Staying in the Game – Throwing Sports and Athletes

Terms like “injury prevention” and “sport specific” get tossed around in the fitness and coaching community too often. Fact is, even the best trainers and strength coaches can’t “prevent” injury. Proper training serves a critical component in helping athletes and clients compete and stay active, while reducing the occurrence & severity of injury–IF a balanced program is followed. But we can’t “prevent” the possibility of someone getting injured while practicing or competing.

Unfortunately, people overusing these terms just don’t take a look at what really needs to be focused on in a strength training routine. This leads young athletes and adults as well to think they should only train the movements most involved in their sport/activities of interest. What’s the problem with that? This training approach often relates to higher injury increase by developing muscle imbalances.

Let’s take a look at one part of the training puzzle: mid-upper torso & limb strength, mobility.

Take for example an overhead throwing sport athlete–baseball, softball–or an overhead hitting sport athlete like a volleyball player… If they only train movements primarily for the anterior body (mirror muscles) on the front of the body, they are missing out on important movements & musculature that contribute to torso and limb deceleration. Training movements that focus on muscles on the back of the body (posterior) trapezius, rhomboids, posterior deltoids and latissimus dorsi, serve to not only assist in the desired sport action (throwing/hitting) but also play an important role in slowing down the torso and upper limb after throwing, hitting or batting.

Simply put, include movements with medicine balls, bands, free weight and body weight to train the posterior mid and upper torso & limb. I’m a BIG fan of using bands with athletes I work with. They’re extremely versatile and help put the athlete in position to react to the desired training focus.

Exercises may include: Standing face pull with cables/bands, Horizontal rowing, shoulder specific exercises for the rotator cuff-internal & external rotation (which are too difficult to explain in a blog post without pictures/video), pull-ups with varying grips, bent over d-bell/barbell rows, band pull-apart, are just a few of important movements that will train the above mentioned.

It is important to include training prior to the season. Waiting for in-season programs without having previously prepared your body often leads to less than desirable performance or worse yet, injury; which sets you on the bench to rehab.

A well rounded program is key to successful sport and activity. Since this post focused more on upper torso and limb, it’s not to forget the importance of lower body, legs and core strength & stability training. I’ll cover more of that in another post. Pre-hab is the best plan to staying in the game.

Train hard, play harder!

Hollister Struck, CSCS is Owner if StrengthByStruck Athletic Development & sports performance training in Minneapolis, MN. Hollister serves as a highly sought after strength coach, soccer coach and sport movement coach, helping athletes and youth learn stronger training methods to keep them in the game and excelling in athletics and life.