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.

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