I am going into my sophomore year (15yo) having just made the varsity baseball team. Currently, I throw my 4-seam fastball about 84-87 topping out at 88. A senior on our team who is signed to play D1 ball say that I could get up to 90 simply by “scap loading.” So my questions are: What is scap loading? What is a safe way to do it? And will it actually help me at all?
Yea, if you are right handed put your right fist just off your right pec. then raise your elbow up a bit. Then do the same action (with that right arm) as you would if you were pulling back on a bow(and arrow) string. Do this action without turning your shoulders at all
Scap loading is simply pinching the shoulder blades together. Chances are you already do it.
scap loading puts a lot of stress on an already stressful motion on two sensitive pitching areas; the shoulder and the elbow. I’ve scap loaded before and for me personally i couldn’t throw as many pitches before feeling like i was going to hurt myself and i had horrible control. To me scap loading reminds me of twisting a rubberband around something over and over again, and releasing it, eventually the rubberband will stretch and break.
Scap loading does lead to throwing hard but it comes at a price of a shorter career in my honest opinion. There are probably other ways that are safer to increase your velocity.
The scap is part of the kinetic chain. Using (i.e. moving/pinching) the scap actually helps protect the shoulder byreducing the need for the humerus to operate at the extreme ends of the range of motion of the shoulder joint. Most people scap load - it happens automatically - no need to think about it.
Roger has, as usual, given you the long-n-the-short of it. It doesn’t get any straight forward than this.
Supporting this “pitching cycle” is the physical fitness of the person performing same. So, no matter how well, or not, you progress through this motion, if you’re not rested, nurished, and fit for this performance, you’re not going to identify with the details that start and complete what Roger has outlined.
Watch a very young person trying to throw, oh … anything. Notice how both arms stay very low in the beginning, raise up, but the arm not throwing stays kind of low and hangs there off to the side without much contents to the rest of the body. This action - by the non-throwing arm, is what we as pitching coaches refer to as a “hanger”. It’s also one of the first signs of a pitcher getting tired that all other observers miss. In fact, there are mini-indications that if - not picked up early, can find a pitcher with serious arm and shoulder soreness later on.
I would suggest reading Roger’s post again and thinking it out, along with my comments. You’ll gain a lot of pre-thought with respect to your next practice and outing.
If your serious about gaining velocity with your scaps try strengthening them. The body is going get every ounce of power out of itself in anyway that it knows how too. Likely you are already scap loading, but post some video. If you are already, the best way to gain better scap loading is to strengthen them.