Yes, the Super Bowl is this Sunday. As usual, I don’t have any idea who is playing in it because it’s not the college world series 🙂 Regardless, football has been coming up a lot in lessons.
Let me explain.
Several of my girls have been doing some cross-training. They are trying to get every edge imaginable on the competition before the season starts and/or they are trying to reach some really impressive goals. As a certified personal trainer for fifteen years and someone who has shadowed some of the best trainers and physical therapists in the country, I always like to know what my athletes are doing for cross-training.
One of my athletes, who has just recently committed to a big Division I school, was explaining the cross-training program she just started.
I listened very carefully.
“Ohhhh,” I said after confirming what exercises she was doing and what types of weights she was lifting, “are you planning on switching to football?”
Blank stare, then a giggle.
Yup. The training that they were having her do was COMPLETELY inappropriate for her sport and her position. In fact, if she were to continue with this type of training, it is likely that she would actually see a regression.
A wonderful pitching coach recently contacted me and explained that he was seeing the same thing happen with several pitchers in his area. Girls were doing their best to become better athletes through cross-training but were actually LOSING speed in some cases and gaining speed in others. So how can we make sure that we are in the latter category?
In a perfect world, every pitcher would be evaluated by a physical therapist and be given a series of exercises and/or stretches suited to her unique strengths and weaknesses.
If you have the opportunity to do this, then do it!
If not, here is what I would suggest:
If you are under 12 years old, your best cross-training is going to come strictly from playing other sports. That’s right. Don’t sweat any kind of weight lifting PLEASE! Play basketball. Play soccer. Start swimming. Go to the playground and master the monkey bars. No, I am not kidding. Early specialization always leads to injury. Playing multiple sports, on the other hand, makes you a better athlete.
This may also come as a surprise, but even as girls get a little older, I don’t like adding too much weight. Why? The growth plates are still open and getting too crazy with weights has the potential to cause damage. Additionally, getting strength without balance or flexibility will only hurt your pitching and diminish your ability to whip the ball. For ages 12 and up here are the programs that I like (none of these involve weight except for Shift Shop, but you can choose to do it without weight). All of these programs can be done in your home with minimal equipment. Links to the programs are all included for your convenience.
3 Week Yoga Retreat: Every athlete whom I have ever had do this program has improved tremendously. Yoga is not just for your body and your balance, but it also helps you to calm your mind. This is a relatively easy program so it can also be done during the season.
Piyo: This program is a little bit of a combination between yoga and pilates mixed in with a little bit of cardio. It is challenging for balance, tempo, and strength. I also like this package since it comes with strength slides, something we use a lot in pitching lessons to improve the efficacy of the drive leg.
Core de Force: This is one of my favorite programs of all time for pitchers. The kicks are so amazing for working on the kick leg (it’s such a similar motion) and you will be SWEATING. You will also be doing a lot of core work and using your own body weight to create strength. This program is particularly good if you struggle to use your legs well in your pitch.
Shift Shop: This is all agility work. I feel like so many of my athletes spend a crazy amount of money to do agility work when you can really just be doing it in your own home. Many of these workouts are designed to create speed and explosiveness. Ummm, yes please. I don’t think the weighted workouts are really necessary here. Working with the markers and doing all of that crazy jumping should be more than enough to enhance your performance.
I am also really looking forward to an upcoming program called Barre Blend. This is a ballet-inspired workout that is only available via early access as of right now. It does use light weights, but pitching is a lot more like ballet (in fast forward) than it is like football.
I hope this helps make quality cross-training accessible to every pitcher out there. I don’t want you guys turning into body builders who can’t touch their toes. Seriously. I don’t want you getting hurt trying to make yourself better. I want you doing programs that are truly suited to you. If you think that all of these programs look good and you want to be able to access ALL of them at any time from any device, simply click here.
I would also strongly recommend that, if you choose to try any products like Recover (incredible post-workout) in addition to your workout program that you stick to the plant-based version as it is much better for creating alkalinity and promoting optimal recovery. Whey and Casein formulas can also be very rough on your stomach.
As always, I love answering your questions, so feel free to reach out.
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