Physiology, Biomechanics, PerformanceVisuomotor

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PHYSIOLOGY (10)

Physiology of Baseball Pitching Dictates Specific Exercise Intensity (Szymanski, D.J. 2009)

  • Long slow distance running (LSD) has been the most popular form of aerobic exercise in baseball for 70 years
  • Several authors suggest using tempo/interval training if body composition is not an issue
  • RT + sprinting = 3.0% increase in throwing velocity and 4.2% increase in anaerobic power (in comparison to control who did aerobic exercise)
  • Aerobic vs Anaerobic conditioning in college baseball –> speed/speed endurance training increased vertical jump (lower body power) by 15.3%, while the aerobic group saw a decrease in vertical jump
  • Relieving stiffness and soreness
    • Brief arm soreness = microtrauma (overuse and repeated movement) or inflammatory response that occurs after microtrauma
    • Increasing blood flow to the area will increase the amount of white blood cell recruitment, which are essential in the phagocytosis of unwanted metabolites
    • Increasing blood flow will also decrease blood viscosity making the arm feel better
    • LSD does not flush lactic acid…nor does baseball pitching produce enough lactic acid that will lead to a decreased performance
    • Higher than “normal” lactate levels (>12mmol/L) = greater than 35 pitches in one inning with 3 seconds of rest in between (OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T HAPPEN IN BASEBALL)
    • High lactate levels generally return to baseline 45-60 minutes after high intensity exercise; there are no differences in lactate levels pre and post pitching outings…
    • Most arm soreness comes from muscle damage; specifically, eccentric exercise to the musculature
    • DOMS usually peaks 24-48 hours after exercise; 96 hours it fades away; protective mechanism
    • Another possibility is that the musculature has not been adapted to the new stresses placed on it; more pitches/innings than usual, or throwing with more intent than usual (could be from high arousal in a game)
  • Energy Systems
    • 95% Creatine Phosphate (CP-ATP) and 5% Glycolysis (77-94% max HR)
    • case study à college pitcher threw 9 inning game (3 hours 10 min)
      • innings 4-9 = max HR between 158-186 (up to 95.5% age predicted HRmax)
      • resting heart rate never went below 100
    • 7 inning simulated game (6 college baseball players)
      • 14 pitches per inning, 20 seconds rest between each pitch
      • 5 warm up pitches each inning
      • measured HR, lactic acid, serum glucose, CK, VO2, and lactate dehydrogenase
      • 45% VO2 max during simulated game, and approximately 70% age predicted HRmax
      • Anaerobic capacity and VO2max are not limiting to pitching performance; training should use the ATP-CP system
    • Sprints and interval training
    • Power, resistance, plyo training
    • If using age-predicted HRmax, use 70-90% to match pitching intensity

Discussion

  • Sprinting is one of the most athletic things to train. Do it often
  • DOMS occurs between 24-48 hours post activity. During this time, recovery is MOST important
  • Ice will not help your arm. Ice will only reduce inflammation. Since there is no inflammation, heat is best to reduce blood viscosity and increase white blood cell count


Effects of Varying Recovery Periods on Muscle Enzymes, Soreness, and Performance in Baseball Pitchers (Potteiger, Blessing, and Wilson)

Intro

  • Creatine kinase (CK) and Lactate dehydrogenase (LH) are two markers of muscle damage
  • Eccentric muscular actions produce the most amount of CK and LH; higher tensions by active muscle fibers during eccentric contraction
  • Purpose of the study was to examine different periods of recovery between outings on serum enzyme levels, muscle soreness, and performance

Methods

  • 10 males with prior experience to pitching (how much experience?)
  • followed an 18-day training program with a specified number of pitches at % of maximum velocity; started at 55 pitches, increased 5 each session ending up at 100 pitches
  • after warm up –> 14 pitches per inning, 6 minute rest between innings, until they threw predetermined number of pitches
  • Game A to Game B = 4 days rest
  • Game B to Game C = 2 days rest
  • Blood CK and LDH taken before exercise, immediately after, 6 hours after, 24 hours after, 48 hours after, and 72 hours after
  • Pitching velo was used for performance measurement (maintained 95% intensity)
  • Recorded perception of soreness in pitching arm and legs

Results

  • All 3 games saw increase in CK
    • Peak occurred 24 hours after game A and B
    • Peak occurred 6 hours after game C
    • Normalized 72 hours after
  • All 3 games saw increase in LDH
    • Peak occurred 6 hours after for each game
  • Reported no muscle soreness after each pitching performance
    • I don’t know any pitcher that felt sore IMMEDIATELY after they threw a game…this occurs during 24-48 hours after
  • Slight decrease in velocity in game C (2.7% lower than A, 1.9% lower than B)
  • Does not allow conclusions to be made about which muscle groups were involved in enzyme release and possible muscle damage (blood measures taken from non-pitching arm?)
  • Decrease in velocity may be a marker of fatigue

The Effects of Various Therapeutic Measures on Shoulder Strength and Muscle Soreness After Baseball Pitching (Yanagisawa, O., Miyanaga, Y., Shiraki, H., Shimojo, H., Mukai, N., Nitsu, M., and Itai, Y. (2003)

Intro

  • The popular recovery method remains to be ice and ice only
  • Previous research shows that aerobic development will aid in the recovery process for the baseball player
  • can ice, paired with light exercise, be just as beneficial as ice?

Methods

  • 7 pitchers threw 98 pitches in a simulated game
    • the power of this study is already not going to be great
  • 4 different groups for treatment included ice, light shoulder exercise, ice and light shoulder exercise, and the control (no treatment)
  • shoulder strength and muscle soreness were taken before pitching, immediately after pitching, at the time of the intervention, and 24 hours post pitching
    • shoulder strength was defined as shoulder abduction, internal rotation and external rotation at 0* of abduction, and rotation with the arm abducted at 90*

Results

  • All 4 groups showed losses in shoulder strength immediately after pitching
  • Light exercise and ice treatment showed the greatest “recovery” from immediately after pitching to 24 hours post pitching
    • this group also showed the greatest shoulder strength 24 hours post pitching
    • what is defined as “recovery”?
  • soreness in shoulder internal rotation was actually increased from post pitching and continued for 24 hours
  • the ice treatment group and the light exercise with ice treatment showed similar effects 


In-Game Heart Rate Responses Among Professional Baseball Starting Pitchers (Cornell, D.J., Paxson, J.L., Caplinger, R.A., Seligman, J.R., Davis, N.A., Flees, R.J., and Ebersole, K.T. (2017)

Intro

  • Pitching is a highly short-duration task, therefore it is considered an anaerobic activity
  • Little research has examined the in-game physiological intensity associated with baseball pitching
  • There is a direct relationship between heart rate and oxygen uptake, so researchers monitored heart rates during real-time games
  • However, psychological factors such as confidence, motivation, and arousal level will affect heart rates

Methods

  • 16 Single-A pitchers (average 22 years old) were asked to participate during real-time games
  • Pitchers wore the Bioharness to collect heart rate data (which has shown to be highly reliable)
  • LIMITATION –> it was “not possible” to collect same number of innings across all pitchers due to some pitchers getting taken out early
    • innings ranged from 8 to 104
  • in-game data was normalized to age-predicted maximal heart rate (220-age) to create a %HRmax

Results

  • In-game heart rate max across all innings averaged out to 85%
  • There was a statistically significant interaction effect between inning and game location
    • %HRmax was different across innings, but only during home starts
    • first and second innings were significantly higher than the other innings (the jitters, perhaps?)

Discussion

  • Results show that pitching does seem to be anaerobic in nature due to high percentage of heart rate max
  • simulated games and bullpen sessions may underestimate true physiological intensity of pitching
  • The physiological intensity of pitching may be heavily influenced by the psychological demands associated with competition
    • the changes were only seen in home starts
  • The first inning was always the highest percentage of heart rate, but then it lowered as the game went on
    • pitchers beginning to “settle in”
  • Interval training, sprints, and other high intensity exercises are recommended to enhance the anaerobic system of the baseball pitcher 

Indicators of Throwing Arm Fatigue in Elite Adolescent Male Baseball Players: A Randomized Crossover Trial (Freeston, J., Adams, R., Ferdinands, R.E.D., and Rooney, K. (2014)

Methods

  • Cross over design was used: throwing exercise and running exercise, to determine which bout would results in the most amount of arm soreness would occur
    • also looking at throwing velocity, accuracy in the strike zone, and proprioception of the throwing arm
    • accuracy was determined by horizontal error, vertical error, total error, absolute error, and variable error
  • Participants stated they had played within the past 18 months…however, if the last time they threw was 18 months ago, then these results will definitely not be applicable
    • THINK ABOUT IT: the more frequently you throw, the less you get sore due to the body becoming accustomed to this type of activity
  • Shoulder proprioception was taken in 5 different positions: 1.5cm apart from 74* of external rotation and 85*
    • the participants had to guess which position their arm was in when they externally rotated to an object (1 through 5)
  • Threw 10 pitches from the mound with 10 seconds between each pitch to minimize the fatigue effect
  • Cross over design
    • Throwing = 60 near-maximal effort throws over 60-feet long, each throw was separated by 10 seconds
    • Exercise = 20-m shuttle run test (the beep test) until exhaustion
  • After each exercise bout, throwing accuracy and shoulder proprioception was taken again
  • After 3 minutes rest…all measures were taken again

Results

    • Velocity was equally effected after RUN and THROW…interesting
      • Now, does velocity really show us how fatigued a pitcher is?
    • Total error and horizontal error accuracy was effected more after THROW than RUN
      • vertical error error was not effected
    • Velocity, soreness, and accuracy is affected from throwing…duh
      • velocity was the least affected
    • Usually, when pitchers keep missing “high” it is because they are fatigued, resulting from less trunk tilt at ball release. However, this was not found in this particular study. Rather, pitchers kept missing off the plate
      • could this be resulted from lack of conditioning from the trunk? The legs? Inability to control breathing?
    • The ONLY problem I have with this study is validity of some sort. The CAUSE of this arm fatigue was from throwing 60 near-maximal throws with 10 seconds between each throw. Yeah, if i threw 60 pitches in one inning, my coach would be escorted off the field and I would be pretty tired too.
  • SORENESS and ACCURACY, according to this study, are greater indicators of throwing fatigue, and not just velocity alone. Use your mouth first (ask your pitcher how he feels), and use your eyes second. 


Monitoring and Managing Fatigue in Baseball Players (Suchomel, T.J. and Bailey, C.A. (2014)

  • Throwing Velocity
    • Fatigued pitches show decrease in velo; significantly lesser during “final 2 innings” in comparison to the first 2
    • Trunk position becoming more vertical when fatigued = more reliance on the arm (negative energy displacement to the arm)
    • Decreased ROM at the GH joint and knee
    • Accumulate more innings = accumulate more fatigue
  • Pitch Count
    • Professional and college = 120 pitches for game (avg)
    • Negative relationship between pitch counts and subsequent performances
    • May look at amount of rest between performances…however this is usually a fixed amount of time
  • Running Times
    • Monitoring base running times throughout the season (home to first, first to third, stolen base); however, nothing has been published (yet)
    • Specific markers for position players have yet to be revealed!!!!
  • Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE)
    • Quantifying training load in athletes; comparing or adding load from the field is not easy
    • Modified Borg scale (1-10); athletes should be familiarized
    • Within 30 min of training
    • Adjustments to programming can be made based on session RPE
  • Perceived Recovery Status (PRS)
    • Laurent et al. à 0-10 scale (again, must be familiarized)
    • 0-2 = decline performance expected
    • 4-6 = similar performance expected
    • 8-10 = better performance expected
    • hopes to prevent accumulated fatigue during training
  • Body Composition
    • May lose LBM, or negative testosterone:cortisol (catabolism, bro)
    • Sum of skinfolds (3-site) may be the most reliant test to used with no access to a lab, as well as quickest test to use (what about bioimpedance)
    • Having access to body composition will allow for the coach to give nutritional advice
  • Vertical Jump/Rate of Force Development (RFD)
    • Decreased power output can be a sign of fatigue
    • Can be very sensitive to both acute and chronic fatigue
    • Hitting, throwing, running, jumping all require RFD


The Relation Between Anthropometric and Physiological Variables and Bat Velocity of High-School Baseball Players Before and After 12-Weeks of Training (Szymanski, D.J., Szymanski, J.M., Schade, R.L., Bradford, T.J., McIntyre, J.S., DeRenne, C., and Madsen, N.H.)

Intro

  • It is well known that being stronger allows for the player to swing harder and hit the ball farther
  • To determine if height, body mass, body fat percentage and lean body mass are at all correlated with rotational power, rotational strength, vertical jump, estimated peak power, total body strength, and angular velocities at the hip and shoulder
  • Rather than showing results of the study, the goal is to try and relay correlational data and how to interpret for Strength and Conditioning practices

Methods

  • 49 high school baseball players in either 2nd or 3rd year
    • Researchers made sure that a proper diet was maintained and no supplements were used, since this could compromise the results of the study
  • groups separated by class (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior) and body weight
  • Group 1 = 3-day full-body program, 100 swings per day with normal game bat
  • Group 2 = same as group 1, with additional medicine ball exercises
    • resistance training volume was not significantly different between 2 groups
    • started with HEAVY medicine balls to train fast-twitch fibers, slowly progressed to lighter medicine balls
  • Anthropometric tests =
    • striking a ball on a tee was used to measure angular hip and angular shoulder velocity
    • torso rotational strength (Cybex machine)
      • only limitation was that the participants were able to move their entire body, which is okay. However, the results may be compromised due to the inability to orchestrate same exact movement patterns consecutively
    • rotational power (2-lb. Medicine ball hitter’s throw, aka MB Scoop Toss)
      • Distance was used as the force output…apparently has a high test-retest reliability
    • vertical jump, estimated peak power (equation used to estimate)
    • 3RM bench press and squat

Results

  • PRE-measures
    • Lean body mass had a moderately-high significant correlation with bat velocity in both groups
    • Vertical jump had no significant correlation with bat velocity in both groups
    • Dominant torso rotational strength had a moderately-high significant relationship with bat velocity, but not in group 1
  • POST-measures
    • Both groups had an increase in bat velocity, but group 2 resulted in a higher correlation
    • The medicine ball hitters throw had a moderately-high significant correlation to bat velocity

Discussion

  • Taller players who weigh more will have greater lean body mass than a shorter player, resulting in a greater chance to produce more force
  • Lean body mass seems to be the greatest indicator of bat velocity 
  • Upper body and lower body strength had moderately-high significant correlations to bat velocity, which again stems from the amount of lean body mass
  • Contrary to popular belief, it is a myth that vertical jump predicts bat velocity
  • Adding rotational medicine ball exercises will aid in bat velocity development
  • Training status, maturation level, specificity of training, and mechanics must all be considered when programming to increase bat velocity


The Effect of Intermittent Vest Cooling on Thermoregulation and Cardiovascular Strain in Baseball Catchers (Bishop, S.H., Szymanski, D.J., Ryan, G.A., Herron, R.L., and Bishop, P.A. (2017)

Intro

  • Elevated temperatures outside result in a significantly increased core temperature of the body, which could impair muscle performance
  • Cooling before various athletic activities have shown to decrease core temperature, increase heat tolerance time, and decrease perceived exertion
  • The first study to investigate intermittent cooling for baseball catchers between innings

Methods

  • 6 catchers were recruited. Remember, the POWER of this study will not be strong
  • Familiarized with a heating chamber that emulated a hot and humid outside environment prior to testing
  • Participants caught 6 simulated games in the heat environment that consisted of 9-innings
    • participants caught two 3-series games
    • received 1 pitch every 20 seconds with a total of 12 pitches per inning for a total of 108 pitches per game (controlled variable)
  • 6 minutes of recovery were used between innings
    • 4 of which were used with a cooling vest
    • 6 minutes of no cooling
  • Rectal temperature was taken before and after each inning
  • Heart rate was monitored before and after each inning

Results

  • Significantly smaller rise in rectal temperature was found in the cooling treatment
  • Significantly lower mean recovery heart rate was found in the cooling treatment
  • Mean working heart rate was lower in the 9th inning for the cooling treatment group compared to the control
  • Significantly lower perceived exertion was found in the cooling treatment

Discussion

  • The interval nature of the game makes this study very applicable
  • Limitations = catchers ONLY caught and did not simulate running the bases, and for statistical reasons, the amount of work had to be constant throughout the groups
    • as we know, there are some innings where a catcher gets a beating behind the plate
  • The mechanism for vest cooling needs to be determined with future research
  • Vest cooling can decrease exertion, mean working heart rate, and lower recovery heart rates
    • future research with position players?


The Effect of Intermittent Arm and Shoulder Cooling on Baseball Pitching Velocity (Bishop, S.H., Herron, R.L., Ryan, G.A., Katica, C.P., and Bishop, P.A. (2016)

Intro

  • Pitchers will experience soreness and loss of strength in their throwing arm post-pitching
  • Ice has been used to decrease soreness and promote recovery
  • Cooling, or cryotherapy, can decrease symptoms of over-use pain, swelling, and inflammation
    • in some cases, it has shown to increase muscle fiber activation and improve sprint performance
    • there is conflicting results on DOMS
  • Recent research has showed that cryotherapy combined with light shoulder exercise were the most beneficial recovery methods during 24-hour recovery period
  • Which group of pitchers could 1. recover faster (physical recovery), 2. keep their velocity up, and 3. feel the most ready (mental/physiological recovery)

Methods

  • Pitchers threw a simulated 5-inning game, 1 pitch every 20 seconds
    • each inning was 12 pitches and given 6 minutes of rest between each inning
      • yes, this may not happen all the time, but researchers have to make sure that every is uniform inning-by-inning so they can use statistics to determine that the one intervention (cryotherapy) has an effect
      • what WOULD be interesting, is having the rest time a constant, but having a different amount of pitchers per inning
  • Pitchers reported an RPE (rating of perceived exertion) score of 6-20 post-pitching
    • This is the Borg scale…used for most for aerobic exercise.
    • 6 = no exertion, 20 = full exertion
  • Pitchers reposted a PRS (perceived recovery status) score of 1-10 post-pitching
    • 10 = fully recovered, 1 = not recovered
  • There were a total of 8 pitchers included in this study. Once reading this, we cannot take the power of this study with heavy weight
    • 5-7 days were taken between the 2 trials, this is known as a “crossover” design since each participant got through both conditions
  • Icing treatment = ice bag placed on the shoulder and forearm

Results 

  • When treated with ice between innings, pitchers were able to maintain throwing velocity. The greatest significant difference was seen in the 4th and 5th innings
  • For those who received the ice treatment, perceived exertion decreased by 35%
  • Not ONCE did the researchers mentioned how long the icing treatment was…and what the “intermittent” part was. This is pretty important information.
  • There is not enough “power” to this study, nor enough information to say “yeah, let’s try icing between innings and see what happens…” remember, you have parents paying money to watch their son pitch.

Assessment of Professional Baseball Players Aerobic Exercise Performance Depending on Their Positions (Yang, S.W. 2014)

Intro 

  • VO2max is used to evaluate an individual’s capacity to aerobic exercise. This “max” must be adjusted to bodyweight
    • However, baseball is not aerobic. Or, is it partly?
  • Lactate threshold is defined as an individuals capacity to exercise without producing any lactate. A higher “threshold” would be advantageous.
  • Do position players have a greater energy output than pitchers?

Methods and Results

  • 46 pitchers and 78 fielders
  • Performed an aerobic incline-walking test until exhaustion
  • Pitchers VO2 = 53.64 mL/kg, Position Players VO2 = 52.30 mL/kg
    • HOWEVER, high school baseball players VO2 max is greater than professional players.
    • These numbers are also biased because the atmospheric conditions are different in Japan where the study was conducted
  • The researchers keep stating “other endurance athletes” and this is where I say are we really calling baseball an endurance sport?


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BIOMECHANICS (21)

In-Season Functional Shoulder Training for High School Baseball Pitchers (R. Jason Brummitt)

Intro

  • Each phase of the throwing motion places different types of stress on the shoulder, which leads to different muscles firing/sequencing
  • Maximal external rotation can be anywhere from 170-170 degrees
  • Extreme ranges of motion are needed to throw hard. However, with loads of stress, lack of conditioning, and poor mechanics, this will all lead to injury

Muscle Firing 

  • External rotators –> Infraspinatus, Teres minor
  • Scapular stabilizers –> Serratus anterior, Rhomboids
  • Decelerators –> Supraspinatus, Infrapsinatus, Teres minor
    • Internal rotators –> Subscapularis, Latissimus dorsi, Pec major
    • tend to get very “tight”
  • Rotator cuff activity increases through the arm cocking phases
    • In the late cocking phase, there can be up to 650 N (143-lb.) of compressive forces
    • During deceleration, the shoulder literally comes out of the socket momentarily: 400 N of posterior shear forces, 300 N of inferior shear forces, and more than 1,000 N of compressive forces

Muscular Adaptations 

  • Throwing without taking care of your arm = poor scapular control and function, poor external rotation strength, limited shoulder mobility/flexibility
    • this alters the position of the shoulder joint at rest; usually the front of the joint is compromised
    • supraspinatus is usually the weakest of the rotator cuff group
  • A restricted posterior shoulder = humeral head anterior translation (ball-of-the-socket moves forward) and limits the amount of internal rotation during deceleration
    • this is why baseball players should be training their internal rotators…not just stretching them out all the time. A little bit of both will go a long way

In-Season Conditioning Considerations 

  • If the joint is stuck, move it around. If the joint moves to much, stabilize it.
    • much more important to maintain proper mobility
  • Mobilize the posterior shoulder and the pecs
  • Maintain previous physiological adaptations from the entire body, without performing too much volume from the previous phase
  • Since the arm goes into rapid deceleration, use exercises that put the arm in rapid external rotation to maintain strength and durability
  • Be sure that the plyometric-exercises are performed once per week
    • rapid wall bounces
    • backwards partner catches
    • ball taps/ball drops

Biomechanics of the Elbow in the Throwing Athlete (Fleisig, G.S. and Escamilla, R.F.)

Stride Phase

  • From push off to the front foot landing
  • The elbow should be flexed anywhere between 80-100 degrees at front foot strike

Arm Cocking Phase

  • From from foot landing to maximal external rotation; this is when the arm cocks/coils
  • This is when the pelvis begins to rotate towards home plate and the trunk stays back while the arm gets into position
  • The elbow and forearm muscles show the greatest activity right before maximal external rotation to resist large valgus forces at the elbow
  • The UCL contributes around 54% of the total load placed on the elbow, which results in 30-40nm of force.
    • this is near the UCL’s maximal tensile load tolerance!
  • Muscle contractions at the elbow take the tensile forces off of the UCL. Therefore, you DO need a strong forearm to take stress off the UCL
    • the forces become greater when throwing a curveball or slider due to increased supination of the forearm
    • 240-360N of force applied to the elbow to resist lateral translation of the forearm
  • The elbow achieves maximum flexion (85-105*) approximately 30 milliseconds before maximal external rotation of the shoulder, which is controlled by the tricep muscle both eccentrically and isometrically

Arm Acceleration

  • Highlighted from the moment of maximal external rotation to ball release
    • The FASTEST motion in ALL sports
  • Maximal elbow velocity is similar among all pitches except for the changeup, which shows to be significantly less
  • Elbow angular velocity comes from the rotational forces from all the other joints of the body, not from the elbow and triceps alone
  • Ball velocity at release is generated from other body segments rather than the upper extremities alone

Arm Deceleration and Follow-Through

  • From ball release to maximal internal rotation of the shoulder
  • The elbow flexors show moderate to high eccentric contractions to control excessive extension and pronation at the elbow
  • Internal rotation at the lead hip and rotation of the trunk over the lead hip take the eccentric stress off the elbow. This is why mobility and stability in certain positions will save your arm!


Relationships Between Bat Swing-Speed and Muscle Thickness and Asymmetry in Collegiate Baseball Players (Tschuikane, R., Higuchi, T., Suga, T., Wachi, M., Misaki, J., Tanaka, D., Miyake, Y., and Isaka, T. (2016)

Intro

  • In rotational striking sports, athletes have a dominant side. Is there a difference in trunk muscle thickness on either side of the trunk? And, is this difference related to bat swing speed?

Methods

  • 24 collegiate baseball players
  • Took 5 swings off of a tee, bat swing speed was measured; the first 3 fastest speeds were taken as a mean
  • Asymmetry % for the trunk was determined by (dominant side thickness / dominant side thickness – non-dominant side) x 100
  • Used intraclass correlation coefficients to make sure that they were actually measuring what they were supposed to measure, and do so in a reliable manner

Results 

  • Significant positive correlation between trunk thickness and bat swing speed
    • specifically, the abdominal wall and multifidus lumborum
  • Non-dominant side, interestingly, had a thicker abdominal wall and multifidus, but was NOT correlated to bat swing speed
  • The abdominal wall has greatest EMG activity during the loading phase and follow through phase of the hitting motion
  • Muscle thickness of the upper and lower limbs did not correlate with bat swing speed…remember, this is a COLLEGE population here

Discussion

  • In most cases, as skill levels increases, the level of training increases with it
  • In other studies, players who have a low relative strength (like the Bench press) have low swing velocity. When those players got stronger, then those players had a higher swing velocity
  • If you’re already strong, chasing more bilateral strength may not be the answer. Get stronger in planes that matter!
  • Lateral asymmetry is important…REDUCE YOUR RISK OF LOW-BACK INJURY! #BeASwitchHitter


The Relationship Between Gluteal Muscle Activation and Throwing Kinematics in Baseball and Softball Catchers (Plummer, H., and Oliver, G. (2014)

Intro

  • Catchers have a shorter stride to throw, more open foot position, and reduced hip-shoulder separation when compared to pitchers
  • Catchers also show a shorter angle at the elbow during the arm cocking phase and less forward trunk tilt at ball release
  • What is the relationship between gluteal muscle activation and pelvis and trunk kinematics when catchers throw to second base?
  • Gender differences were also considered in this study

Methods

  • 42 baseball (22) and softball (20) catchers recruited for the study, free from injury for 6 months (which is important because this will alter throwing mechanics)
  • One athletic trainer performed Manual Muscle Testing (MMT) to receive EMG data for muscle contraction. Each contraction was held for 5 seconds, and the first and last second was removed for data analysis (in other words, only the peak contraction was recorded)
  • Kinematics were separated by 4 different phases: front foot contact, maximal external rotation of the shoulder, ball release, and maximal internal rotation of the shoulder
  • Each catcher was asked to perform 5 accurate throws down to second base

Results

  • Stride leg glute max activity was greatest during the arm acceleration phase of throwing
  • Stride leg glue medius activity was greatest during the deceleration phase of throwing
  • Drive leg glute max activity was greatest during the acceleration phase of throwing
  • The magnitude of trunk rotational velocity was greater than pelvic rotational velocity
  • There were no significant differences between genders

Discussion 

  • Drive leg glute max activity was correlated with trunk flexion at front foot strike. Therefore, the front leg acts as a stabilizer when the arm is accelerating towards second phase, similar to the pitching motion
  • The stride leg glute medius contracts more and more as the catcher goes through the throwing motion, further indicating that a strong front leg is needed to produce a strong and accurate throw
  • For catchers, pelvic and trunk rotation occur simultaneously, which is slightly different from the pitching motion
    • In other words, catchers do not fully utilize trunk rotation at maximal external rotation simply because the body does not have time for that extra counter movement
  • Catchers of all ages and abilities should learn how to control the hips in both a dynamic and isometric environment 


Kinematic and Kinetic Comparison of Baseball Pitching Among Various Levels of Development (Fleisig, G.S., Barrentine, S.W., Zheng, N., Escamilla, R.F., and Andrews, J.M. (1999)

Methods

  • 231 pitchers were analyzed
    • 23 youth (10-15 y.o.)
    • 33 high school (15-20 y.o.)
    • 115 college (17-23 y.o.)
    • 60 professional (20-29 y.o.)
  • kinematic, kinetic, and temporal values were produced for 3 different pitches
    • 16 total positional and velocity parameters were analyzed

Results

  • 6 velocity parameters were significantly different between age levels
    • At front foot contact, elbow flexion was less between youth and high school players, high school and college players
    • During the arm cocking phase, college players showed a greater pelvic rotational velocity than professional pitchers
    • During the arm cocking phase, college and professional pitchers showed a greater upper torso rotational velocity than the younger players
    • During arm acceleration, college and professional pitchers showed a greater elbow extension velocity
    • During arm acceleration, college pitchers showed a greater internal rotation velocity then high school pitchers
  • Since mechanics and positional parameters were not significantly different between groups, younger pitchers should be taught proper pitching mechanics
  • Most of the differences that were seen between groups were most likely due to differences in height, mass, and strength levels
    • allow young kids to throw often. Arm speed is needed for velocity as they develop
  • It MUST be known that older, more experienced players are at a greater risk of arm injury due to the greater amount of torque they are placing on joints. For ALL age levels, a proper strength and conditioning program must be in place
    • labral injuries may increase from combination of anterior humeral translation, compression, and internal rotation
    • the biceps are most active during arm deceleration. Should players get some arm-farm in to save an elbow? I think, yes!

