10 Exercises to Strengthen a Pitcher's Shoulder

Girl pitching in little league softball game

When it comes to pitchers, shoulder motion varies depending on whether they play baseball or softball. Both players require a strong shoulder for speed and power in the delivery of the pitch. In order to maximize a workout, players need to create a balanced shoulder routine targeting both front and rear muscles of the shoulder. But softball players must focus on other muscles, as well.

Balanced Push and Pull Exercises

To create an effective workout and reduce the risk of injury to the shoulder, you must balance push and pull exercises. Traditional push exercises -- bench press, dumbbell press, shoulder press, flyes and lateral raises -- work the anterior shoulder and pectorals. These exercises develop power associated with pitching. However, it is equally important to train their opposing muscles. Developing just the “power” muscles will result in an imbalanced shoulder and increased risk of injury. Pull exercises -- bench pull, seated row, single arm row, prone flyes, lat pulldown and bent-over lateral raises -- train the opposing muscles. A good workout will include equal amounts of reps and sets of each type of exercise.

Windmill Softball Pitchers

Windmill softball pitchers need to focus on the lower body, as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that while softball pitchers experience shoulder pain and injury similar to their baseball counterparts, that pain does not originate from the shoulder muscles. In windmill pitchers, the pain or injury is more commonly the result of weak gluteal muscles and poor pelvic stabilization.

Lower-Body Exercises

In addition to building muscles of the shoulder, windmill softball pitchers need to spend equal time developing lower-body strength and pelvic stabilization. Single leg squats help to improve leg strength and improve balance. Walking lunges with upper-body rotation focus on core strength when the body is outstretched on a single leg. This position is similar to that of the softball pitching motion. Stretching exercises on a stability ball will also increase focus on core muscle development.


Before starting a new workout program, consult a physician. If you are experiencing shoulder pain, a physician will advise rehab exercises to help strengthen your shoulder. For those just starting out with strength training, begin with light weights and increase weight as repetitions become easier. Keep a log of the shoulder exercises you perform in order to ensure you are getting a balanced workout.