Heating Up for the Baseball Season – Warming Up for Baseball

Recently, myself and a colleague, Eric Marriott (Physiomoves/Bodyworks) did a short lecture series for Little Mountain Little League Baseball coaches.  We were graciously hosted by Aart van Gorkum, owner, at Main Street Physiotherapy clinic in Vancouver.  The two-part series included talks on (1) throwing mechanics for injury prevention and (2) warm-up and cool-down methods for baseball.  I’ve also hosted talks for coaches in Richmond and hope to have a few more at the clinic I practice at in Vancouver,  West 4th Physiotherapy.

First of two talks at Main Street Physiotherapy for Little Mountain Little League Coaches. Pictured (L to R): Aart van Gorkum, Peter Francis, and Eric Marriott.

First of two talks at Main Street Physiotherapy for Little Mountain Little League Coaches. Pictured (L to R): Aart van Gorkum, Peter Francis, and Eric Marriott.

After the talk all the coaches that decided to stay had some excellent questions.  Asking questions is a  great way to stimulate even more thought provoking self-reflection.

After the talk all the coaches that decided to stay had some excellent questions. Asking questions is a great way to stimulate even more thought provoking self-reflection.

The message that we’re constantly trying to deliver to coaches is the “why do I do what I do”?  Coaches who reflect in this manner have already started the journey in continuing to develop their own skills.  I truly believe that only when you start to understand the “why” can you hope to help someone else understand the same thing and adopt new behaviors.

Other sports, such as soccer (see FIFA 11+), have started to identify the true value of a warm-up and its usefulness in fostering good habits in players from a young age.  I’ve heard many people describe baseball as being an “archaic” sport and this could never be truer.  We are a traditional sport based on history but when it comes to player safety and health I really think it’s time to shake that mantra.

Let’s answer the question…

“Why do we warm-up?”

Warming up before playing has, in my mind, three main benefits.  Those are: (1) creating good habits, (2) addressing injury prevention strategies, and (3) movement education specific to the sport.

Why do we warm-up?

A warm-up is something we do, or should, before every bout of activity whether it’s a game, team practice, batting practice or pitcher/catcher session.  That being said, this should clearly underscore the opportunity presented for coaches to educate players and get them repeating a routine that fosters proper mechanics, tissue quality and movement strategies.  As a coach, when you identify strategies that will have a positive impact on health and performance of players, then this is precisely the place to implement them.

As mentioned, the warm-up is a place where we can address injury prevention as well.  We have to get joints and connective tissues ready to perform.  Research shows that moderate amounts of loading in joints stimulate synovial fluid and articular cartilage protective protein secretion (Leong, 2010).  What does that mean? When we warm-up at moderate intensity by loading the joints we are lubricating them and contributing to preserving the long-term health of the cartilage that lines the ends of our bones.

As everyone is aware, when we move more our heart rate increases.  How does a heart rate increase get our muscles ready to perform in an explosive sport like baseball?  Well with an increase in heart rate comes an increase in the amount of blood that is delivered to the muscles in a given time period.  With more warm blood comes an increase in temperature of the tissues and a greater volume of nutrients delivered to those same tissues.  When the temperature of a muscle increases it also becomes more extensible (or pliable/flexible) which offers yet another protective effect to muscle injury.  So when you’re designing your warm-up make sure that it always starts with some sort of moderate intensity aerobic, large joint/muscle group activity.  Just for a reference, moderate intensity is outlined as 40-60% of full effort.  Best to educate your guys what that means!

Finally, movement education, which I believe is the most important.  In any sport there are specific skills that require specific movements of our bodily joints.  So why not address the specific movements in a warm-up to make sure we maintain them throughout the course of a season?  For example, in baseball many of the skills (throwing, hitting) have a significant rotational component.  This rotation as a whole is the sum of rotation in a number of areas in our bodies.  One of those areas is the trunk.  Below is an exercise addressing rotation in the upper portion of the trunk, why not include it in the warm-up?

Lumbar Locked, T-Spine Rotation

I’m hoping to get a baseball warm-up template posted in my next article but please remember it’s only a template.  There is no right, wrong or perfect warm-up based off that template.  If after reading this you’re simply considering why you include what you do in a warm-up then that’s a major victory in itself!