The Influence of Lumbopelvic Control on Shoulder and Elbow Kinetics in Elite Baseball Pitchers (Laudner, K.G., Wong, R., and Meister, K. (2019)

Intro

  • Previous research has shown that poor motor control can lead to a negative effect on pitching performance and increase the risk of injury 
  • There is no current research on lumbopelvic control and the stress placed on the throwing arm 

Methods

  • 43 pitchers participated in this study (all were asymptomatic, which is very important)
  • Single leg stability test was used: anterior-posterior tilt was measured bilaterally
    • my question is, why did they rule out lateral pelvic tilt and poor anti-rotation?
  • Shoulder and elbow kinetics were measured with a 3D high-speed camera 
  • Purely correlational data, there were no control groups

Results

  • There was no statistical relationship between the stride leg and any of the pitching variables 
  • There was no statistical relationship between the drive leg and maximum shoulder distraction force, shoulder external rotation torque, or elbow distraction force
  • The drive leg showed a significant relationship between shoulder horizontal torque and elbow valgus torque 
  • As the drive leg is pushing back into the mound, the stride leg is beginning to open up towards home plate, and the arm begins to horizontally abduct to get into the proper arm slot positioning
    • if the pitcher is not able to control as much torque with the lower half as possible, the timing of the arm will be off 
  • Including lumbopelvic control drills along with arm movement can help create motor control in the pitcher 
  • Rotational pelvic strength/core strength can decrease the amount of torque placed on the arm 

Relationships Between Ball Velocity and Throwing Mechanics in Collegiate Baseball Pitchers (Werner, S.L., Suri, M., Guido Jr., J.A., Meister, K., and Jones, D.G. (2008)

Intro 

  • There are certain timing mechanisms that must occur to throw hard. It is the efficient timing from stride foot contact to arm cocking to arm acceleration to ball release that will allow the thrower to see an increase in velocity
  • This study hypothesizes that multiple variables in the throwing motion would explain 100% of the variability in ball speed

Methods

  • 54 college baseball pitchers. 34 RHP and 20 LHP
  • Radar gun was used to assess the ball velocity of each pitch. Pitches that were thrown for strikes were used for data analysis
  • Temporal phases include: stride foot contact, arm cocking, arm acceleration, ball release, follow through
  • 26 reflective markers were placed on the body to determine joint positioning and angular velocities

Results 

  • Each reflective marker was chosen as an independent variable to determine the correlated value with throwing velocity
  • Average fastball velocity was 79 +/-  7mph
    • I would like to see a higher average and a smaller standard deviation. If you really think about it, college kids are throwing harder than 86 now
  • Mean maximal external rotation was 157*
  • At ball release, the lead knee was flexed around 58* and the trunk was forward flexed at 55*

Discussion

  • Ball velocity was most affected by …
    • Bodyweight
    • decreased time from stride foot contact to maximal external rotation
    • knee flexion and elbow flexion at stride foot contact
    • how long the head remained “over” the hips (aka keeping the weight back)
    • maximal ER
    • maximal trunk rotational speed
    • knee extension and trunk flexion at ball release
  • If you want to throw harder, make sure you weigh enough
    • Generally speaking, what I’ve seen from Dr. Heenan, take your height in inches, multiple it by 2.5, and that is your “minimal ideal bodyweight”
  • A more flexed elbow will be able to move quicker in space
  • Being able to extend the knee during ball release allows the trunk to flex over the front hip, allowing for greater ball speeds
    • when the trunk begins to forward flex at ball release, this gives the baseball more time to travel during the arm acceleration phase


Kinematic Comparisons of Throwing Different Types of Baseball Pitches (Escamilla, R.F., Fleisig, G.S., Barrentine, S.W., Zheng, N., and Andrews, J.M. (1998)

Intro

  • Pitchers may want to produce similar kinematics between pitches to create a “tunnel” effect on the hitters
  • The average professional fastball reaches home plate in 0.5 seconds. It takes the human brain to process a visual stimulus in 0.35, leaving 0.15 seconds to decide to actually swing or not
  • No study has looked at the slider and changeup for kinematic data. The purpose was to compare these pitches with the fastball and curveball
  • “off speed” pitches should be quite similar in regard to velocity, largely because the hitter is easily able to detect a change in velocity rather than movement

Methods

  • 16 pitchers from NCAA Division 1 free from injury in the past 12 months
  • Pitches were throw in in randomized order and blinded from the participants
    • 5-8 pitches for each pitch variation, 30-60-seconds rest between each pitch
  • 3 trials per pitch variation were analyzed for each participant
  • 10 temporal measures were measured from the time the front foot contacted the ground all the way until ball release
  • 26 kinematic parameters were analyzed

Results

  • 16/26 parameters were significantly different
    • At lead foot contact, 3/8 kinematic parameters were significantly different
    • At arm acceleration and ball release, all 9 kinematic parameters were significantly different
  • Kinematic differences were greatest between the fastball and changeup
  • Limitation to the results was the omission of wrist and hand velocities/motions
    • Another limitation was that only 7 of the pitchers threw a slider, so those results don’t hold much power when comparing to other types of pitches
  • Mean of maximum upper torso angular velocity was 10% later for the changeup when compared to the curveball.
    • Does this tell us that slight early trunk rotation is needed to create more spin at ball release for the curveball?
  • Maximum pelvis and upper torso angular velocity was 5-10% greater in the fastball in comparison to the curveball
    • At ball release, knee flexion and shoulder horizontal adduction (towards the body) were 15-25% greater for the curveball, and fastball velocity was 25% greater
    • The rate of knee extension was greater during the fastball, and less during the curveball. In this population, this could be because the participants were slightly slowing their body segments to “throw a strike”
  • Stride length was 5% shorter during the curveball than the fastball. Why would we change mechanics for different pitches? Not only does the pitcher think about where the foot needs to be placed, but add that on top of throwing a strike
    • As a counter argument, maybe this 5% doesn’t matter and cannot be seen from the batters view
  • FINALLY I FOUND A STUDY THAT SAYS “WHAT IS LEAD FOOT CONTACT”?!
    • “Lead foot contact could be defined as when the toe, heel, or any part of the foot firs contacts the pitching mound or it could be defined as when the lead foot is flat on the pitching mound”
  • No significant differences were found between the curveball and fastball for the time of maximum elbow flexion and the time of maximum shoulder external rotation
  • Fastball and changeup had the greatest differences…
    • The changeup showed continuing knee FLEXION, rather than knee EXTENSION. Angular velocities were way off too. Were the pitchers trying to baby their changeup? Sounds like it
  • The curveball showed greater external rotation in comparison to the changeup
    • Again, I think their changeups in this study were being babied and not thrown like fastballs
    • The curveball showed 30% more lateral trunk tilt, probably because pitchers are told to “stay on top” of the curveball
  • In this specific study, the curveball and fastball did NOT show too many kinematic differences, whereas the changeup and fastball showed the MOST differences
    • This is not to say that every pitcher needs to throw their curveball all the time. Some days you will have it, some days you’ll get clobbered!
  • In this specific study, the fastball and slider showed the MOST similar kinematics
    • Only differences were forward trunk tilt at ball release and ball velocity
    • HOWEVER, only 7 pitchers actually threw a slider, so these results don’t really mean much to me
  • In this specific study, the changeup showed a greater front knee flexion at ball release than the slider


Do Mound Height and Pitching Distance Affect Youth Baseball Pitching Mechanics? (Fleisig, G.S., Diffendaffer, A.Z., and Ivey, B. (2018)

Intro

  • With youth injuries on the climb, researchers are trying to investigate multiple avenues of baseball performance
  • It has been suggested that eliminating the pitching mound in youth baseball will take joint stress off of the youth athlete
  • It has also been suggested that rushing a pitcher from a youth mound to an adult mound will likely increase arm stress

Methods

  • 21 young baseball pitchers (avg. age = 12) threw 5 full-effort pitches from multiple pitching lengths and mound heights
    • 14.06 meters, 16.46 meters, and 18.44 meters from a 25-cm mound height
    • 16.46 meters from a 15-cm mound height 
    • 16.46 meters from flat ground 
  • A full camera 3D motion system was used to capture pitching biomechanics from multiple lengths and mound heights 
  • Each group of 5 pitches were thrown in random order 

Results

  • No differences were found in ball velocity, shoulder kinetics, elbow kinetics, with mound height 
  • 10 kinematic (positional) parameters were found to be different with mound height, including 8 at front foot contact
    • maximum shoulder horizontal adduction torque force and maximum shoulder anterior force increased with pitching distance 

Discussion

  • Several kinematics differences were found at front foot contact. However, most of the rapid body position changes that occur after front foot contact did not seem to change with mound heights
  • Throwing distance seemed to increase both shoulder kinetics (velocities) and kinematics (body position), resulting in more force/torque being placed on the throwing shoulder 
  • It is important for youth baseball players to slowly transition to the adult mound: 46-feet for 8-10 year olds, 54-feet for 11-13 year olds, 60.5-feet for ages 13+


Shoulder Muscle Endurance: The Development of a Standardize and Reliable Protocol (Jean-Sebastien Roy, Ma, B., MacDermid, J.C., and Woodhouse, L.J. (2011)

Intro

  • NO study has looked at a standard protocol to measure muscular endurance in the shoulder
  • An assessment of local muscular endurance requires an individual to perform a series of repeated sub-maximal contractions at 50-80% of maximum mean peak torque

Methods 

  • 36 healthy adults participated with no history of injuries to their dominant arm
  • performed 5-RM and 3 isometric peak contractions on the dominant arm in shoulder flexion and external rotation at 90*
    • immediately following the shoulder endurance protocol, these measures were taken again
  • A dynamometer was used to measure the 5-RM isokinetic internal/external rotation velocity at 60*/second
  • Each participant performed 60 repetitions of internal/external rotation at 50% mean peak torque of at least 60*/second
  • A modified Borg scale (1-10) was used to measure RPE before and after the endurance protocol

Results

  • Maximal isometric strength was significantly decreased after the endurance protocol for the entire group
  • Isokinetic mean peak torque remained unchanged after the endurance protocol
  • Test-retest reliability of the post-fatigue and isokinetic and isometric strength measures was “excellent” (ICC > 0.84)

Discussion

  • 60 repetitions at 50% of isokinetic mean peak torque was able to induce local muscular fatigue to the shoulder
  • The high test-retest reliability, in other words, shows that this test was able to repeated again while showing similar results
  • For baseball performance, a variation of this muscular endurance test may be used before and after a baseball season to further study the loss of shoulder strength?
  • In the early offseason, reassess the shoulder strength on your throwing side. Most likely, it is going to be weak. Slowly progress from lighter weight of slow, controlled movements to more dynamic movements that require more muscle force to be produced from the shoulder musculature


Electromyographic Analysis of Lower Limbs During Baseball Batting (Nakata, H., Miura, A., Yoshie, M., Kanosue, K., and Kudo, K. (2013)

Intro

  • This study was looking at differences between “skilled” and “unskilled” baseball players
  • Previous studies have looked at muscle activity (EMG) during the baseball swing, but only one has looked at the lower limbs
    • trail leg EMG was recorded in semimembranosus (hamstring muscle), biceps femoris (hamstring muscle), and the vastus medialis (quad muscle)
  • It has been reported that the gluteus muscle group is highly active during the pitching motion. Since hitting is also a rotational movement, we can theorize that the same muscle groups would be active during the swing
  • Differences in swing EMG will show the timing of each movement, the muscle activity from phase to phase, and the peak amplitude of each muscle

Methods 

  • sEMG data and high speed cameras were used to time from phase to phase
  • participants hit a ball during soft toss in an indoor facility
  • 10 right handed skilled male players, 10 right handed unskilled male players
    • all had collegiate level experience, mean experience was 12 years
    • unskilled players played other sports and had experience swinging a bat but were never taught the correct way
  • sEMG was used bilaterally
    • rectus femoris (quad muscle), tibialis anterior (shin muscle), biceps femoris (hamstring muscle), and the medial gastrocnemius (calf muscle)
  • 60 batting trials were recorded
    • 45 “swing” trials and 15 “stopping” trials
      • stopping trial was defined as when the player stopped his swing
      • the thrower started the toss movement but stopped before releasing the ball…why they used this, I don’t know. Nothing was analyzed.
  • maximal voluntary isometric contractions (MVIC) for 4 seconds were used to determine % of MVIC during the swing based on sEMG
    • was taken AFTER the swing trials so fatigue would not affect the swings
  • the swing was divided into 7 different phases, where previous research used 4 and 3 phases
    • waiting
    • shifting body weight
    • stepping
    • landing
    • swing
    • impact
    • follow-through

Results 

  • the starting time was much earlier in baseball players when compared to the novices for shifting body weight, stepping, and landing
  • the starting time for the swing was much later in baseball players when compared to novices
    • showing us that baseball players time their swing more efficiently. A later swing time means the swing is shorter to the ball at impact
  • peak amplitude of sEMG activity was much larger in baseball players when compared to novices
  • shifting body weight occurred 1,418 ms before ball impact, stepping occurred 905 ms before ball impact, landing was 417 ms before ball impact, and the swing was 243 ms before ball impact

Discussion

  • MY question is, if the authors noted how important the glutes are during the throw and the swing, why was sEMG not used? Big limitation
  • the PEAK amplitude of sEMG activity was MUCH larger in skilled players, noting that these skilled players actually “used” their legs during the swing
    • novice players showed no body weight shift to the back foot
  • skilled players started each movement much earlier to get prepared for swinging the ball to make impact at the ball
  • The swing motion shows us that it is a series of kinetic movements: transferring energy from the lower limbs, to the trunk, to the upper limbs, to the bat, and finally to the ball
  • Did players use their “normal” swing during these trials since soft toss was used rather than live pitching? I’m sure results would be a little different
  • Previous studied have reported the importance of the external obliques and erector spinae to maintain a proper spinal angle to achieve rotation in the swing
  • SINGLE LEG TRAINING! Bilateral squatting is great for total force production, but may not be the most specific
    • Use lateral lunges and single leg squat variations that mimic the swinging motion to create a more powerful and timely swing 


The Effects of Baseball Bat Mass Properties on Swing Mechanics, Ground Reaction Forces, and Swing Timing (Laughlin, W.A., Fleisig, G.S., Aune, K.T., and Diffendaffer, A.Z. (2016)

Intro

  • Shortening the swing time and increasing the decision time for the hitter is the most ideal situation for the hitter
  • Adding an external weight further from the bat’s axis of rotation increases the moment of inertia, making it more difficult to accelerate 
  • Warming up with weighted bats have shown to decrease swing velocity, and lighter bats can actually enhance swing velocity prior to swinging a game bat
  • It has been reported that linear bat velocity is correlated with moment of inertia, and not with bat mass. An altered moment of inertia effects the timing mechanisms used in the swing 
  • The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of bat mass properties on live swing mechanics, ground reaction forces, and timing
  • Primary hypothesis was that the kinematics of a weighted bat at the handle would have similar kinetics to that of a normal game bat
  • Secondary hypothesis was that both weighted bat conditions would not maintain equivalent peak ground reaction forces and timing 
  • Final hypothesis was that there would be no differences in swing timing among all the bat conditions 

Methods

  • 40 college baseball players participated in this study
  • Condition 1 = standard bat (34 in., 31 oz.)
  • Condition 2 = handle weighted bat (34 in., 60 oz)
  • Condition 3 = barrel weighted bat (34 in., 31 oz. bat with a 21 oz. sleeve)
  • Prior to investigation, the mass center and moment of inertia were measured in each bat 
  • Motions of the bat were measured in a 3D motion capture system 
  • Participants were allowed to warm up prior to testing. The back foot started on one force plate and the front foot landed on another force plate 
  • All 3 bats were tested in a randomized order for each participant 
  • 5 successful trials were obtained for each swing, and maximal rest time was administered 

Results 

  • The center of rotation at the instant of ball contact was NOT the same for the standard bat and weighted bats
    • standard bat = 1 cm up from the knob
    • both weighted bats = 3 cm up from the knob 
  • The barrel-weighted bat was different in 5/6 kinematic variables 
  • The handle-weighted bat was different in 1/6 kinematic variables 
  • Both weighted bat conditions maintained equivalent peak ground reaction forces with the standard bat throughout the swing 
  • The barrel-weighted bat showed similar timing in rear foot peak vertical force, lead foot support, and maximum linear bat velocity 
  • The handle-weighted bat showed similar timing in the rear foot peak vertical force and lead foot support 

Discussion

  • 5/6 kinematic variables in the handle-weighted bat showed less than a 5% change from the standard bat, while only one variable was less than a 5% change with the barrel-weighted bat 
  • The barrel-weighted bat failed to maintain equivalence in velocity-related components to the swing due to an altered swing trajectory 
  • The increased moment of inertia from the barrel-weighted bats decreases the lag between the wrist and elbow angle, which may be due to the lead arm stabilizing the swing and the trail arm driving the swing 
  • Weighted bat training does not increase force contributions from the lower half during the swing 
  • Since the time from lead foot contact to ball contact was similar between the handle-weighted bat and standard bat, it took hitters longer to reach their peak bat velocity after they started the swing with the handle-weighted bat 
  • The kinematics of the handle-weighted bat were similar to the standard bat
  • If you still would like to perform barrel-weighted training, make sure to choke up on the bat approximately 3cm to meet the axis of rotation correctly 


Kinematic Analysis of the Wrist and Forearm During Baseball Pitching (Barrentine, S.W., Matsuo, T., Escamilla, R.F., Fleisig, G.S., and Andrews, J.R. (1998)


Hip and Shoulder Range of Motion in Youth Baseball Pitchers (Oliver, G.D., and Weimar, W.H. (2016)

Intro

  • There is a fine line between mobility stability, and this is exactly what we see in youth athletes. For pitchers, there needs to be a good amount of internal rotation of the drive hip and external rotation of the throwing arm. Together, these act as a couple timing mechanism.
  • Usually, the youth show us premature trunk rotation (aka no hip-shoulder separation)

Methods

  • 26 youth baseball players, approximately 11-years old, had to be free of injury in the past 6-months. This is important because previous injury will compromise joint mechanics
  • Passive Range of Motion (PROM) tests were taken from both hips and the throwing arm
    • Total ROM wa calculated with internal rotation (IR) and external rotation (ER)
    • hip ROM was taken in seated position with knees bent at 90*, and the leg positioned at 90* of hip flexion
      • this measurement is VERY important because if taken from a supine (on the back) position, it would be easier for the subject to cheat and hike one hip over to the side. On a table, you can clearly see when one side of the hip will hike up, showing a true measurement
    • For the throwing arm, participants were in a supine position, arm was elevated to 90* of abduction in the coronal (scapular) plane
      • measurement was taken as soon as there was scapular movement
  • Correlation coefficients were used to determine significance

Discussion 

  • There was a significant correlation between back hip IR and shoulder ER
  • Rotation of the hips cannot be isolated…it comes from the flexion and abduction of the hip first before rotation


Stride Leg Ground Reaction Forces Predict Throwing Velocity in Adult Recreational Baseball Pitchers (McNally, M.P., Borstad, J.D., Onate, J.A., and Chaudhari, A.M.W. (2015)

Methods

  • 18 competitive players with “competitive experience” were recruited; 6 of which were PO’s, the remaining 12 were position players with pitching experience. Already a flag being raised for the ecological validity of the study
  • Each participant threw 15 fastballs from the mound into a net in front of the mound
  • Last 5 pitches of first 15 were analyzed to ensure fatigue was NOT a factor; good idea

Results 

  • Drive leg force was NOT correlated to peak wrist velocity. This makes sense, since you’re simply measuring two separate factors. Arm acceleration had a significant relationship with wrist velocity
  • Drive leg forces in the vertical and posterior force vectors (most importantly, pushing posteriorly into the mound) were significantly correlated with peak wrist velocity in the arm cocking and arm acceleration phases
  • Drive leg force in the POSTERIOR direction was the greatest predictor of wrist velocity

Discussion

  • What bothers me about this study is that in the title, they say Throwing Velocity is predicted by stride leg ground reaction force. However, there were ZERO measures of throwing velocity in this study. Boo.
  • The drive leg force is most important during the arm-cocking phase of the throwing motion 
  • This study doesn’t tell us much since the results were so scattered. First, only 5 of the participants were actually pitchers, and there were no indications if these pitchers even made it to college or not. Poor study.


The Relationship Between Age and Baseball Pitching Kinematics in Professional Baseball Pitchers (Dun, S., Fleisig, G.S., Loftice, J., Kingsley, D., and Andrews, J.M (2007)

Intro

  • Previous research has shown that total joint range of motion decreases with age
  • The “prime” in a baseball career ranges from 19-27, usually towards the later years
  • Pitching kinematics are most likely different between age groups

Methods

  • 67 pitchers were tested; older group and younger group
    • one standard deviation above the mean = “older” group
    • one standard deviation below the mean = “younger” group
  • Ball velocity was measured with the JUGS radar gun, and kinematics were analyzed with a 6-camera, three-dimensional motion analysis system
  • 5 of the highest pitches thrown for strikes were used for analysis

Results

  • at lead foot contact, the younger group had a stride length 5% longer than the older group
  • the pelvis and upper trunk were in more “closed” positions, indicating that experience allows for the player to stay closed for a longer period
  • younger group showed 10* more external rotation, and a trend showed that external rotation decreased with age
  • angular velocities were NOT different between groups
  • younger group had a less flexed knee at ball release and a greater forward trunk tilt at ball release
    • other research in javelin throwers show that greater output velocities come from a more extended front knee at release
  • since body height, body weight, and velocity was not different between groups, age is most likely the contributing factor
  • interestingly, in other research, tennis players do not show great differences between shoulder external rotation in the dominant and non-dominant arms
    • perhaps, playing tennis could be a good “secondary” sport for pitchers?
  • To gain external rotation, keep throwing!
    • Important at a young age to develop humeral retroversion


The Relationship Between the Push Off Ground Reaction Force and Ball Speed in High School Baseball Pitchers (Oyama, S., and Myers, J.B. (2017)

Intro

  • previous research suggests that ground reaction forces through the back leg have a correlation to ball velocity
  • No studies have looked at GRF and ball velocity in the high school population

Methods

  • Cross-sectional study design
  • 52 high school players (40 RHP, 12 LHP)
  • Force plates were used on the pitching mound to determine GRF
    • impulse produced by the body results in forward momentum towards home plate
  • The number of pitches was NOT recorded…however, analysis was used for the 3 fastest pitches thrown for strikes

Results 

  • There were no significant relationships between ground reaction force and ball speed
  • During push off, participants averaged 1.3x bodyweight of vertical force and 0.5x bodyweight of horizontal force
    • previous research has shown elite players reaching 1.75x BW of horizontal force…does this tell us that high school players do not utilize linear drive?
  • proper sequencing of movements come from the “proximal to distal” theory
    • transfer of momentum between segments is maximized when the proximal segment reaches peak rotational velocity before the distal segment reaches peak rotational velocity
    • THEREFORE, the pelvic angular velocity must be achieved completely BEFORE the upper torso peak angular velocity, and BEFORE the arm accelerates at its peak internal rotation velocity

Discussion

  • Weakness of the pelvic musculature and poor motor control of the abdominal musculature can lead to a premature opening of the upper torso
    • this is what “staying back” means…some coaches use “keep the back shoulder away from the hip and keep the head behind the belly button”
  • Although push off force was the ONLY variable analyzed in this study, it’s important to note that this alone is not how you throw harder
    • Velocity comes from push off force, total body strength, control of the upper torso, control of the pelvis, and stride technique
  • Future research could also look at landing force in the high school population
  • HIP and CORE dynamic stability exercise must be in any pitcher’s program, along with getting the entire body stronger


Biomechanical Comparison of Baseball Pitching and Long-Toss: Implications for Training and Rehabilitation (Fleisig, G.S., Bolt, B., Fortenbaugh, D., Wilk, K.E., and Andrews, J.R. (2011)

Intro

  • Returning from a throwing injury, throwers are provided with an integral throwing program
    • starts at 45 feet and progressed to 180 feet
  • During the bullpen phase in the off-season, the thrower should progress from sub maximal effort to maximal effort
  • Flat ground throwing for long toss, in theory, would require the throwers arm to generate more force, torque, range of motion, and speed than normal pitching would since the distance is greater
  • This study aims to investigate the kinetic (forces) and kinematic (motion) differences in flat ground long toss and bullpen throwing

Methods

  • 17 college baseball pitchers participated, and threw for 2 sessions
  • Long-toss was done outside since there was not enough room in a laboratory to track flight path of the ball. A pilot study was conducted to ensure that the outdoor set up was reliable and the calibration coefficients were similar to the values recorded during indoor testing
  • Tested for 5 throws at 120 feet, 5 throws at 180 feet, and 5 throws for maximum distance
    • each pitcher was allowed to use the crow hop which they were most comfortable with rather than standardizing footwork
    • throws for 120 and 180 feet were instructed to be on a horizontal plane
    • maximum distance had no restraints on ball flight
  • The second session took place in an indoor lab on a mound
    • 10 maximal effort throws were recorded and used for data analysis

Results

  • 4 significant differences were seen at front foot contact
    • elbow flexion was greatest for the maximum throw
    • as throwing distance increased, upper trunk tilt increased, while front knee flexion and front foot position decreased
    • when the arm was in the cocked position, elbow flexion and shoulder external rotation were greatest for the maximum distance throw
    • at the time of ball release, as throwing distance increased, both forward trunk tilt and and front knee flexion decreased
  • The pelvis and upper trunk velocities were greatest for the maximum distance throw
  • Elbow extension velocity was significantly greater for the maximum distance throw
  • No significant differences were seen in throw type and ball velocity

Discussion

  • As throwing distance increased, the pitcher used a more upright trunk position at front foot contact
  • As throwing distance increased, the player seemed to rely less on forward trunk tilt and forward knee extension, which has shown to be important factors in ball velocity
  • Longer throws produced greater elbow and shoulder torques in the arm cocked position
  • This study failed to show that throwing long toss can enhance ball velocity. The only important factor that was increased was maximal shoulder external rotation
  • This study did not that throwing long toss creates great range of motion, speed, and arm torque
    • since ball velocity did not change, long toss should be proceeded with caution to use as a recovery day or a training day 
  • Skeletally immature throwers with open growth plates may require specific considerations when performing long toss. The “max” distance should vary based on age and experience level
  • When progressing back from an injury, or even back from a shut down period, times and distances should slowly progress 


Biomechanical Analysis of Weighted-Baseball Exercises for Baseball Pitchers (Fleisig, G.S., Diffendaffer, A.Z., Aune, K.T., Ivey, B., and Laughlin, W.A. (2018)

Intro

  • The theory = throwing lighter baseballs will build arm speed, and throwing heavier baseballs will build arm strength
  • Current studies show that weighted implements +/- 20% seem to be effective
    • throwing AND holds while going through the throwing motion
  • Team handball studies showed that throwing heavier implements lead to a decrease in arm velocity (which makes sense because the arm must travel slower in space)
  • It is hypothesized that throwing objects lighter than normal (below 5 oz.) will show greater arm velocities, and joint kinetics would be greater with heavier baseballs

Methods

  • Participants had previous experience with a weighted baseball throwing program and were excluded if they sustained an injury within the past 12 months
  • 25 baseball pitchers (18 high school, 7 collegiate)
  • Pitchers warmed up with a 5 oz. baseball for as long as needed
  • 3 trials of 10 exercises were performed with max effort (order was randomized)
    • 4 oz., 5 oz., 6 oz., and 7 oz. baseballs were used
    • utilized a crow hop
  • “holds” were used with a 1 lb. and 2 lb. rubber ball WITHOUT releasing the ball
  • ball velocity was measured with a radar gun

Results 

  • As ball mass increased, ball velocity decreased
  • As ball mass increased, angular velocities of the pelvis, upper trunk, shoulder, and elbow decreased
  • Angular velocities with the 4 oz. baseball were no different than the 5 oz. baseball
  • velocities of the ball, pelvis, and shoulder were greater on flat ground than the pitching mound
  • As ball mass increased, elbow and shoulder joint torques decreased
    • not significantly different between 4 oz. and 5 oz. baseballs

