With the holidays and the new year approaching, I thought this was a great time to put out a friendly reminder on the importance of “shutting down” the throwing arm for a period of time every year.
It seems that each year more and more coaches and organizations in youth baseball push for year round training, and for extending their competitive game schedules into months that were once reserved for other sports. As more players and parents get on board with this approach, it can create a fear of being left behind for those that do not train 12 months of the year. Many players and parents get the idea that year round throwing is important in strengthening a throwing arm, when in reality the opposite is true.
While certain types of year round training for baseball may be safe, the research is clear on the subject of throwing. One of the top risk factors in arm injuries that require surgery is year round throwing.
Here are a couple direct quotes from the American Sports Medicine Institute and Major League Baseball on the subject of reducing injury risk:
“Take off at least two consecutive months each year from all throwing. During this “active rest” period, you can do other physical activities and exercises, as well as continue proper nutrition. The UCL and body need time to recover and build strength, so the concept of annual periodization should include adequate rest from pitching.”
“ASMI also found that pitchers who competed more than 8 months per year were 5 times as likely to suffer an injury requiring surgery. Pitchers should refrain from throwing for at least 2-3 months per year and avoid competitive pitching for at least 4 months per year.” *Source: https://www.mlb.com/pitch-smart/risk-factors
You certainly can’t continue a development routine if you’re injured! So in other words, resting the throwing arm should be considered an instrumental part of a youth baseball player’s development, not a hindrance to it.
Let’s all work together to train our youth smart this year!