Summer baseball is wrapping up and soon Fall Ball will be upon us with the start of a new school year. For serious players, this time of year also marks the beginning of the off-season training cycle focusing on strength and conditioning development.
Fall is a very tricky time of the year to pitch successfully, mainly because most teams are playing part-time in the fall. In other words, there is a reduced practice and game schedule compared with the Spring/Summer months. School-age players who pitch also tend to get a little bit out of game shape because they are now pitching just once a week and not doing a whole lot in between to stay fresh.
Here are a few tips that you can use to pitch successfully in the Fall:
- The obvious, stay in shape. Keep your arm strong.This can be easily done by getting outside every day. Just throwing for ten minutes will go a long way to making your weekend outings a lot better. You can also go through a typical 5-day workout rotation. In some ways, pitching in the fall can actually be a really good time to get into a consistent rotation.
- Day 1 – light toss
- Day 2 – long toss
- Day 3 – throw down to a catcher in a bullpen
- Day 4 – another light toss
- Day 5 – take off
- On Day 6 you would pitch again. Or you could add in another short bullpen session on flat ground. But if anything, this is a real good opportunity to get into a rotation. What is important is to stay in shape and take care of your arm.
- Take care of your arm before and after games. Because it is a little colder in the fall (at least in New England), make sure that you are properly warmed up before the game. Make sure to work up a sweat and then keep the heat in. UnderArmour thermal gear is perfect for this. Also make sure that you take that extra time to do some extra stretching, loosening up, warming up, running, even some sprint work wouldn’t be bad.
- After the game, make sure that you are icing and doing your aerobic flush just like you would if you would pitch any other day. If you are going to get on a good cycle, this is the start of the cycle. So if you go back to tip number one, if you are going to be on a 5-day cycle, the minute you stop pitching is when that cycle begins. So you ice, you can do 20 minutes on a bike, a brisk 20-minute walk, some light jump rope, a light jog, anything that gets the blood flowing after that. It is important to take care of your arm physically, because that is the start of the cycle.
- Make sure you keep monitoring pitch counts. Some people measure innings pitched, some people measure pitch counts in total game pitches thrown. I like to also measure total pitch counts based on how you arrived at the total: If you threw one 40-pitch inning in the first inning, you may not even have 75 total pitches in you. You might be able to manage one more inning, or not even that. You could already be in muscle failure based on the intensity of your activity. So let us say that you threw five 15-pitch innings and you are at 75. And in between innings your team was fairly productive offensively – they got guys on base and they did not go down 1, 2, 3 – and you had an adequate rest in between innings. Well now you can go beyond your 75-pitch count, as long as you are getting to that total in manageable workloads and not getting to them all at once. Pitch counts are situational as well as numerical.
Good Luck and Play Ball!