitching injury.
- Quality Throws over Quantity - If you want to "strengthen your arm" do it with your strength and conditioning program, like in the 3X pitching Velocity program. Do not do it with your throwing program. Your throwing program should be used to improve your mechanics with drills and a low volume of throws, like in the 3X Pitching Velocity Program. Do not use your throwing program as your strength and conditioning program, this will only lead to overuse and abuse of your shoulder and elbow. This is why I do not support extreme long tossing.
- Avoid Machine Lifting - Machine weight training is terrible for athletes. It promotes pattern overload and will make a pitcher more vulnerable to injury. This is the case because when using machines for lifting weights, like with a press movement, the machines forces the pitcher to take the same path of movement every single rep. When using free weights, the pattern of movement is always different. There is a mechanism in the body to prevent the overload of one muscle or muscle group which will prevent over fatigue of a single muscle or muscle group. By changing the path of movement, the body uses different muscles or muscle groups to share in the work load. When a muscle is fatigued and the reps continue, other muscles take over to over compensate for the malfunction. In the shoulder, this will change the efficiency of the movement and force the shoulder to rotate off axis. This has been proven to lead to serious joint injury.
- Eat like a Pro - If you do not give your body the building blocks to a healthy pitcher, in its diet, then how is it going to maintain itself as a healthy pitcher? This is the most neglected secret of injury prevention. Most athletes and especially pitchers believe they can eat whatever they want whenever they want. This is complete ignorance. If you can take the time to learn the basics of a healthy diet and how to feed your body what it needs then you are at least giving your body the chance to stay healthy.
- 10 Hours of Quality Sleep Daily - If you are not sleeping at least 10 hours when training or pitching then you are not giving your body what it needs to repair itself. If you can follow secrets 1-9 then this last pitching injury prevention secret will work wonders for your career. A quality nights sleep can mean the difference between a great days performance and a good days performance. Losing sleep overtime prevents the body from fully recovering and rebuilding which eventually leads to injury.