A Review by Cassie Reilly-Boccia
What’s up AW geniuses. Recently Coach Brandon and I hopped in the car and drove up to Boston, MA to learn more about baseball pitching. If you know anything about Brandon or myself you’d know that neither of us played baseball. At least I have been involved in the realm having played softball my entire life (still, the art of overhand pitching is quite foreign to me). Brandon, on the other hand, has been invested in football – a far distance away on the spectrum of baseball pitching. With that being said, Brandon and I as strength and conditioning coaches have a responsibility to our athlete’s movements and needs. Many of our male athletes this fall are baseball pitchers, in particular those associated with the Male ALPHA pitching program that spans six months throughout the year. It is thus imperative that our entire staff become entrenched in the fundamental needs of our athletes in their sport and position. Not for just the interest of teaching them, but also so that we can support Coach Nick’s pitching program with an educated ‘think tank’ on these topics. After becoming aware of this pitching performance seminar with professionals such as Mike Reinold, Brent Porciau, and Lance Wheeler, it was a no-brainer to take the day to improve ourselves as movement specialists. The purpose of this article is to recap what we learned at the seminar, specifically Mike Reinold’s talk, in order to shed light on the new research being presented within the world of baseball pitching as well as continue to educate our community of professionals, athletes, and parents on the WHY behind what we do what we do at Athletes Warehouse. So, without further ado, enjoy the following recap:
Talk Title: Setting the Foundation
About the speaker:
- Was a prodigy of Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, AL (insert link of Andrews clinic)
- Won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox as their athletic trainer
- Now works as a PT @ [Insert place of employment]
Key points on the rise of injury in the sport of baseball:
- Since ’05-’08 the incidence of injury in baseball pitchers has increased 37%
- There has been a 10x increase in youth injury rate
- 193% increase in UCL injuries in New York from ’02-’11
So, why is this happening? There is more research going on about training, we all know not to ‘specialize’ in order to avoid an overuse injury yet we are seeing injuries go through the roof. What about velocity? In the last 10-15 years, the average velocity of an MLB fastball has increased from 85mph to 93mph. So, the question remains, are we in the velocity era of baseball pitching or the injury era of baseball pitching?
Reinold’s Facts about Baseball pitching injury:
- Injuries correlate to 1 thing and 1 thing only: Overuse
- By pitching <100 innings in a season, you can decrease your chance of injury by 3x
- By pitching <80 pitches an outing, you can decrease your chance of injury by 4x
- By pitching less than 8 months out of the year, you can decrease your injury rate by 5x
Important delineation: Is playing catch the same thing as pitching? NO. Overuse injuries are a combination of quantity and intensity. By having a catch with a friend every day, despite the quantity being high, the intensity is fairly low. Thus, having a catch will be exponentially less stressful than pitching with intent each day.
Creating a plan to solve the problem: A baseball pitcher has four aspects that contribute to their success: (1) Age & Maturity, (2) Arm Care, (3) Strength and Conditioning, (4) Mechanics
When taking into account all four of these aspects to managing a healthy and effective baseball pitcher, we can then begin to translate this model to other sports. Key takeaways: Always keep in mind the athlete’s physical maturity as well as psychological maturity, chronological age does not tell the entire story. You can be the strongest athlete in the world but if you lack the proper arm care you will only be generating tremendous force on a system that can’t handle or support the impact. Strength and conditioning is a necessity when it comes to developing any skilled athlete. With this industry, it is important to seek out individuals who are able to take a scientific based and professional approach to safely and effectively managing the youth athlete. Finally, mechanics which are governed by the world of physics, dictate the overarching principles that we teach for each pitcher to reduce the risk of injury and improve performance.