Discussion

  • throwing the heavier baseballs did not shower greater joint kinetics/torque
  • Therefore, this study shows that using baseballs between 4-7 oz. will not significantly alter throwing mechanics, which make them a great training tool
  • Flat ground may not be the most specific for practicing proper pitching mechanics. However, flat ground can be used mainly for holds rather than releases
  • the 4 oz. baseball could be used in the younger population since arm velocities were shown to decrease
  • Flat ground holds with MUCH greater weight (14-32 oz.) produce a much greater elbow flexion torque, so these can be used to train bicep strength
  • Pairing weighted baseball throwing with traditional strength training will put the athlete over the entire spectrum of speed and strength. Using baseballs between 4-7 ounces seem to be the best fit where kinetics do not change 


The Effects of Various Weighted Implements on Baseball Swing Kinematics in Collegiate Baseball Players (Williams, C.C., Gdovin, J.R., Wilson, S.J., Cazas-Moreno, V.L., Eason, J.D., Hoke, E.L., Allen, C.R., Wade, C., and Garner, J.C. (2017)

Intro

  • Multiple players use weighted implements in the on-deck circle to prepare for the at-bat, hoping for the result of a greater bat speed
  • There is a kinesthetic illusion in that a heavier weighted implement makes the normal bat feel lighter
  • Previous research suggests that bats between +/- 12% weight of normal game bats maximizes bat velocity
  • No study has examined the 3D kinematics of the baseball swing and how the path of the bat potentially changes after warming up with various weighted implements

Methods

  • 15 Division I collegiate athletes participated in this study
  • 4 implements were used ranging in mass from 10.6 oz. to 55.6 oz.
    • fungo (10.6 oz.), standard bat (30 oz.), standard bat with a donut (55.6 oz.), and a standard bat held with weighted gloves (55.6 oz)
    • they mentioned the previous study by DeRenne saying that +/- 12% shows the greatest effects…for one, why not try and replicate? Secondly, 30 oz. to 55.6 oz. is a massive jump. I’m surprised there’s no “in between”
  • each participant swung 1 of the 4 implements 5 times to replicate the on-deck situation
    • participants then swung a standard game bat 5 times with a ball on the tee with 20 seconds rest
    • 10 minutes rest was used at the conclusion of the 5th swing
    • HOWEVER, the order was NOT randomized…hmmmmmmm
  • participants rated which implement provided them the best opportunity to maximize bat velocity from best to worst

Results 

  • There were NO statistically significant differences in kinetics and bat speed between any of the 4 weighted implements, which goes against previous research
  • Could this be because a collegiate population was used? Could this be because order was NOT randomized

Discussion

  • Perhaps, if YOU Are strong enough, heavier implements will not affect your kinematics and bat velocity
  • According to this study, in the collegiate population, athletes should choose which implement they feel the most comfortable and confident with in the on-deck circle
  • My interest: is there any relationship between 1-RM Bench Press and bat velocity using a specific implement? In other words, what is “strong enough” on the bench press? Usually, 1-1.5 BW


Changes in Shoulder and Elbow Passive Range of Motion After Pitching in Professional Baseball Players (Reinold, M.M., Wilk, K.E., Macrina, L.C., Cheheane, C., Dun, S., Fleisig, G.S., Crenshaw, K., and Andrews, J.M. (2008)

Intro

  • It has been documented that pitchers will gain a few degrees of external rotation and lose a few degrees of internal rotation to the throwing shoulder
  • Elbow extension has been shown to be lost after pitching as well
  • However, the concept of “total motion” has been accepted in the baseball community, where a throwers dominant arm will have these adaptations, and that is okay
  • No study to date looked at the effects immediately after throwing and leading up to 24 hours post throwing

Methods

  • 67 professional pitchers (51 RHP, 16 LHP)
    • demonstrated zero signs of injury and were not injuries in the past 12 months
  • bilateral passive shoulder ROM (ER and IR) were taken at 90* of abduction and 10* of horizontal adduction
    • along with elbow flexion and extension
    • allows for a within-subject design
  • ER and IR performed while stabilizing the scapula
    • extremity was moved until the shoulder visibly lifted from the table or until there was an “end range feel”
  • Measurements were taken before any warm up, immediately after a throwing protocol, and 24 hours after the intervention

Results and Discussion 

  • signifiant reduction in dominant shoulder IR (-9.5), total motion (-10.7), and elbow extension (-3.2)
    • remained present 24 hours after pitching
  • it is theorized that throwers develop “humeral retroversion” over time
    • basically, the upper arm (humerus) has a forward angle in relation to the lateral epicondyle of the forearm
  • MRI studies show that muscles of the rotator cuff undergo severe eccentric damage after throwing, which causes this acute loss in ROM
    • eccentric induced actions also result in tissue edema (fluid buildup) from the local inflammatory response
  • Baseball players may be more susceptible to injury if they pitch again before the arm fully returns back to baseline! 
    • decreased IR and total motion
  • Stretch, light exercise, and ice post-throwing to reduce the amount of ROM lost 

I am the target text.

PERFORMANCE (61)

Effects of Acute Static Stretching of the Throwing Shoulder on Pitching Performance of National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Baseball Players (Haag, S.J., Wright, G.A., Gillette, C.M., and Greany, J.F. (2010)

Intro

  • Static stretching is currently used for increasing joint range of motion (ROM) and temporarily create changes in the musculotendonous unit (MTU) length. If a joint has a greater ROM, it has a greater capability of producing more force
  • Stretching-induced changes in the MTU may decrease force production due to an altered length-tension relationship
  • HOWEVER, if static stretching is included in a warmup, its negative effects would be “cancelled” out by the time a player throws a ball and gets ready to pitch
  • Few studies have investigated the acute bout of static stretching on the upper extremities; tennis studies showed that static stretching had no effect on the overhand serve
  • The purpose was to look at the effects of 6 30-second static stretches of the throwing shoulder on pitching velocity and accuracy

Methods

  • 12 NCAA Division III players participated all free from injury
    • 6 were pitchers, 6 were position players
  • Control condition involved a team warm up: light 200-m jog, throwing for 10-15 minutes
  • Experimental conditioned involved the same warm up, but added 6 30-second static stretches after warming up
  • 4 of the 6 stretches required assistance from an athletic trainer
    • which does not make this study very reliable, unless your coach is a certified athletic trainer and knows how to apply stretches to the throwing shoulder complex
  • shoulder horizontal adduction, horizontal abduction, external rotation, internal rotation, flexion, and extension of the shoulder
    • 30 seconds to a point of discomfort with 10 seconds between each stretch
  • 2 lowest and 2 highest recorded speeds were excluded from data analysis, the remaining 6 values were calculated as a mean
  • Accuracy was defined as the number of pitches (out of 10) that were thrown for strikes

Results

  • Independent Sample T-Test showed no significant differences between groups for average velocity and maximum velocity 
  • No significant differences were found in accuracy between the pitchers
    • there were some differences in those who were position players, but this makes sense because they are not pitchers

Discussion

  • Previous research has showed the acute static stretching has a negative effect on power when performed on the lower extremities, but this does not seem to happen with the upper extremities
    • this could be because muscle groups tend to be smaller in the upper extremities
  • rest periods between each stretch (10 seconds) were used to replicate how long it takes between pitches in a normal baseball game
    • previous research suggests that a rest time of 5 minutes shows no effect on performance measures
  • Previous research has showed that 30 seconds of a static stretch is sufficient enough to show an increase in joint ROM without any decrease in power or strength performance
    • perhaps, a greater volume of stretches could result in a negative effect?
  • Short-term changes in joint ROM from static stretching may not alter the performance of a skill that involves a complex neuromuscular pattern with multiple muscle groups 
  • Again, the sample number was way too low to actually make any claims about this study. However, the results are still interesting in a small sample size
  • Future research is needed to determine if static stretching in the lower extremities will effect pitching performance, since the throwing motion is initiated from the lower extremities and the lumbopelvic complex 


Effects of Stretching on Upper-Body Muscular Performance (Torres, E.M., Kraemer, W.J., Vingren, J.L., Volek, J.S., Hatfield, D.L., Spiering, B.A., Yu Ho, J., Fragala, M.S., Thomas, G.A., Anderson, J.M., Hakkinen, K., and Maresh, C.M. (2008)

Intro

  • Dynamic stretching usually consists of fast, specific movement patterns used in conjunction with, or in place of, static stretching
  • Static stretches are usually held anywhere between 15-30 seconds at a time to a point of slight discomfort
  • Static stretching can increase flexibility, but has also shown to negatively impact strength and power performances
  • There are not enough studies to date investigating the effects of static stretching with upper body performance tests

Methods

  • 11 healthy men a part of a Division I track and field team
  • 4 different stretching conditions = no stretching, static stretching, dynamic stretching, and combined static and dynamic stretching
  • Upper body performance tests = 30% 1RM Bench Press throw, isometric bench press, kneeling overhead medicine ball throw, and a seated lateral medicine ball throw
    • for each test, the highest value was used for statistical analysis
    • these participants were used since they were already familiar with these performance tests, which take the “learning curve” out of the question
  • 3 minute general jogging warm up followed by the assigned intervention
    • the order was completely randomized to eliminate order effect
    • static stretching was performed for 2 sets of 15 seconds for each muscle group
    • dynamic stretching was performed for 30 seconds each side
    • the combined group performed both static and dynamic
      • the authors did NOT state this particular order, which I think is a pretty important piece of information
  • After each stretching protocol, the participants immediately performed the upper body performance tests (in the order listed above)
  • each test was performed 3 times and 5-minutes of rest was allowed between each set of exercises
  • protocol visits were separated by 48-hours

Results

  • NO significant differences were found between stretching protocols for the following measures
    • Peak power (Pmax), Peak force, (Fmax), Peak acceleration (Amax), Peak velocity (Vmax), and Peak displacement (Dmax)
  • Overhead medicine ball throw = no differences between V-max and D-max
  • Lateral medicine ball throw = no differences in V-max
    • D-max was significantly larger or the combined group than the static group

Discussion

  • Static stretching may interfere with firing frequency of muscle fibers, alter the reflex sensitivity, and decrease motor unit activation
  • These results go against the hypothesis that static stretching would show a decrease in upper body performance tests
    • could be due to the 5-minute rest between tests
    • could also be due to the very short duration of static stretching (2 15-second holds)
  • We STILL do not know enough about static stretching and performance, and the underlying mechanisms that may cause a change in performance in lower body tests
  • TO BE SAFE, perform a dynamic warm up after your static stretching. This way, you are still combining the two, and the dynamic warm up will “offset” and “activate” those new changes 


The Effect of Intermittent Arm and Shoulder Cooling on Baseball Pitching Velocity (Bishop, S.H., Herron, R.L., Ryan, G.A., Katica, C.P., and Bishop, P.A. (2016)

Intro

  • Many baseball players use ice to “recover” their arm, since strength is usually lost
  • Cooling, or cryotherapy, has been used primarily as a recovery agent, but previous research shows that intermittent cooling can be a potential aid in performance
  • Previous research shows that cryotherapy can aid in inflammation, pain, and swelling
  • HOWEVER, there are conflicting results with ehe effect on delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
  • Previous research showed that cryotherapy, combined with light shoulder exercise, maximizes the 24-hour recovery window

Methods

  • 8 trained amateur baseball players with no history of shoulder or elbow injury were recruited for this study to throw a simulated game of 5-innings
  • Pitchers threw a fastball to a target at home plate for 1 pitch every 20 seconds to simulate game-like conditions
  • One inning = 12 pitches
    • 6 minutes of rest were given between innings
    • volume of throws was matched between groups (5 innings, 60 pitches)
  • Experimental condition had participants go through intermittent cooling, the control condition was no cooling
  • Inning RPE (Borg scale 6-20) and recovery (PRS score 1-10) were taken to monitor fatigue
    • I would like to see a modified Borg scale, since this is mostly used for aerobic activity
    • PRS scores were taken as not recovered (1) to fully recovered (10)
    • participants were familiarized with both scales before testing began
  • There were 2 sessions in this study. Session 2 was separated by 5-7 days
  • Cooling treatment = 2 bags of ice placed on the throwing shoulder and forearm
  • Average ball velocity was recorded every inning
    • Bushnell radar gun is the LOW END radar gun, so it is NOT the most accurate…

Results 

  • The cooling group saw a greater ball velocity in the 4th and 5th innings when compared to the control group
  • The cooling group seemed to recover better (higher PRS score) and were less fatigued (lower RPE score)

Discussion

  • I think it’s interesting that the authors say that cooling treatment can attenuate 2% of velocity loss in a “simulated game”. However, the tool that they used to measure ball velocity was NOT reliable. Therefore, I am skeptical of these findings
  • This is also assuming that every pitcher will work the same amount (60 pitches were controlled for)
  • Previous research showed that cooling treatments can result in 26% more work done. This may be good for chronic workload, but do we really need to throw “X” amount of pitches rather than “x” every game? Is more really better here?
  • Ice is mainly used for pain relief because it halts the pain-spasm cycle. This mechanism could be by pitchers “felt” like they could do more work
  • However, it is unclear how intermittent cooling can aid in “overuse” injuries. Throwing a baseball repeatedly has shown for an increase risk in overuse injuries
  • More study is needed to conclude the mechanisms behind intermittent cryotherapy. It’s application can be used in the game of baseball due to the intermittent nature of the game. 


Assessment of Professional Baseball Players Aerobic Exercise Performance Depending on Position (Yang, S.W. (2014)

Intro

  • VO2 max can be used to assess a player’s aerobic capacity
  • Lactate threshold is a better indicator of cardiovascular performance
  • Hypothesis is that position players will show a greater aerobic capacity than pitchers

Methods

  • 46 pitchers and 78 position players in the Korea Baseball Organization
  • Gradual maximal exercise test was used on a treadmill while participants were plugged up to a respiratory system to measure oxygen intake during exercise
  • 2 minutes at 5% grade and 3-mph speed; the grade remained the same but the speed increased 0.7-1.1 mph
  • When the respiratory exchange ratio (RER) was at a fixed point along with heart rate, this is when we would see a max in oxygen uptake
  • Before testing was done, body fat % was measured using the Body Biospace machine

Results and Discussion

  • Pitcher’s VO2 max was 53.64 mL*kg/min
  • Fielder’s VO2 max was 52.30 mL*kg/min
  • Korean high school baseball players have a higher VO2 max than professional players because most games are played in the day time, whereas professional players play at night
  • Baseball players have an anaerobic threshold of 77% VO2 max, which is more important for the development of the baseball player
  • Aerobic development is important for improving recovery for the baseball player, and anaerobic development is important for improving the performance a baseball player 


Strength and Conditioning Practices of Major League Baseball Strength and Conditioning Coaches (Ebben, W.P., Hintz, M.J., and Simenz, C.J. (2005)

Physical Testing

  • ONLY 21 COACHES RESPONDED TO THIS SURVEY
  • 21 coaches reported performing body composition assessments
    • most used skin fold tests
  • 9 coaches reported performing anaerobic capacity tests
    • 300-yard shuttle was the most popular
  • 7 coaches reported performing muscular strength tests
    • grip strength
    • 5-10 RM tests
    • 3-5 RM tests
  • 7 coaches reported performing agility tests
    • 5-10-5 (Pro-Agility)
    • Shuffle tests
  • 7 coaches reported performing muscular power tests
    • Vertical jump
    • Wingate
  • 7 coaches reported performing flexibility tests
    • sit and reach
    • trunk rotation
  • 5 coaches reported performing cardiovascular fitness tests
    • 1 mile run
    • 1.5 mile run
    • 2 mile run
  • 4 coaches reported performing speed tests
    • 60-yard dash
    • 40-yard dash
    • 20-yard dash
    • Home to first time
    • 10-yard acceleration
  • 3 coaches reported performing anthropometric tests
    • height and weight
    • muscle girth

Speed Development

  • All coaches reported that they train for speed in their programs
  • 21 coaches reported that they use form running in their programs
  • 18 coaches reported training speed endurance
  • 17 coaches reported using plyometrics for speed development
  • 11 coaches reported using resisted running
  • 4 coaches reported using assisted running

Plyometrics

  • 20 coaches reported using plyometrics in their programs
  • 9 coaches reported that they use plyometrics prior to their speed work
  • 8 coaches reported that they use plyometrics year-round
  • 10 coaches reported that they use plyometrics before their lifting
  • 8 coaches reported using a complex of weights and plyometrics within the same pairing of exercises
  • 2 coaches reported that it “depends on the player” when plugging in plyometric exercises

Strength/Power Development

  • 15 coaches reported that they train 4 days a week
  • 5 coaches reported that they train 3 days a week
  • 1 coach reported that they train 5 days a week
  • 16 coaches reported that their training sessions run between 45-60 minutes
  • Only 6 coaches reported using Olympic lifting exercises
  • The most important exercises listed: Squat, Lunge variations, Rotational Core variations, DB Shoulder variations, DB Row variations, Scapular stabilization variations, Push-Up variations, and multiple single-leg variations
  • Multiple coaches reported that they train the ENTIRE body EACH session
  • 18 of the 21 coaches reported that they create a periodized program with different phases/cycles

COMMENTS

  • 4 coaches reported that they do not perform percentage-based training. Rather, they auto-regulate and use workloads based on previous training sessions
  • 2 coaches reported that each athlete on the 40-man roster has an individualized program
  • Off-Season prescriptions = 2-6 sets, 1-15 repetitions
  • In-Season prescriptions = 2-3 sets, 8-12 repetitions
    • interesting how no one reported a 1-8 rep range in-season
    • 2 coaches reported they perform HIGHER reps IN-SEASON…uh oh…
  • 4 coaches reported using metabolic interval training for their pitchers
  • 3 coaches reported individualized programs, 3 coaches reported the opposite
  • 2 coaches believe that it is important to constantly train the aerobic system during the season to keep players on the field
  • 2 coaches reported re-occuring evaluations. If no one is getting hurt, they won’t change anything about the program


Complex Training for Power Development: Practical Applications for Program Design (Lim, J.J.H., and Barley, C.I. (2016)

Intro

  • Complex training aims to enhance the post-activation potentiation (PAP) effect
  • PAP is the enhanced neuromuscular condition after an initial bout of a heavier resistance training exercise
  • Theory 1 = within the localized muscle, the amount of high threshold motor unit recruitment is heavily increased, making actin and myosin (binding proteins) much more sensitive to Calcium (needed for muscular contraction)
  • Theory 2 = the spinal level where the muscle is potentiated is attributed to an increase in alpha-neuron activity, which is responsibly for activating more motor units

Intracomplex Recovery

  • defined as the rest time between the maximal exercise and ballistic exercise
  • muscle performance may improve if potentiation is greater than fatigue
    • muscle performance will decrease is fatigue is greater than potentiation
  • recovery ranges from 3-4 minutes
    • Big lift –> 3 to 4 minutes could be used on a mobility or stability exercise from opposing limbs

Training Status 

  • Lower body strength levels should be AT LEAST greater than 1.8*BW
  • Upper body strength levels should be AT LEAST greater than 1.4*BW
  • STRONGER individuals are able to dissipate fatigue better than weaker individuals due to amount of type-II muscle fibers
  • Moderately trained individuals may have a better training effect with the use of plyometric exercises
    • results in less fatigue being produced
  • Training for power, with the use of PAP, training cycles could last a anywhere from 6-10 weeks

Program example 

  • Highly trained athlete
    • A1 4×5 Deadlift
    • A2 4×12 Serratus Wall Slide with Lift
    • A3 Double Broad Jump
  • Moderately trained athlete
    • A1 3×6 Tuck Jumps
    • A2 3×2 min Foam Roller T-Spine Extensions
    • A3 3×6 Box Jumps SL landing


Comparing the Immediate Effects of a Total Motion Release Warm-Up and a Dynamic Warm-Up Protocol on the Dominant Shoulder in Baseball Athletes (Gamma, S.C., Baker, R., Nasypany, A., May, J., Seegmiller, J.G., and Iorio, S.M. (2017)

Intro

  • Due to sport specificity, multiple athletes will present muscular imbalances. Specifically in the sport of baseball, lateral asymmetry is a high indicator of injury risk
  • Static stretching has shown to increase flexibility, but it does not have a direct carry over to more dynamic movement
  • Dynamic warm ups are used to increase blood flow, decrease joint fluid stiffness, improve tissue lengths, and enhance neuromuscular coordination
  • The Total Motion Release System assesses the body as a unified system aiming to maintain a dynamic center of gravity during movement. Dysfunction at one joint will affect the joints above or below during movement.
  • The 6 movements in the TMR screen include: arm raise, single arm wall push up, trunk twist, single leg sit to stand, leg raise, and a weight-bearing toe touch (used unilaterally)
  • Previous research has shown that the TMR improves shoulder internal and external rotation deficits on the dominant shoulder in baseball players
  • The purpose of this study was to: assess the effect of improving shoulder IR and ER of the dominant shoulder compared to a general warm up, and determine if the order of applying the TMR system and a general warm up had an effect on changes in the dominant shoulder

Methods

  • 20 baseball players with at least 5 years of playing experience participated in this study
    • 17 right-handed, 3 left-handed
  • Cross over design was used so that each participant performed both interventions
  • Group 1 = General warm up to TMR, Group 2 = TMR to general warm up
  • Goniometer was used to assess joint ROM
    • for the shoulder, participants were in the supine position with the shoulder adbucted at 90* and elbow flexed at 90*
    • humeral head was NOT stabilized during the assessment so that the natural joint rhythm was not disturbed
    • pilot testing was confirmed that there was a high inter-rater reliability
  • General dynamic warm up was 15-20 minutes, ROM tests were measured again
  • Group 1 then performed the TMR system
    • 3 sets of a 30-second standing trunk twist to the side of ease with 30 seconds rest between each set
    • 3 sets of a 30-second arm raise to the side of ease with 30 seconds of rest between each set
    • ROM tests were taken again
  • Group 2 performed same TMR system movements, followed by ROM tests, followed by the general warm up, followed by ROM tests

Results 

  • A significant difference in shoulder IR was seen in both groups
    • There was a greater difference in shoulder IR in group 1 (6.2*) compared to group 2 (18.2*)
  • Group 1 experienced a great change in IR and ER following the TMR system
  • Group 2 experienced the opposite effects when performed the dynamic warm up AFTER the TMR system

Discussion

  • Group 2 produced a total motion arc of 180* on the dominant shoulder, and Group 1 did not show the same improvements
  • This shows us that a general dynamic warm up does not address specific joint needs
  • HOWEVER, when the application of TMR was AFTER the general warm up, changes in IR and ER were GREATER 
  • When performing a warm up, always go from GENERAL to SPECIFIC
  • Future research is needed to determine the time effect the TMR system has on lasting joint ranges of motion


Strategic Exercise Prescription for Baseball: Bridging the Gap Between Injury Prevention and Power Production (Gillett, J., O’Brien, L., Ryan, M., Rogowski, J. (2009)

Intro

  • Different phases of programming are to ensure the athlete develops a base of strength before getting into more power work and more specialized strength training
  • Age, experience level, genetics, movement profile, cognitive ability, agility, and gender must all be considered when programming

B.A.S.E.S Model

  • Balance, Agility, Strength, Explosiveness, and Speed
  • a model of programming determined by neurological order of learning
  • Balance exercises can be used for static or isometric contractions early on in a session (or at the end)
  • Agility exercises can be used for neuromuscular communication
  • Strength work is simply creating an external load that requires the internal load of the body to work harder and adapt to that stress
  • Explosiveness is a compilation of proper balance, agility, and strength in a multi-planar fashion
  • Speed work is applied at maximal velocity

Creating a Foundation of Stability 

  • Initial exercises when an athlete begins training should be focused on creating pelvic , spinal, and scapular stability
  • Single leg exercises should be focused on creating stability before advanced movements in later phases of training
    • aids in neuromuscular conditioning
  • Crawling variations are excellent for creating scapular stability
  • Once stability has been established, then move the athlete into larger ranges of motion to further strengthen

Proprioception vs Explosiveness 

  • Joint stabilization with movement = proprioception
  • serves to prevent injury and is a precursor for strength gains, power production, and speed output
  • Hip extension exercises in the correct firing patterns can be used to prevent hamstring strains
  • Properly progress stability exercises with movements that occur at higher velocities
    • Front Squat paired with a box jump

Superficial Strength vs Deep Strength

  • Common resting posture patterns are the “upper cross” and “lower cross” syndromes
    • Tight pecs and tight hip flexors and lumbar extensors, respectively
  • Mobilize the tight structures, and use isometric contractions to reteach the muscle how to fire in the correct position
  • These exercises do not have a carry-over to power production. Rather, these should be use as “correctives”

Baseball-Specific Adaptations

  • It is important to focus on multiple athletic qualities in one session since this is how the athlete excels in their sport
  • Progressions should be made each phase within the same movement patterns
  • There should be a difficulty rating for each exercise you have in your “library”
    • harder exercises should be used in later phases
  • Complex training (3-4 exercises at a time) are the best way to create multiple qualities in one session
  • ALWAYS use isometric core variations to create stability FIRST
  • Determine where each exercise fits in the B.A.S.E.S model


Engineering a Strong Pitching Elbow: An Off-Season Training Plan (Borrelli, A. (2009)

Phases of the Pitching Motion and the Elbow

  • Stride phase = the elbow joint should be flexed between 80-100* at stride foot contact
  • Arm Cocking phase = when the elbow goes under extreme torque and rotation, so stabilization in this position is critical
  • Arm Acceleration phase = the most intense phase for the elbow
    • the elbow should begin to extend as the trunk is flexing over the front leg
    • elbow extensors are responsible for for maintaining the maximal external rotation of the shoulder joint as the arm is accelerating through space
  • Follow-Through = the elbow rapidly extends towards end range and is decelerated by the elbow flexors

Kinesiology of the Elbow Joint

  • Major flexor muscles for the elbow = biceps brachii, brachioradialis, and the brachialis
    • act as stabilizers and decelerators during arm acceleration
    • The brachialis is the only flexor muscle that functions with the forearm in all 3 elbow positions of the throwing motion
  • Major extensor muscles for the elbow = triceps brachii and anconeus
    • responsible for concentric contractions during arm acceleration and follow through

Target Exercise Requirements 

  • The elbow must be trained to contract both concentrically, isometrically, and eccentrically in all 3 positions of supination, pronation, and in neutral
  • The shoulder should also be in multiple positions since the shoulder and forearm both work together when delivering the ball towards home plate
  • Elbow extensors should be trained to plyometrically contract in varied forearm positions
  • The wrist joint only contributes to 21% of throwing velocity. Getting your elbow stronger won’t result in you throwing harder, but it will save your elbow for increasing workload on your arm
  • The wrist should be trained to contract in multiple positions in the sagittal and frontal planes of motion
  • Decreased range of motion in the wrist will alter the length-tension relationship in the elbow
    • decreased supination of the elbow joint will effect the amount of elbow flexion
  • Stabilization drills of the elbow and forearm
    • MB ABS’s and rhythmic stabilizations
    • PVC grip work with stabilization’s
  • Concentric/Eccentric drills of the elbow and forearm
    • hammer curls
    • reverse curls
    • curls with supination/pronation during the movement
    • overhead elbow supination/pronation
    • elbow supination/pronation with the arm in 90* of shoulder flexion
  • Plyometric drills of the elbow and forearm
    • wrist flips in multiple angles of the forearm and elbow
    • ball drops in multiple angles of the forearm and elbow
    • drills with rapid deceleration
  • A pitcher with a history of elbow problems should start elbow training early in the offseason and continue to get it stronger in-season


A Reliable Method for Assessing Rotational Power (Andre, M.J., Fry, A.C., Heyrman, M.A., Hudy, A., Holt, B., Roberts, C., Vardiman, J.P., and Gallagher, P.M. (2012)

Intro

  • There has been no research to date investigating a reliable way to assess rotational power

Methods 

  • 23 participants volunteered for this study
  • 2 data collection sessions were used to measure the reliability of the rotational power tests
  • all participant started in the seated position until they reached 180* of rotation
    • 3 trials at 9% BW, 12% BW, and 15% BW
    • the repetition with the greatest peak power was used for analysis
  • the height of the pulley was set to the participants shoulders and was recorded for reliability
  • an external dynamometer was attached to the weight stack of the cable machine to measure peak power and mean power
    • the device they used has been shown to be reliable in assessing power