As usual post any questions or comments below.  Also, feel free to contact me by email, peter@w4pt.com, if you think your association or group would be interested in hosting talks for coaches, players and parents that promote arm safety and awareness.

Posted in Uncategorized

Strength, Conditioning and Prevention Training for the Thrower

image image image

I recently had the opportunity to attend a workshop at Inside Performance (IP) Baseball in North Vancouver on the topic of “Strength and Conditioning for the Baseball Player”.  The workshop was put on by two true professionals in Graeme Lehman and Mike Wilson both Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists (CSCS). These gentlemen are offering their services at IP Baseball as well as contributing to other individual baseball programs around the Lower Mainland of BC.

It was certainly refreshing to hear their talk as they covered a lot of great information but, most importantly, shared an excellent approach to training the baseball athlete.  Mike started by speaking to the “Long-term Athlete Development” (LTAD) program and gave us all a little perspective on what it takes to become an “Elite Athlete”.  Essentially, the program states that it will take roughly 10,000 hours of training to gain elite status.  If an athlete trains or practices for 3 hours/day from age 10 to 20 they will break the 10,000 mark.  That just puts a bit of perspective into how much work and dedication is required to become elite at your sport or activity.  Now that’s not to say if you simply put in the hours you’ll wind up on the draft floor for an MLB team because it’s really a lot more complicated than that.

The LTAD program offers a great framework for guiding coaches and kids through different stages of development from childhood to adolescence.  You can visit www.canadiansportforlife.ca/learn-about-canadian-sport-life/ltad-stages for a detailed breakdown.  Basically, the LTAD stages breakdown the goals and objectives for children participating in sport and activity at different ages, doing the right things at the right time.  Mike stressed the need for fundamental movement development in kids 12 and under as a priority.  He also suggested that we shouldn’t be going to the weight room until 15 years old.  I couldn’t agree more with this!  Athletes need to learn fundamental (and optimal) movement patterns before they start to train strength on top of their movement.  This idea is mirrored by the Functional Movement Systems (FMS) approach which is to avoid training strength on top of dysfunction.  We could discuss this topic for eons but simply it was nice to see how passionate Mike was about this approach.

Graeme then took the reins and broached the topic of “increasing throwing velocity and reducing arm injuries in the weight room”.  Graeme is a great resource to baseball players as he conducted his Masters Degree research in the field of baseball and, as mentioned previously, is a CSCS.  Graeme’s talk covered training speed, mobility, and core stability as well as some arm specific exercises for the overhead athlete.  Something we need to understand as baseball players is that throwing hard and efficiently doesn’t start and end at the shoulder.  The approach Graeme spoke on is a holistic one that considers the entire body and, as we say in the health field, all the kinetic chains that are involved in throwing.

Our bodies learn to move in a way that takes the path of least resistance.  If we have tight muscles or connective tissues that cross a specific joint, the body will compensate to accomplish the desired goal of “A to B” even if it is “A to B, via C, D, and E”.  What I mean by that is, for example, if we don’t have mobility at one joint we can still accomplish a skill (like throwing) by taking up movement in neighboring joints (through compensation) to accomplish the task.  The problem is that these compensatory mechanisms are usually what we consider “dysfunction”.  This dysfunction leads to increased risk of injury or may be already masking injury to underlying tissue.

Players can take advantage of guys like Mike and Graeme who not only want to train athletes to increase their performance but also keep them on the field and healthy throughout the season.  I am really hoping these guys will be putting on more talks (and maybe I’ll have the opportunity to do a few of my own) at IP since it’s really one of the few premier indoor baseball-specific facilities that we have here in the Lower Mainland.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to comment below or send me an email at peter@w4pt.com

Posted in Arm Safety

“Coach, I think I just pulled my hammy!”

Baseball players deal with a lot of different injuries over a long season filled with ups and downs.  Most of the time, we focus nearly all of our energy on the elbow, shoulder and thoracic spine but a common and yet often overlooked injury is to the hamstring muscle group.  Baseball is a sport that includes sporadic explosive sprinting and thus the hamstrings seem to be the “fall guy” most of the time.

