Generations of instructors have taught baseball pitchers to run long distance as a conditioning technique between starts, and following games.
Unfortunately, this training practice is counterproductive to the development of explosiveness.
The good news is the pitching community is advancing and now generally recognizes the reasons why long distance running can be detrimental to pitchers.
While the progress is great, I still think that many coaches are engaging in this training method far too often. My goal is to spread the word to the new generation of baseball pitchers, and explain why long distance running will not help a players performance!
Why is long distance running ineffective for pitchers?
A novel could be written about the negative physical aspects associated with distance running and baseball pitchers, but I will simply scratch the surface.
First, baseball as a whole does not require any type of endurance component.
Distance running is not an effective form of conditioning training for baseball pitchers, and will not build stamina in the correct way. Pitching is one of the most explosive movements in all of sports. With this logic alone, why would running 10 to 20 poles for up to 30 minutes at a consistent pace train for this?
Second, distance running also trains the wrong energy system.
The rhythm of pitchers mechanics requires a very short duration of explosion, and then an immediate rest period. Each burst lasts about one to two seconds, while the rest time last about 15 to 20 seconds, and is then repeated. With that being said, pitching can be described as a form of interval training, not endurance training.
A pitcher does not require extreme cardiovascular capability like a cross-country runner. Contrary to popular belief, distance running will not help a pitcher throw deeper into baseball games, or even help "flush out lactic acid", which is the biggest pitching fallacy of all time. Read this study by Waldorf University to learn more.
The only way to build a pitchers throwing endurance is, (you are not going to believe this!) to throw more bullpens, throw with greater frequency, and increase your pitch count.
I am a big component of taking one to three months completely off from throwing, but during the pre-season and regular season, baseball pitchers should be throwing as often as possible. This is truly the only way to build arm endurance, and be able to pitch deeper into baseball games.
It is incredibly obvious to see that distance running trains the wrong energy system for pitchers, but what is less apparent is its effects on mobility and flexibility.
According to Eric Cressey, distance running causes shortening of the hip flexors, reduces hip extension, and accentuates mobility loss in the hips. Each of these issues can decrease a baseball pitchers velocity because it will be difficult to generate significant stride length if the hips are immobile.
Now that you understand the repercussions of running long distance, what should you do instead?
Like I have mentioned several times, pitching is explosive, and you must subsequently train in this manner. Pitchers should aspire to train like sprinters, rather than cross-country runners.
Why type of running should pitchers be doing?
Some explosiveness training methods include sprints, hills sprints, plyometrics, and agility's. For the best results, it is recommended that you utilize each of these methods in your strength training routine, which should also include a pitcher-specific weight training program.
I will conclude this post with a quote from Eric Cressey:
"When was the last time you saw a marathoner throw 95 mph?"
Keep working hard. No off days. No excuses.
Learn more about my off-season workout programs for pitchers
To get to the next level, preparation matters. Your work ethic matters. Being committed to the process matters. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching. The journey is just as important as the end result.
If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my proven programs for pitchers of all ages.
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