|Off-Season Conditioning Program for Pitchers
By Gil Patterson New York Yankees Director of Pitching
Worldwide Baseball Prospects Advisor, Coach and Mentor
Every organization does everything they can to protect there investments. They are continually challenging there staffs to come up with better physical and mental techniques and exercises to keep there players healthy and successful.
Most pitchers start spring training games in March. They are usually built up from 1-2 innings and 25-35 pitches their first outing, then each time out they increase the number of innings by one, and the number of pitches by fifteen until they reach there pitch count, depending if they are starters or relievers. As far as bringing them back, a general rule of thumb would be for every 25 pitches take one day off.
The season starts in April and runs through September unless you are lucky enough to get to the playoffs and World Series. That is about 7-8 months of pitching.
So you can understand why it is so important to have a good rest, recovery and a strength building program in the off-season.
When the season is over most guys just rest for awhile, still knowing, that it will take 2 months of throwing to be ready for spring training starting in March.
January is a flat ground, long toss routine. It is a 4 week program with the number of throws and distance being increased each week.
The number of throws starts at 35 and a distance of 60 feet. Each week the number of throws increases by 10 and the distance by 30 feet.
Do not allow 65 throws at 150 feet in week 4.
You should make 5-10 throws at 15 foot increments, starting at 45 feet until you reach your allotted throws.
Starting in week 3 you can come in to 70-80 feet and throw change ups. Also starting in week 3 you can come into 120 feet and throw about 10 pitches on a line, followed by the change ups. Some pitchers at times go up to 200-300 feet;
I would not recommend this for young pitchers.
February is the 4 week period of bullpens, or sides. Monday and Friday’s are sides, the first week is 25 FB’s, with Wednesday being a long toss day and maybe 5 CB’s or Sliders, at 50 feet.
Week 2 is 35 pitch sides, FB and Change up mix. Make sure that half the side sessions are always done from the stretch. Wednesday long toss with 10 CB’s or Sliders.
Week 3 and 4 are the same. 45 pitches on Mon and Fri with Wed as a long toss day.
The side routines are different for everyone but a side routine of 3 FB’s glove side, middle and arm side of the plate is a good start. That can be followed by 4 change-ups down the middle, then 1 FB up middle. Three breaking balls for strikes followed by 2 that are down, down or off the corner. That is a total of 19 pitches from the stretch. You can do the same routine from the wind-up if you want. This will get you prepared for spring training on March 1st.
So now we know how long it takes to prepare our arms for spring training (2 months) and the season.
The question is, “How much time off does my arm need to rest, and not throw, after the season is over?”. At least 6 to 8 weeks. (8 being the better number) So if our season finished on October 31st we would take November and December off throwing (these months are reserved for the strength building time for your entire body) then start the throwing program in January.
With this cycle it will allow you to prepare your arm to pitch during the season, rest, and build up strength for hopefully a long, healthy, successful career.
One more thing. This program is designed for young men, who, for the most part, only prepare themselves to pitch. If your pitchers are younger than 18 I would consider a more cautious approach to their workload, rest and time to recover.
Let’s make sure we help them become physically and mentally tough and keep them healthy.