How to Keep Your Pitcher’s Arm Healthy
Are you coaching a youth baseball team and want to make sure you keep your pitcher’s arm healthy? If you are thinking about it then you are already moving in the right direction. Since I was a pitcher through college, I thought I knew how to properly take care of an arm, but a lot has changed in 20 years. Luckily, I know some great Physical Therapists at TheraCORE who have helped me understand how to really take care of a young pitcher’s arm. It really comes down to just three things.
Warm-up, Workload, Rest
Warm-up - When I played baseball, I always threw a baseball to warm up my arm. I will talk about total throws next under Workload, but if you don’t want to waste a high percentage of your pitcher’s total throws just to get warmed up, then consider using a dynamic warm-up to get your arm and whole body ready to play. You can also have your pitchers do band exercises to warm up their arms prior to throwing.
Workload – For a while now, most youth leagues have used pitch counts to limit the workload on a young pitcher’s arm. I have come to learn limiting the total number of throws a player makes in a game or a practice should be used along with pitch counts in order to maintain a healthy arm. Youth pitchers should limit their total throws to 125 in a day. If a 10 year old has a max pitch count of 75, think about how quickly he will get to 125 total throws if you include pre-game warm-up throws, pre-game warm-up pitches, in-between inning warm-up pitches and in-game pitches. You should also take into consideration the number of throws that will be made if he is playing another position during the same day that he pitches.
Rest – If you are coaching a travel baseball team in the Midwest, then the majority of the games your team plays are in weekend tournaments. It can be a lot of fun to play 4 to 6 games in 2 days, but it can definitely make it tough for a coach to follow the recommended rest guidelines for a pitcher. Per the guidelines, if a 7 to 14 year old pitcher throws more than 35 pitches on Saturday, then they should not throw any pitches on Sunday. Winning a youth baseball tournament should never come before the long term health of a young pitcher’s arm. Remember, proper rest includes taking at least two months off each year from throwing. Have your kids play a different sport during this time. It helps to protect their arm and makes them an overall better athlete.
Recommended pitch count/rest - http://m.mlb.com/pitchsmart/pitching-guidelines/
Brad Goebbert, CFO