Friday, April 29, 2011

The Root of Big League Arm Trouble

I just read an important blog post by Eric Cressey of Cressey Performance about the importance of limiting the amount of pitching by youth baseball players: Your Arm Hurts? Thank Your Little League, AAU and Fall Ball Coaches.

This is another strong warning to coaches and parents that the high school, college and professional pitchers that end up having arm surgery are often the ones that threw too much at a younger age. Many times the damage is done earlier in their careers, even though the pitcher may not feel any pain until years later.

As Cressy reminds us, pitching a baseball overhand is a violent, fast, unnatural act. Unless you're this guy, your arms hang down and your shoulders are rounded. Throwing underhand is more natural for the human body.

Throwing overhand is a complex motion. There's a lot that can go wrong over time. That's why we need to ensure that our youth pitchers are taught proper mechanics. And we have to be careful that they don't throw too many pitches, and see that they get enough rest, both between outings and during various shut-down periods throughout the year.

Cressey stresses the importance of strength training and playing other sports. Kids need to develop their overall athleticism and strength, and should not specialize in one sport until their late teenage years, if then.

Little League pitch count regulations are beneficial to protecting young arms. But they don't prevent a player from participating on multiple teams. And not every 11- and 12-year-old can handle 85+ pitches in a game. The doctors that Little League consulted when that number was put in place recommended less. So it is up to coaches and parents set the rules. Just because a kid loves to pitch, it doesn't mean he should always push himself to the limit.

Here again is the link to the article. If you are a coach or a parent of a pitcher, I recommend taking a couple of minutes to read it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Slow, Perfect Pace of Little League

Here's a good article from Delaware Online by Jason Levine about the atmosphere of a Little League park. His league happens to be in Delaware, but it really could be anywhere. As Levine says, "When I'm at a Little League game or practice, I don't want to go home." I think there are a lot of people at MP that can identify with that feeling. That's why on a nice spring Saturday, many of us stay all day.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The History of Metal

With all the talk going on this year about the safety issues surrounding composite metal bats, I found this article on the history of aluminum bats interesting. The quality of these bats has come a long way since they were first introduced in 1970 - from the hunk-o-metal I used while playing on our fields, to the lightweight alloys and composites of today with a nearly can't-miss sweet spot. Enjoy...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Albert Pujols: Hall of Famer On and Off the Field

60 Minutes will be running a story on Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals tonight at 7:00 on CBS. Widely considered to be the best player in the game and a sure-fire Hall of Famer, Pujols has also made a tremendous impact on the lives of thousands of people in need. He is passionate about helping both the poor people of his native Dominican Republic and those, like his own daughter, born with Down Syndrome.

This guy is the real deal. He is a role model both on the field and off the field.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dynamic Stretching for Baseball and Softball

Unless we seek out new information, youth coaches tend to do things the same way it was done "back in the day." Passing down the knowledge we have gained from years of experience is often beneficial to our players.

But a large part of instructing youth baseball and softball players is based on health and science. And when it comes to health and science, you don't want to be passing down information that is decades old.

One aspect of youth sports that has changed since we were playing is stretching. Doctors and researchers say there's more to it now than just tugging at a particular muscle for 20 seconds (static stretching). These days, dynamic stretching, or stretching while moving, is considered to be more beneficial for athletes preparing to play while reducing the risk of injury.

Here are a couple of good articles on dynamic stretching:

First is a Mom's Team article about the proper way to warm up for athletic competition - light aerobic exercise followed by dynamic stretching. The article goes on to say that static stretching is not only without benefit, but can also weaken muscles.

And here is an article by Yankees strength and conditioning coach, Dana Cavalea, about the goal of dynamic stretching - to get moving and activate the nervous system and muscle groups, not only single muscles.

To see some dynamic stretching in action, below is a video of the 2009 Wake Forest baseball team preparing to play. This was actually followed by another clip of the same team going through a static stretching routine. So they have not abandoned it altogether.