I wanted to share the preliminary findings from the baseball and softball screens so far this year. Regardless of age or skill level, there have been some trends that have stood out. The screen looked at range of motion, strength, and control of different parts of the body that are critical to the throwing motion. Each testing item was then given a red, yellow, or green score depending on the criteria. Just like a stop light, the colors mean the same thing.

  • Red — Stop and needs immediate attention
  • Yellow — Proceed with caution and needs some improvement
  • Green — No deficits seen. Good to go!

Below are some of the important tests that over half of players either tested in the red or yellow zone. Remember that throwing is a complete body motion and that the screen looked at all body parts. Here are the tests that over half of players either tested in the red or yellow zone.

  • Lower trap strength (76% red or yellow)

This is a muscle that helps control and stabilize the shoulder blade during overhead motion. This finding is somewhat concerning, but it also matches up with the shoulder exercise routine that most players are doing. This muscle is most easily worked with your arm all the way overhead. Frankly, most players aren’t doing enough exercises at their end rage of overhead motion to engage this muscle. There is a myth that baseball players should not train overhead motion. It matters what type of overhead exercises that you do.

Here is a video that describes how to engage strengthen this muscle.

  • Single leg squat (66%)
  • Hip abduction strength (54%)

These often go hand in hand. You need to have the hip strength to be able to control your leg when performing a single leg squat. I have yet to see a baseball player with an arm injury who does not have some weakness in his hips. You generate over half of your velocity from your lower body during a throwing motion. If this foundation isn’t stable, the arm will be forced to make up for it. This is not a recipe for success. There are many different varieties of single leg squats that you can perform.

Here is a video that is a good intermediate before transitioning to single leg squats.

So, should your training match the deficits that we see? Yes! Most of the players presented with decent shoulder and upper body strength. Almost 2/3rds presented with a lower body deficit! More and more players have a consistent shoulder routine. Why not a lower body routine? This is something that I have been working on with the baseball players who come into the clinic. Last fall, I spent most of the time discussing the importance of the lower half (among other things) on a podcast with Keep Playing Baseball. If you are interested, please give it a listen.

At the end of the season we will follow up with the players who participated in the screen to see who lost time for an arm-related injury. This will help us refine our throwing screen for the future. If you are interested in the testing that we do, please reach out to contact our clinic to schedule a screening.