Conditioning for Baseball Pitchers: What’s The Debate?

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Why is conditioning training for baseball pitchers such a debated topic?

For years or even decades, misinformed pitching instructors have utilized conditioning methods that have created a generation a weak pitchers.

What am I talking about?

The number one baseball conditioning mistake is long distance running. I'm sure you have seen it, a bunch of pitchers running countless poles at one speed for what seems like an eternity.

Why do baseball coaches instruct their pitchers to run poles or long distance?

Here is logic behind this conditioning training method:

  • "Extended distance running decreases lactic acid build up in the arm."
  • "Long distance running allows pitchers to throw deeper into games."
  • "It's a great form of aerobic conditioning."

First, although aerobic training will increase the heart rate and blood flow into the arm, it is actually a pretty inefficient technique for reducing arm soreness. You can achieve the same results from interval training or sprints in half the time.

The second logic point is one my favorites. I don't know what coach invented this misconception, but since when has pitching become an aerobic activity? Delivering a baseball is one of the most explosive movements in all of sports, and is 100 percent anaerobic.

Last time I checked, it doesn't take 30 minutes to deliver a baseball.

Yes, long distance running is an excellent technique for increasing aerobic conditioning. I totally agree. Every cross-country or aerobic-based sport can really benefit from utilizing this training method.

As far as pitchers are concerned, there is no benefit of running endless poles. The fact is, this conditioning technique trains the wrong energy system for pitchers, will reduce explosiveness, muscle mass, and can be damaging on the joints.

So, what should you do instead?

Baseball pitchers should structure their conditioning training around high intensity methods. Some of these include sprints, hill sprints, plyometrics, agility's, and bodyweight circuits to name only a few.

These conditioning training exercises will not only increase your anaerobic capacity, but will also build lean muscle mass, decrease fat, and increase explosiveness. What makes these conditioning methods so great, is that they don't take a ridiculous amount of time to complete.

Sprints for example, can be performed before or after your strength training routine.

This is really about preference.

If you're weightlifting, it might be advisable to sprint after your session because you don't want to decrease the quality of your training as a result of fatigue. The same applies for hill sprints and agility's.

Plyometrics can actually be an entire exercise for one day. A complete plyometrics routine will take around 30 minutes to complete, but it is very high intensity. Weightlifting and plyos should probably be utilized on different days.

The same applies for bodyweight circuits. Try to never substitute bodyweight exercises for weightlifting.

To conclude, baseball pitchers should always perform their conditioning through high intensity anaerobic exercises. Seriously, stop wasting your time with distance running.

Keep working hard. No off days. No excuses.

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