When it comes to training overhead athletes a strength coach has to take into account the demands that are placed on the athlete through their sport. With overhead athletes, overuse injuries of the shoulder can be extremely common. Because of this many exercises that may not be contraindicated for most athletes are contraindicated for the overhead athlete.
In my opinion, good arm/shoulder care is more than just swapping a barbell bench press for DB bench press and adding some rotator cuff exercises into the mix – it’s about a well thought out, holistic strength program that appreciates the unique needs of an overhead athlete.
Here are a few thoughts;
☑️ Don’t overlook the importance of a strong lower body to work off of.
☑️ Don’t overlook the importance of a strong and stable core to work off of. Anti-rotation work (Pallof Press variations) and anti-extension work (rollouts, body saw, etc) are important for long term health.
☑️ Deadlifting > squatting. Both movements are a great bilateral lower body movement, but the deadlift has a few things that set it apart. Lots of upper back involvement which overhead athletes need. Deadlifting helps improve grip strength (more on that in a second). Also, volleyball and baseball/softball player won’t typically have the same degree of external rotation from one shoulder to another leading to issues with placing the bar across their back. Safety bar squatting would without a doubt be the best option when it comes to squatting.