I was having a conversation about big league ball with Rockland Peak Performance pitching coach Robbie Aviles the other day, and he mentioned that many times as a relief pitcher with the Cleveland Indians, he barely got a chance to warm-up.
As a matter of fact, he sometimes got just enough time to take off his jacket and fire a few pitches.
This made me think back on an article I remember reading by Mike Reinold where he talked about a 5-minute warm-up protocol that includes exercises to increase shoulder range of motion, mobility, activation and dynamic movement. I thought it would be a great addition to our throwers' repertoire during the season, so we began integrating it. This warm-up can be performed between innings and hits most of the major spots as far as tightness and activation goes. Translation: it'll help you get warm in a hurry.
Side-Lying Cross Body Stretch
I believe this to be a better alternative to the standing version performed by most teams. The Side-Lying Cross Body Stretch helps improve internal rotation in the shoulder without the "pulling" of the scap around the ribcage that is associated with the old school standing version. Perform a five-second hold for five reps on each side.
Stretching the flexor/pronator group is key to alleviating the tightness many pitchers complain about due to coming in a game "cold." This can go a long way in alleviating stress on the elbow, as well. Perform a 10-second hold for three reps in both extension and flexion.
Shoulder Range of Motion
The following two exercises are great for increasing shoulder ROM while also activating the triceps, posterior delt and upper trapezius. For Arm Circles, perform 10 forward circles and 10 backward circles. For Cross Body Hugs, perform 10 reps.
This works on shoulder external rotation and internal rotation, as well as activating the posterior cuff. Perform five reps.
Trunk Rotations (Straight Arms)
A lot of time spent sitting on the bench and waiting to be called in to pitch can do a number on your thoracic mobility. This is a great drill to get some of that movement back. Perform 10 twists in each direction.
- The Ultimate Pitcher's Warm-Up: 4 Shoulder Exercises with Bands
- Dynamic Baseball Warm-Up With Justin Verlander
- 4 Exercises Pitchers Need to Do After Every Start