I’m new to coaching kids pitch (travel level 9U) and want to make sure my kids approach their warmups appropriately.
How should I structure the warmup?
How far in advance of getting on the mound?
What about positional warmups? (I currently have them go through 20 throws in progressions- just arm/wrist flick (5), power position feet forward (5) and then 10 2-step throws.
Any guidance or suggestions would be great.
Welcome to LetsTalkPitching!
Google “dynamic warm-up”. It’s about incorporating movement, recruiting muscles, and truly raising body temperature.
I follow the philosophy: warm-up to throw, don’t throw to warm up.
has a description of a routine I used when I was coaching. We did this routine before every practice and every game. You can get through the routine in about 20 minutes. And it incorporates some strength and flexibility work while warming up. Follow up this routine by playing catch. Make sure to enforce good throwing mechanics while playing catch - don’t let them practice/reinforce bad habits.
BTW, the whole team did this - not just the pitchers.
that’s exactly our philosophy on the warm up- we never let our players touch a ball until they’ve warmed up their bodies. I love your approach- thanks for sending the link- I’ll definitely incorporate it into our practices.
Do you have any thoughts on how to warm up arms via throwing drills or can we move on to regular drills after that warmup?
Thanks so much!
The warm-up I described in that other thread can leave the kids feeling like they just did a bit of a work-out so I like to follow it up by playing catch to get the arms feeling back to normal. Have them start off nice and easy and at a short distance. They can increase the distance as their arms get back to normal.
Look into what Ron Wolforth has with The Athletic Pitcher. Pretty good info in there.
Also Jaeger’s Long Toss has a nice demonstration of using bands and easy throwing to get loose.
Dynamic warm-up is the way to go based on everything I’m reading lately. Most of the concern seems to circle around joints and tendons with regard to static stretching being bad.
I’m not sure at this point, however, if pre-performance static stretching of the major muscles is determined to be good or bad. Does anyone have any insight?
I also read that using bands to warm up is great, but the bands need to have handles to engage the forearms and elbows properly and the Jaeger bands go around the wrists, and while they do quite nicely with the shoulder, they don’t engage the forearms and elbows. Any thoughts? For experiment, I took the handles off my bands, since they come off and leave just a loop. I focused on what parts of my arm were actually being used. I definitely felt more engagement in the forearm with the handles vs. the loops over my wrists alone, but couldn’t really distinguish any elbow difference just by how it felt.
I believe in the principle behind the long toss because it’s getting the arm speed up. I don’t think a pitcher needs vast real estate to accomplish that. The same thing can be accomplished, in my opinion, at distances under 120 feet or even into a net for that matter.
There is some silliness out there that suggests a pitcher can get their arm speed up by dry throwing. Not sure I believe that or that mechanics would be the same as with a ball in the hand and actually releasing it, but hey, to each his own.
Little late to this but as a high school strength coach, I am a big fan of Eric Cressey. I remember reading an article in which he addressed static stretching for pitchers so went back and found…here are his thoughts along with a link to the abstract he is referencing:
[i]Speaking of throwing the baseball faster, Haag et al. found that pre-throwing static stretching did not negatively affect baseball pitching velocity. This is pretty significant, as many modern coaches generally encourage players to universally avoid static stretching right before training and competition for fear of reductions in power output (that research horse has been beaten to death).
Personally, though, I’ve always felt that it was really valuable to stretch the throwing shoulder in the majority of our pitchers before they threw (the exceptions being the ones with crazy laxity). Typically, we stretch guys (or encourage them to stretch themselves) into shoulder internal rotation and flexion. It’s safe to assume that getting range in their directions is going to not only minimize the effect of the peel-back mechanism for SLAP lesions at lay-back, but also enable them to have a longer, smoother deceleration arc.[/i]
Link to Haag abstract:
I dug this out of my computer. It’s geared toward youth pitchers (9-15 years old) I made a few updates based on some recent changes to my philosophy, but I think it’s a pretty good primer for getting loose, staying loose, and reducing +1 stiffness.
Warm-ups and warm-downs should always be supervised by a coach, trainer, or other responsible person!
(25 minutes prior to game time)
• Jog the perimeter of the field to get circulation up and wake-up your system. Follow-up with 4 sprints of 90 feet.
