A Baseball Throwing Program to Get in Shape, Maximize Performance and Reduce Injuries

STACK Expert John Cissik offers baseball players some off-season tips for protecting their shoulders and arms.

Baseball players: regardless of the position you play, an off-season throwing program is essential. Throwing a baseball is a fundamental skill. It's also an action that can hurt you if you're not prepared for it. Every year, we hear about baseball players who get into spring training and injure their shoulder or elbow. This happens more often when they don't stay in shape during the off-season. Check out the video player above to see how All-Star outfielder Andre Ethier builds major league arm strength.

Here are some off-season tips for protecting your shoulders and arms.

1. You have to throw

This is a big one. You have to continue throwing in the off-season to keep your arm in shape. During bad weather, you may have to do it in a batting cage.


  • Throw the ball to a partner 15-20 feet away.
  • As your arm loosens up, take a few steps back. 
  • Continue until you are performing some long throws. Twenty to thirty throws like this, once a week, will go a long way toward keeping your arm in shape for throwing.

2. Cross-train during the off-season

People don't do this anymore, and it's a shame. Playing a different sport during the off-season is a great way to recharge your batteries and keep your body in shape. It also makes you a better all-around athlete. I like to have my baseball players play basketball during the off-season. Playing a different sport in the off-season gives you structure, provides new challenges for your body and keeps you from sitting on the couch, getting out of shape.

Learn more about the benefits of being a multi-sport athlete.

3. Get your upper body in shape

It's important to use the off-season to do some strength training for your upper body. There are a lot of philosophical differences about how best to do this. Some coaches prefer exercises like the Bench Press, some don't. Some coaches like overhead lifts like the Jerk or Snatch, some don't.

Here are four workouts you can do for your upper body. At the end of this article, I'll explain how to incorporate them into your program.

Workout 1: Traditional Strength Training

  • Front Squats: 3x8-12@70-80%
  • Romanian Deadlifts: 3x8-12
  • Close-Grip Bench Press: 3x8-12@70-80%
  • Bent-Over Rows: 3x8-12
  • Standing Military Press: 3x8-12

Workout 2: Circuit Training

Perform each of the following exercises for 20 seconds, in the order listed and without resting. Do the entire circuit three times.

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Lunges
  • Inchworms
  • Bear Crawls
  • Pull-Ups
  • Dips
  • Push-Ups
  • Planks
  • Side Planks (each side)
  • Flutter Kicks

Workout 3: Power Training

  • Power Clean: 3x3-6@60-70%
  • Snatch Pulls: 3x4-8@60-70%
  • Medicine Ball Chest Pass: 10x
  • Medicine Ball Overhead Step and Throw: 10x

Workout 4: Implement Training

These are organized into three blocks, performed one at a time. Within each block, perform each exercise circuit style for 20 seconds. Repeat each block three times, then perform the next block. For example, perform Heavy Rope Slams for 20 seconds, then Kettlebell Swings, then Lunges. Repeat these exercises three times. Rest before moving on to Block 2.

Block 1:

  • Heavy Rope Slams
  • Two-Handed Kettlebell Swings
  • Medicine Ball Lunges - hold the medicine ball in front of your body

Block 2:

  • Heavy Rope Woodchoppers
  • Kettlebell Push-Ups
  • Step-Ups

Block 3:

  • Heavy Rope Twists
  • Kettlebell Prone Rows
  • One-Legged Romanian Deadlifts

These workouts should be done every other day.

Learn how to protect your shoulders with an in-season workout.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock