Almost daily I get a question about the best way to improve a baseball player’s arm strength. Many times it is the player himself, looking for an edge on the field. However, most of the time, it is from the parent wondering just how their son (or daughter) can improve his arm strength so they can be a better pitcher, or fielder on the diamond.
I always start by telling the player and/or parent that building arm strength in the baseball player (regardless of the position) has much more to do with building strength and power in the rest of the body then just working on “the throwing arm.”
Throwing a baseball is an extremely complex biomechanical motion. To do so (with accuracy and speed) the player needs an incredible amount of full body strength and key mobility in specific areas of the body.
Things like leg drive(strength and power), hip mobility, core strength, thoracic spine mobility, just to mention a few, are key in developing “arm strength” in the baseball player.
Working solely on the arm becomes futile if those other areas are not addressed.
Besides the above mentioned areas, having proper throwing mechanics will also determine whether “arm strength” in the baseball player is not only enough to help him make it through the season, but also ensure that he stays injury free and can keep improving as the season progresses.
A proper off season program that addresses leg strength and power, while also working on hip mobility, will do more for the throwing athlete than almost anything else.
Also, working continuously on core strength, thoracic mobility and baseball specific conditioning will improve baseball specific arm strength immensely.
While there are “arm specific” strengthening movements and exercises that every baseball player should do, building proper arm strength for the throwing athlete goes way beyond focusing only on that throwing arm.
The program needs to address the whole entire body, with both strength and mobility.
As the question about building “arm strength” and maintaining arm strength in the young baseball player keeps coming up, I am hopeful that the player, parent and coach will see and understand the big picture. In doing so, the player can ensure that he will have proper arm strength, stay healthy and continue to see performance improvements throughout the season or year!