It is quite obvious that overuse of the arms of youngsters is a major problem at ALL levels of youth baseball. Coaches need to understand the value of proper mechanics, teach viable pre and post game routines, the danger of throwing “breaking balls”, and instill the importance of reporting pain in the arm to both them and parents. Parents should oversee the pitch counts, coaching philosophies, and be sure to protect the players from arm abuse. Many adults are so intent on winning the game and projecting their youngsters to the pros, that they do not see the downside of throwing and pitching too much or with a flawed set of mechanics.
Some Very Simple RULES to Consider
- Do not play year round. Keep the arm “in shape” with occasional throwing but rest it by playing 2-3 other sports in the off season.(See #5)
- Learn the proper throwing/pitching mechanics.
- NO CURVE BALLS until the arm is fully developed and the player is throwing from 60’6”.
- Watch for overuse. Use strict pitch counts, taking a full day off between pitching dates, etc. Common sense rules!
- Develop arm strength with stretching routines, long toss, lunges, roll-ups, and other light wrist and forearm lifting drills. Throw 3-5 times per week for 10-15 minutes in the off-season. Increase as it gets closer to the start of the next season.
- NEVER pitch a full game on consecutive days.
- No NOT throw or pitch with pain in the arm, elbow and/or shoulder. See a doctor if pain persists.
- Forget the radar gun..most are inaccurate and velocity is over-rated.
- Emphasize the mental aspect of pitching and focus on control and changing speeds/location/etc.
- Avoid throwing a whiffle ball or other light balls as these can strain the arm.
- Let the arm have proper rest and keep a journal as to how many innings/pitches/etc you throw. Ice after each pitching session(even practice).
- See a doctor if you have any numbness or shooting arm pains..NOW!
- Focus on COMMAND Drills(being able to throw or pitch to and exact location).
- Keep in mind that arm abuse can affect your later life and even eliminate the ability to playing catch with your own children. KWTP!