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Exercise to Improve Shoulder and Hip Separation in Pitcher/Hitters
By Michael Sadler, Seattle Mariners
One of the main factors in pitching velocity and bat speed is the torque that’s achieved through hip and shoulder separation. Often the ability to hit or throw with power is dependent upon rotational mobility and stability (control). If a hitter or pitcher is not able to fully rotate his hips and shoulders, around his spine in the proper sequence, his ability to hit and throw with power will be limited to the forces generated by his arms and shoulders. The following three exercises are designed to improve hip and shoulder separation.

Seated Thoracic Spine Rotation with a Dowel. This exercise is designed to improve thoracic and lumbar mobility in the transverse and frontal planes.
• How to do it:
  • Start by sitting upright on the edge of a bench, box or training table.
  • Place a foam roller or block between your legs to help engage the lower legs and lumbar spine.
  • Place the dowel on top of your shoulders and behind your neck with your hands on top of the dowel.
  • Set your core and rotate to the right until you hit your end range of motion. When you reach your end range of motion, flex your spine slightly to the right and hold for approximately 3-5 seconds.
  • Return your spine to an upright position without rotating back to the starting position and try to rotate a little farther to the right before flexing to the right side again.
  • Return your spine again to an upright position without returning to the starting position and try to rotate a little farther to the right before flexing to the side. This is one set. You will rotate three times to the right trying to increase rotation each time before returning to the starting position.
  • After performing three rotations and flexions to the right, rotate back to the starting position and perform another set of three rotations to the right before repeating the exercise sequence to the left side.
  • Start with 2 sets of 3 repetitions to each side and gradually progress to 3-4 sets of 3 reps to each side.
  • The following is a link to a video demonstrating how to perform this exercise: http://baseballstrength.org/hip-shoulder-separation-by-sadler/

Quadruped T-Spine Rotation. This exercise increases T-Spine mobility with minimal low back involvement.
• How to do it:
  • Get into a quadruped position with your knees under the hips and hands under the shoulders with the spine in a neutral position.
  • Place one hand on the upper back or back of the neck. Do not pull down or put pressure into the neck with your hand.
  • Rotate downward as far as possible and toward the hand that is on the ground, leading with your eyes, head, and shoulder.
  • Next, reverse the motion and rotate upward as far as possible leading with your eyes, head, and shoulder. This is one rep.
  • Perform 10 reps on one side, rest and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Start with 1-2 sets of 10 reps on each side and progress to 2-3 x10.
  • Keep the lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine aligned during rotation and maintain a stable position of the support arm with the elbow extended while moving in both directions.
  • The following is a link to a video demonstrating how to perform this exercise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2zv526I7M8
Wide Stance Anti-Rotation with a Rope. This exercise enhances hip and shoulder separation by teaching players how to produce rotation at the T-spine while maintaining stability in the hips and low back.
• How to do it:
  • Stand perpendicular to a cable column in an athletic stance. Feet wider than shoulder-width apart with your hips back and your chest up.
  • Extend both arms and hold a cable rope attachment at chest height with a double overhand grip.
  • Set your core and rotate your upper body to the right as far as your range of motion allows. Keep your arms directly in front of your chest and do not allow your hips or low back to move.
  • Reverse the movement rotating your upper body to the left as far as you can. Keep your arms directly in front of your chest and do not allow your hips or low back to move. This is one rep.
  • Perform 8-10 reps in each direction, rest and repeat for 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps.
  • The following is a link to a video demonstrating how to perform this exercise: http://www.gaynorstrength-pitching.com/blog/2018/11/27/the-why-and-how-to-implement-anti-rotation-exercises
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Michael Sadler, CSCS, RSCC, is a minor league strength and conditioning coach for the Seattle Mariners.
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