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  #1  
Old 03-18-2009, 09:54 PM
mhendo mhendo is online now
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Strength exercises for improving throwing arm (softball/baseball).

I play softball 2-3 days a week, and love it. I have a pretty decent infield arm, but on the long throws from the outfield i'd like a bit more power. I've also recently started going to the gym again, in an effort to gain some muscle and some strength.

It seems reasonably clear to me that shoulder strength is one important factor in throwing, and when i work out my shoulder area i try to work hard on the front, middle and rear deltoids, as well as the trapezius. What i'm wondering if anyone knows of any specific exercises, maybe from their own baseball/softball experience, that are recommended for improving a throwing arm.
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  #2  
Old 03-18-2009, 11:33 PM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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A significant amount of your throwing power comes from your hips and waist, so focusing on strength in those areas can only help. As always, deadlifts are your friend.
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  #3  
Old 03-18-2009, 11:34 PM
cormac262 cormac262 is offline
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No expert, or even a softball/baseball player (but I work out a lot). It would seem to me that working your core/midsection would be necessary. Just as in hitting, you get real power from your hips twisting first, then transferring that twist up to your upper body (think of a pitcher's delivery - the front leg steps first, and everything else follows).

I'm not sure if you're familiar with the exercise called "chops" (from mimicking the motion of chopping wood - although you don't always chop "down"). But I would think this might help in strengthening your "twist". I'd try to describe it, but it's probably easiest to ask one of the gym staff where you workout.

I'd be a little leery of gym equipment for strength exercises for your shoulder/arm. Though you can build "strength" for the particular movement the machine/exercise provides, it may be too specific for that motion. I think the best exercise for throwing would be to actually throw. Maybe throwing heavier (but not too heavy) balls would help with your distance.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 03-19-2009, 12:16 AM
mhendo mhendo is online now
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I think you're both right about the hips and waist stuff, and i'm sure there's also stuff i could do to improve my technique (as opposed to my strength) that would improve my throwing. I do, for example, sometimes have a tendency to throw lazily, flicking with just my shoulder and arm rather than turning side on and getting my whole body behind the throw.

But even when i throw well, i can feel that my shoulder could use some more strength in order to throw harder.

Anyway, maybe i'll work on some core weight exercises, and try to improve my technique. Thanks.
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  #5  
Old 03-19-2009, 08:42 AM
MichaelQReilly MichaelQReilly is offline
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Take this for what it's worth. One of my best friends pitched in the minor leagues. According to him, lifting doesn't really help you throw harder or farther. He said the best way to build arm strength/velocity was to do long toss.
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  #6  
Old 03-19-2009, 09:48 AM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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Sorry but a good arm is something you are born with. Better form and a weight transfer are helps, but some people can throw well and some can't.
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  #7  
Old 03-19-2009, 12:33 PM
mhendo mhendo is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelQReilly View Post
Take this for what it's worth. One of my best friends pitched in the minor leagues. According to him, lifting doesn't really help you throw harder or farther. He said the best way to build arm strength/velocity was to do long toss.
I'm sure there's a lot to that. Practicing throwing itself is, i'm sure, a good way to build up throwing strength.
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Originally Posted by gonzomax View Post
Sorry but a good arm is something you are born with. Better form and a weight transfer are helps, but some people can throw well and some can't.
Unless you have some sort of study to show that it's impossible to increase throwing range/strength through training, i'm afraid i'm going to have to file that in the "I don't think so" folder.

I realize that i'm never going to have an arm like Jeff Francoeur, but it's possible to improve at just about any physical activity through practice and training. And it's not that i can't throw well; of the people i play softball with, i easily hold my own in throwing strength and accuracy with all but two or three very strong (and much younger) players. I'd just like to be a bit stronger is all.
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  #8  
Old 03-19-2009, 12:50 PM
running coach running coach is online now
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As you age, you lose elasticity of the muscles. That's where your throwing comes from along with most athletic abilities. That's what made Nolan Ryan's longevity so remarkable, he didn't lose "the snap" like most his age do. Pitchers lose a few mph on the fastball and the curveball hangs. The muscles are just as strong just not as elastic.
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  #9  
Old 03-19-2009, 02:43 PM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhendo View Post
I'm sure there's a lot to that. Practicing throwing itself is, i'm sure, a good way to build up throwing strength.Unless you have some sort of study to show that it's impossible to increase throwing range/strength through training, i'm afraid i'm going to have to file that in the "I don't think so" folder.

