This past weekend I was speaking to a parent while waiting in between games.
Like so many other parents, the father felt his son’s performance on the mound was suffering due to arm fatigue and constant soreness.
He was excited that this was the last tournament of the year for the team and his son was due for some much needed rest.
This sparked my curiosity and so I asked, “What’s your son’s throwing program look like in between outings or starts?” “Does he throw much?”
“Not really, we want his arm to be rested.” “We do throw a pen in between starts but other than that we keep it light and follow a program that stretches out to 150 ft.”
I’m sorry but I just don’t get it.
“Why is the focus always aimed at pitching and never throwing, don’t you have to throw to pitch?”
Maybe I’m old fashioned, maybe a little ignorant but common sense tells me that “REST” is not the answer! If that were the case we would have a nation full of “Restful” arms, all pitching pain and injury free! Really when’s the last time you drove through a neighborhood and saw kids throwing or playing baseball? It’s sad but the days of driving through the neighborhood and seeing kids throwing the baseball are gone.
“I remember throwing something every day during my childhood, it didn’t matter what it was and my arm never hurt!”
Our society/culture has changed and it doesn’t allow our kids to be reminded by their parents, “Don’t come home til the streetlights come on.” There is much more for the kids to do than set up bottles and see how many they can break by throwing rocks or getting friends together and playing some type of “game” that requires throwing.
Practicing, throwing and playing in the yard out back is secondary, at best.
Throwing the baseball has become a thing of the past.
There is a belief that throwing will hurt your arm and you need to save it. The problem with this theory is that pitcher’s rarely get hurt from throwing, they get hurt from pitching. Big difference.
All the research points to overuse. Partly true, under-prepared is more like it. The problem with the research today is that it doesn’t take into account the individual’s routine outside of the competition period. The data is based on innings pitched, months out of the year pitching, pitch counts, pitch, pitch, pitch.
‘You have to throw to pitch, you don’t have to pitch to throw.” He also said, There have been a number of studies that show that continual throwing of young players creates physical adaptations such as increased range of motion due to actual structural changes of the humorous. And it’s speculated that these physical adaptations are what allows more mature pitchers to not only throw harder but to minimize the risk of injury. This is not to say that players should throw to the extent of creating overuse injuries. It simply means that as would exercising three times a week create a change in the physical mass of muscle so would it create changes in connective tissue and bone structure. In other words continual stress and in this case I’m talking about a positive stress i.e. stress that doesn’t lead to overuse injury will create physical adaptations.
The body will make changes and adapt accordingly to the intent of the activity but the #1 goal of the body is to protect itself.
Remember when you could walk through the creek barefoot or on rocks? Can you still walk without it hurting or oohing and awwing? However, young kids are able to without hesitation because they don’t know any different. Their feet have “been there”.
Our feet are not accustomed and our brain and feet communicate by sending signals and responses telling us to “Go slow”, “Be careful” and “This HURTS.” The body is so accustomed to the support of the shoes that the feet have been sheltered and aren’t prepared.
The same is happening with pitchers arms that don’t routinely throw the baseball, they hurt. Our first response as pitchers it to shut it down and take a few days off because it’s sore.
Rest is a NECESSARY component but so is an ACTIVE recovery period.
Pitchers have to push the boundaries and force their arms to make changes and accommodate their need to throw. If they don’t, the arm never “get’s there”. I understand the importance of rest but I don’t understand the idea of resting until it is time to pitch.
Taking time off during the week (Saving our arm) is like walking with our shoes on all week and over the weekend (Game Day) we take our shoes off and go barefoot over the rocks. After all, they’re rested!
There has to be a throwing routine. The routine is the body’s map,the direction needed by the body to make arrangements. The body needs a plan, that’s why we have a brain. Each individual pitcher thrives on their throwing regimen, whether good or bad, it’s the primary variable in their level of health, confidence and success.
If the pitcher trains his arm as fragile, he will end up with a fragile arm.
The term OVERUSE is interpreted many different ways. Overuse becomes part of the vocabulary and echoes throughout our ball parks across the country with the sounds of “never” throw it past, you “shouldn’t” ever throw if, only throw it “when”, and finally “Shut it down”.
We can no longer pitch because we weren’t prepared. The throwing program was designed with too many Don’t, Always, Never’s and Shouldn’t’s.
Overuse may have not been the problem, but ended up being the issue because we aren’t prepared.
How often do you encourage your kids to throw? Do you have a throwing program or throwing programs?