• Perform exercises like jumping jacks, mountain climbers, karaokes, walking leg extensions, and arm circles to lightly stretch muscles from the ground up to the neck to get loose (do not stretch joints-stretching joints de-stabilizes them!)
• Work the rotator cuff and scapula areas with tubing or bands to get blood flowing specifically to those areas. Did you know the Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, and the Subscapularis are the four muscles of the rotator cuff? Now you do. Do not use too much tension in the tubing or bands. Remember, tension is highest when the muscles are at their most vulnerable. Slow and steady is better than fast and jerky.
• Short to long toss. Start off at 20 paces and progress to 40 paces. Focus on your motion and emphasize the follow-through. Do not slow down the body and try to throw hard or long. To throw long or hard, the body must also move fast. Shoulder and arm angle do not change from normal throwing motion. Progress to throwing hard on a flat trajectory. This is not 300+ foot extreme long toss thrown at a launch angle. First to Third or Home to Second should be the outer limit. Once the arm and body are up to speed, get in some final repetitions at full speed with a change-up grip to get a feel for it.
(15 minutes prior to game time)
• Start at 35 feet and work on motion with some smooth four seam pitches. Focus on the stride line, getting hip rotation and back heel turning over. Make sure the entire delivery is solid and accuracy is good before moving back to 50 feet…then regulation distance once accuracy and feel have been established at 50 feet. Increase the intensity of the throws to game level. Remember, as the arm speeds up, the body must match.
• Locate 2 sets of 5 fastballs down and to the extension side and 1 set of 5 fastballs down and to the throwing arm side at game speed. (Determine today’s fastest controllable speed for throwing strikes!)
• Locate 2 sets of 5 curveballs at game speed down in the zone. 1 set down and to the throwing arm side. 1 set down and to the extension side. Miss down in the zone, if necessary. Work on proper rotation of the ball and how the hand needs to come off the ball until a good feel for it is established. If there is difficulty establishing feel for the curve or slider, use a tennis ball can weighted to 5 or 6 oz with towels or rags, then tape the lid on securely. Hold the taped end like a baseball. Work on tumbling the can end over end, perpendicular to the ground using the normal throwing motion. Supinate the wrist for the slider and tumble the can on a 45 degree angle.
• Locate 2 sets of 5 change ups down and to the throwing hand side. The delivery should look just like the fastball to disguise this pitch.
• Locate 10 final pitches in two simulated five-pitch at bats at game intensity and focus. Location. Location. Location.
Most pitchers can get loose by throwing 35-45 pitches during this warm-up. Remember, the pitcher will have up to 8 more pitches from the mound when taking the field. Throw at least 50% of your warm-ups from the stretch. Don’t throw a full game in warm-ups!
In cooler weather, from conclusion of the warm-up, until final removal from the game (not just from pitching), the pitcher must wear a jacket if not at the plate or playing defense. A windbreaker is great if the pitcher has some form of below the elbow sleeved shirt or under armor that will help retain heat around the joints. The jacket should be worn until the end of the game or until post-game stretching and warm-down is completed. When on the base paths, always slide feet first! A jammed finger makes it hard to pitch!
During the game, if your team has a long inning at the plate, the pitcher should make 5-8 throws on the side line or behind the bench area at around the 5-7 minute mark—just to stay loose. These are not game intensity pitches. These are to prevent tightening of the muscles from inactivity.
Ice should only be applied to the shoulder and elbow for 10-15 minutes apiece and only if an injury occurs. Ice does not speed the recovery of an uninjured arm.-- Ice slows down normal recovery by not allowing the muscles to readily exchange fresh, oxygenated blood.
(A 3 or 5-ounce paper cup filled half-way with water and frozen is perfect for applying ice to the pitcher’s arm after post-game stretching. Just peel down to expose some of the ice and apply in a circular motion to the arm. Ice packs can also be pressure-wrapped into position for the front and rear of the shoulder. Be sure to not allow the ice to stay on too long.)
• Jog the perimeter of the field to keep circulation up and flush the muscles of toxins
• Lightly stretch muscles from the ground up to maintain range of motion and minimize post-performance stiffness (again–do not stretch joints-stretching joints de-stabilizes them!) Just like in pre-game, exercises like jumping jacks and arm circles are perfect. I would probably skip the mountain climbers after the game
Any thoughts or modifications any of you would make??