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Karie Abel, Mackenzie Kennon, Brennen Hogan, Colin Corcoran, FACSM, Charles Williams, Jacob Gdovin. University Of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL.

BACKGROUND: Strength and conditioning professionals work with sport coaches to develop programs to ensure pitchers maintain or improve arm health and throwing velocity. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine how eliminating a structured strength training program alters pitching and performance metrics during an 8-week fall season in collegiate baseball pitchers. METHODS: Twelve NCAA division-I male baseball pitchers who completed the 8-week fall season participated in the study. Each participant completed every bullpen session during the 2021-2022 season. To determine pitcher readiness prior to data collection, all participants had to be pitching bullpen sessions >90% of their spring season in-game intensity which was determined by the pitching coach. Athletes did not have access to their weight-room facility due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the team to conduct their conditioning programs on the field with minimal equipment limiting a traditional strength training program. All pitching data were collected using the PULSE Throw Workload Monitor (Driveline Baseball, Kent, WA, USA). Preseason testing took place prior to the start of the fall season and post-testing occurred 72 hours after the fall season concluded. Participants completed their pre-game warm-up routine with no restriction on time. After throwing no more than 10 sub-maximal pitches on a dirt mound to a catcher positioned 18.39m away, all pitchers threw 2- or 4-seam fastballs into the strike zone with maximal effort separated by 20s. Total pitch count progressively increased each week based on the throwing program designed by the pitching coach which did not exceed 50 maximal effort pitches/week. Five of those pitch trials were selected with the average of the three highest ball velocities used for analysis. A paired samples t-test, with an alpha level set at p < 0.05, was conducted for the two variables of interest. RESULTS: There was no significant difference (p = 0.57) in elbow valgus torque between pre-test (66.86 ± 15.54Nm) and post-test (64.53 ± 13.61Nm) conditions. However, there was a significant difference (p < 0.001) in ball velocity between pre-test (37.70 ± 2.01m/s) and post-test (34.89 ± 2.16m/s) conditions. CONCLUSION: Limiting access to resistance training equipment and a structured strength program negatively impacts ball velocity even with a designed throwing program.

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