Healthy Arms Baseball

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This is a special program designed with baseball players in mind. The purpose of this program is to monitor the throwing athlete throughout the year with quarterly check-ups to address risk factors associated with common throwing injuries, and to provide a plan of action to help maintain the strength and mobility essential for a healthy season.

Serious elbow and shoulder injuries continue to rise among youth, high school, collegiate and professional baseball players. Major League Physicians and Executives believe that the recent spike in Tommy John surgeries is due to excess pitching volume and intensity at the youth and amateur levels.

This is not a performance program but monitoring arm health throughout the year will decrease the risk for serious injury and indirectly lead to improved performance on the field, because healthy arms perform better.

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Movement of the Week: Landmine Variations for Baseballers



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If you are training or rehabbing baseball players I’m sure the Landmine Press and its multiple modifications are staples of your strength program.  Since you’ve already got your athletes familiar with the Landmine and it’s benefits, here are a few variations that will be ideal for your baseball and softballers.

Landmine Floor Press

The Floor Press is a great supine pressing exercise for throwers because it prevents excessive anterior shoulder stress as the humerus contacts the floor prior to traveling behind the frontal plane of the body.  It works well for training small groups or teams because it does not require a spotter and can be part of a circuit.

Landmine Pitching Deceleration

Decelerating the forward, downward and rotational forces of the pitching motion is essential for arm health.  This drill will train the stride leg, core and posterior shoulder muscles necessary for efficient full body pitching deceleration.

Landmine Renegade Row

The Renegade Row is one of the toughest plank variations you’ll ever do.  This is a fantastic way to train scapular and core stability while effectively loading the row for strength gains.

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Visual Training: A Possible way to Enhance Baseball Performance


By Tom Sutton, DPT Student

One important aspect of baseball, let alone sports is undoubtedly vision.  The input an athlete takes in while competing in a game or practice environment is paramount for peak performance. Having good hand-eye coordination and tracking skills to locate the ball as a batter or to accurately place the ball across the plate as a pitcher are just a few reasons why a baseball player needs good vision.

A recent study by Dimitrios Palidis and colleagues was conducted to evaluate the dynamic visual acuity (DVA) of 23 males on a high school baseball team in Vancouver, Canada. DVA is evaluated by two tests which are static-object (head rotation, with vision locked on a still object) and dynamic-object (head still with vision locked on moving target) fixation. This study was published in the Public Library of Science (PLOS) in February 2017.

Distinct Eye Movement Patterns Enhance Dynamic Visual Acuity
Dimitrios J. Palidis1, Pearson A. Wyder-Hodge1, Jolande Fooken1,2, Miriam Spering

In a study by Palidis et al, the investigators tested whether or not there is a relationship between a high school baseball player’s eye movement kinematics and DVA performance. With both static and dynamic methods of testing DVA, static-object is used in a variety of practice settings and requires the athlete to utilize the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) to maintain fixation on the object.(2)eye-study

The study consisted of 23 males on the same high school baseball team with an average of 19.5 years. The study was performed at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. The researchers reported that the baseball players had either normal or corrected-to-normal visual acuity and those who did not have normal acuity wore contact lenses or glasses during the study. The study tested dynamic visual acuity by using black Landolt-C rings (see figure 1) and had the athletes track the “gap” in the letter “C” as it was spinning and moving horizontally on the screen from left to right. The athlete then had to decide with 4 arrow keys whether the “gap” in the letter “C” was located in the top right, top left, bottom right or bottom left corner. The “C” on the screen moved at a constant speed of either 50 or 70 degrees per second with random speeds and movements every trial.(1) Every time the athlete was correct in guessing which the corner the “gap” of the “C” was located, the width of the gap would decrease. The static acuity test (see figure 2) was performed with a visual acuity chart with numbers that the athletes were instructed to read from top to bottom while rotating their head.
Figure 1: The Landolt-C Ring test evaluating dynamic object acuity.(1)
Figure 2: The static acuity test,(1) utilizing VOR.(2) The top numbers signified a visual acuity of 20/800 vision and the bottom numbers were indicative of 20/20 vision. (1)

The study showed that when athletes used smooth pursuit to track the object during the test as opposed to using anticipatory saccadic movements, their perceptual performance improved and translated to better DVA. As reported by Paladis et al, players who utilized anticipatory saccadic movements showed less accuracy and acuity during the dynamic object test.

Applicability and Conclusion
Have you ever noticed when watching a baseball game, the pitcher may squint as he is trying to see the signals given by the catcher? Sunlight is one thing, but when this happens during a night game, this may cause some viewers to wonder. In this case, the catcher may have highlighted marks on their hands and fingers to make it easier for the pitcher to see the calls made before he makes his pitch. If the pitcher is having trouble seeing the signs by the catcher, this may warrant a visit to the optometrist.

There are a few different ways to apply visual evaluation and training to a clinical setting before seeing an optometrist. A clinician or trainer can test an athlete’s vision with the static-object test using an acuity chart. Additionally, to further evaluate or enhance an athlete’s ability on the field, it may be prudent to find out what their dominant eye is. Although it is an older study from 2006, Shneor et al found that the dominant eye of given individual processes visual information better and faster and additionally takes over primary visual processing as seen in tests such as bionocular rivalry and hole-in-the-card.(3) Additional ways to test to see what the athlete’s dominant eye is, more can been seen here.

