The “Athlete” Pitcher: A Look at the Modern Power Arm Part 2 of 3, Scientific Basis

Where we left off, we talked about a pitcher’s general strength needs and how that ceiling correlates to Power development, which leads me to my next question…Why have we insisted on training pitchers for decades as endurance athletes? We are truly stuck in the stone-age when we send our pitchers out on a three-mile run, or tell them to go “run some poles.” We should demand more excellence in our approach going forward, and base it on scientific facts. The human musculoskeletal system is a true miracle. It adapts, reacts, and improves itself based on the demands we ask of it. Science shows us that it even displays the ability to become more proficient in the ways we train it. Don’t take my word for it, but rather take the word of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Three primary muscle fibers account for our skeletal-muscle system.

Muscle Fiber Composition Can Change Depending Upon the Needs of the Athlete

Type I- high level of endurance, while sacrificing the ability to produce high power.

Type IIa- balance of endurance and power, but lean slightly towards the side of endurance.

Type IIx– highest level of power output while sacrificing endurance in the long run.

NSCA Statement

“There is little evidence to show that Type II fibers change into Type I fibers as a result of aerobic endurance training, but there may be a gradual conversion within the two major Type II fiber subgroups-of type IIx fibers to Type IIa fibers. This adaptation is significant, in that Type IIa fibers possess greater oxidative (endurance) capacity than Type IIx fibers and have functional characteristics more similar to those of Type I fibers” (Essentials of Strength and Conditioning 129).

LHP Tyler Skaggs of the Angels hard at work in the gym.

In writing, and through research this shows that endurance training can actually change the physiology and structure of muscles. While they gain muscular endurance, they lose some ability to produce power. This is exactly the reason why we should go back to the chalkboard and re-assess the needs for a pitcher who is trying to develop velocity, aka power!

Coach Kyle Richter, USC Baseball Alumni, BA Human Performance, USA Weightlifting

Please contact me with any comments, questions, or inquiries!        Champion’s QUEST Baseball Academy

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