%PM, %22 %745 %2012 %12:%Aug

“PUT ME IN COACH, I’M READY TO PLAY”

Written by Chris Nawrocki, PT, MS OCS, Cert MDT
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TAP evaluation of high school aged pitcherCoach my arm hurts”.  “Are you feeling ok, can you throw one more inning?”  The scene of seeing a young baseball player complaining of arm pain to their coach or parents is all too familiar.  Not many people are well-trained in HOW to handle a baseball player complaining of pain.  As physical therapists we have seen the alarming rise of sports injuries especially in younger kids.  Especially concerning is the sharp trend of overhead throwing athletes developing serious tendonitis, dead arm syndrome or worst of all the “Tommy John injury”.  I believe a lot of these throwing problems can be avoided with sound education to the athlete, parent and coaches.

Baseball is a passion of mine and I have helped lead our company in developing a throwing video analysis program.  We call our program TAP (Thrower’s Athletic Performance).  We have also expanded into doing community talks and educating local coaches and parents on what is so special about throwing that can lead to minor and major injuries.  Prevention is always the best model (something our whole healthcare system is sorely lacking).  So here goes my two cents on helping our baseball athletes.

The throwing motion is a very complicated skill that requires our muscles to be flexible but strength is also needed.  Finding the optimal balance between these two opposing parts of the throwing motion is required.  When one side of the pendulum is over-dominating, injuries occur. 

  • Follow the USA Baseball Pitch Count Guidelines.
  • Kids need to learn proper pitching mechanics and get them consistently reinforced.
  • Avoid using a radar gun.  Kids need to learn to throw strikes and change speed and location.  You tell a kid to throw harder based   on a gun that is all his mind will think of.  Statistics show throwing hard every pitch is one of the variables of injury occurrence.
  • Play another sport.  Using different muscle groups in different ways will avoid the repetitious nature of abusing one       movement.
  • Do not throw when fatigued.  Stats show injury rates increase by 3600% when athletes continue to pitch when physically fatigued.  When they say they have nothing left (or even before), take them out.
  • Do not throw a curveball until you can shave.  Stresses placed on the shoulder and elbow too early lead to early injury.
  • Do not pitch on overlapping teams.  Communication amongst coaches, parents and players is a must.  Ask your player if they have pitched for another team before you throw them.  Rest them several days before a big tournament.
  • Follow the USA Baseball Pitch Count Guidelines (Yes I know I repeated it, follow it!).

Team huddle

Have your team well conditioned and mechanically sound.  When the kid comes up to you and says “Put me in coach I’m ready to play”, you can smile and say “let’s go” with the utmost confidence because you prepared them well.

Play Ball!

Chris Nawrocki, PT, MS, OCS

Cert MDT

Chris leads our TAP program and further information can be Throwers Athletic Performancefound on our website at www.pt-cpr.com

 

 

 

 

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