Results

  • 9% BW was 20.1 during session 1, and 22.3 in session 2. Statistically insignificant
  • 12% BW was 26.2 during session 1, and 28.7 during session 2. Statistically insignificant
  • 15% BW was 30.7 during session 1, and 33.5 during session 2. Statistically insignificant
  • Intraclass coefficient correlation was 0.97, 0.94, and 0.95 for 9%, 12%, and 15% BW, respectively

Discussion

  • the athletic population may need to use higher loads to show a reliable and constant measure of peak power. The sample used in this study were college-aged students who were not a part of any athletic team
  • it would be more specific if the participants were athletes and in the standing position. However, reliability would be lost because there are more “moving parts” when in the standing position


Injury Prevention for Throwing Athletes Part 1: Baseball Bat Training to Enhance Medial Elbow Dynamic Stability (Crotin, R.L. and Ramsey, D.K. (2012)

Intro

  • “Little Leaguer’s Elbow” = poor throwing mechanics, bone plasticity, ligament laxity, physeal plate ossification maturity, body composition, and reduced muscle strength
  • The main mechanism for elbow injury is valgus torque (tensile forces on the medial elbow)
  • Elbow injury recovery usually takes 3 months of rehab and exclusion from baseball activities, and older athletes could take up to a year
  • UCL is a static stabilizer and is able to hold 50% of applied valgus torque with the elbow in 90* of flexion. Other static stabilizers include accessory ligaments, capsular tissue, and other structures within the joint
  • Dynamic stabilizers are the muscles surrounding the elbow joint, which contract to oppose the valgus force at the elbow. These stabilizers may be compromised if the athlete is fatigued, has poor throwing mechanics, and lacks joint flexibility

Elbow Torque and Dynamic Stabilization 

  • The transition between arm cocking and arm acceleration is highlighted by the eccentric loading of the internal rotators of the shoulder
    • horizontal adductors, pectoralis, subscsapularis, latissimus dorsi
    • during this position is when the elbow is being put on maximal tensile forces
  • Greater elbow stresses come from changes in elbow function
    • alteration in neuromuscular activity, valgus torque loading rates, and magnitudes of varus-directed forces
  • Valgus stresses have been shown to get up to 120 N*m, where some UCL’s fail to absorb the load at 34 N*m
  • Primary dynamic stabilizers include the biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis, triceps brachii, and the flexor-pronator group/mass
    • flexor-pronator group includes the pronator teres, flexor carpi radialis, palmaris longus, flexor carpi ulnaris, and the flexor digitorum superficialis
  • During the throwing motion, the elbow does not maintain a “close packed” position, which is why dynamic elbow stability is critical from early cocking to ball release
  • 2 most important dynamic stabilizers of the UCL are the flexor carpi ulnaris and flexor digitorum superficialis
    • both muscles run parallel to the UCL and provide a summative force vector to absorb most of the load and tensile forces
  • Forearm rotation may be secondary in protecting the elbow
    • when throwing a curveball, the elbow is in supination during MER, which creates higher valgus stresses

Range of Motion Assessments in Throwing

  • It’s important to constantly evaluate the elbow for any pain or dysfunction
    • goniometric evaluations should be included
  • Normal ranges of motion include…
    • 0-140* sagittal plane motion (forearm rotation)
    • 80-90* pronation and supination
    • 11-15* of valgus alignment (frontal plane rotation)
      • otherwise known as “carrying angle”
      • those with a greater carrying angle expose themselves to an increased risk of elbow injury
      • a greater angle results in less elbow stability
  • Common manual test is the valgus stress test to the elbow
    • elbow should be flexed 20-30* to allow for the elbow to “unlock” from the olecranon fossa, performed in both pronation and supination

Baseball-Bat Training for Dynamic Elbow Stability

  • Using a baseball bat can help create dynamic elbow stability in different planes of motion
  • When beginning the program, start with holding the bat halfway between the knob and the barrel, progressing to 3/4 down the barrel, finally progressing to holding the knob of the bat
    • Overhead pronation and supination
    • Neutral wrist radial and ulnar circles
      • elbow flexed at 90*, progress to 0*
    • Radial and ulnar deviations
      • elbow flexed at 90*, progress to 0*
    • Resisted pronation at full supination
      • elbow flexed at 90*, progress to 0*
    • Neutral wrist eccentric pronation
      • elbow flexed at 90*, progress to 0*


Trends in Sports-Related Elbow Ulnar Collateral Ligament Injuries (Zaremski, J.L., McClelland, J., Vincent, H.K., and Horodyski, M. (2017)

Intro

  • Unfortunately, UCL injuries are now a commonplace in the game of baseball, particularly in young athletes 
  • Non-surgical patterns and injury management are not well documented in this population 

Methods

  • This study was a descriptive epidemiological study using medical records. The researchers hypothesized that injuries would occur more frequently in the younger population 
  • Ages were stratified into 3 separate brackets: ages 11-13, 14-16, and 17-22
  • Main outcomes that were measured included severity of injury and action taken (surgical or non-surgical)

Results

  • 53 surgical and 83 non-surgical outcomes were documented 
  • Number of non-surgical have increased 9x from 2000-2008 to 2009-2016
  • There were 60 sprains, 39 particle tears, 36 ruptures, and 1 re-rupture
  • Non-surgical management was the highest in youth athletes (ages 11-14)
  • UCL injury volume was most associated with javelin and baseball 


Preventing Lumbar Injuries in Rotational Striking Athletes (Gillies, A., and Dorgo, S. (2013)

Intro

  • Between 21% to 84% of rotational athletes have experienced some type of low back pain
  • 3 primary subsystems work together in the lumbar spine
    • passive system = ligaments, intervertebral discs, and vertebrae
    • local system = muscles and tendons
    • neural system = nerves and neurons

Lumbar Spine Mechanics 

  • Rotation itself may not be bad for the lumbar spine. Rather, rotation allows for fluid to move around between the intervertebral discs (IVD) to increase nutrient turn over
  • The Safe Zone = the normal range of motion within normal function of the lumbar spine without putting too much stress on the tissue
  • Maximal available rotation for the lumbar spine is 5-7*, and is less during lumbar extension
    • spinal flexion paired with rotation increases lumbar rotation by 13.8%
    • extension decreases rotation by 24%
  • rotation paired with excessive extension puts violent compression forces on the IVD
  • The spinal position may be different and unique for each hitter, and will definitely change based on pitch location
  • The athlete must be able to maintain proper spinal posture at ball contact
  • For athletes with low back pain, the erector spinae and transverse abdominus may be weak (or the co-contraction of these muscles)
    • studies in golfers show that those with back pain fired their external obliques and erector spinae before the backswing, resulting in more compressive forces to be delivered during the swing
  • Training the musculature of the spine and trunk is vector specific
    • rotational power comes from the co-contraction of multiple muscle groups
    • rather than getting single-muscle groups stronger, it is important to train an anti-rotational and rotational exercise
  • Several studies have shown that those with low back pain also have decreased range of motion at the hip joint
  • Sub-optimal thoracic range of motion will also create compensations at the lower back

Training

  • Muscles that directly control intersegmental movement of the lumbar spine = erector spinae, transverse abdominis, multifidus, quadratus lumbordum, and psoas major
    • local musculature made primarily of type I muscle fibers. TRAIN YOUR CORE ENDURANCE
  • Global musculature = internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, upper and lower trapezius, rhomboids, and latissimus dorsi
    • create movements about the thoracic spine in relation to the hips
    • TRAIN YOUR CORE STRENGTH … much more important in the athletic population
  • Increase your core (spinal) stability before moving onto rotational core strength
  • Maintaining proper mobility and stability of the spine and in the hips will decrease the risk of in dry in rotational athletes 


Medicine Ball Training Implications for Rotational Power Sports (Earp, J.E., and Kraemer, W.J. (2010)

Intro

  • When training with medicine balls, it’s important to consider the velocity of movement, the plane of movement, and the body positioning during the movement
  • In rotational power sports, the body  is manipulated to allow for maximal velocity to be developed around the ball in a closed-chain environment
  • In rotation, muscles fire from a proximal to distal sequence
    • larger muscles of the lower half initiate the linear and rotational drive towards the ball. All of that energy is being sent to the arms, which are only used to “fine tune” the precise movement
  • Medicine balls can be used to train the entire force-velocity curve
    • movements allow the athlete to produce more force in sport-specific motions
    • the only limitation is that there is no load on the deceleration portion of the exercise

Movement Specific Considerations 

  • plane of movement, body position, and the speed of the movement can all be manipulated with medicine ball throws
  • Strength-based exercises, like chops and lifts, help to strengthen the oblique system needed for rotation. Medicine ball exercise help to showcase that strength.
  • Rotational throws should be used in a reactive nature, pure power production, and from a loaded position to train all three portions of muscle contractions
  • As the athlete progresses towards the competitive season, medicine ball throws should be paired with main strength exercises
    • Trap Bar Deadlift paired with a MB Scoop Toss
  • Repetitions should be kept anywhere between 3-6 on each side
  • Using a variety of medicine ball weights will allow the athlete to train both power and speed
  • Using excessive repetitions or weight, the athlete is put in a disadvantage because there is a higher chance of fatigue, which will result in poor movement patterns


Multimode Resistance Training to Improve Baseball Batting Power (Ebben, W.P., and Fotsch, A. (2006)

Velocity and Specificity 

  • The principle of specificity includes velocity and biomechanical components of the movement
  • Since the swing takes about 0.2 seconds to complete, baseball players need to train to explosive in as little time as possible
  • Total body, multi-joint free weight exercises should be emphasized in training

Resistance Training

  • Dumbbells should be utilized in multiple planes of motion with multiple velocity contractions to allow for greater ranges of motion, unilateral development, and increasing shoulder stabilization
  • Initial phases of training should first aim to create a strength base to protect injury
  • Exercises should place an emphasis on finishing in plantarlfexion (on the toes) since this replicates the hitting motion at ball contact
    • The lower body produces more than 50% of total power production
  • Specific forearm exercises can create better grip strength, but this alone does not increase swing velocity
  • Olympic-style lifts should be used in specific populations. Rather than using a bar, dumbbells can be used to replicate the same movement patterns
    • these lifts are NOT biomechanically specific to the baseball athlete since there is a lack of rotation. However, they can be used to create peak power output

Medicine Ball Training

  • Medicine balls allow for acceleration and the stretch-shortening cycle to be trained, which is specific to the baseball swing
    • The baseball swing requires acceleration through the hitting zone until contact is made with the baseball. Medicine balls lack the deceleration component when released
    • To train deceleration with medicine balls, work on catches and/or holds without releasing the ball
  • Rotational side throws, overhead throws, standing throws, seated throws, half-kneeling throws, tall-kneeling throws…the variations are endless!
  • Plyometric variations can be used to enhance either vertical or horizontal acceleration
    • Specificity suggests that lower body plyometrics should be used in a lateral fashion and weight transfer to replicate the baseball swing
    • single leg lateral hops, single leg lateral jumps, 2-foot lateral hops, 2-foot lateral jumps, lateral box jumps

Implement Training

  • It is important to train the deceleration component of the baseball swing. This can be used with ballistic-style training
    • Medicine balls used in the cage can elicit greater responses than taking “dry swings”
  • When using weighted bats, the athlete must stay within +/- 12% of their game bat weight to allow for type-II muscle fibers to be trained
  • Studies show that objects greater than 40 oz. result in a decrease in batting velocity
    • mostly because these participants were not strong enough to swing that heavy of a bat
  • Overload and underload training is similar to resisted and assisted sprinting concepts
    • training the entire force-velocity curve


Effect of Torso Rotational Strength on Angular Hip, Angular Shoulder, and Linear Bat Velocities of High School Baseball Players (Szymanski, D.J., McIntyre, J.S., Szymanski, J.M., Bradford, T.J., Schade, R.L., Madsen, N.H., and Pascoe, D.D. (2007)

Intro

  • Increasing swing velocity can be achieved with multiple modalities: weighted bats, medicine ball training, and resistance training
  • Can performing additional torso strength exercises provide an increase in angular velocities of the hips and torso?
  • No other study has looked at the effects of rotational plyometric and ballistic training on swing velocity

Methods

  • 49 high school baseball players participated in this study (ages 14-18)
  • Group 1 = full body resistance training program and 100 swings per day for 3 days per week for 12 weeks
  • Group 2 = additional medicine ball drills were used 3 days a week for 12 weeks
  • Pre and post testing measures included angular hip velocity, angular shoulder velocity, bat-end velocity, hand velocity, 3RM squat and bench press, and 3RM dominant and non-dominant rotational torso strength
  • All participants were required to log their food in a food log to ensure that they were not changing their diets for the purpose of the study
    • not a lot of researchers make the participants do this, mostly they just say don’t take any supplements over the duration of the study. I personally think this alone makes the results of the study even stronger
  • Players took 10 swings in a cage off of a tee that was controlled for height (at the pubic arch for each player)
    • 4 swings were practice, the last 6 were used for data analysis
    • 20 seconds rest between each pitch (used in previous research)
  • A 2-handed medicine ball hitters throw for distance was used for sequential hip-torso rotational strength
    • reproducibility was high for the hitters throw and had a high correlation between 2 testing days
  • The mass of the medicine ball decreased week by week to move towards “game speed”

Results 

  • Group 2 had a greater increase in bat-end velocity than Group 1
  • Improvement in the medicine ball hitters throw resulted in a significant relationship with bat-end velocity and angular shoulder velocity
  • Only group 2 showed a significant increase in angular shoulder and hip velocity
  • Group 2 showed a higher increase in 3RM dominant and non-dominant torso rotational strength
  • Both groups showed an increase in 3RM Bench Press and Squat, but there were no significant differences between groups
    • is just “getting stronger” the end all-be all here?

Discussion

  • Previous research in non-special population (not baseball players) showed that only power training was the best way for increasing bat speed. However, the validity of those studies do not carry over well to a specific population because you cannot expect someone to swing a bat correctly and with precise enough movement for research
  • It is important to note that group 1 still increased in bat end velocity (3.6%) and hand velocity (2.6%) but we cannot say that it is from the resistance training program itself or the swing program itself. Most likely, it is with the addition of strength training and getting stronger in that specific group
    • these numbers are similar to previous research
  • Group 1 did not see an increase in angular shoulder and hip velocity, while group 2 saw an increase in both. Therefore, we can use logic to determine that the increases in AHV and ASV were from the additional rotational exercises


Effect of Twelve Weeks of Medicine Ball Training on High School Baseball Players (Szymanski, D.J., Szymanski, J.M., Bradford, T.J., Schade, R.L., and Pascoe, D.D. (2007)

Intro

  • Can performing additional medicine ball exercises provide an increase in rotational strength?

Methods 

  • 49 high school baseball players participated
  • full body resistance training 3 days per week with 100 swings per day, one group added additional rotational medicine ball exercises
  • 3RM torso rotational strength was measured with a Cybex machine

Results

  • Similar to Szymanski et al (2007) from the study above, group 2 showed a greater increase in 3RM torso rotational strength

Discussion

  • If a player has a high amount of relative strength and precise timing in rotational movements, this will result in higher rotational velocities, which also will result in greater bat velocity
  • The medicine ball hitters throw is a good assessment tool in a players swing because it requires the correct synchronization of multiple body parts in order to project the ball a far distance


Comparison of Three Baseball-Specific 6-Week Training Programs on Throwing Velocity in High School Baseball Players (Escamilla, R.F., Ionnio, M., DeMahy, M.S., Fleisig, G.S., Wilk, K.E., Yamashiro, K., Mikla, T., Paulos, L., and Andrews, J.R. (2012)

Intro

  • Throwers 10, Keiser Pneumatic, and Plyometric programs
  • As compared to a control group, will these programs enhance throwing velocity in the high school population?

Methods

  • The control group performed ZERO activity other than baseball. There needed to be a control group in this sample because physical maturation over a 6-week period could affect the results of the study
  • 68 baseball players participated in this study
  • Inclusion criteria: no current injuries, correctly perform all exercises in the program, have to be untrained and not a part of any other program for at least 3 months, make 80% of the training sessions, participate in no other sports/activities
    • lots of inclusion criteria for an untrained population…
  • Weeks 1 and 4 were prescribed 12 repetitions, weeks 2 and 5 were prescribed 10 repetitions, and weeks 3 and 6 were prescribed 8 repetitions
    • All the participants “rotated” through exercises in a circuit-like fashion when the trainer decided when to rotate…interesting to see after repetitions were “prescribed”
  • The Thrower’s 10 program is commonly used with bands and light dumbbells to increase arm strength during both training and rehab
  • The Keiser group performed exercises in the transverse/oblique planes to mimic the rotational actions of throwing
  • The Plyometric group performed exercises used medicine balls and tubing to perform quick, explosive movements using the stretch-shortening cycle
  • For throwing velocity measurements, a Jugs Gun was used. Participants threw 5-10 pitches with maximal intent to a target with approximately 20 seconds between each throw to reduce the amount of fatigue (also used in multiple studies)
    • a “2-step throw” was used rather than throwing off of a mound
    • the first 5 throws that landed in the target were recorded, and the highest velocity was used for data analysis

Results

  • Of the 68 participants, only 58 were included for the data analysis
  • Throwing velocity was significantly higher in post-testing in all 3 groups in comparison to the control group
  • Especially in the summer season, a 6-week program may be more attractive to the high school player due to the amount of traveling for showcases and tournaments
  • Especially in an untrained population, there are some variables to consider: the learning effect and “newbie gains”
  • Some research has reported very little velocity gains in programs that used isokinetic methods (exercises in a constant speed), whereas the sport of baseball requires quick acceleration
  • Baseball players should combine all 3 methods of training: shoulder exercises, ballistic medicine ball throws, and power training in the transverse plane 


Baseball Throwing Velocity: A Comparison of Medicine Ball Training and Weight Training (Newton, R.U., and McEvoy, K.P. (1994)

Intro

  • Research on plyometric training has been heavily studied in the lower body. However, there is not a lot of research on the effects in the upper body
  • Since the overhead throwing motion requires the recruitment of the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC), medicine ball throws should, in theory, help increase throwing velocity

Methods

  • 24 baseball players participated in this 8-week training study
    • all were able to throw at least 67 mph, and had a low training age
  • maximum throwing velocity was used at 60’6″ away. 5 throws were recorded into a target, and a radar gun was held in the strike zone to measure throwing velocity
    • 20-30 seconds of rest were used between each throw
    • the average velocity of the 5 throws were used for data analysis
  • 6-RM bench press was used to assess muscular strength
  • Medicine ball training group performed only 2 exercises 2x/week
    • 2 hand chest pass and the overhead throw
    • 3×8 medicine ball throws for the first 4 weeks, and 3×20 medicine ball throws for the last 4 weeks
    • medicine ball weighed 6 lb.
  • Resistance training group trained 2x/week
    • bench press and the barbell pullover
    • 3×8-10 for the first 4 weeks, and 3×6-8 for the last 4 weeks
  • Control group performed regular baseball training

Results 

  • The only group with a significant change in throwing velocity was the weight training group (4% change)
  • Although the medicine ball training group saw an increase in 6-RM bench press, throwing velocity did not significantly increase
  • No significant relationship was seen between 6-RM Bench Press and throwing velocity 

Discussion

  • The medicine ball throws were not specific to the throwing motion. Another limitation to this study was that only 2 ball throws were used, which could have resulted in no increase in throwing velocity
    • the 6 lb. ball could also have been too light
  • Throwing harder results in greater force output, which makes sense why the resistance training group saw the only increase in throwing velocity
    • since there was no relationship between 6-RM bench press and throwing velocity, there were other factors that contributed to the increase in throwing velocity
  • Rate of force development is approximately equal at all resistances above 25% MVIC (maximal voluntary isometric contraction)
  • Baseball players should train to get stronger AND more explosive, and these methods should be used within the same training session
    • perform more than 2 medicine ball variations for more than 2x/week


Effects of High Volume Upper Extremity Plyometric Training on Throwing Velocity and Functional Strength Ratios of the Shoulder Rotators in Collegiate Baseball Players (Carter, A.B., Kaminski, T.W., Douex Jr., A.T., Knight, C.A., and Richards, J.G. (2007)

Intro 

  • The external rotators of the shoulder need to be strong eccentrically during the final phases of the throwing motion
  • Previous research in softball athletes has showed that after 8 weeks of upper body plyometric training, there were no significant changes in isokinetic strength of the shoulder internal rotators, nor where there a difference in throwing distance length
  • Another study showed that in softball players, upper body plyometric training significantly improved shoulder proprioception and kinesthesia
  • This current study is examining the effects of an 8-week plyometric program titled “The Ballistic 6” on functional eccentric external rotation strength and throwing velocity

Methods

  • 24 NCAA Division 1 baseball players were recruited for this study
  • 13 were in the plyometric group, 11 were in the control group
  • concentric shoulder internal rotation and eccentric shoulder external rotation strength of the throwing arm were measured on the Cybex Upper Body Ergometer
  • each participant completed a 5 repetition max at different velocities
  • 48 hours after the isokinetic test, participants threw on a flat ground 60’6″ away from a target to measure throwing velocity with the JUGS gun
    • 5 test throws with 1 minute rest between each throw, and the highest recorded velocity was used for data analysis
  • The Ballistic 6 program is commonly used in a rehab setting. However, most professionals are using ballistic type exercises in a regular strength program to reduce the risk of injury
    • 2 times a week for 8 weeks
    • plyometric training is used to decrease the amortization phase (transition from eccentric to concentric) to maximize the stretch shortening cycle (SSC)
    • progressed from 3×10 to 3×20 over the 8 week study with 30 seconds of rest between each set

Results

  • The plyometric group saw a 2 mph increase in throwing velocity
  • eccentric ER strength was significantly higher in the plyometric group
  • no significant difference between groups for shoulder IR strength

Discussion

  • previous research has shown that a plyometric medicine ball program in conjunction with strength training increased throwing velocity, but there was no difference between the groups. This tells us that enhancing throwing velocity comes from multiple factors, and a well-constructed program is needed to hit multiple areas
  • the participants in the control group, who did not perform any ballistic exercises, most likely did not see an increase in velocity because the exercises they were using were in a fixed velocity
  • highly trained individuals may not need as much plyometric training of the upper body, rather a well-constructed program with a blend of multiple areas to increase throwing velocity
  • isokinetic testing may not be the best way to assess functional shoulder strength. Rather, pair isokinetic strength with plyometric exercises to get the desired training effect


Effects of Various Resistance Training Methods on Overhead Throwing Power Athletes: A Brief Review (Szymanski, D.J. (2012)

General Resistance Training

  • Training 3-4 sets of 3-6 reps between 80-95% 1RM have shown to increase throwing velocity
  • Rather than using isolation exercises, it is the best interest of the baseball player to use exercises that utilize multiple muscle groups and joint actions

Specialized Resistance Training

  • Elastic tubing, dumbells, keiser machines, pulley machines, plyometric, and ballistic training methods have all shown to increase throwing velocity
  • using bench press throws between 30-50% 1RM have shown to increase throwing velocity by 2 mph due to the velocity-specific muscle contractions
  • one study that looked at the difference between the Thrower’s 10, kaiser machine, and medicine ball throws and throwing velocity. There were no difference between groups. However, every group increased in throwing velocity
  • When using medicine balls in a training program, it is important to periodize from heavier medicine balls to lighter medicine balls, rather than just using the same weight over an extended training period

Specific Resistance Training

  • When training with overweighted and underweighted implements, it is important to use a ratio of 2:1 respectively. Do not go outside of a 5-20% range
  • pitching velocity could be increased from 4.4-6% when using weighted baseballs within 20% of the standard 5 oz. baseball
    • these results are more promising when using a 2:1 ratio for overweighted and underweighted baseballs, respectively
  • Research in handball players shows that throwing velocity did not increase when using +/- 20% and a throwing movement with 85% 1RM on a pulley device
    • these results seem to be different in baseball and softball players
  • For the studies that did not see a difference between groups for overweighted and underweighted research, there could be 2 reasons:
    • the participants never received any type of training
    • learning more efficient throwing mechanics (those in the 5 oz. control group) can result in an increase in throwing velocity
  • Research investigating the differences between a long toss program with “maximal effort throwing” and weighted baseball throwing showed no differences in throwing velocity between groups
    • suggests that maximal effort throwing volume along does not increase throwing velocity since there is no overload on the body

General and Special Resistance Training

  • Ballistic 6 plyometric training has shown to increase throwing velocity by 2 mph
  • Shoulder exercises in a slow, controlled manner do not increase throwing velocity. However, these exercises should still be used in a program to develop proper shoulder strength and limb conditioning
  • Physically strong, powerful, and mature athletes may not increase throwing velocity by simply “getting stronger”. Rather, mechanics may need to be tinkered
    • it would be interesting to see exercise selection in this research

General and Specific Resistance Training

  • increasing strength alone may not increase throwing velocity, since there are multiple factors that go into throwing a baseball hard
  • Research in the pre-season with a group throwing a 2:1 ratio of over- and under-weighted baseballs showed no difference in velocity with the control group
  • If sufficient throwing volume has already been established in the pre-season, additional specific resistance training may not need to be implemented

General, Special, and Specific Resistance Training

  • After 10 weeks of training with a stepwise periodized resistance training program, in conjunction with medicine ball throws and over/under weighted baseball throwing, baseball players saw an average increase of 4 mph
  • Long toss protocols
    • 5 minute warm up throws at 50 feet
    • pivot throws with an arc for 15 minutes
      • 60 feet throws for 5 minutes
      • 75 feet throws for 5 minutes
      • 100 feet throws for 5 minutes
    • long toss throws for 10 minutes
      • 100-150 feet throws for 5 minutes
      • 150+ foot throws for 5 minutes
    • finished with 5 hard throws at 150 feet, 5 hard throws at 125 feet, and 5 hard throws at 100 feet
    • maximum distance throws show greater external rotation torque, elbow flexion torque, shoulder internal rotation torque, and elbow various torque


Increasing Ball Velocity in the Overhead Athlete: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials (Myers, N.L., Sciascia, A.D., Westgate, P.M., Kibler, W.B., and Uhl, T.L. (2015)


Effects of Strength Training on Throwing Velocity and Shoulder Muscle Performance in Teenage Baseball Players (Wooden, M.J., Greenfield, B., Johanson, M., Litzelman, L., Mundrane, M., and Donatelli, R.A. (1992)

Intro

  • Isokinetic exercise is defined as movement at a constant rate throughout a range of motion. Isokinetic exercise has shown to increase strength over an entire joint ROM
  • In 32 collegiate tennis players, the concentric only group showed strength increases on both eccentric and concentric rotator cuff strength
  • However, no other studies have looked at the effects of isokinetic training in the baseball player, since the shoulder can rotate anywhere from 6,000-9,000*/sec
  • Is isokinetic (IKN) or individualized dynamic variable resistance (IDVR) more effective at increasing rotator cuff muscle torque production and power, as well as throwing velocity?

