How to build arm strength is an ongoing conversation. We have guys preaching that arm strength is developed by throwing more and at higher intensities. Then we have some guys saying that we cannot build strength through throwing. With so many coaches, teams and guru’s selling throwing programs to increase velocity, we need to make it clear, we cannot increase arm strength by just throwing. There is much more that goes into the process. We need to look at a few different things.
The sheer will of wanting to throw hard will increase your chances of throwing hard. While interviewing Push Performance Athlete, Ryan Burr of the Chicago White Sox, I asked him how he increased his velocity.
His response was;
“Wanting to throw hard made me throw hard. It’s the truth, I can’t tell you how many times throwing a fastball with intent has made my fastball play up even harder. Just playing catch with intent every time you play catch is what builds arm strength along with my lifting program. A lot of guys look at playing catch and lifting as a chore. That’s when I get my work in every day. That’s what I rely on to be ready every night.”
Now, for the science side of this discussion. We need to realize that there is a difference in arm conditioning, arm speed and arm strength. Most important, throwing does build endurance. But we need muscular strength to have muscular endurance. Strength is the foundation of ALL movement. Power is the byproduct of strength. Speed is a byproduct of strength. We cannot have power, speed or force transfer without strength. If the athlete is unable to supply force into the ground due to the lack of strength, they will more than likely not supply force and transfer it quickly enough to throw with velocity.
Throwing increases layback in the arm which means the athlete will rely on arm speed to get the arm back up and on time. We once again need strength to control end range and create speed. Layback is important to create a better arc of motion and create longer force tension while throwing. You also need to focus on thoracic extension, flexion, rotation, scapular control, hip shoulder separation, hip internal rotation, etc. All of these movements, joints and bones are controlled muscle contractions and it takes muscular strength to hold those positions needed to throw.
The strength speed continuum is a great example of how strength, speed, power and even endurance work. We have mentioned this in a previous post and how we program. Click the link to read.
Once we realize that strength is king and we need to put that in front of throwing, we will see a decrease rate of injury, more efficient throwing patterns, possible spike in throwing velocity and an overall improvement in performance. Strength is king and always will be king, we just need to know how it transfers to the field.