5 Stretches To Help You Throw Harder

Posted: July 19, 2016 in Baseball, Mobility, Softball, Training, Velocity Development
Tags: , , , , , , ,

One of the most overlooked factors when it comes to throwing velocity is mobility/range of motion. By increasing mobility in certain areas of the body, you can unlock the ability to throw with higher velocities without even touching a weighted ball or dumbbell. Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t train with weights or throw weighted balls if you’re looking to increase your velocity, but if you’re not following a good stretching program that improves range of motion in the RIGHT areas, you’re likely leaving valuable MPHs on the table.

With that said, here’s 5 stretches you can do right now that will help increase your throwing velocity.

1) T-Spine Stick Rotation

Hip/shoulder separation is one of the most predictors of throwing velocity. Simply put, this is the ability to rotate the hips while keeping the upper body closed, thereby creating a stretch across the musculature of the core. When these muscles are stretched, it enables them to contract more forcefully via something called the stretch-shortening cycle. For a good example of hip/shoulder separation, take a look at Tim Lincecum:

lincecum hip shoulder

In this picture, you can see how his hips are pointed directly towards home plate, while his shoulders are still directed towards the on-deck circle.

To develop this kind of hip/shoulder separation, you need to work on your thoracic mobility. The best way to do this is with the T-Spine Stick Rotation. Kneel down while holding a stick behind your body like you’d hold a bar while squatting. Then sit back on your heels and round your lower back by leaning forward. Rounding the lower back “locks” it into place and ensures that the motion is coming from your thoracic (upper) spine rather than your lumbar (lower) spine. Tuck your chin, pull your head back and try to rotate your head and upper body as far as you can to one side, then to the other side.

spine stretch rotation

spine stretch rotation

2) Corner Pec Stretch

In addition to hip/shoulder separation, another important type of separation necessary for producing high-velocity throws is scapular separation. That is, the glove-side shoulder blade should be retracting and depressing, pulling the front elbow “around” the torso before the throwing arm launches. That sounds complicated, but this gif should clear up all that mumbo-jumbo:

Positive Disconnection

Basically, you want the glove-side arm to initiate the rotation of the torso while the throwing arm stays loaded. This helps produce a stretch reflex across the upper body that – much like the stretch reflex caused by hip/shoulder separation – will help your body produce more force during the throwing motion.

aroldis chapman mechanics

Aroldis Chapman does this well, and I’ve heard he throws pretty hard

To allow this separation to happen, you need to possess ample flexibility in the pec major and minor. The best way to develop this flexibility is with the Corner Pec Stretch. Stand against the corner of a wall, or a post (the legs of a squat rack work pretty well) and push the front of your shoulder into the corner, while bracing your core and turning your head and upper body as far as you can in the opposite direction. The most important thing here is to make sure you’re pushing your SHOULDER into the wall instead of your hand/elbow, which can irritate the front of the shoulder.

pectoralis stretchpectoralis stretch

 

3) Rear-Knee-Elevated Hip Flexor Stretch

The ability to reach “triple extension” of the back leg is another important factor in pitching velocity. This refers to extension of the hip, knee, ankle, and it looks like this:

pitching mechanics

Usually, the limiting factor that keeps people from reaching triple extension is tightness in the hip flexors. The best way to stretch the hip flexors is to place one knee on a bench, then perform a split-squat type of movement until you feel a stretch in the front of the hip. Make sure not to let your lower back arch. Instead, brace your core and focus on maintaining an upright upper body without leaning forward. If anything, try to lean back slightly to maximize the amount of hip extension in the stretch.

tight hip flexor

 

4) Hip Internal Rotation Stretch

Many pitchers have problems with tight hips that could be keeping them from reaching their full potential, and could actually be contributing factors to future injuries if not addressed. By stretching the hips on a consistent basis, you can improve your hip mobility which will allow for a much smoother, more powerful throwing motion.

For the hip internal rotation stretch, lay on your back with your knees bent to 90 degrees, then internally rotate one hip as far as you can, then try to press that hip into the floor until you feel a stretch.

hip stretch

In this example, the left hip is being stretched

 

5) Hip External Rotation Stretch

Hip external rotation is just as important as internal rotation for throwers looking to optimize their delivery. For this stretch, sit on a bench or chair with one leg crossed over the other, with the crossed leg’s ankle on top of the other leg’s knee. Sit as tall as you can and maintain a slight arch in your back while pushing your knee towards the floor and bending forward at the waist. Make sure not to round your lower back, but instead get all the motion out of your hips.

tight hips stretch

If necessary, use a dumbbell or other implement to help push your knee towards the floor

 

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