Methods

  • 27 baseball players aged 14-17, have all been cleared from injury in past 6 months
  • A pitchers mound was not used to test velocity, however there was a target that was 60’6″ away form the participants
  • 5 maximum effort throws were taken and recorded with a Magnum X Ban radar gun
    • the average velocity was used for data analysis
    • the radar gun is not the most accurate, however it is reliable
  • dominant shoulder internal and external rotation torque was measured in ft.lbs and power was measured in Watts (W)
    • the shoulder was positioned at 90* abduction and 30* in the scapular plane
    • 4 maximal effort contractions were recorded
  • randomly assigned to the IKN or IDVR groups or the control; groups trained 3x/week for 5 weeks
    • IKN group exercised at 500*/sec
    • IDVR group exercised at 100% of the variable resistance provided by the pretest with no preset velocity
  • Week 1 = 6x10RM with 1 minute rest
    • one set was added each week, for a total of 10×10 during week 5

Results

  • peak torque was normalized to bodyweight, providing a PT:BW ratio
  • IDVR group significantly increased throwing velocity
  • IKN group was no significantly greater than the control group
  • IDVR significantly increased shoulder internal rotation torque (PT:BW) post testing, but was not significantly different than the IKN or control group
  • internal rotation power was not significantly different between groups
  • IDVR group PT:BW for external rotation showed to be significantly greater than the IKN and control groups

Discussion

  • IDVR seems to be more effective at increasing shoulder strength and throwing velocity than IKN training
  • IDVR and IKN seems to be effective for increasing external rotation power
  • Internal rotation torque did not improve in either group
  • These results could be from where the measurements were taken in the shoulder
    • 30* in the scapular plane is not generally specific to the throwing motion, and this puts the external rotators in a mechanical advantage to get stronger
  • When performing dumbbell exercises for the shoulder girdle, it’s important to: use a variable resistance and train at multiple speeds 


Correlation of Throwing Velocity to the Results of Lower-Body Field Tests in Male College Baseball Players (Lehman, G., Drinkwater, E.J., and Behm, D.G. (2013)

Intro

  • Enhancing throwing mechanics can result in a more efficient transfer of energy to increase in throwing velocity
  • Previous research shows that the youth show very similar throwing kinetics to those of professional baseball players. However, the only difference is strength and muscle mass. Therefore, you need to get stronger and put on more mass to throw harder
  • Strength of the lead leg is an indicator of throwing velocity, and the trail leg provides a stable base to redirect energy throughout the kinetic chain
  • No research has examined the use of unilateral lower body field tests that correlate to throwing velocity

Methods 

  • Tests = MB Scoop Toss, MB squat throw, vertical jump, single leg vertical jump, broad jump, triple broad jump, single leg lateral to medial broad jump, 10-yard sprint, 60-yard sprint, and single-leg 10-yard hop for speed
  • 42 college baseball players participated; throwing velocity ranged from 74 to 87 mph
    • learned all of the tests 3 weeks prior to the actual testing date to minimize the learning effect
  • 4 stations were set up to complete all of the tests
    • Medicine ball throws = 6-lb. ball was used, and the throws were recorded for max distance
      • MB scoop toss and MB squat throw
    • Vertical jumps = 3 maximal jumps with the highest jump being recorded
    • Horizontal jumps = 3 maximal jumps with the furthest jump being recorded
      • lateral to medial jumps were performed with a one-foot jump to landing on both feet simultaneously
      • bilateral triple jump was performed by jumping 3 times in a row with minimal stopping between each jump
    • Speed tests = times were recorded by Brower Timing Systems
      • 2 attempts for each speed test were allowed
  • Throwing velocity was taken 60’6″ away with 2 different techniques using the JUGS radar gun
    • stretch throwing velocity was defined as the thrower starting in the stretch position for a total of 3 throws
    • shuffle throwing velocity was defined as the thrower build 10-feet worth of momentum before the 60’6″ mark

Results 

  • lateral to medial broad jump and bodyweight had significant correlations with throwing velocity scores during the stretch
    • 32.2% of the variance in ball velocity from the stretch position can be accounted for the lateral to medial broad jump and body weight
  • lateral to medial broad jump and MB scoop toss had significant correlations with shuffle throwing velocity scores

Discussion

  • The specificity of the lateral to medial broad jump indicates why it is highly correlated with throwing velocity
    • to become better at the stride, training must involve that skill
  • vertical jumps and bilateral broad jumps did NOT correlate with throwing velocity
  • These results tell us that power training indeed is planar specific
  • Previous research has investigated the carry-over of power training in different planes of motion. Plyometric training in the frontal plane actually reduced vertical jump scores from pre- to post-tests
  • An increase in body weight allows the player to generate more force that can be transferred to the ball


Effects of Weighted Implement Training on Throwing Velocity (DeRenne, C., Ho, K., and Blitzbau, A. (1990)

Intro

  • There are mechanisms within the central nervous system that create selective activation of fast twitch motor units during a skilled movement, like baseball throwing
  • If using a lighter baseball could help to activate more fast twitch motor units, then throwing a regular 5 oz. baseball will result in a slightly higher velocity

Methods 

  • 30 high school pitchers participated in this study. No other training was allowed during the 10 week study
  • Over weighted group, under weighted group, and a control group randomly organized
  • The average of 10 pitches was used for throwing velocity measurement
  • Over 10 weeks, there was a 0.25 oz. increment applied to the baseball
    • throwing 3 times per week and the total amount of throws was controlled for
      • 50 throws per session, 20 weighted throws, 30 standard throws

Results

  • The overweighted group and underweighted groups showed a higher post-test velocity than the control group
  • The over weighted group saw an increase in 3.75 mph
  • The under weighted group saw an increase in 4.72 mph
  • These results DO NOT suggest that throwing weighted baseballs REPLACE your regular strength training! Rather, weighted baseballs are a tool for further development of the thrower


Effects of Under- and Overweighted Implement Training on Pitching Velocity (DeRenne, C., Buxton, B.P., Hetzler, R.K., and Ho, K.W. (1994)

Intro

  • Previous research has shown that over- and under-weighted baseballs increase throwing velocity. However, there is no research on combining these two methods
  • Can using 4, 5, and 6 oz. baseballs in the same period result in a velocity increase?

Methods 

  • 45 high school baseball pitchers, 180 college baseball pitchers participated in this study. Each group trained 3x week for 10 weeks
    • Group 1 = combined training (used 4, 5, and 6 oz. in same training period)
    • Group 2 = blocked training (used 4 and 5 oz., then next cycle used 5 and 6 oz.)
      • this method was used based on Russian strength training research of using different “blocks” of qualities
    • Group 3 = control group
  • Mean velocity of 15 pitches was used for data analysis
  • A 2:1 ratio of non-standard to standard baseball throwing was used for groups 1 and 2
    • volume of throws increased each week by 6 throws per session, or 18 throws per week
      • Group 1 = 9 standard, 18 high, 18 low, 9 standard (week 1); 13 standard, 26 high, 26 low, 13 standard (week 10)
      • Group 2 = 9 standard, 36 high, 9 standard (week 1); 13 standard, 52 low, 13 standard (week 10)

Results

  • Significant differences were seen between groups 1 and 2 with the control group
  • There were no differences between groups 1 and 2
  • Interestingly, the college aged pitchers seemed to respond a little better when in group 1 
    • high school aged pitchers seemed to respond a little better when in group 2 

Discussion

  • Using +/- 20% of the standard baseball weight seemed to be effective in increasing throwing velocity in groups 1 and 2. However, no differences were seen between those two training groups
  • Pitchers should be able to choose which protocol is best for them. As noticed in the data analysis, the college pitchers seemed to respond better to being in group 1 (non-block)
  • the 2:1 ratio of weighted to non-weighted baseballs might be the most important variable of all
  • Weighted baseballs work because it allows the player to duplicate performance range of motion and producing power needed to throw hard; there is a greater muscle exertion force at higher speeds due to higher recruitment patterns of fast-twitch muscle fibers
  • ZERO injuries were reported!


Effects of Throwing Overweighted and Underweight Baseballs on Throwing Velocity and Accuracy: A Review (Escamilla, R.F., Speer, K.P., Fleisig, G.S., Barrentine, S.W., and Andrews, J.R. (2000)

Intro

  • Soviet research in over weighted and under weighted throwing
    • varied resistance training enhances power development by focusing on the speed-strength portion of the force-velocity curve
    • variations should be between 5-20% of the normal resistance
    • 2:1 frequency should be used for the weighted and non-weighted implement
  • Under-weighted training is thought as speed training: the body segments move faster than normal with less force being generated
  • Over-weighted training is thought as strength training: the body segments move slower than normal with more force being generated
  • The force-time relationship is extremely important in pitching, since the time from foot contact to ball release is approximately 0.15 seconds

Weighted Baseballs on Velocity and Accuracy 

  • Van Huss et al. –> 50 college baseball players
    • 25 warm up pitches with 11 oz. baseballs (10 of which were maximal velocity), followed by 10 pitches with regular baseballs
    • 10 pitches were thrown into a grid that scored 1-5 for accuracy
    • velocity increased 5-10% due to the warm up
    • Results tell us that we could warm up with weighted baseballs, however this does not have a great carry over effect
  • Brose and Hanson –> 21 college baseball players
    • control group, wall pulley throwing group, and over-weighted ball group
      • trained 3x/week for 6 weeks
    • over-weighted group threw 10 oz. baseballs
    • pulley group went through the throwing motion with 10 lb. of resistance
    • 5 throws with moderate effort, 20 throws with maximal effort, ending with 10 throws with a standard baseball
    • throwing velocity increased in the over-weighted group and the pulley group, but there was no difference in throwing accuracy
  • Straub et al. –> 108 high school males
    • over-weight warm up group, over-weight training group
      • the warm up group was then split up into a high velocity and low velocity group
      • regulation baseballs, 10 oz., and 15 oz. baseballs were randomly assigned to those in the warmup group
    • 20 maximum effort throws were used in the warm up group, and velocity and accuracy was taken afterwards
      • no differences were seen in velocity and accuracy in the warmup group
    • training group was then split up into a control and a training group
      • the training group threw 3x/week for 6 weeks
      • the experimental group gradually increased 2 oz./week from 7 oz. to 17 oz.
      • no differences were seen in throwing velocity and accuracy
  • Litwhiler and Hamm –> pilot study with 5 college pitchers
    • the weight increased from 7 oz. to 12 oz. with a 1 oz. increase every 2 weeks
    • pitchers trained 3x/week with a rest day in between for 12 weeks
    • 15 throws with over weighted baseballs, 20 throws with regulation baseballs, 10 throws with over weighted baseballs, and 10 throws with regulation baseballs (total of 25 over weighted and 30 regulation)
      • study design is a little too random and does not fit the 2:1 ratio as seen with previous research
    • regulation baseballs were thrown with maximal effort, while the over weighted baseballs were thrown with sub maximal effort
    • throwing velocity increased by 11 mph, but accuracy was not different at the end of 12 weeks
  • Logan et al. –> 39 college baseball players
    • split into 3 groups
      • Group 1 = pulley system using 2.5 lb. of resistance to provide an overload but not too much to alter the throwing motion
        • previous research has used 10 lb. of resistance
      • Group 2 = standard baseballs
      • Group 3 = control group
    • 30 normal throws 5x/week
    • Group 1 saw a 6.5% increase in velocity
  • LIMITATIONS
    • some of the over weighed implements are WAY too heavy and may alter the mechanics of the throwing motion, which could be why most of the studies showed no increase in throwing velocity
    • volume of the throws was different among studies
    • percentage increases only seem high for 6 weeks of training
    • an increase in 11 mph seems unreal, and i’m not sure that it is real

Effects of Throwing Over-Weighted and Under-Weighted Baseballs on Throwing Velocity 

  • DeRenne et al. (1982) –> 10 high school baseball pitchers, 10-week pilot study
    • 5 pitchers threw under-weighted baseballs (4-5 oz.), 5 pitchers threw over-weighted baseballs (5-6 oz.) for 3x/week
    • Both groups started with just 5 oz. baseball throwing for the first 2 weeks, then progressed +/- 0.25 oz depending on their group
    • Under-weighted group threw for 5-10 minutes with a regulation baseball, 5-10 minutes of long toss, and then 15 minutes of bullpen throwing with the under-weighted baseball at 50-75% RPE
      • 1x/week, the under-weighted group performed 10-15 minutes of maximal effort bullpen throwing with the under-weighted baseball, followed by 1-10 minutes of maximal throwing with the regulation baseball
    • Over-weighted group warmed up with the over-weighted baseball for 15 minutes, followed by 10-15 of bullpen throwing with the over-weighted baseball at 50-75% RPE
      • 1x/week, the over-weighted group performed 10-15 minutes of maximal effort bullpen throwing with the over-weighted baseball, followed by 1-10 minutes of maximal throwing with the regulation baseball
    • There was a significant difference in throwing velocity for both groups. The under-weighted group saw a slightly higher increase in velocity.
  • DeRenne et al. (1984) –> follow up study from 1982 pilot
    • 30 high school baseball players randomly assigned to an over-weighted, under-weighted, and control group
    • each group threw 50 pitches 3x/week for 10 weeks
      • under-weighted group threw 20 weighted baseballs and 30 regulation baseballs
      • over-weighted group threw 20 weighted baseballs and 30 regulation baseballs
      • all throws for the control group were regulation baseballs
    • weights either increased/decreased by 0.25 oz. every 2 weeks during the 10 week training period
    • the under-weighted group saw a 6.7% increase in throwing velocity
    • the over-weighted group saw a 5.3% increase in throwing velocity
  • DeRenne et al. (1986) –> 34 high school pitchers
    • control group and under-weighted group trained 3x/week for 10 weeks
    • under-weighted group threw 54 pitches weeks 1-3, 60 pitches weeks 4-6, 66 pitches weeks 7 and 8, and 75 pitches weeks 9 and 10
      • 9 5 oz. throws, 36 4 oz. throws, and 9 5 oz. throws (weeks 1-3)
      • 10 5 oz. throws, 40 4 oz. throws, 10 5 oz. throws (weeks 4-6)
      • 11 5 oz. throws, 44 4 oz. throws, 11 5 oz. throws (weeks 7 and 8)
      • 12 5 oz. throws, 48 4 oz. throws, 12 5 oz. throws (weeks 9 and 10)
    • the under-weighted group saw a 3.3% increase in throwing velocity
  • DeRenne et al. (1987-1988) –> 225 high school and college baseball players
    • 3 groups: control, over-weighted, and under-weighted
    • group 1 threw the entire spectrum of baseballs
    • group 2 threw over-weighted baseballs for the first 5 weeks, then threw under-weighted and regulation baseballs for the last 5 weeks
    • both groups 1 and 2 saw a 4-6% increase in throwing velocity, showing that both protocols were significant in increasing throwing velocity
  • Soviet strength training studies show that  functional strength base must first be established before throwing lighter implements
    • over-weighted before under-weighted, which shed light on the 2:1 ratio of weighted to regulation baseballs

Injury Risk of Throwing Weighted Implements 

  • Most of the studies have reported that their were zero injuries
  • since the training studies lasted no longer than 12-weeks, we cannot suggest that their is no inherent risk of constantly training with weighted baseballs

Kinematic Differences in Throwing Weighted Implements and Regulation Baseballs 

  • Some pitchers have reported of throwing a 15-oz. football as a warm up to loosen up the shoulder
    • Fleisig et al. saw several differences in throwing a 15-oz. football and a regulation baseball
      • football throwing might be a good training tool in the off-season to help condition the arm
    • throwing a football may enhance the throwing velocity of baseballs, however, this also may generate lower forces about the shoulder and elbow compared to baseball throwing
  • Castagno et al. compared kinematics of regulation baseball throwing and overloaded throwing
    • a 7 oz. glove was worn on the opposing hand, therefore the extra weight was not released
    • there was greater external rotation of the throwing shoulder, greater elbow extension velocity during acceleration, more forward trunk tilt angle, and more elbow flexion throughout the pitch
  • throwing weighted implements during the competitive season may have detrimental effects
    • kinematics may be different, and this is undesirable for a pitcher if neuromuscular firing patterns are altered
    • higher forces from weighted throwing may add onto the stress of a normal 5 oz. baseball

Baseball Throwing Speed and Base Running Speed: The Effects of Ballistic Resistance Training (McEvoy, K.P. and Newton, R.U. (1998)

Intro

  • There have been mixed results with the effects of resistance training on sprint performance 
  • There is also little research on the effects of plyometric and ballistic training on baseball skill-specific movements, such as throwing speed and running speed 

Methods

  • 18 male baseball players from a National baseball team participated
    • all have had resistance training experience 
  • throwing speed was measured with a radar gun, with the throw being between home plate and a pitchers mound
    • the first 5 throws that passed through the strike zone were used for analysis 
    • 20-30 seconds rest were taken between throws 
  • sprint speed was measured with a hand-held laser device
    • home to first base
    • the athlete let go of the hand held device to start the timer, and the timer stopped when the athlete ran threw the laser at first base
    • 2 sprints were taken, and the mean time was recorded 
  • treatment group participated in ballistic-style training, the control group went through normal baseball practice
    • 3x/week for 10 weeks 
  • bench throws and jump squats were used in the treatment group
    • plyometric power system (Australia) was used to measure peak force output 
    • 3×6-8 maximal effort jumps and throws 
    • the load for each set was individualized for each athlete 
    • all training sessions were BEFORE baseball practice 

Results

  • there was no change in throwing speed for the control group
  • the treatment group saw an increase in throwing speed
  • both groups had a significant increase in running speed, and there was a greater difference in the treatment group. However, this difference was not significant 

Discussion

  • ballistic-style resistance training produces adaptations in the neuromuscular system 
  • The treatment group was already “slow” prior to training, which could explain why there was no difference between groups post-training
  • training to throw harder and sprint faster should be based on velocity-specific adaptations. Heavy loads with slow movements may recruit type-II muscle fibers, but rate of force production is slower
  • However, one can argue that the “intent” to move fast could off-set the heavy loads moving at slow speeds
  • mechanical power output can be increased with loads between 30-50% 1RM
  • The only limitation with conventional weight training is that the speed of the movement ceases at the “top” of the movement
  • the closer the movement pattern and velocity of the exercise, the greater translation to sport performance 
  • power output also increased due to the recruitment of the stretch-shortening cycle. There is an optimal length-tension relationship in our muscles across multiple joints. Too much or too little of a stretch will not optimize this power output 
  • One point that I believe is highly valuable is that exercises should give some sort of external feedback to the athlete. This is why velocity-based training is becoming highly popular
    • if you don’t have this equipment, do not worry! Medicine ball exercises are a great option, because the athlete is still able to see the distance, flight path, and speed of the ball moving in space 


Data-Based Interval Throwing Programs for Little League, High School, and Professional Baseball Pitchers (Axe, M.J., Wickham, R., and Snyder-Mackler, L. (2001)

Intro

  • Most pitching programs have a short toss and long toss component and begin with throwing from level ground during the off-season to build the arm up
  • Interval throwing programs can be used either for the injured athlete returning to play or the healthy athlete who needs to build up during the off-season

Methods

  • Pitching data from pitchers aged 9-12 were collected over 70 games
    • number of pitches per inning
    • number of warm up pitches per inning 
    • total innings 
    • total number of throws per game 
  • Pitching data from 13-year old pitchers were collected over 30 games
    • number of pitches per inning
    • number of warm up pitches per inning
    • total innings
    • total number of throws per game 
  • Pitching data from 15-18 year old pitchers were collected over a single summer season (approximately 234 innings)
    • innings pitched
    • pitches per outing 
    • average number of pitches per inning
    • time between pitches 
    • number of pick off attempts 
  • Pitching data from college-aged pitchers were collected over a single season and summer season (approximately 440 innings)
    • innings pitched
    • pitches per outing 
    • average number of pitches per inning
    • time between pitches 
    • number of pick off attempts 

Results and Program Design  

  • 13 year old pitchers had significantly fewer innings per outing (since most games are 6 innings)
    • they threw a few more pitches per inning, but it was not significant 
    • younger age = harder time throwing strikes since mechanics are not yet fully matured and repeatable 
  • Mix of fastballs generally went down as age increased 
  • The 13 year old pitcher is placed in a tough spot because this is usually the transition year from the small fields to the big fields, which requires more arm strength
    • 2 additional throwing programs were developed to address these needs 
  • High school, college, and professional pitchers all had similar data, so one program was created for this age population 
  • The throwing program must aid the athlete from no throwing to to throwing at game volume
    • return to throwing 
    • return to pitching
    • intensified pitching
    • simulated game 
  • Initially, the pitcher should throw about 50-75% effort of just fastballs
    • Once the pitcher has reached 75% of their chronic workload, then off-speed pitches can be mixed into bullpens 
  • Total throwing volume increases in most steps
    • Number of throws * distance * intensity
      • 65 * 60 feet * 0.75 = 2925 arbitrary units 
  • The long-toss portion for little league players was designed based on maximum throwing distance
    • if only age and pitch speed are known, there is a table we can use to approximate throwing distance 
  • The soreness rules determine whether the thrower stays on a step or progresses one step 
  • Injuries and return to throwing are based on four categories
    • an injury to a different body part 
    • an injury to the throwing arm that does not involve the joints 
    • an a mild joint injury to the throwing arm 
    • a severe joint injury to the throwing arm 
  • Interval throwing programs are NOT a replacement for regular shoulder strengthening exercises 
  • For Little League throwers, click here
  • For ages 13-14, begin at step 3 and advance one step daily based on soreness rules 
  • For high school, college, and professional pitchers, begin at step 4 (pictured below) and advance one step daily following soreness rules 


Lower Extremity Strength and Recovery Time in Youth Baseball Players: A Pilot Study (Livingston, J.L. and Tavoukjian, N.M. (2018)

Intro

  • Previous research has investigated upper extremity strength in teenage pitchers after throwing 100 pitches: isometric strength is significantly decreased 
  • This research lead to the recommendation of at least 3 rest days in order for baseline strength levels to be seen again in the throwing shoulder 
  • In professional pitchers, poor lumbopelvic control is associated with increased injuries and days missed. Those with better lumbopelvic control show a higher WHIP and higher number of innings pitched, suggesting that those who use their body better will throw more strikes and create better opportunities!
  • Could these same metrics be seen in youth pitchers? The researchers wanted to determine if the Pitch Smart guidelines actually demonstrated proper rest times based on pitch counts 

Methods

  • 15 youth baseball pitchers participated in this study (ages 8-11)
  • Manual muscle testing (MMT) in the lower extremities was performed before and after pitching to determine strength levels pre and post 
  • MMT was performed each day for 4 days using the microFET2 dynamometer (the results of this reliability study has NOT BEEN POSTED)
    • drive leg and stride leg bilateral assessments: glute max, hamstrings, gastrocnemius, glute medius, and quadriceps
  • Pitch velocity was recorded for each throw using the Bushnell radar gun (not the most reliable, however velocity was not the main variable in this study) 
  • RPE was recorded for each throw; specifically, the Pictorial Children’s Effort Rating Table was used (has been deemed a reliable source)
  • The bullpen session began with 8 warm-up pitches (is that enough?)
  • Assigned number of pitches was determined by the Pitch Smart guidelines based on age and experience level (no pitcher threw where more than 3 days of rest were needed)
  • Each pitcher threw in clusters of 7/8 fastballs separated by 30 seconds of rest
    • there was no record of how long each pitcher took between these “clusters” of pitches, which is certainly a limitation 
  • The bullpen session ended in either of these scenarios: max pitch count was reached, a 9 was reached on the PCERT scale, any pain or discomfort was felt, if pitch velocity decreased by 5% or more 
  • Pain and soreness was monitored for 48-72 hours post pitching and pitchers were treated as “usual”
    • what is “usual”? Probably just ice…is this the right call?

Results

  • Average number of pitches thrown = 47
  • Average velocity = 46 mph
  • ZERO participants were fully recovered by the time the pitching guidelines would allow the athlete to pitch again
  • 12 out of 15 pitchers were able to throw their max pitches allowed before they reached a 9/10 on the PCERT scale
  • Those who played multiple sports showed a greater recovery time than those who played just baseball
  • Muscle groups with the most significant change from pre to post: stride leg hamstring, glute medius, and quadriceps (not glute max!)

Discussion

  • High pitch count, number of months pitched in a year/year round play, 100+ games in one calendar year, and early specialization have been correlated to an increased risk of injury 
  • Although there as a slight recovery advantage for those who played multiple sports, the differences were still not significant 
  • Pitching in a fatigued state increases risk of injury by 36x (360%)
  • Based on this study, in youth pitchers, self-reported fatigue might not be the best measure since players were NOT physiologically ready to pitch again even though they were not at a 9 on the scale
    • HOWEVER, do we really expect a 8-11 year old to actually tell the truth? Do they also know a difference between a 6 or an 8?
    • Scales that are broken up from 1-3, 4-6, and 7-10 could be more useful 
  • Older pitchers (10-11 years old) had lower percentages of strength, which leads us to discuss that the throwing motion uses primarily the lower body
  • Prior to Little League pitch guidelines, throwing more than 80 pitches in a game was associated with nearly 4x greater risk of injuries that require surgery 
  • Recommendations: encourage your kids to play multiple sports and partake in a trusted strength and conditioning program to ensure that their lower body is able to withstand the high forces from pitching 

Defining the Long-Toss. A Professional Baseball Epidemiological Study (Stone, A.V., Mannava, S., Patel, A., Marquez-Lara, A., and Freehill, M.T. (2017)

Intro

  • Interval throwing programs were designed to allow the thrower to return to play and return from injury 
  • Distances and mechanics remain controversial in the baseball world. Most define “long toss” differently 
  • Since there is no clear definition of what long toss really is, long toss could potentially harm the throwers shoulder if not performed properly 
  • In this study, professional pitchers, pitching coaches, and athletic trainers (AT) were surveyed 

Methods

  • 3 part survey
    • the demographic: pitcher, pitching coach, or AT
    • when long toss is utilized
      • pre-season, in-season, off-season 
    • arm strengthening and conditioning, stretching the shoulder, as a component of an interval throwing program, a component of a rehab program 
    • distance and throwing mechanics 

Results

  • 271 pitchers, 19 pitching coaches, and 32 AT’s completed the survey 
  • mean distance recorded was 175 feet
  • 36% reported using “on a line” when throwing, and 70% reported “not on a line” when throwing
    • of those throwing on a line, 28% reported using the crow hop
    • of those not throwing on a line, 60% reported using the crow hop
  • pitchers reported using long toss more during the pre-season, in-season, and in the off-season compared to pitching coaches and AT’s
    • this could be organizational, as each MLB team requires each pitcher to start throwing on different dates to get their arm ready for spring training 
  • pitchers and pitching coaches reported using long toss for shoulder stretching more than AT’s
    • AT’s mostly use long toss for rehab programs, which makes sense 
  • 120-180 feet seems to be what “long toss” really is. However, the distance is still highly variable due to arm strength and level of playing experience 
  • most pitchers use long toss for arm strengthening and conditioning, stretching the shoulder, and recovery 
  • Interval throwing programs re designed to gradually allow for recovery of the throwers flexibility, arm strength, and proper throwing mechanics 
  • The crow hop is usually implemented to take stress off the shoulder and promote the use of the entire body when throwing 
  • Long toss increases the amount of torque of the shoulder and elbow, therefore steering away injured players from a “long toss” program. Rather, an interval throwing program is used that gradually increases in time, distance, and the amount of throws 


Training the Shoulder Complex in Baseball Players: A Sport-Specific Approach (Jeran, J.J., and Chetlin, R.D. (2005)

Intro

  • The shoulder has a great ROM and needs mobility and stability during movement 
  • The exposure of high forces to the throwing shoulder invites multiple injuries to the athlete (not limited to): subacromial impingement, biceps tendonitis, rotator cuff tendonitis, partial supraspinatus tears, labral tear, and tears of the superior labrum from anterior to posterior (SLAP)

Eccentric Loading During the Cocking Phase

  • The cocking phase is the time between front foot contact and maximal shoulder external rotation 
  • At front foot strike, the shoulder is usually in 90* abduction, 30* horizontal extension, 90-120* of external rotation; the elbow is normally flexed around 80-90* 
  • The cocking phase ends when the shoulder is brought to about 160* of external rotation, which is contributed by glenohumeral rotation, scapulothoracic rhythm, and trunk extension 

Acceleration Phase

  • From maximal external rotation to ball release: when the shoulder rapidly moves into internal rotation, which is the fastest motion in all of sports 
  • Ball release occurs around 40-60* of external rotation 
  • As the shoulder is internally rotated, the elbow flexes from 90* to approximately 120* 
  • 20 milliseconds before ball release, the wrist begins from extension to flexion in order to deliver the ball towards home plate 
  • Radioulnar pronation begins 10 milliseconds before ball release
  • Some injuries during this phase include subacromial impingement syndrome, biceps tendonitis, and anterior shoulder instability 
  • If the arm is not positioned correctly by the serratus anterior and the upper/middle trapezius, internal impingement can occur 
  • The dynamic stabilizers/rotator cuff of the shoulder (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, subscapularis) need to be somewhat flexible
  • Anterior translation of the shoulder could cause the dynamic stabilizers to become lengthened, weakened, and unstable 
  • Pain in the anterior shoulder could most likely be from the shoulder stabilizers to be weakened, the cuff takes too much of the force, which results in the head of the humerus to be jammed forward during acceleration 
  • During the acceleration phase, the supraspinatus insertion becomes compressed from chronic subacromial impingement/narrowing 

Functional Anatomy 

  • Scapular protractors (serratus anterior) and retractors (trapezius, rhomboids, and elevator scapulae) provide opposing influences to promote smooth external rotation of the shoulder
    • if one muscle group is more dominant than the other, this will limit the amount of total motion in the throwing shoulder 
  • Pectoralis major and minor, latissimus dorsi, biceps brachii, and subscapularis all provide anterior and posterior stability 
  • Infraspinatus and teres minor re responsible for external rotation of the throwing shoulder 
  • The pec major and latissimus dorsi are key contributors to shoulder acceleration 

