There is still an on-going debate about conditioning for pitchers: running poles. Unfortunately, the old school thought of running poles seems to dominate the new school thought of taking energy systems into account when training baseball players.
You’re running poles for the wrong reasons.
Not only will this article provide the more efficient way for improving conditioning for pitchers, but it will also provide counter arguments for two common misconceptions.
Pitchers, I’m sure if you ask your coach why they make you run poles they will say one of two things: 1. You need to be conditioned or 2. You need stamina to go deep into a game.
To provide the clearest answer for all pitchers and coaches reading this article, let’s tackle these two arguments.
“You need to be conditioned”
I believe that it’s extremely important to have a well-developed aerobic system to recover during a workout/game or from intense training sessions/games.
However, is running poles the best option? I don’t believe so. In my opinion, you would benefit much more from performing movement based circuits.
Utilizing movement based circuits was something I picked up from my time down at Cressey Sports Performance where many of the athletes performed “movement days”.
To give you an example, here’s an example of a complete “movement day” many of my athletes have performed :
In this workout, I was able to not only improve the athlete’s aerobic capacity but also his movement quality, hip mobility, thoracic spine (upper back) mobility, ankle stability, core stability, scapular control, anterior core control, spinal stability etc.
Long-distance running is not able to improve upon all the above.
“You need stamina to go deep into a game”
Do you really think running pole after pole is improving a pitcher’s ability to explode off a mound and throw a ball as hard as possible to home plate?
I don’t think so.
Here’s what I think: I think pitchers have to be extremely powerful. Think about it… If you’re a pitcher, you’re EXPLODING off the mound and throwing the ball to home plate (single fastest motion in all of sports) and you’re doing this for upwards of 80-100 times a game.
You can call this “stamina” but my intuition tells me that by executing this explosive maneuver 80-100 times a game will require the athlete to possess a good amount of alactic capacity.
I think that if the athlete (in this case, the pitcher) improves alactic capacity in the specific limb required, it will allow them to maintain velocity deep into a game.
I also believe the pitcher will be able to improve resistance to a shoulder/arm injury as the arm won’t have to overcompensate for lower body fatigue.
Just because something has been done for years (running long distance) doesn’t mean it’s right. In my opinion, there are much better ways we can improve our performance other than running poles.
Rather than running yourself into the ground by running poles, focus on improving your movement patterns during the season.
Before starting Simone Baseball Performance Alex was drafted out of high school by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2010 MLB Draft and played four years of college baseball. At the conclusion of his collegiate career Alex signed a professional contract with the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League.
Since starting Simone Baseball Performance Alex has worked under Eric Cressey of Cressey Sports Performance and has been recognized as a Certified Physical Preparation Specialist (CPPS), one of the industry's leading certifications, and endorsed by world renowned sport performance coaches Joe DeFranco and Jim Smith. He currently coaches baseball players of all levels from professional to pre-pubescent athletes and has consulted for high school and college baseball coaches worldwide.
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