What did he top out at this weekend? Does that guy consistently throw hard? What was his velo?
You can guarantee to hear these questions at our facility on Monday after a weekend of baseball, and velocity will continue to be the talk of the town.
Everyone wants to throw hard and recruiters want to see the potential to throw hard, for better or worse. As you see more players throwing over 90 MPH, there is a trend to see more players well over six feet tall. Being tall creates better lever arms to potentially throw gas, but it also creates the need for more stability across more real estate.
Tall pitchers typically struggle with a few things in the weight room due to their longer limbs. The longer lever arms often require a few extra areas of focus to maximize control and eventually power development.
This article will detail a three of my favorite exercises to address those issues in tall baseball pitchers.
Double Kettlebell Reverse Lunge
Tall athletes almost always struggle with maintaining good trunk position, especially with a dynamic task like throwing a baseball.
Adding weight in front of an athlete during an exercise will automatically create a need to use the core effectively. Be careful that the player does not cheat during the exercise by over-arching the low back. A great cue is to “connect the belt buck to the rib cage” during the move.
Single leg work is vital to all athletic development, especially in those with long torsos. You can see how this pitcher is able to maintain a very upright torso and effectively load his lower half.
Tall Kneeling Overhead Catch and Slam
A major leak of energy when pitching is a loss of good trunk position during the throwing motion.
Sound familiar? It is very difficult to create force into the ground with the legs and deliver it to the arm with a weak center. Imagine trying to shoot a sling shot with a loose grip. Good luck hitting your target, let alone creating any speed.
Tall guys like to create trunk stability by overarching the low back and using their spine instead of abdominal muscles. The tall kneeling position takes away stability, and the overhead catch and slam teaches the athlete to resist overarching the low back while winding up. He is now in a good position to deliver speed and force back into the ball. Here we see him using the abdominal muscles just like a firm grip in the slingshot analogy.
Pitchers who are tall need to find ways to build strength and endurance in their lower half. Having a long femur and torso may make the risk in a risk-reward equation too high for my liking with heavy squatting.
Sled drags are fantastic for tall pitchers because it allows heavy loading and little stress on the knees and low back. This exercise can be loaded heavy at the start of a session for a strength stimulus, or lighter for distance to build an aerobic base at the end of training. Sled variations are a staple at Adams Performance, and this version is in most of our tall athlete’s programming.
The most important part of our approach to building great athletes is understanding everyone is anatomically and developmentally different. Tall pitchers have powerful levers as a natural advantage, so focus their training around developing strong and stable legs to create force and a strong trunk to deliver it. Give these variations with tall pitchers a try to improve performance and help them take advantage of their natural athleticism.
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