Back Exercises

This website emphasizes the need for the player to execute hard rotational turns in order to throw harder. Even though a level, hard rotation should be a safe maneuver for a player, there still is a need to condition and strengthen the back to be able to handle the large number of rotations needed to improve arm speed.
The back exercises that a player should implement are known as William’s Flexion exercises. I’ve personally been doing these exercises daily for the last 35 plus years. I started doing these after a bout with back problems that were diagnosed as resulting from an imbalance in the strength and flexibility of the hamstrings and quadriceps. This imbalance was probably caused by all the distance running over the years.
The solution for the imbalance and weakness was to execute a set of stretches that, over time, would bring the muscles into equilibrium and increase the muscles of the lower back and stomach. My orthopedic doctor told me that as a result of the muscles regaining balance and improved strength, the forces on the back would not be pulling either forward or backward. With good muscle balance, strength and flexibility in the legs, the back should be able to remain in solid alignment. I’ve found these exercises to be of tremendous benefit over the years.
These William’s Flexion exercises do not bring an overnight result, but a consistent, disciplined approach will bring dividends over time.
Pelvic Tilt: This is the first of the concepts to implement and it is performed with the player on his back with the knees bent and the feet on the ground. Starting in this position, the stretch is executed by pressing the small of the back to the floor (stomach tightens and pelvis reverse rotates.) The stretch should be held for 10 seconds. As the player becomes more familiar with this stretch, he should attempt to execute it with the legs extended so the back of the knees are touching the floor. Repeat this stretch 10 times.

pelvic tilt knees bent

pelvic tilt knees stra

Knees to the Chest: This stretch is an extension of the pelvic tilt just described. With the legs extended and the lower back pressed to the floor, bring one leg up to where the quadriceps is touching the chest with the knee bent. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Return the leg to full extension and bring the other leg to where the quad touches the chest (again, the knee is bent). Hold for 10 seconds and then bring both legs up to the chest. Hold again for 10 seconds. For all three of these stretches the lower back should stay on the floor. As you gain more flexibility in the hamstrings you will be able to get the quads closer to the chest. Repeat this stretch 10 times.

knee to chest

both knees to chest

Knees to the Floor: This is a rotational stretch that starts with the player on his back with his hands behind his neck and elbows touching the floor. The player’s knees are bent and his feet are on the ground. The right leg is lifted so the outside of the right knee can cross to the outside of the left knee and pull the left knee to the floor. During this stretch the elbows should stay on the floor so the spine will be in torsion. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds before switching to pull the right knee with the left knee. Again, hold the stretch for 10 seconds with the elbows maintained on the floor. Repeat this stretch 10 times.

knee across

Figure Four: This stretch is executed in the seated position with the left leg extended and the sole of the right foot against the inside of the left knee (right knee bent). Keeping the small of the back as straight as possible, the stretch is executed by taking both hands to the toes on the left foot. Hold the stretch position for 10 seconds. Continue the Figure Four stretch by switching to where the right leg is straight and the left leg is bent with the sole of the foot to the inside of the right knee. Again, keep the back straight and take both hands to the toes on the right foot. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Repeat this stretch 10 times.

figure 4

Groin Stretch: While still in the seated position, bend the knees so the soles of the feet touch together. Pull the feet along the floor toward you. In this position, keep the small of the back straight and reach with both arms straight out in front of you until you feel some slight discomfort in the groin. Hold this position for 10 seconds and return to the starting point. Repeat this stretch 10 times.


Cat Stretch: For this stretch, the player gets on his hands and knees and arches his back upward as far as possible while he tucks his chin in toward his chest. The stretch is held 10 seconds and then the back is arched in the opposite direction with the stomach forced to the floor and the head tilted back as far as possible. Hold this position 10 seconds. Repeat each of the stretches 10 times.

cat arch up

cat arch down

Body Rotation: This is the last of the back stretches and begins with the player lying flat on his stomach on the floor with arms and legs extended fully. The stretch begins by raising the left leg and right arm simultaneously. The leg and arm should be straight and both should be lifted as high as possible. Hold the position for 10 seconds and return to the starting position. Switch to lift the right leg and left arm simultaneously as far as possible and hold the position for 10 seconds. Return to the starting position. Repeat each of these exercises 10 times

full body rotate .