I realize that i'm never going to have an arm like Jeff Francoeur, but it's possible to improve at just about any physical activity through practice and training. And it's not that i can't throw well; of the people i play softball with, i easily hold my own in throwing strength and accuracy with all but two or three very strong (and much younger) players. I'd just like to be a bit stronger is all.
It is like teaching running speed. You can learn technique, arm swing ,starting blocks etc. But you suffer from your natural limitations.
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  #10  
Old 03-19-2009, 03:16 PM
mhendo mhendo is online now
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Originally Posted by gonzomax View Post
It is like teaching running speed. You can learn technique, arm swing ,starting blocks etc. But you suffer from your natural limitations.
Well, isn't that the point?

I'm well aware that everyone has natural limitations. But your argument is only valid if my current throwing performance is already at the limit of my natural ability. Given that i've never done any training specific to throwing, and that i've never had professional baseball coaching, and that i'm currently not as fit and strong as i hope to become, i think there's a pretty good chance that i'm not throwing at my peak possible level of performance.

Last edited by mhendo; 03-19-2009 at 03:17 PM..
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  #11  
Old 03-20-2009, 12:16 AM
Incensed Incensed is offline
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As others have said, throwing is the best exercise for throwing. Long toss, long toss, long toss. The core exercises (esp. 'chopping') mentioned upthread would be a good place to begin adding power.

I think you're too focused on shoulder strength; It's important, but the bulk of the stress placed on the shoulder in a proper throwing motion comes after the ball is released. Strengthen it certainly, but don't expect to gain much power there.

As to exercises for it, I would focus on proper stretching before and after throwing, and probably the single best exercise (to ward off injury, rather than add power) would be lying on your side (throwing arm down), keep your elbow at your side, bent to 90 degrees from your torso. Palm upward, grasp a light dumbell (5-10lb) and raise it to your opposite hip to exhaustion. Sort of an arm wrestling motion with your elbow fixed to your hip. Flip over (throwing arm up) and repeat with the same arm in the opposite direction (raising the dumbell). You'll feel it in the top of your shoulder in short order.

A tip-Many weekenders I see throw with a dead lead arm, which is to say, their off hand just sort of flops out front and their core isn't properly coordinated. They throw all arm.

The throwing motion is too complicated to express here, but the position you are looking for (for a standard overhand to 3/4 delivery) is this-When the lead foot hits the ground, your elbows (both of them) should both be at shoulder height and on the same plane, as if you had a rod running elbow-shoulder-shoulder-elbow. From there, you drive the lead elbow down past your lead hip as you snap your hips open and your throwing arm comes through.

A good drill for this is to constantly keep a another ball (perhaps a tennis ball or baseball) in your glove hand while playing catch. Keep the ball in the palm of your glove, not the webbing, so that you must constantly think of that hand, and consequently what that arm is doing. Feel free to pause when your lead foot comes down to check your elbow positions from time to time.

You'll look like a goon warming up, but you should pick up a couple MPH and some accuracy in a matter of weeks/months.

Last edited by Incensed; 03-20-2009 at 12:17 AM..
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  #12  
Old 03-20-2009, 11:57 AM
mhendo mhendo is online now
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Lots of good advice there, Incensed. Thanks. I'll get off to the field and throw some balls.
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  #13  
Old 03-20-2009, 12:01 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Suggestion: throw something heavier. Not like 40 pounds heavier- you'll just be setting yourself up for a shoulder injury- but heavier than the ball. Maybe a big round rock, if you can find one.
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  #14  
Old 03-20-2009, 01:09 PM
Incensed Incensed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Suggestion: throw something heavier...
I'd be careful of weighted balls; most throwing arm injuries are due to poor mechanics and fatigue (or poor mechanics due to fatigue) and higher weights exacerbate those issues.

There are probably gains to be made using a somewhat heavier ball, but someone with questionable mechanics and no supervision/instruction is likely to injure themselves in short order.

Better to focus on learning proper, repeatable mechanics and unleashing the potential in the core/hips.
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  #15  
Old 06-01-2010, 01:30 AM
ddknoll ddknoll is offline
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As a college baseball player, I can confirm that long toss is one of the best exercises for arm strength.

Here is a general warmup and arm strength regiment:

Prethrowing:
1. Jog from the dugout to the center field fence and back
2. Stretch your hips, legs, and arm

Throwing:
Get a partner to play catch with.