Just a quick refresher, the hamstrings are a group of muscles made up four separate entities. The inner part of the thigh has two muscles that run from just below the knee to the bottom of the pelvis (1) semi-membranosus and (2) semi-tendinosus.  On the outside of the thigh is the biceps femoris muscle which is divided into two separate parts, (3) the long head and (4) the short head.

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Figure 1: (a) the hamstring muscle group from the rear view shows three distinct groups from left to right 1-long head of biceps femoris, 2-semitendinosus, and 3-semimembranosus.  (b) from the side view the short head of the biceps femoris can be identified as it does not travel all the way up to the pelvis.

I had a coach once tell me that baseball was as simple as “you throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball and you RUN”.  On second thought, that might have been Skip, manager of the Durham Bulls, in “Bull Durham” the movie.  In any event, running is an integral part of baseball but is usually restricted to a quick dash down the baseline or a burst through the outfield grass to track a fly ball.  When we consider normal sprinting, the hamstrings are the key muscle group that slows down the movement generated at the end range of every stride.

three-stages-of-a-sprint-L-Y8RJIE three-stages-of-a-sprint-L-6BMvuf
We’ll use the two photos above to exhibit this…

In the first photo Jacoby Ellsbury is pushing off his back foot while his front foot (in midair) prepares to make contact with the ground.  For his foot to make contact with the ground, he needs to extend (or straighten) his knee and flex his hip quickly.  In the second photo, Andrew McCutchen, who is just slightly ahead of Jacoby in the sprint cycle, has both feet off the ground and you can see his lead knee has already begun to extend.  This motion happens at lightning quick speed during the sprinting cycle and if unopposed by the antagonist muscles, the knee would go past its natural anatomical range of motion.  The hamstrings control (and inherently slow down) this movement and are under maximum stretch when they must perform this job.  When a muscle is under the highest amount of stretch and then must perform an active contraction, there is the highest risk of strain.

Although we can’t change the explosive nature of the game, the real question is why are some people more susceptible to hamstring injury and what can we do about it?  Risk factors and contributors to hamstring strain injury include all of following: (1) poor core stability, (2) decreased strength of hamstrings at longer lengths, (3) decreased flexibility of hamstrings, (4) neural tension, (5) tight hip flexors, and (6) weak and/or poorly active gluteus maximus. Each of these would, in fact, be future articles on their own so to explain all those factors in depth could turn this article into a book.  So I’ll leave you with some real simple advice that you can take onto the field and incorporate with your fall ball programs today.

Firstly, a proper warm-up is paramount!  We need to prepare our bodies for the demands that we intend to place upon them in practices and games.  This means that progressive sprints must be involved in a baseball warm-up and should be performed throughout a game between innings.  Just because you did your sprints before batting practice that day doesn’t mean that your body is still ready to track that ball into the right field corner in the 7th inning.  With that said, make sure players are staying warm throughout a game and it’s never wrong to break up a few drills at practice with some ¾ speed sprints.

Secondly, we look at hamstring flexibility.  I think that everyone and their dog will admit that they have tight hamstrings or aren’t as flexible as they would like to be.  It’s simple, if the muscle is tight then you are more likely to strain it in its lengthened position when you need it to activate.  Performing static stretches of your hamstrings will increase their flexibility but it may not even be the hamstrings that need stretching.  The concept of neural tension is a tough one to conceptualize but when carefully considered it may be simpler then you think.  The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord and all the nerves that run to muscles.  All of these structures are connected and continuous with each other.  Just as when we move our legs we stretch our muscles, we can also stretch the nerves that run from our spinal cords and to the muscles that they activate.  Some recent research (Gibbs, Cross, Cameron & Houang, 2004) has suggested that nearly half of all hamstring injuries don’t present with any structural muscle damage on MRI.  Some researchers suggest that the true value may be closer 1/3 of hamstring injuries but nonetheless why the pain?  As mentioned before, the nervous system may be inflexible as well.  The nerves need to glide and slide between tissues in our body as we produce movement and there are areas where they run the risk of being pinched or stretched.  Now stretching a nerve could definitely cause considerable discomfort so it would be naïve to think that this can’t cause the symptoms in the back of the thigh in some cases.  Regardless of the mechanism of this loss of flexibility, there is a simple exercise (pictured below) that can be added to a players routine to address both of these issues.