Utilizing computer-based tests to help facilitate better tracking skills and VOR training can be useful ways to assess an athlete’s visual ability and acuity to enhance their skill set and take their game to the next level. As suggested by Deveau et al, eye movement exercises can be a great intervention in an athlete’s training program. (4)

img_7501Blog Post written by Tom Sutton, DPT Student at the University of St. Augustine. Tom is currently in his final Clinical Rotation with me at Catz Physical Therapy Institute.


Dimitrios J. Palidis DJ, Wyder-Hodge PA, Fooken J, Spering M. Distinct eye movement patterns enhance dynamic visual acuity. PLOS ONE. 2017;12(2):e0172061. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0172061.
Demer JL, Crane BT, Tian JR, Wiest G. New tests of vestibular function. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2001; 942: 428–445. PMID: 11710482
Shneor E, Hochstein S. Eye dominance effects in feature search. Vision Research. 2017;46(25):4258–4269. doi:10.1016/j.visres.2006.08.006
Deveau J, Ozer DJ, Seitz AR. Improved vision and on-field performance in baseball through perceptual learning. Curr Biol 2014; 24:R146–R147. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.004

The Relationship Between Rotator Cuff Weakness & UCL Tears

By Tom Sutton, DPT Student

The following is a study that was published in International Journal of Sports Medicine that researched the relationship between the strength of the rotator cuff and ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tears. There are a variety of reasons why baseball players of all ages, from youth to the majors, injure their arms. The results of this study found that baseball players who had a torn UCL had deficits in strength of the rotator cuff vs. players with a healthy UCL.

This study shows that it is very important to make sure the baseball player, whether a position player or pitcher, has adequate strength of the rotator cuff musculature. Muscles can act as dynamic stabilizers and ligaments only prevent unwanted movement. With that, a strengthening program for the rotator cuff may play a role in preventing UCL tears in baseball players.


In a study performed by Garrison et al, the investigators researched the possible relationship of ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tears in baseball players with deficits in rotator cuff muscular strength. The study consisted of 33 players who had been diagnosed with a UCL tear and 33 players that were healthy and without UCL tears. All participants were not exclusively pitchers, as both groups were matched by position. All participants had baseball experience at the high school and/or collegiate level and volunteered for the study.ijspt

The hypothesis of the study stated that baseball players with a torn UCL would have decreased isometric strength in external rotation (ER) and internal rotation (IR) at 0 degrees glenohumeral (GH) abduction. All participants’ strength was evaluated on both throwing and non-throwing arms.

In closing, the study demonstrated that the group of players with a torn UCL showed a great decrease in strength on the throwing and non-throwing arm in both ER and IR when compared to the healthy control group.

img_7501  Blog Post written by Tom Sutton, DPT Student at the University of St. Augustine.  Tom is currently in his final Clinical Rotation with me at Catz Physical Therapy Institute.

Movement of the Week: Pitching Lateral Speed Lunge


This movement is part of a pitching deceleration series. Pitchers need to be able to decelerate not only their arm but their entire body. I like to use this not only for deceleration but also for training: foot placement, coordination, hip/shoulder disassociation and agility.

How it’s done:

Hold a pair of lighter dumbbells at shoulder height in 90 degrees of external rotation.  Shuffle once to the side and open up towards the shuffle direction leading with the foot followed by the hip, trunk and finally allow the opposite arm to fall across the body in a pitching motion. The key is allowing the arm to fall, this should not be an active throw, it should be a faster but controlled fall. The trunk should hinge forward at the hip over a flexed knee and ankle. Keep the opposite arm up in an externally rotated position, reverse the motion and repeat in the opposite direction.

Basic Scapular Loading & Stability

In order to progress to more complex shoulder loading its important build a solid base.  Here are a few simple scapular loading and shoulder stability exercises that can be made more challenging and once mastered will help with the performance heavier and more dynamic overhead activities.  These exercises are part of a larger arm care routine I have my overhead athletes perform after the manual tissue and joint prep, and prior to a full body movement prep.

These can be easily replicated out on the field using the dugout bench.

Pitching Mobility Series: Part 2

In order for a pitcher to produce significant force through the trunk and into the arm, he needs to be able to load a stable yet mobile hip, knee, ankle and heel.  As the stride leg rises up & then down towards the plate the pitcher has the opportunity to load his joints, muscles and tissues into an optimal position for force production.   Continue reading “Pitching Mobility Series: Part 2”

Pitching Mobility Series: Part 1

The baseball off-season is a great time to work on arm health, mechanical inefficiencies, mobility and strength.  Try this movement sequence anytime of the year to help warm up prior to throwing, working out or simply to improve stance leg mobility. (repeat on other side)

Continue reading “Pitching Mobility Series: Part 1”

Baseball: Ignoring the guidelines for excessive throwing

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Now that Baseball season has officially ended, it’s a great time to begin the recovery process.  That means REST…from throwing.  That does NOT mean ceasing all activity, but rather staying active in fall and winter sports, or participation in general fitness, mobility and strength training programs.  

Continue reading “Baseball: Ignoring the guidelines for excessive throwing”

Baseball: Reducing Injury Risk in Pitching Mechanics


Injuries to the shoulder and elbow are common amongst baseball players and the topic of many studies in peer reviewed journals.  Previous studies have determined that joint forces at maximum external rotation (MER) and anterior joint instability are MERvalgusprime factors that lead to injury.(1, 2Continue reading “Baseball: Reducing Injury Risk in Pitching Mechanics”

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