How pitchers can prevent tired or stale arms
Today's guest post is by Marty Schupak, a youth coach with a master's degree in physical education from Arizona State University.
At one time or another, a pitcher can have a tired or stale arm. This can happen on the youth level just as it happens on the professional level. In youth baseball, pitchers are even more susceptible, especially during All-Star time, if pitching rules are relaxed and pitchers are able to pitch more innings.
There are a number of things a manager and parents can do during the season as not to burn out or even possibly injure a pitcher's arm.
Loosening up is very important before a pitcher throws one pitch. The expression; "warm up to pitch, don't pitch to warm up" is very relevant. When the great relief pitcher for the New York Yankees, Mariano Rivera, is called on to pitch, he goes through a stretching and loosening up routine for 5 or 10 minutes before he even picks up a ball.
During the regular season, managers, coaches and even parents should pay more attention to a player's pitch count rather than the number of innings pitched. Every player is different, but the manager should use some sought of guideline to determine how many pitches are enough for a particular player.
A few years ago the American Sports Medicine Institute did a study sending surveys to orthopedic surgeons and coaches around the country. They recommended for 11 to 12 year old pitchers a maximum of 68 pitches with two days recovery. This might seem very conservative. The study also stated that conditioning of the arm and entire body can reduce injury.
Another issue facing the youth baseball pitcher is duel leagues or playing for his school and an outside league. It is always a good idea for the manager to make contact with the school coach. Let him know that you understand that the school team is the priority and that you want to be aware of how much the player is pitching. Responsible school coaches should be able to give you the amount of innings and pitch count for a player through out the season.
Baseball seasons are increasing in length at the youth league level. The combination of All-Star games and the ever-popular autumn baseball season increase potential harm to a pitcher's arms. Loosening up and stretching are a must. It is up to the manager, coaches and parents to look out for the long term interest in their player, rather than over pitching him to win one particular game.