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8/26/2014 11:51:51 PM - Damien
Hi Mark,

In your article a ways back on the in-season management of baseball pitchers you mention that overhead pressing should be regulated to limit shoulder wear. Would this change for a softball pitcher? Or for other overhead throwing athletes such as javelin throwers who have a much lower volume of throws due to the increased implement weight?
Also, not to go all Bret Contreras, but do you think anterior-posterior posterior chain work has a place in programs for pitchers/throwers? Or do you feel deadlift/rack pulls are preferable as force must be applied against the ground?

Thanks for your time


Excellent questions and I hope I can help. As far as regulating overhead pressing, if it were up to me, I would have all baseball players including pitchers overhead press all year round. Blasphemy, I know. And, it is ballsy for me to disagree with some great coaches like Eric Cressey and others who feel the risks outweigh the benefits. Depending on the characteristics of the AC joint, some players are more susceptible than others. The trouble is the amount of resistance you are going to get form payers and coaches just doesn't make it worth it. If one kid is even sore, that will end it all anyway. Not sure why every athlete who also out a tremendous amount of strain on the shoulder joint can overhead press put baseball pitchers can't. That is maybe my old school mentality, but properly taught and loaded, the overhead press can be safe and effective. Push presses and jerks may be another story. Here is my do this instead of that formula:

Overhead Press before weighted dips
Snatch before Clean

Yes, coaches that are afraid to load the overhead press yet have their athletes do dips with weight. That is a lot of pressure on the shoulder capsule.

Also, having athletes perform tons of horizontal presses and try to balance them with a few rear delt exercises.

Not saying baseball players should do Olympic lifts or not, but I would rather them do snatches than cleans. The torque on the elbows and pressure on the shoulder and wrist with cleans I feel have way more risk.

So for Baseball here are some safe alternatives if you are set on OHP and Olympic lifts.

Instead of Overhead Press:
- Half-Kneeling Landmine Press
- Incline Dumbbell Neutral Grip Press

Olympic Lifts
- Kettelbell Swings, High-pulls and even snatches
- targeted barbell high pulls
- dumbbell high Pulls

As far as making the same adjustments for softball players, volleyball players or javelin throwers; absolutely not.
With softball pitchers, the range of motion and sequencing is totally different than baseball which can explain why your ace softball pitcher can throw every game if need be. The biggest concern with softball pitchers is imbalances which can effect posture. Overall, underhand is a more natural movement. Stress on the elbow is reduced but it still can be a factor especially with breaking balls and twisting of the wrist and forearm.

Most of the imbalances I have seen have been with the pec and trap on the throwing side. Pay particular attention to T-Spine mobility via soft tissue work, mobility drills, and static stretching.

With volleyball, the extreme range of motion is not there because the hand isn't loaded (before striking the ball). With the javelin, the arm is relatively straight with the palm almost up (not very experienced with this one). so again, there is not as much stress on the elbow or shoulder.

Posterior Chain
As far as anterior-posterior PC training, I assume you mean the glute-bridge type exercises that have become extremely popular as of late. With any movments that people argue I tend to have the same stance (probably based on my "conjugated" type training background) and that is "do both".

What's better front squats or box squats? Do both.
What's better bench press or incline press? do both.
Bands or chains? both

Now I realize that adding more exercise into your program without replacing another leads to issues with volume, time, and mastery of movements. So, if I had to choose between deadlift variations and glute bridges, I would choose deadlifts for the reasons you are saying. Also, from a logistical standpoint, the loaded barbell glute-bridge takes more time and effort in my opinion to set up. I do feel however thre are way to include those into a training plan without replacing deadlifts and rack pulls.

1. incorporate into the warm-up as movement prep using bands
2. replace the deadlift on deload week with heavier barbell bridges.
3. use single leg variations where less weight is needed (using chains or plates).
4. Superset them with a quad dominant movement. This will also keep you athlete more active and focused. downtime is the enemy.

Damien, I hope this helps and I was able to answer your questions, or at least reinforce your beliefs. I wish you and all of your athletes the best and please contact me if there is anything you ever need, my friend.

Softball players may be tougher than baseball players,
Mark Watts

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