Arm Care for Baseball Players: Time to shut it Down!

It’s November, and you/your player has been throwing competitively since February…it’s time to give their arm a rest. I’ve spoken to high school players this fall who, believe it or not, said they played over 150 games this year. For a teenager, this is a lot to ask of their bodies. Especially when you’re talking about their arm health. Have you thought about how much a youth baseball player should throw in a year? How much rest they should have? With such a high number of arm injuries, we should take a minute to truly understand arm care for baseball players.

Arm injuries in youth baseball

Research has shown that the major factor in youth arm injuries is overuse. Combine that with poor physical conditioning and poor mechanics and you have the recipe for a season ending arm injury. We’ve been playing hard since Late February (this article was published in November), it seems like this is an easy decision to make…it’s time to shut down your arm! I tell my players at the end of every fall baseball season to shut their arms down for at least 6-8 weeks or November-December.

This is a perfect time to work on your physical conditioning and address the second factor leading to arm injuries.

As the off-season progresses into late December and January, this is a great time to refine your mechanics with drill work to address the third factor leading to arm injuries…poor mechanics.

Check out my fall article from last year for tips on what to do in the off-season HERE.

How many innings should I pitch in a year?

The first thing you should know is that we think of your amount of throwing on a cumulative scale. The amount only resets for the year only after adequate rest described above. That being said, the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) position statement on throwing for youth pitchers states that a youth pitcher should not throw over 100 innings per year and no competitive pitching for 4 months.

It may be hard to count pitches and competitive effort to gauge the amount thrown per year. However, it is very easy to track how many innings you/your player threw in games across spring, summer and fall ball.

Now, I totally agree with this stance of 100 innings per year unless I was coaching Madison Bumgarner who threw 217+ innings this year who led the SF Giants to a championship. He is an absolute freak but a well conditioned one!

In conclusion…

Everything is relative and we need to have a solid understanding of of the risk factors of arm injuries. Don’t pitch and play catcher on the same day, don’t throw 20 innings in a weekend tournament…The bottom line is that kids need to rest their arms for a portion of the year. Mix in another competitive sport, work on other parts of your athleticism during the year with basketball, Football, Wrestling or track. If you truly love the game and are obsessed with it (like I am), keep playing, but be smart about it. Get in the best athletic shape of your life and work on your mechanics in the off-season.

Are you thinking about Offseason Conditioning? Check out this program for high school players: Baseball Offseason Conditioning Program

Do you need training aids for the off-season? Check out the CBI Online Store.

Until next time,

Stay on plane…

About CoachK

Owner and head instructor at Colonial Baseball Instruction. CBI serves Southern VA with baseball camps and private lessons. CBI also developed My Coach: Baseball App and sells a variety of baseball training aids.

Corey says:

This was an interesting read, I’m a high school senior and my coach is a huge believer in this. He always ends our fall practices right around the beginning of November and encourages us to keep up with our lifting and conditioning but to stop the throwing, and so far there have been very minimal arm injuries. So it’s good to know that he knows what he’s talking about.

CoachK says:

Good deal Corey, glad to your you guys are on the same page. Use this time to get in the best shape of your life. The last thing you want to do is say come spring time is “I wish I could have done more in the off-season.” Best of luck to you.

Kyle Nelson says:

Great article coach! MLB pitchers are shutting it down right now. Probably getting their bodies ready for their offseason throwing programs.

One of the common themes I’ve heard from college coaches is they love multi sport athletes. They know how to compete because they do it all year long. They get how to be a part of a team, and they are less likely to break down from overuse.

Hit it right on the head coach!

Kyle Nelson
Cornerstone Coaching Academy

CoachK says:

Thanks Kyle…to add to your comment… One comment that I heard from Harold Reynolds from the MLB network was about the rise of injuries in the MLB. His theory is that we are in a generation of “one sport” kids. He said that playing other sports, like football or soccer, you learn how to fall. I though this was a fascinating point. Have you ever seen a kid that just knows how to “lay out” for a ball? Then you see the kid that is reluctant to dive and when he does he hits the ground hard and does not know how to roll out of it.