Arm strength doesn't just help a baseball player throw the ball harder, it can also keep their arm healthy, flexible and performing its best all season long.
Here is a series of arm exercises, from the former head coach of perennial NCAA baseball powerhouse UCLA, that young players can use to add strength to their throws and boost their ability to stay injury-free.
Benefits of Arm Strength in Baseball
Every baseball player, from six to sixty-six years old, can benefit from a regular routine of arm circles and tubing exercises. Our routine is geared toward strengthening the four tiny rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder area, which are vital to keeping the shoulder firm, yet flexible.
The combined use of arm circles and tubing exercises also strengthen and stretch the muscles in the back and arm, from the wrist, to the elbow, to the shoulder.
We have our players at UCLA follow this same routine on a daily basis throughout the year. After our players have warmed up their bodies with a general exercise for 15-20 minutes, they follow up with 6-10 minutes of arm circles and then 8-10 minutes of tubing exercises, which will be covered next month.
Begin by holding your arms outstretched sideways and do eight tiny clockwise arm circles. Continue with the following in the same direction:
- Eight one-quarter circles
- One-half circles
- Eight three-quarter circles
- Eight full circles
- Still rotating in the same clockwise direction, climb down to eight one-quarter circles
- Finally, eight tiny circles
Drop your arms and relax for one minute. You may even shake them loosely until they dangle at your sides. Resume with the same routine in the opposite direction (counter clockwise).
Taking It to the Next Level
Over a period of about two to three weeks, you should gradually build up from eight to 16 revolutions. When you can do the 16 revolutions with ease, then add a baseball to each hand and begin with eight revolutions again.
Once again, build up to 16 revolutions. When holding the baseball and doing 16 revolutions becomes relatively easy, then add another baseball and begin again.
When you have reached the limit of three baseballs and 16 revolutions, you have accomplished the goal of strengthening your shoulder area, while also achieving a proper warm-up for these muscles to throw.
It is important to remember that it is not necessary to add any more weight than three baseballs. Adding more weight may trigger the larger shoulder muscles to "kick in" while the rotator cuff muscles "kick out."
For the little leaguers, if you cannot hold three baseballs due to the smaller size of your hands, your body is probably not ready for the additional weight.
Be patient?in time, your hands will get larger and your arms will be developed enough to handle the entire routine, including the three baseballs.
Play hard, stay healthy!
Gary Adams retired as the head coach of UCLA Baseball in 2004 after 30 seasons at the helm of one of the most successful and respected collegiate programs in NCAA history.