Figure 2: standing ball roll out exercise (a) start position, (b) end position

The standing ball roll out exercise will help to stretch the hamstrings in the start position or mobilize the nerve tissue as it is done dynamically and does not include a static hold.  As a prescription, we would typically do this exercise 15-20 times and complete 3 sets of this on a daily basis.  The back must remain in an upright position at all times and balance will be challenged somewhat which is never a bad thing.

While we’re at it lets make sure to stretch the hip flexor as well.  The picture below shows a stretch of the hip flexor that we commonly see on the field and I definitely think it should be included because when the hip flexor is tight the pelvis can tend to be rotated forward.

Figure 3: (a) hip flexor stretch commonly completed on field, (b) preferred form for the hip flexor stretch.

When the pelvis is rotated forward the hamstrings are put onto a “pre-stretch” as we call it.  Since the hamstrings originate from the bottom of the pelvis, any rotation moves this bony attachment up and away from its anatomical position.  In this position, the hamstrings are already beginning to become stretched and at a disadvantage before we even begin any movement.

So for now we have at least three things to consider when protecting ball players from hamstring injuries. (1) warm-up properly and stay loose, (2) get the tissues on the back of the thigh moving and (3) stretch those hip flexors!

As usual, if you have a player with a recurrent hamstring injury or a “twinge” that just won’t go away then get your player in to see a physical therapist or health care professional as soon as possible.  It is likely that with early risk factor identification and mitigation hamstring injuries can be avoided.  These types of injuries can be debilitating in nature and a cause for prolonged and recurrent stints on the DL.  By taking an active role in prevention and being an advocate for players, coaches can help direct players to get the help they need and thus reduce time spent recovering from injury.  At the end of the day, development of players happens on the field so we should take the steps to ensure they remain out there as much as possible.

Posted in Arm Safety

Catching 101 with Ex Major Leaguer and former Arizona D-Back catching Co coordinator Bob Didier

Coach Didier was known in his playing days to be one of the better defensive catchers and has put together a 7 minute video for you review that touches on a “Catchers Throwing Program”.

Bob’s Bio


Coach Bob Didier is a former Major League Catcher who played for three different teams from 1969 through 1974.  He entered the majors in 1969 with the Atlanta Braves, playing for them four years before joining the Detroit Tigers (1973) and Boston Red Sox (1974).

In his rookie season, Didier appeared in a career-high 114 games, helping his team win the National League West Division title. At the end of the season, he finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year vote (behind Ted Sizemore, Coco Laboy and Al Oliver) and also was named to the 1969 Topps All-Star Rookie Roster.

In a six-season career, Didier was a .229 hitter (172-for-751) with 32 RBI’s.  As a catcher, he collected 1276 outs, 119 assists, and committed only nine errors in 1404 chances, for a solid .994 fielding percentage.

Following his playing retirement, Didier managed in the minor leagues for the Tigers, White Sox, Dodgers and Cubs organizations. In the Big Leagues, he has coached for the Athletics, Blue Jays and Mariners, and recently was the catching coordinator in the Arizona Diamondbacks system.

Bob is known as one of the top catching specialists in the MLB and has five World Series rings (two with the Toronto Blue Jays – 1992 & ’93 and three with the New York Yankees – 1998, ’99 & ’00) to his player and coaching credits.

Posted in Coaches Corner

This tubing exercise will make me throw harder, right?

The most common exercise I see at the ballpark these days is one which players refer to as their “tubing exercise”.  It’s great to see maintenance and “prehab” exercises being involved in a player’s daily routine but there are still some problems associated with it.  Not many players (or coaches for that matter) know what muscle group is being trained, why we perform the exercise or how to complete it properly.  Throughout my involvement of playing, coaching and running on-field sessions I have seen this exercise done in an astounding number of ways.  Figure 1 shows you the general setup so let’s break it down…

Figure 1: Rotator cuff internal rotation from the front
view (a), side view start position (b), and side view end position (c)

This exercise is intended to directly activate the rotator cuff (RC) muscle group or portions of it depending on the direction of pull (see previous article for rotator cuff anatomy).  This muscle group can produce internal or external rotation of the humerus (upper arm bone).  The naming of the movements is a product of the direction in relation to the midline of the body.  Sometimes it’s difficult to visualize the rotational movement produced but simply put the humerus rotates as if it were a rotisserie spit.  On average there are 70 degrees of internal rotation and 90 degrees of external rotation available at the shoulder joint (Glenohumeral Joint).