Injury Prevention and Performance Enhancement 

  • Newton’s 2nd Law states: “the rate of change of momentum of a body is proportional to the applied force and takes place in the direction of which the force acts”
    • objects with LESS mass are easier to move through space and will move before heavier objects they may be attached to
    • shoulder abduction is possible because the mass of the scapular fixators is greater than the mass of the deltoid 
    • if the scapular fixators were paralyzed by nerve injury, then abduction of the shoulder would result in an awkward rotation of the scapula 
    • throwing a baseball results in a third-class lever action: the glenoid is the fulcrum, the baseball is the resistance, and the muscle surround the shoulder are located between the fulcrum and resistance 
  • Weak scapular stabilizers may adversely affect arm strength 
  • The throwing arm can be looked at as a catapult: the scapula provides the base, the shoulder and upper arm create the effort, and the hand holds the resistance
  • Your rotator cuff can be strong, but if your scapular stabilizers are weak, this will result in faulty mechanics and a loss in velocity 
  • Arm strength requires the cuff and scapular stabilizers to be strong eccentrically, isometrically, and concentrically 

Medicine Ball Exercises 

  • Applied Simulated Throws (HOLDS)
    • to be used with a baseball-sized medicine ball or specialized medicine ball 
    • assume the cocking position, and move the arm forward 6 inches without changing elbow position 
    • Substitution: KB Waiter Walks with Movement 
  • Medicine Ball Snatch
    • Controlling the medicine ball to an overhead position by locking the scapula at end-range
    • Substitution: Row and Rotation to Y-Press
  • Pop Drill
    • the arm is flexed at 90* at 0* of abduction, slightly oscillate and “pop” the ball an inch away from the palm 
  • Self Pass
    • start the arms out in front of the body in a “W” position 
    • pass the ball back and forth as quick as you can without losing shoulder position; let the shoulder internally/externally rotate in a plyometric fashion 
  • Around-The-Worlds
    • Hold onto the medicine ball or weighted plate
    • Rotate the ball around the head in a clockwise and counterclockwise fashion 
  • Progressions: start from 15 seconds, progress to 30 seconds, progress to 45 seconds 


Relationship Between Upper-Body Strength and Bat Swing Speed in High-School Baseball Players (Miyaguchi, K., and Demura, S. (2012)

Intro

  • The 1-RM Bench Press (BP) is the test that is mostly used and is widely accepted for measuring upper body strength and power 
  • It is hypothesized that players who have the ability to hit home runs re superior in 1-RM BP and the ability of power exertion at lighter loads 
  • The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between 1RM BP and bat speed 

Methods

  • 30 male high school baseball players were split into two groups: a superior hitting group (Group A) and a mediocre hitting group (Group B)
  • Standard metal bat was used for swings, and velocity was measured with a microwave-type speed measurement instrument (Red Eyes Pocket)
    • 3 maximal swings were taken, and the average was used for data analysis 
  • 1 week after the swing speed testing, 1RM BP was administered 
  • Isokinetic bench press was also measured at 3 speeds: low speed (0.4 ms), middle speed (0.8ms), and high speed (1.2 ms)
  • Peak power and and peak velocity were measured for each bench press test 

Results

  • Coefficient variants of bench power and high speed isokinetic bench press were larger than the other variables 
  • Bat swing speed showed significant and moderate correlations with 1RM BP and high isokinetic bench press and bench power 
  • Bat swing speed, bench power, and high speed isokinetic bench press under per kilogram of body weight (relative values) showed significantly larger values in Group A than Group B

Discussion

  • It is possible that measuring 1RM BP cannot evaluate the muscle power of hitters. Therefore, lighter loads to measure muscle power may be the better option (30-40% 1RM)
  • For those hitters who show low levels of strength, it is important to first increase their relative and absolute strength 
  • For those hitters who have higher levels of strength and prior training experience, using lighter loads and dynamic methods may be the better option in increasing muscular power 
  • It is apparent that players who have higher strength levels and show higher peak power in isokinetic conditions are labeled as superior hitters 


Contributing Factors for Increased Bat Swing Velocity (Szymanski, D.J., DeRenne, C., and Spaniol, F.J. (2009)

Intro

  • There seems to be a trade off with force and velocity. Muscle power increases with velocity, but only up to a certain point 
  • The force velocity curve shows us that peak force and velocity meet at the middle of the “curve”. When training for power, baseball players should be using moderate loads with high velocities 
  • General resistance training increases overall strength, which is needed to produce power 
  • Special resistance training is used once strength has been established to produce peak power 
  • Specific resistance training attempts to provide game-like motions to offer perceptual feedback to the brain 

Importance of Swing Velocity 

  • Hitters must be able to notice 3 variables: location of the pitch, velocity of the pitch, and the type of pitch 
  • Once the hitter decides to swing perceptually, higher bat speed is needed to make contact with the pitch
  • An increased decision time allows for the hitter to exhibit a higher swing velocity 
  • The swing takes approximately 0.3 seconds, and the decision to swing is approximately 0.2 seconds. An 80 mph pitch takes 0.5 seconds to cross home plate
    • as pitch velocity increases, decision time and swing time decrease in order to have a successful outcome 
  • Longer swing times are often a result of strength 
  • If a hitter could swing a heavier bat at the same velocity as a standard bat, the ball would either be hit further or harder due to a larger transfer of momentum to the baseball
  • Metal bats allow for the baseball to travel, on average, 30 feet further than a wood bat
    • due to a metal bat weighing slightly less and having a greater elastic property 

Batted-Ball Velocity 

  • The moment of inertia is defined as how the weight is distributed along the bat’s length and swing weight
    • the higher the moment of inertia, the slower the swing 
  • Batted ball velocity vs. impact location has shown to have a curvilinear relationship for wood bats
    • in other words, the “sweet spot” of the bat is slightly smaller than that of a metal bat 
    • some research shows that there is not a significant difference in location of the sweet spot with wood and metal bats 
  • 4 studies have showed that average game bat swing velocity was increased after warming up in the on-deck circle with a bat that was +/- 12% of bat weight (in high school, college, and ex-college players)
  • VERY heavy or light bats adversely effect bat velocity
    • although MLB players still use a donut to swing, they may have superior levels of strength. If you notice, they also don’t take actual game like swings 

Resistance Implement Training

  • 6-8 weeks of training is usually needed for an adaptation to occur with over weight swing training 
  • A 2:1 ratio of over-weighted and under-weighted swings can be taken for training the entire force-velocity curve
    • research has shown groups taking 100 swings with over-weighted/under-weighted implements 
  • Some players with inadequate strength can still swing 100 times/day for 3x/week for 6 weeks and increase swing velocity 
  • For hitters with a higher training status, research has showed that 240-600 swings per week with either over-weighted or both over- and under-weighted bats for 6-12 weeks can increase swing velocity 
  • From a practical standpoint, swing training should be done on the baseball field during practice 
  • It has been suggested that using weighted bats in precise combinations and within the +/- 12% rule result in greater muscle exertion force
    • can be attributed to a modification of muscle recruitment patterns within the central nervous system 

Resistance Training

  • progressive overload resistance training has shown to increase swing velocity by 3.2-7.9%
  • 12-weeks of strength and power training has shown to increase swing velocity up to 4.2% in the high school population 
  • using loads greater than 85% 1RM and within 30-50% 1RM can train the entire force velocity curve 
  • adding additional whole-body medicine ball exercises can aid in velocity development 
  • torque provided by the wrist and hands show little application to the baseball swing, so grip strength is not as important as believed to be 
  • Baseball players with greater lower body strength, lower body power, rotational power, and lean body mass are able to swing faster and hit the ball further 

Applications 

  • warming up with a bat between +/- 12% standard game bat weight can increase swing velocity during the at bat
  • very heavy or very light bats have a detrimental effect on swing velocity 
  • the donut should not be used to swing in the on-deck circle, since research shows that this products the slowest swing velocity 
  • For untrained individuals, swinging a bat 100 times a day for 3x/week over 6-8 weeks can increase swing velocity 
  • specific resistance training for hitters with a greater training age can 150 swings a day for 4x/week over 12 weeks with a bat +/- 12% bat weight and increase swing velocity 
  • grip work and forearm strength will not improve swing velocity. Rather, a stronger forearm will allow for a greater ball-impact velocity 
  • Adding full-body medicine ball exercises 2x/week in a resistance training program that replicate the swing motion can increase swing velocity 
  • players with the greatest bat speeds have greater strength, power, and lean body mass 


The Acute and Chronic Effects of Isometric Contraction Conditioning on Baseball Bat Velocity (Higuchi, T., Nagami, T., Mizuguchi, N., and Anderson, T. (2013)

Intro

  • Post-Activation Potentiation (PAP) is a neuromuscular “cheat code” that enhances maximum muscle contractions 
  • Previous research has shown that maximal isometric training resulted in higher vertical jump scores than dynamic training alone 
  • There is little research on the effects of PAP on multi-joint movements, like a baseball swing 
  • This study investigates the effects of a maximal isometric contraction on bat velocity, as well as the training effects of using maximal isometric contractions on bat velocity 

Methods

  • 24 Division I baseball players participated. All players had at least 2 years of strength training experience, which would allow for the use of isometric training to be implemented 
  • 3 groups: standard bat swinging, weighted bat swings, 4x5s maximal contractions 
  • After completing the first experiment, 12 of the 24 players were selected for the training group who performed isometric contractions prior to swinging 3x/week for 8 weeks 
  • The standard bat was 33 in., 30 oz. 
  • The weighted bat was the standard bat with a 24 oz. power wrap added on to the barrel of the bat 
  • The ISO warm up included players pulling a steel cable attached to a fence in the early swing phase position
    • each hand was completed separately 
    • 1st and 3rd set was used with one hand, the 2nd and 4th set was used with the other hand 
  • bat velocity before ball contact was measured with a computerized photo sensing timer, which measures how long it takes an object to intercept two laser beams
    • to eliminate data error, each player was advised to take a “level swing through the strike zone” 
  • test-retest reliability with the laser device was taken before the trials to ensure that a reliable measurement was being taken
    • less than 1% error was seen in the trial, deeming the device reliable 
  • the height of the ball was measured to the players belly-button 
  • 3 swings were taken at maximal effort, and the average of 3 swings was used for data analysis for pre-warm up swing velocity
    • 10 seconds were taken between each swing 
  • participants were then placed into 1 of the 3 conditions, with 4 maximal swings being taken with 5 seconds rest between each swing
    • the isometric group did not swing, however, they also took 5 seconds rest between each contraction 
  • after the end of the 8 week period for the 2nd experiment, the remaining 12 players who did not train 3x/week were used as the control group

Results

  • no significant change in the standard bat swings
  • significant decrease in velocity in the weighted bat swings 
  • significant increase in velocity with the isometric contractions 
  • significant increase in velocity in the experimental group that performed training 3x/week for 8 weeks 

Discussion

  • The results show that isometric contractions can be used both acutely and chronically to enhance swing velocity 
  • During the early swing phase, the muscle of the trunk and the lead arm show the highest EMG activity, showing that the pre-swing phase may be the most important phase, other than contact with the baseball
  • Based on theory, isometric training should be used to enhance specific joint angles 
  • The limitations of isometric training are as follows: greater duration and intensity of isometric contractions promotes greater potentiation and fatigue simultaneously, and longer recovery times surpasses the potentiation effect 
  • This study may not have a great ecologically validity because baseball players are creatures of habit and superstition. Drastically changing their on-deck routine may be detrimental to performance
  • To ensure that the player is getting full benefit of isometric training, it is recommended to use some sort of isometric contractions in the weight room to promote strength in specific phases of the swinging motion


The Effect of Pitch Type on Ground Reaction Forces in the Baseball Swing (Fortenbaugh, D., Fleisig, G., Onar-Thomas, A., and Asfour, S. (2011)

Intro

  • Weight shift during the swing motion promotes proper timing and balance, and several studies have shown that their is a “weight shift commitment” when trying to hit a baseball
  • One study showed that when hitters adjust to an off-speed pitch, the amount of time between front foot contact and when the batter committed weight shift going forward increases 
  • The purpose of this study was to examine ground reaction force (GRF) with successful swings on fastballs and changeups, and unsuccessful swings on fastballs and changeups
  • It is hypothesized that the peak GRF occur earlier when a changeup is unsuccessfully hit as compared to successfully hit fastballs and changeups 

Methods

  • 29 AA-Minor league baseball players participated in this study in the middle of their competitive season 
  • 8-camera motion system and force plates were used to analyze kinematics of the swing along with GRF
  • The pitcher varied speeds and location of each pitch to promote the unpredictability during a game
  • Approximate fastball to changeup ratio was 4:1, which is what pitching coaches recommend during game play
  • Each player took approximately 50 swings 
  • Magnitude and timing of GRF was analyzed for each swing 
  • Weight shift commitment = when the front foot GRF was greater than 50% BW

Results

  • Weight shift commitment occurred earlier to bat-ball contact against fastballs with successful results than changeups with successful results 
  • There was no difference in swings between changeups with successful and unsuccessful results 
  • No significant differences were seen in either peak horizontal force or peak back foot vertical force 
  • Significant differences were seen in front foot braking force and peak front foot vertical force
    • horizontal braking force was greater with fastballs with successful results than changeups with successful or unsuccessful results 
  • Swings against fastballs with successful results showed greater peak back foot GRF significantly closer to bat-ball contact against swings on changeups with successful or unsuccessful results 

Discussion

  • Time differences in weight shift commitment and peak GRF can be counted by estimating the travel time of the baseball from the pitchers ball release 
  • The same initial loading patterns are seen between both types of pitches. However, the greatest difference seen is the peak front foot braking force and the timing of that force 
  • According to calculations, peak back foot GRF occurs near the time the ball is being released from the pitchers hand 
  • One theory for when hitters get fooled from off speed pitches is that a brief hesitation in movements results in the dissipation of front foot braking forces, which also results in the potential energy being lost from heat
    • which we can see from video analysis when a hitter “leaks” over his front side 
  • Each batter shows very similar loading mechanics for both pitches in respect to back foot GRF. To hit off speed pitches successfully, hitters should work on the braking force of the front leg to keep the head from leaking forward


The Effects of Various Weighted Implements on Baseball Swing Kinematics in Collegiate Baseball Players (Williams, C.C., Gdovin, J.R., Wilson, S.J., Cazas-Moreno, V.L., Eason, J.D., Hoke, E.L., Allen, C.R., Wade, C., and Garner, J.C. (2017)

Intro

  • Previous research in the high school population has shown that weighted implement swings in the on-deck circle result in a decrease in swing velocity 
  • Previous research in the college population has shown that weighted implement swings did not alter swing velocity when warming up in the on deck circle
    • HOWEVER, the method for measuring bat velocity could only measure swing velocity through a narrow window of time 
  • There are no studies that have examined the 3D kinematics of the baseball swing as a result from weighted implement swings. Specifically, bat path has not been investigated in these previous studies 

Methods

  • 15 Division I college baseball players participated in this study
  • 4 weighted implements were used in this study: fungo (10.6 oz.), standard bat (30 oz.), standard bat plus a weighted donut (55.6 oz.), and weighted gloves worn by the hands (55.6 oz.)
  • Each participant swung 1 of the 4 implements 5 times with no documented rest between each swing 
  • Each participant then swung the standard bat 5 times while hitting a ball off a tee at a height of preference with 20 seconds between each swing 
  • Vicon Nexus 3D Motion Capture System was used to measure the swing kinematics 
  • Each participant rested for 10 minutes between each weighted implement to allow for full recovery 
  • Participants also rated which device would give them the best opportunity to maximize their at bat 

Results and Discussion 

  • There were no significant differences between maximal resultant velocity, resultant ball velocity at contact, time difference between MRV and RVBC, bat angle at MRV, and bat angle at RVBC for either weighted implement 
  • Since these participants were Division I college baseball players, we can assume that their swing mechanics were already elite, and that their strength and conditions program allowed them to still develop both power and strength during the duration of this study 
  • Results of this study do not agree with previous research. However, the population from this research was high school baseball players, and this current study used college baseball players 
  • Giving a novice athlete multiple weighted implements in the on-deck circle could potentially confuse the brain too much, which would explain why swing mechanics and velocity is altered 
  • Correcting an individuals swing technique and kinematics in addition to finding which weighted implement will give them the greatest feeling of comfortability should be taken into account 


Effects of Small Muscle Training on Baseball Hitting Performance: A Brief Review (Szymanski, D.J., and DeRenne, C. (2010)

The Swing

  • The arms and hands serve mainly as an energy transfer from the lower half and the core and add little energy to the bat. Contribution of the hands and wrist is negligible. 
  • During the last 0.1 seconds of the swing, the bat moves out of the arc created by the hands as the wrists snap during ball contact 
  • The large force imparted on the ball, up to 200-lb., could potentially strengthen the wrist itself 
  • Previous research has stated that the motion of the hands is responsible for energy transfer. For hard ball contact, the hands must be strong. In other words, weak hitters tend to “roll over”

EMG Studies 

  • Low levels of EMG were found in scapulohumeral muscles during the swing, so there must be an emphasis on improving core strength and lower body strength when designing a program 
  • It has been reported that the rapid swing of the bat was due to large forces of the hips, trunk, and shoulders, and not the arms or wrist action
  • The lead arm creates a centripetal force (a curved path) to allow for the bat to stay in the hitting zone
    • this same study suggests that the wrists or its actions are important to swing kinematics. It is partly responsible for the transfer and direction of energy 
  • The lead foot absorbs 123% body weight at contact to allow the hips to begin rotating, followed by the trunk and shoulder
    • the small contribution of the wrist and forearms were not important to report 
  • One study measured the angular velocity of the swing, yet made little effort to report the use of the wrists or hands 

Training Studies 

  • Wrist and grip strength training for 6 weeks
    • no differences between grip strength and bat velocity 
  • Since there is such a small window of time for the hands and wrists to rotate during ball contact of the swing, spending more time on grip strength is not needed 
  • One study investigated the effects of 12 weeks of wrist and forearm training on swing velocity, rather than 6 weeks from previous research
    • both groups significantly increased grip strength and swing velocity, but there was no difference in groups
      • one group performed additional grip work
  • One study reported the effects of wrist and forearm exercises on linear bat velocity, center of percussion bat velocity, hand velocity, and ball-to-contact velocity
    • no significant differences between groups 
    • a 12 week training program can still enhance swing velocity, however, performing addition grip work like one group did, will not contribute to increases in bat velocity, center of percussion bat velocity, or hand velocity 
    • however, the authors reported that there might be an effect on exit velocity, but it was not measured 
  • It is possible that greater forearm and grip strengths might be needed or the kinetic energy transfer to bat-ball contact. Therefore, in theory exit velocity could partly be greater with stronger wrists and forearms 
  • One study reported the use of wrist weights on swing velocity
    • there were no differences between groups 

Conclusions 

  • None of the EMG studies analyzed the wrist and forearm because the authors stated that these body parts contribute far less to the entire swing 
  • Swinging a bat with high intent and increasing overall strength and power, will contribute to an increase in swing velocity 


Effects of Training with a Dynamic Moment of Inertia Bat on Swing Performance (Liu, C., Liu, Y.C., Kao, Y.C., and Shiang T.Y. (2011)

Intro

  • Previous researchers shown that swinging heavier baseball bats effects the moment of inertia of the object, resulting in a decreased swing velocity 
  • The distance between the axis of rotation and the distributed mass will affect the value of the moment of inertia 
  • As bat mass increases, the bat will be longer and larger to allow for the center of percussion (sweet spot) to become bigger, but the tradeoff is that there is greater momentum with the swing of the bat, which will result in greater muscle exertion from the player 
  • By reducing bat mass AND the moment of inertia, the effective mass of the bat will also decrease, which will result in a more difficult contact with the sweet spot of the bat 
  • Hung et al. designed a dynamic moment of inertia (DMOI) bat that decreases the moment of inertia in the initial phase of the swing without reducing the bat weight 
  • The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of 8-weeks with dry swings on the DMOI bat on swing velocity, batted ball velocity, hitting distance, explosive force, and grip force to understand the long-term effects of training 

Methods

  • 17 varsity baseball players from Taiwan participated in this study
    • all were asked not to participate in any baseball activity or weight training during the experimental period 
  • training was held 3x/week for 8 weeks 
  • 860g baseball bat was used for both groups. However, the DMOI bat was a specially designed bat that the experimental group used
    • a metal weight was attached to the pole of the bat. As the player swung the bat, the weight slid down from the knob down to the barrel 
  • each group took 7 swings per set for a total of 5-8 sets each time
    • volume increased week by week 
  • swing velocity was measured with a radar gun that was positioned at the height of a baseball tee
    • each player had to adjust their stance to the tee so that their best hitting point was in the strike zone 
  • each player received soft toss from a coach (who tossed for every participant) to measure hitting distance
    • 5 total swings, best distance was recorded and used for analysis 
  • a radar gun was set on a 1-meter tall tripod that was 1-meter behind home plate to measure batted-ball velocity
    • velocity was detected and recorded during the same time as hitting distance 
    • 5 total swings, best velocity was recorded and used for analysis 
  • each player was in the seated position for the “explosive force” test; a simple shotput test was used and 2 trials were taken on both hands
    • the best trial was used for data analysis 
  • grip strength dynamometer was used for both hands
    • each hand was tested twice, and the best trial was used for data analysis 

Results

  • DMOI bat training group significantly increased swing velocity from 96.86 km/hr to 102.82 km/hr
  • DMOI bat training group significantly increased hitting distance from 80.06 m to 84.99 m
    • increases for swing velocity and hitting distance were 6.2% and 6.69%, respectively 
  • the control group saw no significant increases in any variables 
  • batted-ball velocity, explosive force, and grip force were not significantly different between groups 

Discussion

  • The DMOI bat training group saw a greater increase in swing velocity and hitting distance than the normal control group 
  • Previous research has shown that those who swung a lighter bat and then immediately swinging a normal game bat increased swing velocity, due to a decreased moment of inertia 
  • Previous research showed that warming up with bats that had the greatest moments of inertia lead to the greatest decrease in swing velocity 
  • The results of multiple studies are leading to using implements more as a training tool than in the on-deck circle
    • swinging a lighter bat will increase swing velocity, but muscle EMG activity will also decrease 
  • A series of previous studies showed that the DMOI bat and a normal game bat shoed similar kinematics in swing trajectory and upper limb angular velocity changes 
  • The DMOI bat can can enhance swing velocity and upper limb force by recruiting more fast-twitch muscle fibers in a shorter amount of time 
  • The DMOI bat did NOT enhance batted-ball velocity. This is simply because the players were hitting from soft toss. Batted-ball velocity/exit velocity is based on numerous factors, some including pitch velocity, the baseballs coefficient of restitution, the bat’s flexural properties, and the collision point of the bat 
  • Heavier than normal bats increase the amount of momentum in the swing, and therefore decrease the swing velocity 
  • The DMOI bat includes the features of a light bat and a heavy bat: during the initial swing period, the mass is placed at the axis of rotation, and as the swing progresses, this mass makes its way further away from the axis of rotation (the hands)
  • The DMOI bat is primarily a tool that can be used to enhance swing velocity in the long term, and secondarily a tool that could be used in the on-deck circle to fire up fast-twitch motor units 


The Effect of Different Warm-Up Procedures on Bat Speed in Baseball (Kim, Y.K. (2013)

Intro

  • Warming up with a heavier bat produces a high level of psychological benefit, in that the standard bat seems to be lighter when swinging 
  • Multiple studies have shown a decrease in swing velocity and altered movement patterns after a heavy bat warm up
  • Bat speed is created from the proximal to distal theory: rotation is created from the proximal segment (the trunk) and is followed by maximal rotation velocity to the distal segment 
  • First purpose of this study was to investigate the addition of a proximal weight added to the body (the upper arms). The second purpose was to investigate the transient changes in bat velocity after different warm-up conditions 

Methods

  • 20 male subjects with prior baseball experience participated in this study 
  • 3 conditions were used: the control (no added weights), added weights on the upper arm, and added weights on the bat
    • upper arm weights were 25 oz. (721g) each
    • donut weight was 20 oz. (567g) 
  • 7 sets of bat swings were recorded, with 5 swings performed for each set. 30 seconds of rest were taken between each swing trial 
  • For the first warm up set, each participant was asked to swing the standard bat with maximal velocity with ball contact on a tee
  • 5 minute rest was given after the first set, labeled as the “pre-warmup” set, and the same rest time was given between swing conditions
    • I already am confused about the design of this study. How many sets did they get with each condition? It is not stated 
    • there was also no radar gun used for velocity…I assume they used the angular velocities from the 3D camera motion system and labeled that as “velocity”

Results 

  • The control swing and the overloaded arm swings were significantly faster than the overload bat warm up 
  • There was no significantly difference bat speed with the overloaded bat warm up. However, there was still a slight decrease in speed 
  • In the overload arm warm up, the 3rd swing was faster than the first swing, and the 5th swing was faster than the first swing
    • these results are way too inconsistent 
  • After the overloaded bat warm up, the 4th swing was faster than the first swing 

Discussion

  • The results of this study are not concrete enough for me. The main problem in this study was that there were too many variances within the data. This all started with the 20 participants who had “prior” baseball experience. Clearly, it was not enough for them to produce difference results in different warm up swings 
  • However, the one result that is important from this study was that the added mass closer to the axis of rotation (the upper arms) did not negatively affect swing velocity. Rather, bat speed seems to go up after the 3rd swing 
  • The first swing after the warm up with a overloaded bat was significantly slower 
  • Post-activation potentiation states that there needs to be a rest time in order for potentiation to take over fatigue. Previous research has showed that at least 4 minutes need to be taken after an overloaded bat warm up to see an increase in bat velocity, and for fatigue to not factor into movement patterns of the swing 
  • 3 swings with 3 minutes of rest seems to be optimal enough to enhance bat velocity 


Warm-Up with Weighted Bat and Adjustment of Upper Limb Muscle Activity in Bat Swinging Under Movement Correction Conditions (Ohta, Y., Ishii, Y., Ikudome, S., and Nakamoto, H. (2014)


Warm-Up with Baseball Bats of Varying Moments of Inertia: Effect on Bat Velocity and Swing Pattern (Southard, D. and Groomer, L. (2003)

Intro

  • Kinesthetic confusion of the body is not related to an improved performance 
  • Research on added weight to body limbs and throwing showed that weights to the humerus showed an increase in throwing velocity, and weights added to the wrist decreased throwing velocity
    • relates to the proximal-distal theory 
  • Moment of inertia is defined as the resistance to angular velocity
    • I (moment of inertia) = m (mass of the external object) k(radius of gyration)^2
  • The purpose of this study was to determine the changes in bat velocity following warm ups with bats of different moments of inertia, and any changes in the swing pattern following the warm up 

Methods 

  • 10 baseball players participated in this study
    • 4 of which were on a university baseball team, 6 had previous playing experience at the high school varsity level 
  • Motion Analysis System was used to track kinetic changes in swing patterns 
  • Infrared Emitting Diodes were used to measure velocity of body segments 
  • 3 conditions: standard bat (33 in. 34 oz), weighted bat (standard + the donut), and unweighted bat (plastic 12 oz.)
    • the standard bat in today’s game at the high school level is different…
  • Bat order was randomly assigned to each player, and were completed on separate days 
  • 5 warm-up swings, 2 minute rest, 5 maximal swings with the standard bat 

Results

  • Warm up with the weighted bat produced slower swing velocity when compared to the other 2 conditions 
  • There were temporal differences between the lead elbow and lead wrist
    • suggests that players swinging the weighted bat thought about “pushing” the bat through the zone, which altered the mechanics of the elbow and wrist, which is needed for precision at contact 

Discussion

  • Warm up swings with a bat of greater moment of inertia decreases swing velocity
    • there is a reduction in the lag between the lead wrist and lead elbow, which shows a lack of energy transfer 
  • The lead arm does not contribute to swing velocity. Rather, it acts as a stabilizing force to allow for the bat to rotate through the hitting zone 
  • Since the bat is an “extension” of the players performance, altering the moment of inertia leads to altering movement patterns of the individual 
  • Players are better served warming up with their normal game bat prior to hitting 


Effects of Muscular Strength, Exercise Order, and Acute Whole-Body Vibration Exposure on Bat Swing Speed (Reyes, G.F.C., Dickin, D.C., Dolny, D.G., and Crusat, N.J.K. (2010)

Intro

  • One technique that has shown to increase muscular activity is whole-body vibration exposure (WBV)
  • Some studies have reported that exposures between 60 seconds to 10 minutes have resulted in acute increases in muscular strength and power
    • the “tonic vibration reflex” is the proposed mechanism for increases in muscular activity 
  • The purpose of this study was to investigate exercise order and muscular strength on bat speed 

