Preparing To Pitch: A Simple 6-Step Warm Up Routine For Youth Pitchers
Many baseball pitchers at the youth levels do not properly get themselves ready to pitch. Often times young pitchers feel the warm-up begins when they get on the bullpen mound. But we know it should start as soon as they put their shoes on.
Here is a simple 6-step jogging-stretching-throwing-pitching routine that is sure to get young pitchers game ready.
Step 1: Even before stretching, a baseball pitcher needs to get the blood flowing through their bodies by taking a light jog. This will begin the much needed blood flow to the muscles.
Step 2: A complete stretch should follow, with a focus on the shoulders, elbow, and forearms.
Step 3: After stretching, pitchers should begin their throwing by playing catch. Catch should be done until the pitcher begins feeling loose. I'd encourage you to extend the throws up to 90 or 120 feet, whatever you feel comfortable with.
Step 4: Once loose, the pitcher should get onto the mound working gradually toward throwing his pitches at 100%. The first 5-10 pitches off the mound should be used to find strike zone. Once the pitcher is comfortable with the mound and their delivery, they should focus on hitting corners, since corners are what the pitcher will be shooting for in the game. This drill should be done with all pitches (e.g. fastball, curve, change-up).
Step 5: After getting comfortable with all pitches, the pitcher should begin working on combinations of pitches that will be used in the game. Commonly used sequences include: fastball outside, followed by a change-up outside, or fastball inside, followed by a change-up outside. The more advanced a pitcher gets the more combinations the pitcher should know. A pitcher should know how to "set-up" pitches and should also have "out" pitches.
Step 6: The last 5-10 pitches in the bullpen should be at 100%. The pitcher is now ready for the game mound.
If you're a coach, it's important to remember that all pitchers are different and routines should vary, including number of pitches and types of pitches thrown. Pitchers need to find what works best for them depending on their age, and level at which they compete. The routine described above not only gets advanced pitchers ready to throw, but is also a baseline for beginning pitchers who are serious about their game.