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Softball pitchers use their entire bodies, but especially their shoulders, to deliver an accurate pitch. Stretching regularly helps keep the rotator cuff flexible, while strengthening exercises helps increase pitching power. A pitcher's shoulder workout doesn't have to be restricted to the softball field, however. Swimming and water-based exercises are good for developing a pitcher's strength too.
Submerged Shoulder Exercises
Performing your regular shoulder routine, including Jobes exercises, in the water can help strengthen your shoulders. By submerging your shoulder under the pool's surface, you increase resistance as you move through the rotations and windmill action of a pitch. New York Yankees strength coach Dana Cavalea suggests adding to the challenge of water-based exercises by doing a few more repetitions of each exercises or performing them with your fingers spread wide open.
Swimming laps is an ideal exercise for softball pitchers, as it strengthens your entire body. Freestyle, backstroke and butterfly all feature a full rotation of the shoulder that is similar to a softball pitch. Breaststroke does not use the same rotational movement of the arms, but it strengthens the chest and legs which can help provide you with power for your pitching.
Softball pitchers rely on their legs as well as their arms to deliver an accurate pitch. Swimming exercises to increase strength in the lower legs include kick drills, squats and lunges. Perform kick drills by holding a kick board or other flotation device in front of you with outstretched arms. Propel yourself across the pool using a flutter, dolphin or frog kick. Do squats and lunges in the shallow end of the pool. Increase the difficulty of these exercises by standing on a kick board. You'll develop leg stability as you work to keep the kick board on the floor of the pool
Swimming exercises can help softball pitchers recover from shoulder injuries as well as allow them to stretch and strengthen with a lower risk of injury. Water buffers the joints, offering a measure of protection. An April 2000 issue of the "Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy" reports that in comparing water-based exercises to dry land stretches, the water-based exercises caused a lower activation of the rotator cuff muscles. Lower activation can translate into less stress in the shoulder joints and a higher range of motion.