Figure 2: The humerus rotates in the shoulder joint
both internally and externally.  (a) External rotation
moves the forearm through the windup phase and
internal rotation completes the throw during the
acceleration phase. The (b) nature of rotation is
determined in relation to movement direction with
respect to the midline (internal = towards midline,
external = away from midline).

High resistance/weight is certainly not the intention of the exercise, so more is not better in this case.  Using the band provides low to moderate resistance for both the internal and external rotators to work against.  The RC stabilizes the shoulder for every throw made so for that reason it is of the utmost importance that we train these muscles for endurance and not strength or power.  The RC must be at peak function throughout an entire game or practice.  That being said it is prone to fatigue and consequently loss of shoulder stability and throwing efficiency can occur.  Less efficient throwing mechanics can lead to injury and/or a decrease in performance.

Many players currently perform this exercise either too fast and/or with too many moving parts.  When the rest of the body is moving the exercise is no longer exclusively targeting the muscles it is intending to.  Since this exercise is training a muscle group for endurance we usually stress three sets of 12-15 repetitions on a daily basis in a slow and controlled fashion of movement.

Keep in mind that this is not the only way to train your RC but for the purposes of this post we will discuss the position above as it is the most functional and applicable to baseball.  The above version of the exercise is focusing on the internal rotation component of the RC.  The external rotation bias is identical except the player will face the screen and the start/end positions are reversed.  From the front we are focusing on a 90/90 position.  This means that there is a 90 degree angle made by the torso/upper arm as well as by the upper arm/forearm.  When we look from the side the only important cue is focus on being able to draw a straight line between elbow, same side shoulder, and opposite side shoulder.  This alignment is key to isolate the correct muscle groups and avoid undue strain on other tissues.  The movement is performed in a slow and controlled manner in both directions, controlling the movement is paramount.  There should be tension throughout the entire range of motion.


Key points:

Alignment – (1) 90/90, (2) straight line between elbow/shoulder/opposite shoulder
Motion – (1) slow and controlled in both directions, (2) tension in tubing throughout range of motion

Here are two video links to show the movement in progress:
Internal rotation at 90 degrees of abduction
External rotation at 90 degrees of abduction

Take the active approach to include preventative exercises in your routine.  If you are experiencing undue arm soreness or just want to get ahead of the game all you need to do is consult your local physiotherapist for a comprehensive exercise program.  Just use the “find a physio” function at BC Physio if you want to consult a physiotherapist in your area.  If you have any questions or comments please feel free to include them in the comments section.

Posted in Arm Safety

Turning Baseball’s Double Play

Posted on May 27, 2013 by Marty Lehn0 Comments

Langley Blaze Turning the Double play

langleyblazedoubleplays Turning Baseballs Double Play

Set up and Footwork around the bag.

Baseball Strategy 101 – As an infielder, “I live for this”. Man on 1st/1st and 2nd or bases loaded – the pitcher needs help – no problem, get us a ground ball – “It’s Double Play time”.

Much like the goal post in hockey to the goalie is the Double Play in baseball to the pitcher.  However, in executing the double play and giving yourself the opportunity to execute it successfully we must get the 1st out and with that some basics have to happen:

1. Field the ground ball

2. Make a throw to the person at the bag – the better the throw the higher the likeliness of turning it over.

3. Be at the bag

4. Get the 1st out so that we now have a chance at completing the Double Play

Baseball Turning Double Play’s

Langley Blaze working the double play with Milwaukee Brewers scout and Big League Experience owner Marty Lehn. Thanks to BCPBL’s Langley Blaze for participating

Play Video

Click To Play



The Video spends time with the Langley Blaze infielders, at the bag receiving the ball with the emphasis being placed on the receiver getting to the bag early enough, giving a big target to the feeder, reacting to the throw (good or bad), and doing the proper footwork to set themselves up to complete the second half of the Double Play with a strong throw to 1st base.  As the receiver at the bag (2nd baseman or shortstop) it has to be emphasized that the action around the bag is: “Footwork, Catch then Throw”.


