Who is available to pitch today? Who is going to start on the mound? How many pitches can they throw? How many innings can they throw? How many innings would we like them to get on the mound this year? These are legitimate questions that run through the mind of professional pitching coaches and managers on a daily basis.
With arms breaking, major injuries occurring, across the nation at an alarming rate, from youth baseball to professional baseball, experienced baseball minds are working through this daily to try and figure out how to slow it down and get it back to where it used to be. And word is, from those in the professional game, that things are starting to show some signs of improvement. From more rigorous arm care to better approaches on work loads, the number of injuries, though still too high, is showing signs of improvement.
With that said, it’s become an unfortunate truth that the biggest number of major arm injuries are in those who have the word “Teen” in their age. So what is the difference? Professionals throw way more innings than amateur pitchers do. They throw way harder than 99% of amateur pitchers. They throw the baseball dang near every day for 9 straight months from the start of their off season throwing programs in the winter until the end of their regular seasons in September or October.
The difference is…
– Consistent Daily Arm Care.
– Consistent Daily work on keeping their delivery on point.
– Consistent Daily work in-between appearances.
– Consistent Daily strength training.
They are consistently CONDITIONING their bodies to be prepared for the demand they are putting on their arms and bodies. Yes, sometimes even they need to give their body a day off, but unless they have endured a major injury which requires them to take complete rest, they work DAILY to prepare. And since this is their job, there is ample time each and every day for them to do this.
So, if that is how a professional player prepares for the demands the game puts on their body, how does this compare to how a youth/amateur player prepares? Truth, they can’t compare. With the daily schedule of a young persons life, it just doesn’t allow for it, plus, mentally, they just aren’t there yet in life. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just the process of life.
That leads to the next point. If professionals, mature men physically, train daily (arm care routines, catch routines, long toss routines, strength training routines and bullpen/mound work routines) to prepare for 1-2 starts a week where they will throw approx. 80-110 pitches **IF THAT’S WHAT THEY ARE CONDITIONED FOR** and relief pitchers prepare for 2-3 appearances SPREAD THROUGHOUT a week where each time they are available to pitch, and how many pitches they will be allowed to throw, is determined by when and how many pitches they threw in their last appearance, THEN WHY ARE OUR YOUNG ONES BEING PUSHED TO THROW THE SAME AMOUNT OF THROWS/PITCHES THAT A PROFESSIONAL TRAINS TO THROW, OVER A WEEKS PERIOD, IN A 2-3 DAY SPAN? Common sense says this doesn’t make sense. It makes even less sense when these young arms don’t train between appearances the way they need to be training to establish and maintain arm strength and stamina. Many young arms are pushed to the max over a weekend, then proceed to take 2 weeks off without regular mound work, regular catch play, regular long toss sessions and most likely limited to no arm care. BUT…These are kids. Their job is to be kids. Their job is not baseball. If there is a strong desire when they become teenagers to excel at this game, you will see them start to take on this type of work ethic on their own. These are the ones who will most often go further in the game, but let’s be real, this passion isn’t in all of them, and that’s OK.
For an arm to maintain arm strength and stamina, it needs consistent work. When an arm isn’t used, it will quickly start to lose those after about 3-4 days. For example, if a professional pitcher is forced to take some days off because of biceps tendonitis (fatigue), and that rest turns into a weeks time, they will need to follow a 2-3 week throwing routine before they are allowed to pitch in another game. They need to build the strength and stamina back up. If that rest were to turn into a longer period than a week, then you could be looking at that rehab throwing routine lasting longer and longer. Each day that the arm sits idle, strength and stamina is lost.
Along those lines, here is another article I wrote on “Conditioning a Pitcher’s Arm”.
Let’s also discuss effort. This is a great benefit of long toss. To throw the ball a long distance and with command, you need to use your body properly and with extreme effort, effort like which you would use while competing. Long toss routines take time. Good ones can last 20 minutes. But what we often see are programs that ignore the importance of catch play and limit their players to 5-10 minutes of catch as they feel it’s not as important as the other things on the agenda. To be honest, the first 25-30 minutes of a workout should be dedicated to preparing the body and arm to work.
So we have a lack of arm care, a lack of consistent catch and long toss play, a major lack of quality mound work (these should be performed at a high effort also) and a lack of weekly game action with competitive pitches, but then push immature arms to the max for a short period of time during an inconsistent weekly/bi-weekly/monthly schedule, and we wonder why there’s a major problem with arm injuries in youth arms?? We have to educate ourselves parents and coaches and turn this knowledge into common sense. I don’t care how big or strong looking a young man appears, we are talking about tendons, ligaments and soft tissue. Let’s smarten up.
Every day, every week, we should be asking ourselves, what are they conditioned for?