Methods

  • 16 males at a university participated in this study
    • all had at least varsity playing experience, and 4 participants had experience playing beyond high school 
  • One familiarization session was used for 1RM bench and squat testing
    • Session 1 was then used as a testing day 
  • 4 separate sessions were used for the independent variables: lower body – upper body vibration exposure; upper body – lower body vibration exposure; lower body – upper body no exposure; upper body – lower body no exposure
    • all separated by one day of rest 
  • After a standardized warm ups participants were asked to hit a ball off a tee, set at a height in line with the greater trochanter of the front leg, for 3 sets of 5 swings
    • 20 seconds of rest were taken between swings 
  • Upper body exercises included: Front plank isometric hold for 60 seconds, 2-second eccentric, 2-second concentric pushups for 60 seconds, tall plank position shoulder taps for a cadence of one touch every 2 seconds 
  • Lower body exercises included: 2-second eccentric, 2-second concentric bodyweight squat, isometric lunge hold, batting stance isometric hold, contact position isometric hold
    • all performed for 60 seconds 
  • The control condition consisted of no exercise 
  • 1st set of swings –> WBV –> 5 minute rest –> 2nd set of swings –> WBV –> 5 minute rest –> 3rd set of swings 
  • Bat speed was measured immediately prior to contact with a high-speed camera measuring 200 frames per second. A marker was placed on the bat to determine time taken through space to determine bat speed 

Results 

  • 1RM back squat was significantly related to bat speed 
  • 1RM bench was not significantly related to bat speed 
  • Arm-Leg (upper-lower) WBV resulted in a 2.6% increase in bat speed 
  • Leg-Arm (lower-upper) NO WBV resulted in 2.1% decrease in bat speed 

Discussion

  • Lower body strength was significantly related to bat speed. During momentum shift during the swing, ground reaction forces can get up to 140% of the hitter’s weight 
  • If a hitter does not have enough strength to produce or absorb force during the swing, this will result in less bat speed 
  • Although the upper-lower WBV produced a 2.6% increase in bat speed, performing lower body exercises alone would not translate to an increased bat speed because the swinging motion requires the entire body to move together 
  • Total body vibration exposure was 9 minutes
    • NOTE: the researches actually wrote this wrong in the study…in their results section, they said LOWER-UPPER increased the bat speed. Then, in the discussion, they said UPPER-LOWER increased bat speed. You can clearly see this in the data as well
    • Bad mistake on the writers part 
  • When the lower body was performed second, the acute effect of the WBV created a potentiating effect 
  • Further studies are needed for multiple frequencies on the vibration plate 
  • There really is no ecological validity of this study. Yes, vibration exposure seems to work, but how can we use it?
    • Your best bet is to use weighted implements, at a low volume, to create a similar potentiating effect 


Effects of Warm Up with Various Weighted Implements on Baseball Bat Swing Velocity (DeRenne, C., Ho, K.W., Hetzler, R.K., and Chai, D.X. (1992)

Intro

  • Using very heavy bats in a warm-up, like the donut, can create a “kinesthetic illusion” to baseball players when swinging their normal game bat 

Methods

  • 60 high school varsity players participated in this study 
  • 13 different warm-up implements were used
    • 5 over-weighted bats at 51, 48, 45, and 34 oz.
    • 4 under-weighted bats at 29, 27, and 23 oz.
    • Standard 30 oz. bat 
    • Standard bat with a 28 oz. donut ring 
    • Standard bat with the Power sleeve (34 total oz.)
    • Standard bat with the Power Swing (62 total oz.)
  • Players were asked to swing the implement 4 times as hard as possible, and then took 2 swings with the standard bat to get a comfortable feel 
  • 3 maximal swings were taken with the standard bat through a photocell timing gate
    • 20 seconds were taken between each swing 
  • 13 consecutive days were used for testing so each player used each implement
    • one limitation is that there was really no true “control” group 
    • the authors stated they could have measured the day-to-day variance of the same implement 

Results and Discussion

  • Warm up with bats between 27-34 oz. produced the greatest bat velocity 
  • very light (23 oz.) and very heavy (51 oz.) produced the slowest bat velocities 
  • Therefore, according to this study, staying within a +/- 10% range will produce the greatest ball velocities 
  • The kinesthetic illusion might have been a limiting factor in this study because movement patterns could potentially be altered, and ultimately creating new movement patterns that are inefficient, resulting in different bat velocities 


Effects of Various Warm-Up Devices and Rest Period Lengths on Batting Velocity and Acceleration of Intercollegiate Baseball Players (Wilson, J.M., Miller, A.L., Szymanski, D.J., Duncan, N.M., Anderson, J.C., Alcantara, Z.G., Morrison, T.J., and Bergman, C.J. (2012)

Intro

  • Investigating rest period lengths from swinging weighted bats shows the amount of post activation potentiation a hitter is able to achieve prior to an at bat
  • Previous research, not in swinging, shows that peak power increases around 8 minutes after performing a heavier movement pattern
  • Replenishment of the ATP-CP system takes place around 3-5 minutes, which is important for warm-ups. The more substrate (ATP) you use, the more rest time is needed to replenish this substrate 
  • The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of 5 different weighted implements on batting velocity and acceleration of a standard bat after different rest intervals 

Methods

  • 16 baseball players participated in this study (University of Tampa)
  • Standard bat used was 33-in., 30-oz. DeMarini metal bat 
  • All players were tested on 5 separate days with one weighted implement
    • light = 33 in., 23 oz. softball bat with 3 oz. of lead tape wrapped around the sweet spot (total of 26 oz.)
    • standard bat 
    • moderately heavy = 33 in, 30 oz. bat with 4 oz. of lead tape wrapped around the sweet spot (total of 34 oz.)
    • heavy = 33 in., 30 oz. bat with 8 oz. of lead tape wrapped around the sweet spot (total of 38 oz.)
    • very heavy = standard bat plus a 20 oz. donut (total of 50 oz.)
  • Each session began with testing baseline swing velocity followed by a 10-minute rest
    • standard bat swing of 3 times with 30 seconds of rest 
  • The SwingPlusPro chronograph was position 20 in away from the knob of the bat to measure peak bat velocity at peak bat acceleration (PVPA), peak velocity (PV),  peak bat acceleration (PA), and time to reach peak bat acceleration (TPBV)
    • the experimental bat was swung for a total of 5 times, with 20 seconds of rest taken between each swing 
  • After warm up swings, players swung the standard bat at 1, 2, 4, and 8 minutes of rest 

Results and Discussion

  • PVPA and PA were not significantly from baseline values at 1 minute, but were different at 2 minutes rest 
  • PBV increases at 2 minutes of rest, with additional increases at 4 minutes and 8 minutes 
  • the 2 minutes mark for the standard bat was nearly identical to the baseline bat velocity value, suggesting that players should rest for 2-3 minutes after using the weighted implement
    • these results may change in the high school population 
  • This study also suggests that college baseball players can choose to use whichever device they feel the most comfortable with, as long as adequate rest is taken between the warm up and the at bat 
  • High school baseball players should still use a weighted implement within +/- 12% of their standard bat weight unless relative strength is high
    • 1.5 BW bench? 2.5 BW deadlift? What is “strong enough”?
  • The average MLB at bat takes anywhere from 75-80 seconds, and this data could be similar to college baseball
    • as soon as you step foot in the on-deck circle, get your warm up swings in. 5 swings thereafter, use the rest of the time to time up the sequencing of the pitcher 
  • This practice could increase the hitters chances of being more successful if bat velocity is acutely enhanced 


The Donut: Does it Improve Bat Velocity? (DeRenne, C. (1991)

Intro

  • DeRenne conducted 3 separate studies to investigate various weighted implements and their effects on bat velocity 

Project 1: Rank Order from Highest to Lowest Bat Velocity 

  • Wooden 34 oz. bat
  • 27 oz. underload bat
  • Standard 30 oz. bat
  • 25 oz. underload bat 
  • Power swing 
  • 23 oz. underload bat 
  • Donut ring 

Project 2: Rank Order from Highest to Lowest Bat Velocity 

  • 29 oz. underload bat 
  • Wooden 34 oz. bat
  • 27 oz. underload bat 
  • Standard 30 oz. bat 
  • 42 oz. overload bat 
  • 25 oz. underload bat 
  • Power swing 
  • 45 oz. overload bat 
  • Power sleeve 
  • 48 oz. overload bat 
  • 23 oz. underload bat 
  • Donut ring 
  • 51 oz overload bat 

Project 3: Rank Order from Highest to Lowest Bat Velocity 

  • 29 oz. underload bat
  • 27 oz. underload bat 
  • Wooden 34 oz. bat 
  • Standard 30 oz. bat 
  • 42 oz. overload bat 
  • 45 oz. overload bat
  • 48 oz. overload bat 
  • Power sleeve
  • Power swing 
  • 25 oz. underload bat 
  • 51 oz. overload bat 
  • Donut ring 
  • 23 oz. underload bat 

Discussion

  • These studies shed light on the +/- 10% rule for implement training. A few more studies in the later years have gone on to say +/- 12%


After-Effects of Using a Weighted Bat on Subsequent Swing Velocity and Batters Perceptions of Swing Velocity and Heaviness (Masafumi, T.O., and Kinoshita, H. (2002)

Intro

  • When using weighted implements, a lot of players seem to think about “pulling” through the hitting zone with the biceps
  • Research from 1973 showed that swings with a weighted bat resulted in increased activity from the triceps brachii, as well as an additional increase in the biceps brachii
    • the extra involvement of the biceps could take away from maximal triceps involvement during the swing 
  • These findings could perhaps show that the weighted bats often 
    “feel” heavier, resulting in altered movement patterns
  • Purpose of this study was to investigate the “kinesthetic illusion” and change in bat velocity using weighted bat swings 

Methods

  • 8 baseball players from a university participated in this study 
  • 32 oz. wooden bat was used at the normal bat
    • most players used between 31-33 oz. bat, so this was a way to standardize the control condition, since the “overweight” bat might not seem as heavy to some 
  • 800-g ring was added to the wooden bat to create the overload bat 
  • A ball was suspended from an overhead net to a height of comfortability 
  • 4-5 practice swings were taken with the weighted bat 
  • Ball was hit 5 times using the normal bat, ball was hit 5 times with the weighted bat, ball was hit 5 times using the normal bat
    • 15 seconds of rest were taken between each swing 
    • total of 3 sets were administered for each player, with 10 minutes rest between each set 
  • Each player was asked to make a subjective judgement on the heaviness of the bat during the swing as well as the swing speed itself compared to the control condition 

Results 

  • Bat velocity decreased with the donut ring for every player, and the change was significant
    • mean decrease was 30.6%
  • Players reported that while swinging the heavier bat, it felt heavier and the swing felt slower 
  • After the first swing with the weighted bat, the velocity was significantly slower
    • However, participants reported that the bat felt lighter and that the swing felt faster 
  • The most interesting finding, to me, was that after ONE swing with the normal bat after the weighted bat condition, the second swing showed a swing velocity comparable to the control 

Discussion

  • Some limitations include:
    • hitting off of a tee, which is obviously different from a real batting situation
    • submaximal swings were taken during the experimental trials
    • very small sample size 
  • It is clear, from the results of this study, that the weighted bat condition significantly decreased swing velocity although players felt that the bat was lighter and the swing was faster 


Evaluating the Effects of Underloaded and Overloaded Warm Ups on Subsequent Swing Velocity (Miller, R.M., Heishman, A.D., Freitas, E.D.S., and Bemben, M.G. (2017)

Intro

  • Due to the inconsistency of research results with overload and underloaded warm ups, this study aimed to add to the body of literature 

Methods

  • 32 recreational baseball players participated in this study; all having 3 of the last 5 years of playing experience 
  • Each player performed 3 swings with 3 different bat conditions
    • plastic bat: 31 inches, 6.4 ounces 
    • control bat: 32 inches, 29 ounces 
    • heavy bat: 32 inches, 57 ounces
  • Each swing trial had the player hit a ball off the tee with the control bat 
  • 4 total visits: visit 1 was a familiarization session, visits 2-4 were the experimental conditions, with 48 hours separating each session 
  • swing velocity was recorded with visual 3D technology (Oquos 201c)
  • 30 seconds of rest were administered between each of the 3 swings
    • 2-3 minutes of rest were administered between each set (total of 3 sets)
  • Based on the testing condition, participants took 3 swings with the experimental bat

Results

  • pre-heavy bat swings were significantly faster than post-heavy bat swings, suggesting that the heavy bat decreased swing velocity 
  • the plastic bat condition showed to be significantly faster than either condition from pre- to post
  • There was no statistical difference between the plastic bat and control bat 
  • The Qualisys 3D motion capture showed to have a high ICC rating, indicating that it is a reliable device in measuring bat speed 

Discussion

  • Warming up with a heavier bat can significantly decrease swing velocity 
  • performing a warm up with a lighter bat can increase swing velocity thereafter 
  • Although the lighter bat showed an increase in swing velocity when swinging the control bat, there was still no statistical difference between the control bat condition
    • these results do not agree with previous research, which is highly strange!
  • Results could have been different if there was a mixed-methods approach. In other words, rather than just using one bat, what if there were multiple bats used in the warm up period?
  • External validity is definitely of question, since the subjects were only “recreationally” experienced and were not current members of a baseball team 


Game Speed Training in Baseball (Crotin, R. (2009)

Intro

  • Initial acceleration in baseball occurs from the post-contact hitting position to the first 50 feet, and transitional acceleration occurs between 50 to 96 feet
  • Baseball players never reach top speed! The nature of the game is set at 90 foot base paths, and curvilinear acceleration is more important than trying to reach top speed 
  • Home to first times for right-handed hitters should be between 4-1.4.3 seconds, left-handed hitters should be between 4.0-4.2 seconds 

Initial and Transitional Acceleration Training

  • Acceleration = force produced / mass of the body
    • also includes plyometric-preparatory actions 
  • Muscles of the entire leg undergo plyometric contractions to reproduce force into the ground
    • this includes proper running/acceleration technique, posture, stride length and cycling, deceleration and redirection 
  • Squat jump to sprint, reverse squat jump to sprint, triple bound to sprint, lateral hop to sprint, shuffle to sprint, mountain climber sprints 

Acceleration Training: Static and Transitional Positions 

  • Drills could include both auditory and visual cues to create variability for the athlete 
  • Get up sprints: forces the athlete to get up into acceleration pose as quickly as possible 
  • The ability to raise and accelerate center of mass will translate to accelerating the body during base running, fielding, and catching situations 
  • There are some moments when the athlete has to accelerate from a “creeping” motion. The most common examples are secondary leads and preparatory steps for infielders/outfielders
    • walk-in sprints can be used to accelerate from a slow movement 
    • Backwards walk to a sprint will teach the athlete to re-direct their acceleration towards the opposite direction for balls that are hit over-head 
    • Acceleration-Deceleration drill puts the athlete into the acceleration pose from backpedaling 

Leadoff to Acceleration

  • The popular cross-over step seems to be ineffective because it tends to put the athlete in an ipsilateral position. In other words, there is a loss of synchrony between the lower body and upper body 
  • The natural first step for base stealing is the “open” step or otherwise known as the “attack” step to direct the body for acceleration in another direction 
  • Stance = slightly low COG, trunk slightly bent forward, right hand is positioned in front of the belly button, left hand is positioned at the left pocket 
  • Elbows should be slightly bend, hands are open and relaxed 
  • A quicker first step towards first base will lead to a decreased steal time
    • push with the left foot while simultaneously opening up the right foot to direct the body towards second base 
    • sprint with the ARMS! Throw the arms towards second base and the lower body will begin to rotate 

Conditioning for Base Stealing 

  • walk-in sprints from a lateral starting position 
  • pivots to a sprint teaches the athlete to violently rotate the hips to initiate acceleration 
  • Curvilinear running is the most specific for the baseball player, which is the path we take while rounding the bases
    • the intensity of curvilinear drills can be increased by the radius of the curve 
    • it is important to run from both directions so that the muscle of the ankle and foot will be symmetrical and not be overused 
  • The greatest amount of time a baseball player will work for is 15-17 seconds, which is rounding all 4 bases 
  • The early off-season should use a 1:8 work to rest ratio
    • a 6 second sprint will result in a 48 second rest 
  • As intensity increases (longer sprints), rest periods should be increased to 1:10 or 1:12


Baseball (Part II): A Periodized Speed Program (Szymanski, D.J., Fredrick, G.A. (2001)

Bioenergetics

  • In the sport of baseball, approximately 80% of the energy is supplied from the ATP-PC system, 15% by glycolysis (carbohydrate), and 5% from oxidative phosphorylation (fats)
    • ALL of these systems are being used during any given movement. However, the ATP-PC system dominates 
  • There is an insignificant relationship between aerobic power and anaerobic capabilities. Rather than performing steady-state activities, tempo activities are a better option 

Specificity of Training 

  • Speed is divided into Acceleration and Maximum Velocity/Top Speed
    • pure acceleration lasts about 15 meters, transitional acceleration lasts from 15-30 meters 
    • top speed occurs after 30 meters of sprinting 
  • When developing a speed program and learning how to sprint faster, there are some variables to consider: stride length, stride frequency, mechanics, and speed endurance 
  • Sprinting assistance and resistance exercises aid in stride length and stride frequency
    • for resisted sprints, it’s important to stay around 10-15% bodyweight
      • a 150-lb individual could sprint with 15-22.5 pounds of resistance 
    • I firmly believe we can push this to 25% for some individuals who have adequate prerequisite relative strength ratios 
  • Use form running to keep it simple! An adequate warm up can include high knees, marches, skips, and bounds 
  • Speed endurance training is when the athlete performs maximal or near maximal sprints with proper recovery times in between each bout of sprinting
    • move from 1:6 work to rest ratios to 1:3 work to rest ratios 

Training Cycles 

  • Mesocycles usually last anywhere from 4-6 weeks at a time depending on the program/player
  • Within a training cycle, use hard (high intensity) and easy (low intensity) days to get a desired training effect while steering away from overtraining and burnout 
  • In the off-season, work to rest ratios should be anywhere from 1:6 to 1:3
    • Base running for conditioning can use work to rest ratios of 1:10 or 1:12
  • Pre-season running should use work to rest ratios of 1:5
    • Base running conditioning should be short bout of sprints (<10 seconds) with a work to rest ratio of 1:12 or 1:20
  • During the season, players are displaying their speed during game play. Based on practice schedules, you could program a hard sprint day working on mechanics and maintaining the ATP-PC system and glycolytic system (work to rest of 1:5)


A New Method for the Evaluation and Prediction of Base Stealing Performance (Bricker, J.C., Bailey, C.A., Driggers, A.R., McInnis, T.C., and Alami, A. (2016)

Intro

  • Running speed is one of the “5 tools” that are needed for successful baseball performance at all levels 
  • Sprinting speed is a combination of both skill and coordination of movement with high stride lengths and increased stride frequency 
  • The traditional 60-yard dash is limited to predicting base-stealing performance, so a new method has been developed 
  • Successful base stealing not only requires speed, but it also requires the athlete to have sufficient perceptual skills to react to a visual stimulus (the pitcher) 
  • According to Hick’s Law, the more complex the task, the slower the reaction time (RT). Therefore, RT may vary depending on how the player processes perceptual information 
  • The purpose of this study was two-fold: to determine the within-session reliability of a new method of evaluating base stealing performance, and testing the reliability of a coach’s time with a laser timing system 

Methods

  • 25 NCAA Division III baseball players participated in this study 
  • Base stealing performance was completed with electronic timing systems (Brower Timing Systems)
    • a touch pad was placed underneath the pitcher’s back foot to initiate the “total time” it took the baserunner to attempt a steal at second base 
    • the time between the pitcher’s foot releasing from the timing pad to the runner getting through the first laser was defined as RT, and total time stopped as soon as the runner reached second base while getting through the second laser
  • Leads were standardized at 12 feet 
  • Slide types and distances were not standardized, but the participants were instructed to slide the same way on every attempt 
  • Catchers were not used in this study because it was heavily influence the results of the study 
  • Pitchers were asked to attempt a pick off at first base so it forced the base runner to be in a live situation 
  • 2 trials were taken with a right-handed thrower, and 2 trials were taken with a left-handed thrower for a total of 4 trials
    • the same pitchers were used for every attempt 
  • 2 coaches attempted to collect total time with a hand held stopwatch device
    • these times were compared to the laser timing system 

Results and Discussion

  • Statistically significant differences were found in the coaches time and the laser time, with the coaches time being slower than the laser time 
  • Total time seems to be a better predictor at base stealing performance since RT is highly variable 
  • RT on a left-handed pitchers was on average 0.5 seconds slower, which makes sense since left-handed pitchers are able to create more deception while facing the base runner 
  • RT has been indicated to be a predictor in base stealing performance, but is hard to validate with research since it is highly variable 
  • When following these same players during their competitive season, those with the slowest total times also produced the greatest stolen base percentage 
  • the predictability of stolen base percentage as not similar to RT, and showed a weak to moderate positive relationship 
  • A limitation in this study was that Division III players were used, who are not the quickest or fastest. Generally speaking, athletic ability increases from Division III to II to I
  • Another limitation of the study was that out of the 25 players on the team, only 14 attempted to steal a base during the season 
  • It may not be valid to use a laser timing system in a game situation, but it is still recommended to use a stop watch during games
    • an average of 0.5 seconds can be taken off from the coach’s time to get a more reliable measure of base stealing


Assessing Running Speed and Body Composition in Professional Baseball Players (Coleman, A.E., and Lasky, L.M. (1992)

Intro

  • Previous research has reported that the average baseball player holds 12.6% body fat (BF)
  • No study assessed running speed among various levels of development in baseball

Methods

  • 210 baseball players from the Houston Astros organization participated in this study, ranging from A to the Major League level
  • testing was conducted during the 5th week of spring training, and approximately 3 hours before game time 
  • Age, height, weight, skin fold measurements, and running speed were all assessed
    • testing was split into 2 consecutive days, with running speed being assessed on the second day 
  • skinfold caliper was used for a 3-site examination on the right side of the body (upper chest, abdomen, and thigh)
    • body density was then estimated based on skin fold measurements using the Jackson and Pollock formula (for 3-site examination)
    • absolute body fat was determined by the product of percent body fat and total weight 
    • lean body weight was determined by the subtraction of total body weight and absolute body fat 
    • standard error for 3-site skin fold is only slightly higher than hydrostatic weighing 
  • pitchers were excluded from running tests
    • this would have been interesting if pitchers performed the test 
  • players began in their lead with their right foot placed on a timing sensor. As soon as the right foot was released, the time began
  • photoelectronic sensors were placed at 30 yards and 60 yards, so players ran for a total of 60 yards (common test used in baseball)
    • 2 trials were taken, and baseball spikes were not permitted 

Results and Discussion

  • Running speed was similar among all levels of play, with class AA players showing the greatest acceleration and top speed
    • most champion sprinters are under the age of 25, which explains why the AA players were faster than both AAA and Major League players 
  • Class A players were significantly slower than AA players 
  • Differences in body fat were not significant 
  • Infielders were the lightest and had the least amount of LBM
  • Outfielders had the lowest BF of 8.4%
    • pitchers were 10.4%, catchers were 9.7%, and infielders were 9.4%
  • Outfielders were the fastest among all positions
    • outfielders were reach first base approximately 3.2 feet ahead of catchers and 1.1 feet ahead of infielders based on running data and results 
  • Catchers were significantly slower than all other positions
    • catchers spend more time performing skill work than sprinting techniques 
  • Older catchers had more body fat than younger catchers 
  • AAA infielders were the fastest, A infielders were the slowest 
  • AA outfielders were the fastest
    • average body fat was also 7.9% 
  • The average Major League pitcher was 19.2% BF, while Class A pitchers were 8.3% BF
    • Major League pitchers spent more time doing cycling and stair climbing than running, since training seems to be more self-directed at higher levels of development 
  • The average total time required to run 60 yards was 6.98 seconds
    • first 30 yards was 3.74 seconds, and the last 30 yards was 3.24 seconds, suggesting that players began to reach top speed 
    • Olympic and collegiate sprinters are able to accelerate 60-70 yards 
  • Leaner, more explosive players will be the ones who get the job at the end of the day, even if skills are matched 
  • A more accurate measurement of speed should be used in the future, such as home to first time or running the bases 


Relationship Between Performance Variables and Baseball Ability in Youth Baseball Players (Nakata, H., Nagami, T., Higuchi, T., Sakamoto, K., and Kanosue, K. (2013)

Intro

  • Previous research used 6 different tests to measure baseball performance: throwing distance, back strength, MB throws, standing long jump (broad jump), T-test, and base running. These were all significantly correlated with baseball performance 
  • Mean vertical jump power, pro-agility, and 10-yard sprint times were significant predictors of total bases 
  • Previous research has shown that anthropometric and performance levels differed between multiple levels of baseball playing experience 
  • The purpose of this study was to determine how physical fitness test characteristics are related to baseball performance in youth baseball players 
  • It was hypothesized that lower limb strength would be a great indicator of throwing velocity, and that results would differ among different age groups 

Methods

  • 164 baseball players participated in this study
    • between 6-16 years old
    • baseball experience ranged from 3-123 months 
  • Height, weight, broad jump, shuffle test, sit ups, 10-m sprint, and trunk flexion were measured on one day
  • back strength, grip strength, pitching velocity, and bat velocity were measured on one day
    • order of the days was randomized 
  • participants were instructed to maintain typical food intake and sleep normal hours before each testing day, as well as abstaining from strenuous exercise 24 hours before
  • Standing long jump had 2 attempts, and the best was used for data analysis
  • trunk flexibility was used with the sit and reach test, 2 attempts were taken and the best was used for data analysis
  • sit ups were taken as a max during 30 seconds. Participants had their knees bent at 90*
  • For the shuffle test, 3 parallel 200-cm long lines that were 100-cm apart were marked on the floor. 2 attempts were taken with at least 3 minutes of rest between each trial, the best was used for data analysis 
  • For the 10-m sprint, players were asked to assume their normal lead and steal stance with one foot starting on the line
    • the best time was recorded and measured to the nearest 0.01 second 
  • back strength was recorded using a dynamometer. 2 attempts were taken and the best was used for data analysis 
  • grip strength was recored using an electrical dynamometer. 2 attempts were taken for each hand and was performed alternately. The best attempts for each hand was used for data analysis 
  • ball speed was measured with a JUGS gun radar gun. A target was placed 11-m away from the player. 5 trials were taken with one minute between each throw, and the fastest velocity was used for data analysis 
  • ball velocity was measured from a baseball tee. 5 trials were taken, and the fastest velocity was used for data analysis
    • the researcher stood behind home plate and to the right if there was a right-handed batter swinging on tee, and vice versa for a left-handed batter 

Results

  • All scores improved with players’ age 
  • Some analyses were divided into 3 subgroups based on age 
  • For all samples, age, BMI, broad jump, 10-m sprint, and grip strength were found to be significant predictors of pitching velocity 
  • For all samples, age, BMI, broad jump, and back strength were found to be significant predictors of hitting kinetic energy
  • For the youngest group, shuffle test, 10-m sprint, trunk flexion, and right hand grip strength were found to be significant predictors of pitching kinetic energy
    • there were no significant predictors of hitting kinetic energy 
  • For the middle aged group, sit ups and 10-m sprint were found to be significant predictors of pitching kinetic energy
    • weight was a significant predictor of hitting kinetic energy 
  • For the oldest group, the 10-m sprint was a significant predictor of pitching kinetic energy
    • weight and the broad jump were found to be significant predictors of hitting kinetic energy 

Discussion

  • Age, BMI, broad jump, 10-m sprint, and grip strength were all significant predictors of pitching kinetic energy among all age groups 
  • Age, BMI, broad jump, and back strength were all significant predictors of hitting kinetic energy among all age groups 
  • The broad jump seems to be a good test that will predict both pitching and hitting kinetic energy for youth baseball players 
  • Sprinting ability is a highly skilled athletic movement, and it’s short burst of energy, especially in a 10-meter distance, is very specific to the short and violent pitching motion
    • sprinting seems to be an important indicator of pitching kinetic energy 
  • For the youth players, trunk flexion was the only test that was a significant predictor of pitching kinetic energy, which shows the importance of flexibility at a young age 
  • The interesting data point was that in the younger age group, there were no signifiant predictors of hitting kinetic energy
    • this could be due to the low mass of the player 
  • For youth baseball players, sprinting and agility-based movements should be the main focus on developing pitching kinetic energy
    • strength training could be a focus if the player already shows above average numbers in both agility and sprint tests 
    • most youth players lack strength to express good numbers in sprint and agility tests, so laying a foundation of quality movement patterns and lighter resistance training can be beneficial in the youth athlete 
  • Training programs should include areas to develop sprint performance, broad jump, and grip strength to see an increase in baseball performance 