1. Start from 10 feet and hold your arm out in front where you release the ball to throw... flip the ball to your partner using ONLY your wrist.
10 repititions

2. From 20 feet, face your partner directly (both feet pointing at him). And without moving your feet, throw the ball. Try to use as much of your core as possible.
10 reps

3. Starting at 20 feet, begin throwing regularly. Take a step back every throw time until you are around 50 feet.

Long Toss
4. Every Throw do a crow hop! If you do not know what this is here is a video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-hkC4Xaxg8. This guy is perfectly executing a crow hop. All throws from the outfield should be made off a crow hop.
Start at around 50 feet and DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THROWING ON A LINE. Worry about throwing the ball so that it doesn't hit the ground, even if that means throwing it way up in the air. Back up a couple throws each time until you are throwing as far as possible. However, do not throw so far that it hurts. Use your legs with the crow hop to get some extra distance.

5. Come back in to 50 foot and now try to throw the ball on a line. Snap it hard with your wrist to give the ball backspin. Backspin makes the ball fly straighter (some baseball pitchers fastballs can actually rise because there is enough backspin). Move back a couple of steps every throw until you have trouble making the throw in the air.


Tips:
- Do not throw long toss every day until your arm is in very good shape. Start with every other day.
- Never throw if your arm hurts. It only makes things worse.
- I'm a pitcher in college and I have had excellent coaches tell me that after pitching a game, your core and legs should be more sore than your arm. Find a way to use your core and legs as much as possible.
- Crow hop on all throws from the outfield.

Good Luck!
-
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  #16  
Old 06-01-2010, 04:41 AM
The Great Philosopher The Great Philosopher is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzomax View Post
Sorry but a good arm is something you are born with. Better form and a weight transfer are helps, but some people can throw well and some can't.
Not true. Studies show resistance training can produce significant improvement in throwing velocities in baseball players - between 2 and 4.1% increases.

This study here concludes, "Significant correlations have been shown between wrist and elbow extensor and flexors, shoulder abduction/adduction, and shoulder internal rotation strength and throwing speed. Several studies have shown increases (2.0-4.1%) in throwing velocities in both baseball and European handball players following traditional and ballistic resistance training."

I'm not certain which specific exercises to target for baseball, but I'd suggest doing two types of resistance training: regular strength training and plyometrics, which are exercises that improve your power. This website has an exhaustive list of good exercises to do for each muscle: since a baseball pitch is a total-body movement, I'd suggest a total-body training program, including chest, upper back, shoulders, arms, core and legs. Some good example exercises, which you can look up on that site to find out how to do them:

Chest: Bench press, weighted press ups and flies.
Back: Bent over row, pull ups, pull downs
Shoulder: Shoulder press
Arms: Bicep curls and tricep extensions
Legs and core: Squats, regular deadlifts, straight-leg deadlifts

The best way to train for strength is to do 3-6 reps, for about 4 sets, with a 3-5 minute break between sets.

Plyometric exercises are listed as "power" or "ballistic" exercises in the first link I posted. They involve using a lighter weight, but pushing each rep as hard and fast as you can, trying to generate 'explosive' force. They've been proven to increase power output of the muscles and increase in a baseball pitch (you need to do these as well as strength training, because if you just do strength training alone it can slightly decrease the power output as you get stronger). Leave 2-3 minutes between each set. Some examples of power exercises for baseball pitchers might be:

Clap press ups
Medicine ball toss and explosive start toss
Jump squat
Clean and jerk

Last edited by The Great Philosopher; 06-01-2010 at 04:43 AM..
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  #17  
Old 06-01-2010, 04:47 AM
The Great Philosopher The Great Philosopher is offline
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You can also just do any of those regular strength exercises as "ballistic" exercises, just by lightening the weight and trying to use a more powerful, 'explosive' exertion on each rep.
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  #18  
Old 06-01-2010, 05:53 AM
The Great Philosopher The Great Philosopher is offline
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And if you really want to be a triple OG you can end up doing crazy-ass ballistic exercises like triple-claps and muscle ups. They make them look so easy...
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  #19  
Old 06-01-2010, 06:05 AM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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Another vote for hip. One thing that wasn't mention was timing. When timed correctly, the hip snap leads all the other body parts like the cracking of a whip.

If I threw with only my arm/shoulder/legs, I could barely throw 90 feet. If I used my hips, I can throw from centerfield to home plate.

Oh, btw: if you read books by power pitchers like Nolan Ryan, their power is in their legs. That should be where you would focus your weight lifting efforts. Core/waist exercises wouldn't hurt either, it can also give you more power batting.

Last edited by Superhal; 06-01-2010 at 06:06 AM..
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