The best shoulder exercises for young baseball and softball players are ones that can be performed with minimal equipment, are still effective even with imperfect technique, are somewhat engaging and are easily “felt.” Let’s explore some of our best exercises for baseball and softball players ages 8-13.
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The Blackburns series is a set of isometric holds in the Y, T, and L positions.
In my facility, we do it “leader” style, in which one athlete will keep time for the group, telling them when to hold up, and rest down for each position. They’ll have 2:00 for each of the three positions, and they can choose the holds and rest periods they want (could be 6 seconds up and 1 second down, repeated, or 13 seconds up and 1 second down, etc. until time elapses).
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This is a great set of exercises because they are HARD with just bodyweight, they can be performed in the living room, and they recruit the scapula retractors, all the muscles of the upper back and the external rotators of the rotator cuff.
Pull aparts are scalable for all ages and very simple to perform.
I suggest a looped band, with our favorite being the ribbon-like Theraband CLX. (affiliate link)
Pull-Aparts are great because they work the rotator cuff and upper back while being extremely easy to perform. Both hands are on the band, which helps the athlete control his technique much better than, for example, an exercise with a dumbbell in each hand. Pull Aparts are outstanding for young kids, and still great for older ones.
2-3 sets of 15 reps on each of these is a great start.
This is a good exercise to help develop strong shoulder blades in a full range of motion, giving the scapula strength in upward rotation. Rather than doing sets of raises at different angles, we let the kids hit every small angle in between, from their arms at their sides until their arms are out front.
This way, they don’t have to be perfect and get a lot of time under tension. Most young athletes need 0-2 pounds, and it’s HARD by the 12th rep, if they’re going at a nice, slow pace.
2-3 three sets, 2-3 days per week. This will yield 16-20 reps per set.
Arm care is crucial for any young overhead athlete, including baseball, volleyball, and softball players. A foundation will keep them playing pain-free longer and hitting and throwing the ball harder.
Just two or three sessions per week will go a long way to not only increasing performance, but undoing poor posture caused by texting and computer use.
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If you’re interested in throwing harder from the field (I specialized in teach softball players how to throw harder overhand) download my free eBook.
I also offer an extensive online course on throwing that will help any player gain miles per hour and accuracy on her throws. It’s called She’s Got a Cannon and it’s an amazing step-by-step resource for players, parents and coaches.
Good luck this season! – Dan
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