Key Points:

- Get to the bag sooner than later and set up so the 1st out is taken care of. We can’t get the second out without the first.

- Give the feeder the biggest target as possible so that we can ensure that first out even in the case of an off throw

- Recognize the ball out of the feeders hand and in flight as soon as possible

- React to the throw by getting the footwork happening – “FOOTWORK”

- Receive the ball in a manner in which or separation to throw is smooth and quick (transition) – “CATCH”

- At this time the plant leg should be set (throwing side leg),and direction and alignment are established to allow for a strong throw to 1st. – “THROW”

Hopefully the video will spell it out clearly for you, but those teams that can execute the Double Play will kill a number of potential threats and give themselves a chance to win some ball games.  A special thanks to the Langley Blaze of the  BCPBL for participating in the video.

Posted in Coaches Corner

Coaches Corner Pleased To Introduce Our Coaching Expert – Marty Lehn







After finishing his playing days in Southern Louisiana, Marty had a great opportunity to complete his degree in Physical Education and then continue to get a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion while working as a coach at Southeastern Louisiana University. In 1991 he returned home and was able to work under Canadian Hall of Fame coach John Haar at the National Baseball Institute while he obtained his level IV NCCP certification through the Coaching Association of Canada. In his tenure with the Coaching Association of Canada he had the opportunity to work with a number of elite coaches from a number of MLB clubs along with those in the Nutritional and Strength and fitness field. The move home allowed Marty to stay in the game as a coach with the Canadian National team and now as the Western Canadian Scout with the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball club.





A former player that grew up and played his minor baseball in Burnaby, B.C. and had the opportunity to go on and play college baseball in Washington State at Olympic college where he became an all-state infielder. From there he ventured to the deep south and played at Southeastern Louisiana University. Since his playing days Marty was a coach with at the National Baseball Institute, the Canadian National team in which he was on the team that played in the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, Greece and is presently the Western Canadian Scout for the Milwaukee Brewers and owner operator of the Big League Experience Baseball Camp.



Big League Experience Baseball Camp (BLE)


The BLE is one of the longest running, and most notable residential baseball camps in North America. Under the direction of Washington State Hall of Fame player and coach Dale Parker, and Oliver resident Don Coy, the camp was brought to fruition in 1960. The goal of the camp was to continue the legacy of Parker and Coy; offering a camp that teaches young men and boys how to play the game of baseball in a professional manner and provide them with an experience that gives the game the respect it truly deserves.” The camp objectives expand beyond the playing field and are meant to influence all aspects of life – The reason for the use of the word “Experience” used in the company name.

Teach leadership through experience.

Teach the value of good team sportsmanship.

Focus on the assessment and development of each individual player.

Give players an improved sense of self-discipline and ability to self-assess.

Share a passion for the game of baseball.

In addition to summer baseball camps, the Big League Experience hosts a number of quality baseball tournaments as well as offer player/coach baseball clinics under the banner “BLE Super Clinics” during the spring months as well as a girl’s fastpitch summer camps under the Okanagan Softball Camps banner.



Have a great season and most of all have fun.



Marty Lehn



Posted in Coaches Corner

“It’s definitely my Rotator Cuff…”

Around the baseball world we commonly hear players, coaches, parents and spectators make reference to the ‘rotator cuff’.  Has anyone stopped and asked themselves:

Do I really know what the ‘rotator cuff’ is and why it’s so important to the baseball player?

The cuff is, in fact, one of the most important group of muscles in the body for a baseball player to be able to perform game in and game out.  A baseball player is dependent on the ability to throw a ball and without that skill a player can no longer compete or will have great difficulty.

Before reading the article please reflect and consider how much you might know about “the cuff” and hopefully by the end you may have picked up a few more things to add to the repertoire.

