I can only speak for pitchers.
Pitchers are like an assortment of tools in a mechanic’s tool box. Some tools are rough and are specially designed for rugged work, tough and tempered to take extended heavy duty use. Other tools are not so designed and have a specific purpose. While others yet are only used for light duty, fine-tuned to either adjust or calibrate.
If you’re a pitching coach with a pitching staff that has an assortment of talent – some that’ll throw cheese all day, others with junk, and yet others still that have that mix in between, you really have your work cut out for you. Add to the fact that you’re dealing with an amateur population with little or no control of what these people do when not under your direct supervision, makes this off-season task a daunting one.
To address your question head on, I would mention that throwing is only one element in the equation for off-season discipline. Specifically, each pitcher has want and needs based on the kind of pitcher that he is, any recovery experienced during post season play, promising pitchers that you’re going to rely upon next season – replacing or complimenting your current pitching staff, and last but not least, what is your best mix, personnel wise going into next season.
Your heater guys should actively shut down from throwing for 60 days at a minimum. This shutdown does not exclude a diet program going into the winter months, nor does it exclude light workouts with light weights and gym work. Keeping the muscles toned, ready for work after sixties days should be the goal.
Your non-heater guys have the same shutdown – but, their workouts are much different than your heater guys. These people should focus on endurance gym work, skipping rope, light jogs and other tolerance enhancements.
When the throwing starts, take a moment to familiarize yourself with whom and what you have to work with. Watch how each pitcher moves playing a simple game of catch – at 30% game speed, no more. Watch how each man readies himself, separates the hands, moves forward gaining a slight momentum, then rotates the shoulders and releases. A distance of no more than70 feet is good for this. I wouldn’t suggest increasing this distance. Be sure to observe a high arch after release, then as each man settles in and loosened up, a more direct travel path to the catching player should be worked in.
Any sign of fatigue, stiffness and the like is to be expected when getting back into the grove – but be on the lookout for prolonged fatigue and stiffness.
Some pitchers during the off season do some pretty stupid things like skiing for the first time in their life off the Matterhorn, skydiving into trees, snowmobiling across a field laced with barbwire, and my all-time favorite, rugby. Some of these guys are pretty darn smart at hiding bumps and bruises. One of the best answers I ever got was while watching a guy toss, and his equilibrium was a bit off. I asked him to shut down and give me a reason why he just wasn’t himself that day. He told me that while loading the top freezer in his refrigerator, he bent down to get more groceries out of a shopping bag on the floor, and a frozen turkey slipped out of the freezer and knuckled him good – right in the noggin. I could only think to myself… “ yeah, that’ll do it.”