I received a question the other day about cleans and whether or not its an ideal movement for baseball players especially pitchers because of the stress placed upon the elbow/wrist joints. I'm a strong advocate of cleans for overall explosiveness and power development.However, I wanted to get everyone else's viewpoint regarding this movement.

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  • I like the idea of it coming down to risk/reward and the athlete population that is being worked with.  Take a young high school kid, where power and strength development are generally easier to achieve due to body maturation anyways, would the benefits of cleaning (power development, among others) outweigh the risks (joint stress, improper mechanics while learning the exercise, overexertion with resistance)?  What about a professional pitcher, with a big dollar figure contract? Cleaning undoubtedly is proven to improve power and strength in athletes, but I would argue that there are safer, more applicable modalities to apply to baseball players that alleviate the potential drawbacks of cleaning. 

  • How many pro pitchers do cleans, snatches etc?  Can you show any studies on pitchers?  If these exercises are so great for pitchers why don't ML organizations do them?  Is there transfer to rotational sport?  Eric Cressey just said in an interview with Mark Watts that he doesn't have people do them - and mentioned valgus on elbow etc with pitchers.  Considering all the TJ surgeries etc. is the risk worth taking?  Again, where are the studies on baseball pitchers?  Science should have data right?  Where's the sport science on baseball pitchers?  How would you implement with starters, mid relievers, closers for off, pre, in-season including throwing schedules?  Can you get benefits (i.e., triple extension) with med ball scoop or over the back throws without the risks?  Would you catch and rack cleans etc. with pitchers/baseball players and why?


  • Perfect article.  Olympic lifting is one of the more safe movements that can be performed, because it goes through an entire range of motion.  Limiting joint motion is the reason individuals get hurt.  


    Joey Guzzo said:

    Cleans good or bad for baseball players?
    I received a question the other day about cleans and whether or not its an ideal movement for baseball players especially pitchers because of the str…
  • MLB now has Pitch Smart (m.mlb.com/pitchsmart) with guidelines to help reduce injuries. 

  • I would contend that baseball is a sport where downward vertical force absorption is not critical. So what does a full catch-clean provide that a clean pull does not? Coming from a guy that has no problem doing the full catch with infield/outfielders.

  • I agree with the 4 points above.  We need to quantify this objectively especially points 1 and 3.  The point with Dr. Wagner's movement signatures from force plate testing (mentioned in an above post) is individuals in sports are different.  They like to see load higher than explode and drive for pitchers in their movement signatures which is different than what typical football and basketball players exhibit.  Read the blog June 2 (I believe) with a title about unless you are on the moon everything starts in the lower body (spartascience.com)  Eric Cressey has an interesting post about pitchers and Tommy John surgery posted at ericcressey.com.


  • Good post Joey!! Sports specific is a nice term that is almost impossible to mimic for throwing the baseball. Make people strong and explosive while training on your feet.  Good post!!


    Joey Guzzo said:

    Pitchers/Hitters on constantly working on their craft, thus continuously repeating their hitting or throwing motion so be careful of overloading on that rotational work. I'm not a fan of the term "sport specific" because it's used a bit too liberally and people lose touch with the foundation, which is strength. Strength is specific to all sports; ATHLETES NEED TO BE STRONG, the manner in which you develop may change slightly based on the sport. People get too carried away with "sport specific". Squatting on a bosu with a blindfold on and a weight vest will not get you strong, getting under the bar and pushing through some adversity will. (not that anyone on here claimed to have done that, just making a general statement). 

    Like a basically everyone on here said, the way you choose to use your toolbox is up to you. At the end of the day is comes down to this

    1) Are my athletes healthy/ is what we are doing safe?

    2) Can I justify why I'm doing it?

    3) Are they improving?

    4) Are my coaches happy?

    Cleans good or bad for baseball players?
    I received a question the other day about cleans and whether or not its an ideal movement for baseball players especially pitchers because of the str…
  • I looked and didnt see the post but I did find a comment from Dr. Wagner on a deadlift article on the first page.

    "The fact is, any movement can cause injury or harm if performed improperly but avoidance or abstinence can increase injuries as well"

    He was talking about deadlifts being a "scapegoat" for anything that injured a lower back, I thought that was interesting.

    John Weatherly said:

    Interesting post by Dr. Phil Wagner on his blog (spartascience.com) Mon June 2 about pitchers movement signatures via Sparta's force plate testing compared to football, basketball players etc.

    Cleans good or bad for baseball players?
    I received a question the other day about cleans and whether or not its an ideal movement for baseball players especially pitchers because of the str…
  • Interesting post by Dr. Phil Wagner on his blog (spartascience.com) Mon June 2 about pitchers movement signatures via Sparta's force plate testing compared to football, basketball players etc.

  • Good points-I also think alot more of these surgeries (not just on BB players but other sports as well) come from these kids throwing year round in these select leagues?  I wonder if quite a few of them had these surgeries without ever doing a clean?

    I'm really really (really) old but I can remember playing junior high and high school football, RARELY saw a kid with a cast on his arm/leg?  Now days we have a handful of kids every year who just "fall" in football practice and break a wrist?  It makes me wonder if the inactivity of kids today (inside, AC, video games etc) combined with year round practice/specialization in a sport has more to do with this than anything else??

    I remember having football season in high school,then when it was over some of the guys went to basketball others (guys like me who couldnt dribble) went to wrestling..When that was over some went to baseball while others went to track.  You had the summer off and everyone was in the weightroom getting ready for fall?

    I'm not sure what the answer is and like you all do what I think is best for them and try to keep learning but I think theres more to this than just "cleans or no cleans"...

    John Weatherly said:

    Again, good discussion and I'm not trying to argue either but this exemplifies why we need evidence-based practices.  How many QBS or VB players have Tommy John surgery?  There's a lot of difference between throwing a football and a baseball (i.e. internal rotation shoulder velocities, elbow extension velocities).  In my view pulls etc. without racking the weight may be fine for pitchers but why do cleans etc? 

    Cleans good or bad for baseball players?
    I received a question the other day about cleans and whether or not its an ideal movement for baseball players especially pitchers because of the str…
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