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Swimming For Pitching Success

Dana Cavalea CSCS

As a pitcher swimming is one of the best methods you could use in order to build shoulder strength, endurance, and stability. Whenever you have the opportunity to train in the pool, you will find that the water creates a very low stress environment on the shoulders, but provides a tremendous amount of benefits.

Often times many pitchers will go through their Jobes routines and shoulder exercises at relatively slow speeds and choose paths and ranges of motions that are restricted. The slow speed a lot of times are because of the pitchers lack of ability to stabilize the scapula, or shoulder blade.

When pitchers train in an aquatic environment, keeping their shoulders submerged, they are able to work full ranges of motion, at high velocities, while at the same time they are forced to stabilize their scapula. To make reference to scapular stabilization, I am referring to the ability to keep the shoulders pulled back, with the shoulder blade hugging the spinal column while the shoulder and arm are moving.

Performing your shoulder exercises in the water can be as challenging as you want to make them. The harder you push the water, the greater the resistance. So, there is no need to keep changing weights, or increasing the strength of the bands you are using, all you have to do is increase the force you apply on the water and that will increase the intensity of the movement.

To make water movements more challenging:

Following those aforementioned ways to make water exercise more challenging you will be able to constantly progress.

So what should we do while we are in the water??

The answer to this question is really just be creative. I love to have my pitchers swim to not only increase shoulder strength and endurance, but at the same to regenerate their tissues for recovery and provide them with a total body low-trauma workout. The great part about training in the pool is that you can give you workout a theme just as you do out of the pool. As an example, if you want to condition in the pool, possibly would:

If you don't think 8 minutes of work is a good workout go ahead and try it! At the same time we aren't just looking for a good workout, we are looking to achieve our goal for that particular day, and that was to increase our current levels of cardiac fitness.

If the theme for the day is a shoulder routine, an option might be to perform all your Jobes exercises and other shoulder exercises in the pool with no weights, just the water pressure. Go through each exercise for about 15-20 seconds instead of doing a certain amount of reps and remember, since we throw at high speeds, go through your shoulder exercises and high, but controlled speeds.

In the pool the key is to have FUN and be creative. Just be careful about training in the pool the day before, and the day that you throw since you will find that your shoulders will get fatigues rather quickly from aquatic training.


Dana Cavalea is a nationally recognized strength and speed consultant specializing in baseball. His website, www.mlstrength.com is a great resource for any athlete, coach, and/parent. Check it his new blog, The Grind and discussion board coming soon.


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