Preseason Training for College Baseball (Hammer, E. (2009)

Intro

  • Baseball is a sport of ground-based movements with either 2 feet or 1 foot planted into the ground
  • All movements are multi-planar and multi-joint movements 
  • Movement training should be focused on acceleration, deceleration, agility, and reactiveness 
  • Linear speed, first step acceleration, and rotational power should all be the main focuses for exercise selection
    • speed is the product of stride length and stride frequency 
    • the goal for home to first times is between 3.9-4.3 seconds
    • the goal for a steal to second base is between 3.1-3.3 seconds
  • Pre-season qualities should be focused on speed-strength, starting strength, and reactive strength 

Annual Plan

  • Pre-Season training begins once finals are done and run until the first week of practices, which is usually 10 weeks
    • can either be split into 2 5-week phases or a 6-week block and a 4-week block
  • Combing different methods of movements within the same block to ensure that the entire force velocity curve is being established during pre-season training 
  • Maximal effort, Dynamic effort, Repetition effort 
  • Power development exercises performed with medicine balls or bodyweight plyometric drills in sport-specific movement patterns 
  • Shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints should be trained with stability and reactiveness to further mimic the demands of throwing a baseball

Program Design

  • First phase is usually 55-90% loads for a strength-speed effect 
  • There are 4 blocks including post-shoulder and elbow work
    • A1/A2/A3 maximal effort movement paired with a plyometric, MB drill, or advanced core/shoulder drill
    • B1/B2 dynamic effort movement paired with a movement in the opposite pattern (push/pull)
    • C1/C2 repetition effort movements 
    • D1/D2 grip work or shoulder drills 
  • Pre-season B (second phase) focused on 35-75% effort loads for a strength-speed effect
    • cluster sets/rest pause are utilized to challenge the athletes CNS and power production recovery 
  • repetition schemes are focused on having explosive speed on every repetition during the set 
  • Accommodating resistance using bands and chains 
  • Hitters and pitchers will perform a MB drill directly after a maximal effort lift
    • 6×2 box squats with 3×3 standing MB long jump chest pass
  • As the season gets closer, some coaches like to use velocity-based training (VBT)
    • staying within zones of 0.7-0.82 m/s
  • The goal is to transition from training maximal strength and prepare the player for peak power maintenance 
  • Exercises in the pre-season should be an advancement from off-season exercises 


Preseason Training for Youth Baseball Players (Szymanski, D.J. (2013)

Intro

  • The most important statement in this article is “youth athletes are not miniature adults”
  • An injured group of youth pitchers reported to pitch more months out of the calendar year, innings per game, and pitches per game 
  • Pitchers who throw more than 8 months out of the year are 5x more likely to get injured and require surgery 
  • Pitching, when in a steady state of fatigue, increases your chance of injury by 3600% 
  • Recommendations for youth athletes: take 3 months off from throwing, instill proper pitching mechanics, get involved in a year-round youth strength and conditioning program, play multiple sports, and limit participation to one travel team per year
  • Proper sports training should follow the Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) model. When training, anatomical and biological age should be considered 
  • Playing multiple sports throughout the year will encourage the athlete to enhance strength, speed, and power 
  • Youth baseball players, aged 11-15, increased throwing velocity after completing a 4-week combined rotator cuff and long toss program 
  • Another study, investigating multiple training programs with the effects on throwing velocity, showed that no one single training program was more superior than the other

Plyometric Program

  • Players between ages 7-9 (based on strength levels) should use medicine balls between 2-6 lbs.
  • Players between ages 10-14 (based on strength levels) should use medicine balls between 4-8 lbs. 
  • Some exercises include: chest pass, overhead throw, pivot toss, scoop toss, squat to thrust, overhead slam, lunge figure-8 throw, diagonal chop 

Resistance Training Program 

  • NSCA guidelines recommend 1-3 sets of 6-15 reps with age-appropriate loads 
  • Circuit training may be effective for younger age groups (7-9) since attention spans a less superior than older, more mature athletes 
  • Athletes aged 10-12 years old can perform 1-3 sets of 6-15 reps for 2-3x/week with age-appropriate loads 
  • Athletes aged 12-13 years old, with no training experience, an perform 1-2 sets of an 11-exercise circuit station for 10-15 reps 2-3x/week 

Rotator Cuff Program 

  • The Throwers 10 (tubing): D2 pattern of flexion and extension of the arm, lateral raise, bent over lateral raise, bent over straight arm extension, internal/external rotation at 90* abduction, bicep curls, overhead extensions, wrist flexion/extension, pronation/supination, pushups, press ups, and scapular retraction
  • Depending on age, players can perform 1-2 sets of 8-12 reps 2-3x/week 
  • To add intensity, either use a thicker band, or add a hand-held resistance in the hand (like a baseball glove with multiple baseballs inside) 
  • Resistance should be between 1-5 lb.

Long Toss

  • Axe et al. “the only way to mimc the stress of throwing a baseball is to throw a baseball”
  • The goal of a long toss program is to throw the ball on an arc and prepare the player for the workloads experienced during games to minimize injury risk 
  • Most throws are made between 45-60 feet during game play 
  • Longest throws are made by outfielders (180+ feet)
  • It is to be noted that maximal distance throws produce increased shoulder internal rotation torque, elbow varus torque, and changes in the throwing motion
    • caution is advised when throwing for max distance when recovering from an injury 
  • It is recommended that throwing programs for high school players should be no longer than 180 feet 
  • The more important variable for youth athletes is proper throwing mechanics, not max distance long toss 
  • The total duration for 7-9 year olds is 25 minutes of throwing
    • 11-12 year olds: 5 min at 50′, 5 min at 60′, 75′, and 100′, 5 min long toss at 100′ and 125′
  • When performing a long toss program on a field, coaches should put out cones to ensure that players are not going beyond the certain distance that has been programmed 
  • Once the max distance has been reached for the day, players should end with hard throws on a line and moving closer to each other after each throw 
  • 4 weeks of stretching for 5x30s holds with the horizontal shoulder stretch showed significant increases in internal rotation ROM than the popular sleeper stretch 
  • If a player cannot make a proper throw at a certain distance, modify the program and shorten the distance by 10-20 feet for players aged 7-10 or 25-50 feet for players aged 11-14


Preseason Shoulder Strength Measurements in Professional Baseball Pitchers: Identify Players at Risk of Injury (Bryam, I.R., Bushnell, B.D., Dugger, K., Charron, K., Harrell Jr, F.E., and Noonan, T.J. (2010)

Intro

  • Relative weakness of shoulder external rotators compared to internal rotators in pitchers have been noted, but no research has collected the correlation between weakness and future incidence of injury 
  • The ability to identify players who are at higher risk of injury enhances training programs so coaches can further individualize a shoulder program to reduce the likelihood of injury 

Methods

  • Over a 5-year period, 144 professional pitchers (MLB and MiLB) participated in a pre-season shoulder strength assessment in spring training
    • each player was then followed for every season on incidence of injury 
  • 207 data points were collected over 5 years from 144 players 
  • Pitchers were not excluded from having a prior surgery or injury to their throwing arm, increasing clinical relevance 
  • A hand-held dynamometer, which has been validated in previous research, was used for isometric strength assessments 
  • 3 trials were performed for each assessment for the following tests: Prone External Rotation (PER), Prone Internal Rotation (IR), Seated External Rotation (SER), and Supraspinatus Strength (SS)
    • the median value was used for data analysis 
  • IR was measured with the player lying on their stomach with the upper arm at 90* and the elbow flexed at 90*
  • PER was measured with the player lying on their stomach with the upper arm at 90* and the elbow flexed at 90*
  • SER was measured with the player sitting with their back against a wall, a towel was placed between the elbow and rib cage, elbow flexed at 90*, and the wrist in neutral (thumbs up position)
    • there were different measurements for external rotation strength to allow for the scapula to be fixed and free
  • SS was measured with the player putting their back against the wall, the shoulder flexed at 90* and the arm horizontally abducted at 45* with the wrist in neutral (thumbs up position)
  • type of injury and method of treatment were recorded for the 5-year period 
  • severity of injury was placed on an ordinal scale: no injury (0), injury not requiring surgery (1), and injury requiring surgery (2)
    • only throwing related injuries were used for data analysis
      • which was defined as any condition that could be linked to the kinetic chain of the throwing motion 
  • the ratio of PER to IR as calculated for each player and was analyzed for an associated between likelihood of injury 

Results

  • Median measurements included: 35 for IR, 36 for PER, 26 for SER, and 28 for SS
    • all measured in kilograms 
  • the 2 measurements that were the most closely related were SS and IR
  • there were 70 injuries in 50 total players, with 10 players suffering injuries in multiple seasons
  • 42 injuries were treated without surgery, and 28 were treated with surgery
  • 41 shoulder injuries and 28 elbow injuries
    • cuff strain/tendonitis, biceps tendonitis, SLAP lesion, impingement syndrome, cuff tear, posterior labral tear, pec major strain, lat strain, and scapular stress fracture 
    • UCL injury, flexor/pronator strain or tendonitis, elbow inflammation, ulnar neuritis, olecranon bursitis, and olecranon stress fracture 
  • Strong association between PER and SS strength and throwing-related injury requiring surgery 
  • Strong associated between ratio of PER/IR and likelihood of throwing injury 
  • For the PER/IR ratio, those in the lower 5th percentile had a likelihood of injury of 39%, whereas those in the upper 95th percentile had a likelihood of injury of 17.5%
  • The analysis of shoulder injuries showed a significant association between PER and SS strength and shoulder injury requiring surgery 
  • Significant associations between SS strength and PER/IR and the likelihood of shoulder injury 

Discussion

  • Weakness or poor control of the shoulder external rotators can lead to a lack of control in the arm cocking and deceleration phase of throwing
    • this study hypothesized that those with weaker shoulder external rotators would be at the most risk of injury 
  • Without an increase in shoulder external rotation strength, stronger internal rotators create a muscular imbalance 
  • These results showed that those with weaker shoulder external rotators had a higher incidence of injury requiring surgery 
  • Previous research has also shown that weaker supraspinatus strength on the throwing arm of pitchers 
  • The ratio of shoulder external to internal strength was associated with any shoulder injury
    • 5th percentile = 0.724
    • 95th percentile = 1.42
  • Prone External Rotation danger zone is between 23.3kg and 35kg


Collegiate Baseball In-Season Training (Szymanski, D.J. (2007)

Intro

  • The longest a baseball player will ever have to work is approximately 17 seconds, which is an inside the park home run 
  • Baseball is both acyclic (the swing and throw) and cyclic (sprinting) sport, which calls for training both modalities 
  • For the high school baseball player, the season usually lasts from March to May. College could be from February to June
  • Program design is tricky in-season since players are throwing 6x/week, have multiple games throughout the week, some players don’t get a chance to throw so they need to train, and we don’t want anyone to get hurt
  • Cessation of training results in strength gains being lost in 1-4 weeks dependent on training age 

Individual Positions 

  • Caloric expenditures are different per position
    • 180 lb position player = approx. 960 calories 
    • 180 lb catcher = approx. 1,080 calories 
    • 180 lb pitcher = approx. 1,440 calories 
  • Starting Pitcher 5-Day Program
    • Day 1 & 6 = outing 
    • Day 2 = Recovery
      • Tempo Runs at 65-75% HR Max
      • Cuff and Scap exercises: row variations, push-up variations, horizontal press variations, bicep and tricep work 
      • MB full body work: lunge, squat, chops and lifts 
    • Day 3 = High LB day
      • 2×15 pitch bullpen
      • Tempo Runs 
      • 4×1-6 Squat/Lunge/RDL 
      • MB bilateral throws (stay away from rotation) 
    • Day 4 = Moderate Day/High UB
      • Movement = unilateral jumps, bounds, skips, 
      • Balance and hip control drills 
      • Cuff and scap 
      • UB lifts: push/pull/core
    • Day 5 = Low day
      • Balance drills
      • Advanced core drills 
      • Cuff and scap 
      • Rhythmic stabilization work 

Program Designs 

  • Deceleration phase of throwing accounts for most of the activation in the upper body to slow the arm. It’s important to still keep the body strong eccentrically since this is where the violence occurs 
  • Microcycles of 4 weeks: first 3 weeks progressively increase intensity, the 4th week backs of around 10% of workload 
  • High and low days differ by 15% of intensity (high and low; 85% and 60%)
  • The last set performed on an exercise could also be backed off by 10% to allow for the body to recover
    • both of these methods allow for the body to converge training effects and decrease the likelihood of accumulating stress, and may stimulate late adaptations over the long term 
  • Bicep, tricep, and forearm work should be performed once a week 
  • Sport-specific mobility, flexibility, balance, coordination, footwork, agility, strength, speed, power, trunk stability, and torso rotational strength still performed in-season. The total work volume is decreased 
  • Designing high/medium/low days allow for the player to choose the intensity and volume of training, which has shown to still increase performance 
  • Most important areas to train include the lower body, the trunk, and the throwing arm in-season

Starting Pitchers 

  • The high stress day should be after the start, and be as far away from the next start as possible 
  • Pitchers can still “train: multiple times throughout the week, but the focus could be on balance/stability, trunk stiffness, core stability, throwing arm/cuff/scap work, mobility and flexibility, strength and power
  • Take the number of pitches, number of days between starts, and post-pitching soreness into consideration
    • increased workload could lead to more onset and delayed soreness (DOMS)
  • Conditioning should be performed on the field after a start or during practice
    • hard and moderate intensities should be around 85% and 70% respectively 
  • Relief pitchers have to be more auto-regulated with their training since is dependent on their outing length, how many times a week they are going to throw, recovery levels, etc.

Position Players 

  • The goal should be to maintain strength, power, and speed gains from the off-season and pre-season
  • Use the high/low model based on practice and game schedules 
  • Work to further enhance mobility, flexibility, and stability
  • 4-week microcycles for high intensity, short duration sprinting, low intensity plyometrics for position players 


In-Season Strength and Conditioning Programming for Collegiate Baseball Pitchers: A Unified Approach (Kritz, M., Mamula, R., Messey, K., and Hobbs, M. (2008)

Intro

  • One major difference between starters and relievers is preparation. Started know exactly when they are going to through, and relievers most of the time know around 5 minutes before they’re going to enter the game 
  • A long reliever usually throws 5-6 innings, thus the demands on the body are similar to that of a starting pitcher 
  • A short reliever usually throws 1-3 innings at a time, and usually have to be good at warming up with short time. They also may be used multiple times in a weekend series, so recovery is even more important for these short relievers 
  • Closers usually pitch the last inning of the game, and can go anywhere from 15-20 pitches at a time

Biomechanics 

  • Pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi are heavily involved in arm acceleration 
  • Scapular muscles are key in creating scapular kinesis with the rotator cuff muscles 
  • Muscles of the lower extremities are what accelerate the joints and the muscles of the upper body
  • Fatigue in any of these structures can cause a change in mechanics, most notably the elbow “dropping” and the lead knee losing extension at ball release 

Prehabilitation 

  • Common shoulder injuries include labral pathologies, rotator cuff pathologies, glenohumeral instability, and subluxation 
  • Increased shoulder external rotation is usually an adaptation from throwing followed by a decrease in shoulder internal rotation (otherwise known as GIRD)
  • While the shoulder is internally rotating, the elbow and forearm are externally rotating to create a torque force in stabilizing the forces being placed on the arm
  • These adaptations are a result of the shoulder joint in maintaining a balance between flexibility and stability needed for throwing to counterbalance the shear forces in the anterior shoulder 
  • The authors stated that specific exercises should be performed year-round to aid in the protection of the throwing shoulder 

The Program

  • Stretching the long head of the biceps –> lying on the back, look away from the bicep and reach away from the head to create a stretch in the bicep 
  • External rotation –> lying on your side with your back against the wall, place your elbow on top of your knee with the arm bent at 90* at the shoulder and elbow. Push into the wall to create external rotation 
  • Internal rotation –> lying in the same position as if you were performing the external rotation stretch, but now the arm moves in the opposite direction to create a stretch in the posterior shoulder 
  • Horizontal adduction -> Lying on the back, pull the arm across your body to create a stretch in the posterior shoulder 
  • DB Shoulder exercises
    • Arm raises at 90*, arm raises at 45*, lateral arm raises, bent over horizontal abduction (T’s), stomach lying external rotation, bent over row and rotation 

Strength Training Considerations 

  • Day 1 = Heavy
    • 87-95% for force production
    • 85-90% for rate of force production 
    • 4-6 reps 
    • Speed of movement is a priority 
    • 8-10 reps for assistance exercises 
  • Day 2 = Medium
    • 82-90% for force production 
    • 35-50% for rate of force production 
    • 6-8 reps 
    • Position specific exercises used for assistance exercises, 8-10 reps 
  • Day 3 = Light
    • 70-82% for force production 
    • 25% for velocity 
    • 6-8 reps 
    • Speed of the movement is a priority 
    • Eccentric loading reduced 
    • 8-12 reps for assistance exercises 
  • Each pitcher should rotate through all 3 intensities based on where they are throwing
    • intensity of training should be inverse to the time of the pitching outing: the day after an outing would be a heavy day, the day closest to the next outing would be a light day 
  • Conditioning program
    • Anaerobic long sprint intervals
      • 6 poles: sprint 1/2, jog 1/2 
    • Anaerobic short sprint intervals
      • 6 poles: sprint 1/4, jog 1/4, sprint 1/4, jog 1/4
    • Plyometric and short sprint work
      • SL jumps and bounds
      • Short squat jumps
      • Short lunge jumps 
      • 10×10 yard sprints 
    • Aerobic conditioning can be used in the form of flexibility and mobility training, this will aid in recovery from anaerobic sessions and pitching in a game 


Performance Eating for Baseball (Bonci, L. (2009)

The Pre-Nutrition

  • It takes approximately 1 hour for 30 ounces of fluid to leave the stomach and be absorbed. Staying hydrated throughout competition can positively affect the athlete’s mental and physical state
  • Caffeine is a great tool to use pre-game for mental focus and priming the central nervous system to be more “awake”
    • 200-300 mg pre-exercise has shown to improve focus and reaction times
    • STAY AWAY FROM ENERGY DRINKS … although high in caffeine, they also contain random chemicals that increase heart rate, decrease thirst levels, and increase gastrointestinal stress
  • “Quick carbs” before a game might be a good thing; the body will use this quick energy as fuel right away, sparing muscle glycogen which can lead to earlier fatigue
  • Pre-game nutrition is going to be highly variable on the individual: some players like to play “hungry”, some players need to play with some food in their stomach. Communicate!
  • Snacks higher in fats take longer to digest, and will make the athlete feel more “full” prior to physical activity
  • FLUIDS must have 5-8% sugars and electrolytes, especially when playing in the heat. It’s safe to have 20 ounces an hour before game time

The “During” Nutrition

  • Sweat Rate
    • (Pre-Exercise weight – Post-Exercise Weight) / number of hours spent during exercise = hourly sweat rate
    • how can we make this “applicable?”
  • consume 24 ounces of water for every pound lost during activity
  • An easy way to determine if you need more water is to assess your thirst and urine color. If your saliva is bubbly and dry, you need water. If your urine is dark, you need more water
  • Always have a quick source of carbs ready
    • Fruits
    • To-go apple sauces
    • Trail mix and others
    • Granola and granola bars, and other cereal bars
  • Check your baseball hat. On a hot day, do you have a bunch of white marks on the inside where your forehead sits on? If so, you need to make sure you place sodium and extra electrolytes in your drinks to prevent dehydration and muscle cramping
    • Add ½ teaspoon of salt to a 32 oz. sport drink
    • Throw some salt on your snacks if already low in sodium

The Post-Nutrition

  • Carbohydrates and protein need to be paired together to begin the muscle-rebuilding process
    • If you pitched, your body is going through severe stress and remodeling, so this is the time to eat as part of your “arm care” program
    • 50-75g of carbohydrates, 20-30g or protein
    • peanut butter and jelly, beef jerky, greek yogurt, low-fat chocolate milk or almond milk
  • Post-game nutrition should be considered within 0-30 minutes of the last out of the game

Breakfast

  • Should be consumed within an hour of waking, including 16-20 ounces of water
    • Options: Eggs, toast, orange juice, protein shake, fruit bowl, oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly, smoothies
  • The time when you wake up must also be considered: what if you have an 8am game? This will affect when you eat and how much you will eat, and will “set the tone” for the rest of the day

Lunch

  • Choose foods higher in carbohydrates
    • Turkey/ham/chicken/tuna
    • Pasta and beans/rice
    • Grilled chicken salad with bread

Dinner

  • If you have a very late game, make sure you eat light. Having a heavy meal will affect your digestion and sleeping patterns at night
    • Baked fish with veggies
    • Pasta and some type of meat
    • Chicken or steak fajitas
    • Soups
    • Cereal with some sort of fruit or yogurt (or both!)


I am the target text.

VISUOMOTOR (6)

Accelerating Expertise with Part-Task Training of Macrocognitive Skills in the Baseball Workplace (Fadde, P.J. (2016)


High Performance Vision Training Improves Batting Statistics for University of Cincinnati Baseball Players (Clark, J.F., Ellis, J.K., Bench, J., Khoury, J., and Graman, P. (2012)

Intro

  • It takes approximately 0.4 seconds for a fastball to reach home plate
  • The swing takes approximately 0.2 seconds; 0.03 seconds is processing the swing and 0.17 is deciding whether to swing or not 
  • This was an observational study to determine if vision training could enhance on-field performance and offensive statistics 

Methods

  • University of Cincinnati Baseball team performed vision training 3x/week in the pre-season
  • Dynavision
    • hand-eye coordination device to improve visual motor skills
    • measures number of successful green-light hits in one minute as well as average reaction times 
  • Tachistoscope (T-Scope)
    • trains the brain to recognize images faster 
    • numbers are flashed on a screen, from 1-4 digits at a time in a randomized order 
  • Brock String
    • 8′ long string with 5-colored balls attached to it to train near-far vision and the fine-tuning muscles of the eyes 
    • usually performed for 1 minute, quickly shifting focus from one color to the next in a randomized order 
  • Eyeport
    • automated version of the brock string 
    • players are to follow the different colored lights that appear 
  • Strobe Glasses
    • LED lenses and glasses that intermittently block out vision 
    • forces the brain to visualize the path of a moving object. As the frequency decreases, vision decreases and becomes harder because the objects are being blocked out for longer periods of time 
  • Saccades
    • charts with random letters set up to move both horizontally and vertically
    • players are to follow the lines from either left to right or top to bottom in order 
  • Near-Far Training
    • focusing on 2 different objects anywhere from 18 inches to 10 feet away 
  • Each session lasted approximately 30 minutes long 
  • IN-SEASON TRAINING was performed 2x/week for 20-30 minutes
    • exercises were alternated to keep the athlete engaged 

Results and Discussion 

  • Team batting average increased from 0.251 to 0.285
    • number of at bats and games played were similar 
  • Slugging percentage increased from 0.372 to 0.404 
  • On-base percentage increased 0.034 points
  • strikeouts decreased 8%
  • One limitation is that we cannot solely agree that vision training directly improved performance. However, since the University of Cincinnati had the highest increases across any other team in the conference, we can infer that there was some impact due to vision training 


Effects of Stimulus-Response Compatibility in Mediating Expert Performance in Baseball Players (Nakamoto, H., and Mori, S. (2008)


Intensive Baseball Practice Improves the Go/NoGo Reaction Time but Not the Simple Reaction Time (Kida, N., Oda, S., and Matsumura, M. (2004)

Intro

  • Reaction time is a sensitive measure of reaction, and simple reaction time is the overall speed of the perceptual and motor systems 
  • Many studies have tried to conclude that intensive sport practice does not increase simple reaction time abilities chronically 
  • The sport of baseball is classified as a “Go/No go” task. For the batter, the “Go” is swinging at a strike, and the “No go” task is withholding from swinging 
  • Long-term practice in baseball hitting can improve Go-No go responses?

Methods

  • 17 professional baseball players, 82 male college students, and 94 male senior high school students participated in this study
    • university group was subgrouped into 22 baseball players, 22 tennis players, and 38 sedentary students 
  • Two subgroups in the high school population: 26 baseball players and 68 non-baseball players
    • to examine the learning effect, 14 students repeated the experiment 3 times for 5 month intervals 
    • non-baseball players were also participants in other sports such as tennis, 
  • Groups were then divided by age and skill level for the baseball players 
  •  2 different tasks were given in this study: simple reaction time and go/no go response
    • for the simple reaction time, 1 of 4 squares were illuminated on a computer screen. Participants were asked to quickly press a key down with their index finger as soon as the illuminated square popped up, regardless of location
    • for the go/no go response, a green square was the “go”, and a red square was a “no go”

Results and Discussion

  • There were no differences between simple reaction times for either groups, regardless of skill level 
  • Simple reaction times were much less than those of tennis players and non-athletes
  • Go/No go reaction times were far less with those of a higher baseball skill level, with professional players having the shortest go/no go reaction times 
  • Among age levels in high school, the go/no go reaction times decreased year by year 
  • The go/no go reaction times cannot innately be enhanced with intensive baseball practice. However, it can certainly be trained within practice 
  • A Go/No go reaction time can certainly become a skill index for future baseball research 


Improved Vision and On Field Performance in Baseball through Perceptual Learning (Deveau, J., Ozer, D.J., and Seitz, A.R. (NR)

Intro

  • It has been hypothesized that better vision could potentially lead to less strikeouts due to a heightened strike zone recognition 

Methods

  • 37 baseball players from the University of California Riverside participated in this study. 18 of these players, pitchers, served as the control group, whereas the remaining 19 position players served as the experimental group 
  • All participants completed a visual acuity test (Snellen Eye Chart) at a far distance (20 feet) and near distance (16 inches)
  • Contrast sensitivity function was measured in the experimental group using the ULTIMEYES vision training program
  • ULTIMEYES uses a contrast threshold of Gabors of different spatial frequencies 
  • The experimental group completed 30, 25 minute vision sessions for 8 weeks, averaging 4 sessions per week 
  • Training stimuli included 6 Gabor patches (targets) at 6 spatial frequencies and 8 spatial arrangements
    • the design of the program was to maximize perceptual learning 
    • stimuli were were flickered at 20 Hz to induce exposure based learning 
    • sounds cued spatial locations of the stimuli to induce multi-sensory facilitation 
    • motivated with point and bonuses to make it “game-like”

Results

  • Players in the experimental group saw an increase of 19% in binocular acuity 
  • Untrained participants saw no increase in any binocular acuity tests 


Improved Visual Cognition Through Stroboscopic Training (Appelbaum, L.G., Schroeder, J.E., Cain, M.S., and Mitroff, S.R. (2011)

Intro

  • Nike has developed a new tool called the Vapor Strobe eyewear. Previous research has indicated that stroboscopic training has benefits towards visual-motor actions, such as driving 
  • The design of this eyewear disrupts the visual field, and therefore might enhance visual-motor control 
  • The primary goal was to have participants perform tasks that engaged the visual-motor system (catching and throwing) under stroboscopic conditions 

Methods

  • Data comes from 157 participants in a multiple-cohort trial
    • computer based assessments and field assessments 
    • all participants were randomly assigned to the control and experimental group 
  • Computer based assessments were completed both before and after visual training 
  • Training was with the Nike Vapor Strobe eyewear (27 minutes)
    • training began at the fastest strobe rate (easiest) and progressively got harder after 5 consecutive catchers 
    • 10 minute forward -facing catches: level progressed after 5 consecutive catches until level 6 was faced 
    • 5 minute forward facing catches with variable speeds: level progressed after 5 consecutive catches until level 6 was faced 
    • 5 minute turn and catch: experimenter shouted “ball” which instructed the participant to turn around and catch the ball. Level was progressed after 5 consecutive catches until level 6 was faced 
    • 5 minute forward facing catches at the highest level that was faced during the 10-minute section

Results 

  • There was no significant change in the computer based performance from pre-to post training in the control group, but there was a significant change in correct grids for the experimental group 
  • The Strobe participants improved their accuracy performance by 2.21%, and the control group worsened by 0.83%
    • shows that there may be significant improvements in overall attention, but not so much as to detail 
  • One concern and limitation is that those in the control condition may not have been as motivated as those in the experimental group, because they could definitely figure out which group they were in


The Baseball-Science Encyclopedia™

Jarad Vollkommer, CSCS, B.Sc.
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