In softball and baseball, each player uses their arm to navigate the ball around the field, making shoulder and elbow injuries some of the most common. As the pitcher is the player that spends the most time throwing the ball during a game, they are the most at risk of injury compared to their teammates.
Pomi knows the liability and wants you to know how to effectively help keep your players safe from injury. By knowing how to effectively stretch before playing, you can improve your team’s performance and help minimize the possibility of getting hurt.
Stretches for High School Softball Pitchers
Fast-pitch pitchers, with advanced training and strength, can pitch in the mid 70 mph range and get even faster as their softball career continues. To help protect the body from straining itself to produce such a violent throwing motion over and over, you need to warm up your player’s by stretching with a focus on the upper body, on top of your standard full-body warmup.
Have your players stand with your feet shoulder length apart, without moving their arms or head. Start by making forward circular motions with the shoulders, then reverse the motion to effectively stretch the shoulders and upper arms. Continue the motion for 8-10 reps before switching.
Elbow-out Shoulder and Rotator Stretch
Have the players bring their hand to the middle of their back with their elbow pointing out. Use their other arm to grab the elbow and gently pull it forward to stretch everything from elbow to rotator cuff. Only hold it for 10 seconds, or less, to avoid straining or injury.
Bend legs into a lunge position on the ground, but don’t let the player stand back out of it. Hold the position and lean forward to bring the knee past the ankle, stretching the hip flexors and the hamstring on the back leg. Keep the position for 30 seconds before switching legs. Repeat until muscles and tendons feel sufficiently relaxed.
Rotator Cuff Stretcher
Raise throwing arm to shoulder height and flex elbow to 90 degrees, with hand facing upwards. Carefully, flex arm back to its maximum extension then reverse it forwards, while keeping elbow at the same height.
Stand straight and extend throwing arm as high as physically possible, extending up onto the balls of feet. From that position, flex extended hand forwards for 4-5 reps and then backward for another 4-5 reps, stretching body through the forearm, biceps, shoulder, and side.
Stretches for High School Baseball Pitchers
Baseball pitchers face much of the same risks as softball pitchers and over time, without proper stretching or warmups, prolonged muscle strain can create chronic injuries. Taking the extra time to stretch their upper body, on top of a standard warmup, can save them from both short-term injuries and injuries that can last through their entire high school career.
Rotating Forearm and Wrist Stretch
Extend one arm straight out in front, then turn wrist down and outwards. Use other hand to grab hand and rotate it upwards, stretching wrist and elbow. Hold the position for 10 seconds before moving on to the other arm.
Extend arms on either side and make circular motions with them. Start with smaller circular movements and gradually make circles bigger. This motion is meant to mimic the motions the arm makes when pitchers throw the ball and prepares arms for that kind of strain.
If shoulders are especially tight, add a towel to this stretch. With the towel, hold it in one hand, put arm over head and behind back. With other hand, grab the towel hanging behind and gently pull to stretch the triceps of the arm overhead. Don’t try to force it! By incorporating this stretch into your team’s warm up routine, the triceps will gradually loosen and will be able to do this stretch without the towel.
To complete this stretch, your players will need to work with a partner. Raise arms outstretched on either side of body and turn palms forward. The partner will then stand behind, holding onto other person’s wrist, and pulling them back at the same time. Hold the position for no longer than 10 seconds to avoid injury.
Spread feet into a wide stance, and turn your body to the right with right foot’s toes pointed in the same direction. Make sure to keep y left foot facing forward. Lean weight on right thigh, bend chest over thigh, and rock slowly into the stretch for 4 reps before switching to the other leg. Players should feel this stretch in the upper thigh and hip flexors.
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