Developing a Routine Part 1.
One of the key factors in minimizing risk of injury and optimizing performance is your preparation. Stay ready, so you don't have to get ready, as they say. Many successful or high level athletes take pride in the way they treat their preparation. Preparation can split up into different aspects: mental, on-field/off-field, sleep, nutrition, physical preparation, etc. When you have a structured routine it gives you more purpose to perfect your craft
For baseball players, their routine can be broken up into three main parts: 1) pre-throwing, 2) throwing, and 3) post-throwing routine. Locking all three parts is crucial to giving yourself the best fighting shot at preventing an arm injury, along with strengthening the muscles involved in the throwing motion. Many times you’ll hear coaches say, “you have to get your scaps stronger.” Well no, you need to get the muscles that control the scap stronger because they move it along the ribcage. Another hot term is “rotator cuff strength”; they function as the stabilizers of the shoulder joint, plus being the prime movers of shoulder external & internal rotation. Creating a solid routine will give you more opportunities to continue develop
The first part of developing a routine is the “pre-throwing routine”. The pre-throwing routine consists of self-myofascial release, a dynamic warm-up, and pre-throwing band work. Self-myofascial release (SMR) is just the technical term for tissue quality work aka foam rolling, lax ball, stick rolling, anything self-massage. An analogy I like to use for SMR is you are “unclogging the drain”. Over time our muscles can develop knots or become restricted because of tighter tissue bonds which can then limit our ranges of motion or discomfort/pain leading to decreased movement quality.
The second aspect of a pre-throwing routine that takes place after our tissue quality work is a full dynamic warm-up. One of the worst things that a young athlete can do, and most of them do it, is THROWING TO WARM UP vs WARMING UP TO THROW. At basic levels a warm up functions to Increase heart rate, body temperature, improve joint mobility/stability, excite the nervous system, and work on movement patterning. Aroldis Chapman is probably the best example for warming up to throw. By the time he gets on the mound in the game he is sweating BULLETS because needs to peak and be at his best for pitch #1 against his first batter. A full dynamic warm up should prioritize bang-for-your-buck exercises that kill many birds with one stone, be 5-15 minutes, be non-fatiguing, and have a solid flow from the ground up to dynamic movements
Another thing too many young & college athletes don't do is take the warm-up seriously. The warm-up is a time for you to not only prepare physically with all the points mentioned above, but mentally as well. Just because it’s a county tournament game vs non-conference regular season game doesn’t mean you take your warm-ups less seriously. What exercises should you do? You should choose 6-10 exercises that all kill 2-4 birds with 1 stone, ones that increase your ranges of motion in joints like the shoulder, hips, and thoracic spine (mid-back/rib cage), stabilize said joints as well, and activates the muscles you use when you throw: core, back and shoulder muscles, and your legs! Going back to exciting the nervous system since baseball is a very explosive sport, so we would need to do some jumping, sprinting, or throwing med-balls at the end of the warm up. This will help our nervous system fire signals to our muscles faster and helps us be more explosive. Lastly, with warm-ups we are trying to get our bodies moving efficiently to be at our best come time to compete.
The final part of a pre-throwing routine is your band-work. If you have a set of J-Bands your in a good position. Your band work pre-live outing and pre-throwing (practice day or off-season) should differ in the volume. On a day that you’re starting on the mound or when you’re in the bullpen you should cut your reps in half for your band work. The goal of pre-throwing band work is to get the cocking phase muscles (decelerators) and your acceleration phase muscles (accelerators) activated, plus the muscles that control and stabilize the scap. More importantly than actually doing the band-work is the purpose behind each rep and emphasis on technique.
Hopefully this brings some light to aspect of your baseball routine, so that you can begin to take your game to the next level!