This paper reviews the role of the rotator cuff during two key phases of the pitching sequence and presents a training program for these muscles. The program uses a periodization design consisting of three stages, beginning with a high-resistance/low-repetition eccentric strengthening stage. This is followed by a low-resistance/high-repetition stage for training muscular endurance. The core exercises for these two stages are prone external rotation in the 90/90 position, prone horizontal abduction, side-lying D2 flexion pattern, supine internal rotation in the 90/90 position, prone elevation with 100° of shoulder abduction and external rotation, and standing scapular plane elevation. The final stage of the program uses high-speed functional exercises: 90/90 external rotation, 90/90 internal rotation, D2 PNF flexion pattern, D2 PNF extension pattern, supine plyometric 90/90 internal rotation with a medicine ball, and the “arm whip” through the D2 PNF flexion pattern. The goal of this program is to prepare the muscles for the stresses of pitching and prevent shoulder injuries.
Michael E. Powers is a doctoral student in sports medicine at the University of Virginia. He is also with St. Anne's-Belfield School, 2132 Ivy Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903.