The rotator cuff is a group muscles that cross the shoulder joint and run from the shoulder blade (scapula) to the upper arm (humerus).  This group consists of four muscles: Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, and Subscapularis.  Each of the muscles are found in the deepest layer of tissues and are covered by the main muscles of the shoulder cap (deltoids and trapezius).


Figure 1: Muscles of the rotator cuff.  Anterior (from the front) view shows Subscapularis and Supraspinatus.
Posterior (from the back) view shows Teres Minor, Infraspinatus and Supraspinatus.

The muscles themselves have two major roles: (1) to elicit rotational movement of the arm bone (humerus) in its socket of the shoulder blade (glenoid fossa of scapula), and (2) to provide dynamic stability for the shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint).  The next question is…

“What is ‘dynamic stability’ and how does this group of muscles provide it?”

For joints to function properly there needs to be structures in place that keep them firm and in the right position.  This is what we, in the rehab field, consider to be stability.  Stability comes in two forms: (1) static, and (2) dynamic.    The term static infers no motion but from our perspective it means no active movement.  Things like ligaments and joint capsules are structures that keep joints together but we don’t have active control of them (they’re just there).  Conversely, the term dynamic means that the process is adaptable, changing or modifiable.  The reason why things are changing is because we have active (or conscious) control over these muscles and if we turn them on or off we can increase the stability of the joint.

The way the rotator cuff does this is simple.  When they are all activated the ‘rotator cuff’ muscle group will pull the round part of the arm bone (humeral head) into the socket of the shoulder blade (glenoid fossa of scapula).  In this stabilized position the baseball player can produce efficient, high velocity, skilled movements such as throwing a pitch at 90+MPH.  Anything that leads to this muscle group not working properly or becoming damaged has a profound impact on a baseball player’s ability to participate and perform at a high level.

Please feel free to leave questions or comments and we’ll try to clarify or provide some additional reference material.  In the next article, we’ll talk about different ways to train the rotator cuff efficiently and effectively.

Posted in Arm Safety

Arm Safety and Sport Science Contributors Introduced


Peter Francis

West 4th Physio


Peter is a physiotherapist and his primary practice is located at West 4th Physiotherapy clinic in Vancouver, BC.  He also covers locums at various clinics within the greater Vancouver area and serves as a casual physiotherapist for the Fraser Health Authority in New Westminster, BC.  Peter completed his Masters of Physical Therapy at UBC after achieving both a Diploma in Sports Science from Douglas College (New Westminster) and a Baccalaureate of Kinesiology from the University of the Fraser Valley (Abbotsford) respectively.  His interests lie in the area of Sports and Orthopedics, especially in that of the shoulder, elbow and thoracic spine.


Peter played for the Ridge Meadows Minor Baseball Association (BC Minor), North Shore Twins (PBL), and Douglas College Royals (NWAACC) in his competitive days.  He continues to play as a member of a Richmond 18+ division team in the Lower Mainland Baseball Association.  He also has coached for nearly 10 years within the RMMBA at the Peewee to Midget levels from A up to AAA.  Most notably he had been involved with operating the Bantam AAA program in Ridge Meadows.   He is still involved by running catcher skills camps, when time permits, for Richmond City Baseball Association (BC Minor).



Aart van Gorkum


Aart is clinical faculty in the Department of Physical Therapy/Faculty of Medicine at UBC. Here he is in part responsible for training the therapists of the future when it comes to practical skills in the clinical setting. He graduated Physiotherapy in Utrecht, the Netherlands, in 1987. He has an advanced diploma in Manual and Manipulative Physiotherapy (1999) and has a special interest in Sport Physiotherapy. He is the owner of Main Street Physiotherapy Clinic in Vancouver.


Aart has been involved with baseball as a player, coach and Physical Therapist for over 38 years.  He has worked with elite level and recreational players throughout his career, including kids.  Aart continues to be involved as a player of the game as he is a member of the Burnaby Pirates 30+ division team in the Lower Mainland Baseball Association.

Posted in Arm Safety

Baseball BC Blog Is Launched!

Baseball BC is very happy to announce the introduction of our new interactive blog speaking about all things baseball related.

From Arm Safety and Health to Coaching Tips and Skill Development, we will explore it all here and bring you the expertise that will make your game better.

Check back often for updates and new posts.

Posted in Uncategorized