The holiday season is the perfect time of year for your players to rest their brains and their bodies. But too many players and coaches freak out and think rest will hurt their skill. Instead, discover 4 ways to help your players rest their overworked arms.
If you really want to have players strong enough to finish strong, then make sure you’re following this 4-step recipe for resting your player’s arms.
I work with tons of players of all ages and skill levels who complain about sore arms. Some are pitchers and some are position players, but all have sore arms.
Sore arms lead to weak throws and eventually injured arms, and in most cases, they’re preventable! The holidays are the perfect time of year to rest your player’s arms – and I mean TOTALLY rest! No “kind of” throwing or “easy” pitching work outs. Rest means rest.
Once a player’s arm gets sore, it’s vulnerable to injury. And while we don’t really feel like we make our players throw too much (either overhand or underhand), there are some important throwing keys to remember:
- Softballs Weigh a Lot – a 12-inch softball is not only 3 inches bigger than a baseball, but it also weighs 2 ounces more! That might not sound like much but combined with the weaker shoulder-joint muscles that girls and women have compared to boys and men, it’s a LOT. If you coach younger players who have weaker shoulder muscles that 3 inches and 2 ounces can make a HUGE impact over time!!
- Shoulder Muscles Aren’t Very Strong – While shoulders have lots of muscles, those muscles are all activated whenever the hand is above the shoulder – as in throwing. This means that every time a player throws a ball overhand, her shoulder muscles are taxed to their limits, which isn’t healthy and can lead to lots of shoulder soreness and injury.
- Overuse Leads to Injury – the biggest misconception about pitching is that it’s “natural” and doesn’t hurt the arm. What’s natural is that your arm hangs down at your side. What IS NOT natural is that you do a powerful, ballistic motion over and over and over again, over years and years, with little to no rest. Overuse is not natural and leads to injury…whether it’s overhand or underhand!
So while you’re planning your practices over this holiday break, here are 4 things to keep in mind and include in every single practice you hold in 2017:
- Every Throw Hurts – Too often we only think that hard throws overhand, or hard thrown pitches are bad for our player’s arms, when in fact, ALL THROWS do some damage. Your player’s arms only have so many throws in them and too many of us use 90% of those throws in the first 5 practices of the year. Take it easy. Let your players work their way into throwing full speed and full distance, and then limit those throws since they’re the hardest on their arms. Always keep in mind that every throw hurts their arm in some way, it just might not show up right away, and it just might not be permanent. But think of throws as a limited item, and use them wisely in practice!
- Less is More – Based on #1, it makes sense to have your players throw less to help keep their arms healthy. Your pitchers don’t need to throw 200 pitches every single workout, and your fielders don’t need to throw 100 balls every practice. Have your players throw less quantity and more high quality throws and their arms will be stronger, longer! An example of a Less is More pitching workout is listed to the right…75 pitches including warmups focusing on quality of each pitch versus total pitch quantity.
- Every Ball Doesn’t Need to Be Thrown – Now I’m talking about your infielders who we love to pepper with groundballs, asking them to make throws all over the infield. On one side of our brain we feel all these groundballs are necessary in order to have solid infielders – while the other side of our brain thinks every groundball must be attached to a throw. And that’s where we hurt our player’s arms. Every grounder doesn’t have to be thrown. In fact, stick an empty bucket on each side of the infield behind your SS and behind your Second Baseman. Then hit groundballs to your infielders and have them simply toss the ball back toward the empty bucket on the first 4 grounders and only throw the 5th. This will still allow you to hit tons of groundballs and let your players keep their arms fresh.
- Change the Distance – Instead of always placing your players in their positions using the standard 60 foot bases, try instead to occasionally shorten the distances. Place the bases at 40 field instead of 60. Not only will this help shorten the throws players have to make (helping save their arms) but the shorter distances will also force the defense to play quicker. Shortening the field helps your infielders play quicker against bunters and slappers, and helps your outfielders attack and get rid of the ball faster. Plus, it makes practice more engaging and challenging for your players, which helps increase their focus and raise their skill level!
Remember that your player’s arms only have so many throws in them (overhand AND underhand), so use those throws wisely!
For more help with your team’s Throwing (and Pitching Workouts) – check out the following:(if you’re already a VAULT CLASSIC TM member you get these 2 eClinics plus ALL the Drills FREE – they’re already in your account!)
- Pitching Workouts: Travelball & High School Edition (eClinic)
- Pitching Workouts: College Edition (eClinic)
- Fielding and Throwing Drills (eDrills)