When to Start Your off Season Throwing Program
It seems as though I am running into a lot of high school and some college baseball players (pitchers) that don’t know when to start their off season throwing program. Many players are starting far too early for their respective high school or college teams. It is important to start at the right time to be prepared for spring ball but also to remain strong throughout a summer ball season. Giving your arm the proper amount of rest and coming up with a plan are the two most important factors when coming up with an off season throwing program.
It is highly important to give your arm the proper amount of time to rest. I would recommend 3 months of no throwing throughout the course of the year, no less than 2 months. If you can’t make that happen then you need to reevaluate your baseball plans and make time for it. Whether it is playing another sport or just hitting the gym during this time off is completely up to you. But giving your arm time to rest every year needs to be a priority!
When coming up with a plan for your off season throwing program, you need to find out the date when you need to be ready by and the amount of innings or pitches you need to throw by that date. Once you determine that, you need to map out a throwing program week by week starting from the finish date and moving backwards. So, for an example. If you need to be ready to throw 5 innings or 60 pitches by March 1 your schedule might look something like this…
Week 1- Play catch 4 times this week. Long toss twice.
Week 2- Play catch 4 times this week. Long toss twice.
Week 3- Play catch 5 times this week. Long toss 2-3 times this week. Off the mound fastballs only twice this week. About 20-30 pitches.
Week 4- Play catch 5 times this week. Long toss 2-3 times this week. Off the mound fastball/change up twice this week this week. About 30-40 pitches.
Week 5- Play catch 6 times this week. Long toss 3 times this week. Off the mound all pitches two or three times this week. About 40-50 pitches.
Week 6- Play catch 6 times this week. Long toss 3 times this week. Off the mound all pitches two times this week. about 50-60 pitches.
March 1- Spring Ball!
Notice how I have only 6 weeks of throwing on this schedule. Getting prepared to throw 60 pitches or 5 innings shouldn’t take more than two months to get prepared for. Now, if you are a person that takes a little longer for your arm to get in throwing shape, take a little more time. This is a very broad guideline. If you need more long toss than long toss more. If you need to take more days off than take more days off. Some people may need more time, some may need less. Modify it to meet your specific needs.
I know that high school and college baseball are different in the fact that there isn’t spring training. This means you need to be pretty close to game ready when practices are scheduled to start. Have a plan and have a purpose behind every day that you play catch. Ideally your throwing schedule throughout the year will look as follows:
March-June: High School Baseball/College Baseball
June-August: Summer Baseball
September-October: Fall Baseball
January-February: Off season throwing program
Obviously these schedules will vary for everyone. You want to be peaking in the summer not hitting a wall. If you start your throwing program 4 months before you start your spring season, odds are that you are going to be fatigued and hit a wall in middle of your summer season. The most important things in determining when to start your off season throwing program are: proper rest (2 to 3 month no throwing) and a plan to prepare yourself for the amount of innings and pitches needed at the start date. Hope this helps!
-Jason Van Skike