This is no secret. As a baseball player, you need to be able to produce force and you need to be able to absorb force. Being able to do these two things will give you the ability to be powerful, but also help reduce the risk of injury.
When we look at throwing, and more specifically pitching, if you can’t produce or absorb force, you’re going to put a lot more stress on your arm. Not only that, but you will not be able to produce enough power to throw with any real velocity.
If the legs are not doing their part, you have to try to develop power and arm speed somewhere else. This somewhere else is the arm, because in its “mind” it knows it needs to do something to catch up.
Using Strength to Improve Stability
When it comes to being powerful, tinkering with mechanics will help, but really a lot of this comes down to your strength, stability, and body position. If you have good relative strength, you’re going to be able to get into better positions.
Pitching is a very explosive movement and requires a lot strength and stability to maintain good body positions.
To become explosive, you must put a lot of force into the ground. Therefore, you will see athletes who put on good weight have a big tick in velocity.
They are putting on relatively good weight, which will help them get stronger, and will ultimately help them produce more force and be more stable to absorb it.
Now when focusing on getting stronger, you want to prioritize unilateral strength. Pitching and throwing is mostly done on one leg, therefore getting strong on one leg will have more carry over.
Building single-leg strength will help you produce power and give you stability to transfer your weight and energy from one leg to the other. By being able to transfer your weight effectively, you will be able stay in a better position to pitch.
With this, I have picked these three single leg strength exercises below because it hits all three sides of the spectrum. The reverse lunge, single leg RDL, and the single-leg hip thrust.
Front Squat Reverse Lunge
When it comes to building single-leg strength, this is the king of single-leg exercises. Not only will this exercise get you strong, it makes you absorb force when you step back, and then put force in the ground to drive up.
Another added benefit is the torso position it forces you to be in. Because of the front squat grip and the weight being in front, it helps keep you in a more upright position and makes your anterior core work extra hard, so that you don’t tip.
When pitching, it’s important to be able to create tension at the right time and this exercise requires the same. Being able to create tension through the core is important to maintain good position and being able to push in to the ground.
Single Leg RDL
When pitching, you should be able to transfer your weight from your back leg to your front leg, and be able to put your foot in the ground while getting over your front leg.
This exercise not only teaches you to load that front leg, but also put force into the ground and get over it so you can get extension on your pitch.
The ability to get over the front side and get extension will not only help you throw harder, but will add deception to your pitch.
This exercise is going to challenge the glutes and the hamstrings, as well as the core because it helps you stabilize so that you do not tip your pelvis laterally.
The ability to stabilize and get over your front leg not only allows you to get into a better position but allows you to put more force into the ground. With the RDL, you have to be able to load the front leg and then drive it through the ground, and in this case, drive your hip through.
Single Leg Hip Thrust
The single-leg hip thrust is a great exercise because it targets the glutes and teaches good hip extension. This exercise is less dynamic and more of a pure glute exercise.
Hip extension is important when it comes to pitching and all three exercises require you to be able to do so to do the exercises correctly.
This exercise, compared to the others, is usually unweighted. However, if you get a point where you want to use weight, you can put a band, bar, or sandbag over your hips.
Pitching is a powerful, explosive movement and requires good single-leg strength and stability. It is important to gain good, relative, single-leg strength so that you can put your body in good positions to allow yourself to produce a lot of force into the ground.