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Are you burning out your pitchers?


Softball fan
Feb 28, 2008
Montreal, Canada
Note: This is an email I sent to my newsletter's subscribers about a year ago. I thought it was relevant to post it again considering the new post how much practice you should do with a pitcher.

Enjoy the read.

'Are you burning your pitchers out?

I just got my hands on a very interesting article that deals
with overuse injures of softball pitchers. It was published in
Training and Conditioning Magazine a few weeks ago. This is the
official professional magazines of athletic trainers. These are
the people that works with sports teams and take care of injured

Colleagues of mine who works with the Montreal Canadiens NHL Ice
Hockey Club gave me a copy of the article.

The information presented is very important so I thought I would
share with you the key messages contained in the article.
Here are the key messages:

- We assume that softball pitchers didn't have to worry about
overuse injuries. That's not true.

- Recent studies have shown that the forces produces by the
windmill pitching motion is similar to the baseball pitching
motion and does take a toll on a softball pitcher's arm.

- Many studies conducted in the last few years have revealed that
softball pitchers are subject to a high incidence of overuse

- Two main causes of chronic injuries in softball pitchers: poor
mechanics and overuse. It's totally possible for a pitcher to
never get injured if you do three things: (1) teach them proper
pitching mechanics , (2) manage their use (pitching time) and
recovery and (3) complete injury prevention training through
softball-specific conditioning.

- Poor pitching mechanics can lead to injury even at young age.

- First thing you should work on with pitchers is to make a
perfect circle with proper shoulder rotation. Most injuries are
caused by an improper circle.

- Improper hip rotation has been shown to be another common cause
of injury. The biggest flaw seen in pitchers is how their hips
move when they release the ball.

- Lack of follow-through is also an important source of the
stress on the shoulder and can also injuries.You also have to
watch the follow-through on the various pitches as many causes
very high levels of stress in the forearm, arm and shoulder.

- Another often overlooked factor is bad overhead throwing
mechanics in pitchers - especially those playing another
position. Often, this combines with a lot of underhand pitching
leads to chronic injuries.

- You should keep count of pitches like they do in baseball. When
reaching 100-120 pitches in a game, you should have your bullpen

- You should NOT throw every day (practices or games). You should
give at least a day or two off after a big weekend or a lot of
pitching on the weekends.

- You should NOT overuse a pitcher every weekend (like pitching
3-4 games in a weekend). It's ok once or twice a year but doing
it consistently will quickly wear down the shoulders and you are
asking for trouble down the road.

- You also have to be careful with athletes playing other sports
like volleyball or tennis for example where there is a lot of
overhead motions. If this is the case, you should consider
limiting the amount of pitching a bit to prevent injuries.
- Common overuse injuries in pitchers are in the rotator cuff and
in the biceps.

- Signs and symptoms of overuse injuries: nagging pain, fatigue,
decreased performance, change in mechanics, loss of velocity or
control and changed in pitcher's attitude.

- Commonly diagnosed injuries: biceps tendonitis, rotator cuff
strains, impingement syndrome (inflammation of rotator cuff
tendons). Overuse injuries can also affect the lower back and the

- You should differentiates normal soreness (temporary stiffness
from doing work) and bad soreness (pain) that causes discomfort.
Watch for pitchers' body language or facial expressions - these
are good indicators of discomfort or injuries. Many athletes
don't want to tell their coach because they don't want to be
taken out of the line-up.

- Main treatment for overuse injuries: rest and proper treatment.
if it is minor enough and you are in the middle of the season,
just cut down on pitches and provide plenty of rest. You should
also ice after every game or pitching practice.

- The use of anti-inflammatories is also recommended but should
be done under the supervision a qualified medical professional.
- Doing exercises in a pool is recommended for good shoulder
conditioning or rehab (make sure not to do too much swimming as
it is hard on the shoulders).

- Massage is another element that can be integrated in a
treatment or injury prevention plan. Make sure you work with a
qualified and registered massage therapist. They can improve
circulation, re-align the tissue, and enhance muscular
relaxation, which promotes healing.

- Strength training is very important in preventing softball
pitching injuries.

- Training the core is very important. The core is the lower part
of the trunk musculature (hips, buttocks, abdominal, obliques,
lower back, etc.). Lack of strength and flexibility in the core
often results in over-compensating and injuries show up elsewhere
like in the shoulder.

- Almost every softball athlete has a deficient core.

- Single leg work help make pitchers stronger and is very sport-
specific. Doing body-weight deadlifts with one leg, single-leg
squats, and that type of exercises is highly beneficial.

- Tubing exercises is also very beneficial for strengthening the

- Explosive strength is also something pitchers should work on
because from the start of the pitching motion to release takes
less than a second.

- Off-season conditioning for pitchers is a must.

- Work with overweighted and underweighted balls is beneficial
for injury prevention and gaining speed.

- There are traditional exercises you should avoid like overhead
lifts. They are not really recommended for pitchers. Also, there
should be less emphasis on bench press (don't eliminate entirely
but do much less of it). There should be more focus on body-
weight push-up variations.

- You should focus more on pulling exercises and do less pushing
exercises (do more rows and less presses).

- References used for this articles can be found at:

What I think....

WOW.. that's a lot of powerful information. I agree 100% with
everything in this article because I have been preaching a lot of
it for years!

I have seen too many dominating young pitchers just disappear of
the circulation due to overuse injuries. It starts slowly and
over a few years, they completely disappear because they can't
pitch anymore.

I am sure you have seen plenty of those cases too.
I really want you to take action and think on the long-term
health of yourself (if you are a pitcher) or your pitchers (coach
or parents). There is no point at over-utilizing a pitcher if she
won't be able to compete down the road due to overuse injuries.

Take your 'pitching' game to the next level!
'Your Softball Peak Performance Coach'

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