December 2012 - Tip of the Month

"Warm-up to Throw, Don't Throw to Warm-up."

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We here at the New England Catching Camp would first like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year!

This past weekend we were running our 2012 NECC Winter Vacation Camp in Sarasota, FL. We hosted 25 catchers from 11 different states; as far West as Alaska and of course as far South as Florida.

The first thing we did when we got to the field each of the three days was run the catchers through a proper dynamic warm-up, keeping their body moving and blood flowing through the muscles during the warm-up. Now, we've done a previous Tip of the Month on a topic similar to this, but I feel it bears repeating. Especially after hearing this story from one of the older catchers who attended the camp.

"Jay, my son was at the Sarasota, FL winter camp this past weekend.  Tonight, his team had a fielding session after which he complained about right elbow soreness in his throwing arm. There was not hard throwing in this session. They warmed up for about 10 minutes with light toss and very little arm stretching...He's had elbow issues before but this is the second time this has occurred with this type of (team) activity. He did NOT have any issues over the weekend at the (NECC) camp."

Too frequently, coaches are restricted by time and rush through the pre-practice warm-up in an effort to get into the real work. However, what they fail to understand is that the second you abandon a proper warm-up, you leave your players with little to no chance of actually getting "real work" done. The catching position is so incredibly demanding that we have to make sure we are teaching our catchers how to properly prepare their bodies to play the position well and safely. We went through a lot of throwing instruction during the camp and made sure that each of the catchers was prepared to participate in the throwing drills we had planned for them.

The key here is that we should always warm-up to throw, not the other way around.

One good source for an overview of what dynamic movements to introduce to the warm-up can be found HERE: 

According to Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy:

A dynamic warm-up should be performed prior to activity to prepare the body for the demands of a workout. Dynamic movements are the best way to prepare your body for dynamic workouts. Contrary to old beliefs, the best time to work on static flexibility is at the end of your workout, and not in the beginning. After every workout you should follow a total body static stretching series.

The specific advantages of a dynamic warm-up, by comparison with the more traditional “sit and stretch” routine, are as follows:

  • Increases core body temperature and blood flow to muscles.
  • Enhances muscle elasticity and lubricates joints.
  • Increases heart rate and respiratory rate which is the body’s preparation for the demands of a workout.
  • It prepares the muscles and joints in a more sport specific manner than static stretching.
  • It enhances coordination and motor ability as well as revving up the nervous system.

A series of dynamic movements will develop flexibility, balance, coordination, mobility, and strength.

A full body warm-up (i.e. walking, light jogging, jump rope) of approximately 5 minutes should precede the dynamic series.

Thanks for reading this month's Tip of the Month!