The Road Traveled To Poor Arm Health
In the summer of 1986, I set my mind and heart toward getting ready for the 1987 college baseball season. I didn’t pitch much in 1986 and I knew I was going to have to change some of the things I did in order to get back on the mound.
My velocity had dropped a lot since high school (from 90 to 84). I figured the best way to gain that velocity back was to get stronger and hit the weight room. This is the standard line from high school and college coaches to pitchers who don’t throw hard enough, “If you hit the weight room, then you’ll throw harder.”
That is exactly what I did and I got strong. I went from 190 lbs to almost 225 lbs. My legs got stronger and my entire upper body started to look like a fitness model. (Don’t laugh; I got offers!) I did everything in the weight room to get stronger. My diet was excellent and by the start of the new school year I was ready to go.
The biggest problem I had was that I was so tight from getting bigger, it affected my ability to be loose and let my arm act like a whip as it had in high school. I used to just rear back and throw. Hitters were actually at a disadvantage when I was on the mound. Now, I’d put so much muscle on I couldn’t move like I used to. I would have looked great on stage posing, but I was not very good throwing a baseball.
Within the first week of practice, I felt a bad pull in my throwing shoulder. It turned out to be a rotator cuff tear and I lost my season. My senior year was gone and so were my chances of playing pro ball.
To say I was devastated would be an understatement. I was in my room alone when I got the test results of the tear, and I just started bawling. My roommate’s girlfriend came to check on me and told me everything would work out for the best. She was being kind at the moment, but how right she was.
When the end of the season comes about, one of the main comments players will make is to say they’re going to hit the weight room and get stronger. This is such a ubiquitous term used by athletes that I feel players simply say it because everyone else does. It’s like needing a new car and saying, “Oh, anything will do; I just need a car.”
As my friend Ron Wolforth always says, “Hope is not a plan.” It’s important to have specific goals in mind to better your skill set. Working on strengthening your body is important, but what area is the most important. Legs? Arms? Core?
If you don’t have a plan, then you don’t know where any of your work will take you in terms of reaching your goals. Shutting down throwing and just hitting the weight room is a terrible plan for pitchers. Statements such as, “I have to rest my arm,” are a big fallacy. You actually need to throw A LOT in order to build up strength.
To stop throwing only makes coming back more difficult. Your throwing arm is like a muscle. You take care of the muscle, but don’t we use our muscles all day, every day? Your arm is no different. You need to build up your arm to handle the inherent stress that goes on during a game. Stress is pitching in games and not doing the right work to lead up to it will cause the arm to break down at some point. Stress on a pitcher’s arm is playing a full fall, winter, and spring schedule without a break, and to continuously pitch in summer league games. This might sound ridiculous but it’s the best way to get better in building arm strength, improving your breaking ball, or getting the recovery and balance you need after 8 months of practice and games.
If you are in high school or are a travel ball player (or the parent of one), then you know the amount of games that are played.
At Throwzone Academy, our summer training classes help build back strength and endurance to prepare for the next upcoming school year and season. Once our summer training ends, we continue with weekly and nightly classes for those who are looking to improve all aspects of their throwing whether on the mound or in the field.
The strength work we do is conducive to the explosive nature that occurs during baseball a game, short bursts of speed and power. Our arm care and velocity program has no rival in terms of building velocity, spin, and movement as well as a first class post-arm care protocol.
Our training goes on all year with our players. Unfortunately, coaches – and note that I am a coach for a local high school and I hear this firsthand with our own staff, which makes me cringe at times – feel that they have the answers when it comes to improving their player’s skill set. Maybe they get better by putting on their uniform all the time, but they don’t get better at building the skills that will make them attractive to colleges recruiters and professional scouts, particularly pitchers.
We work specifically with players in achieving their goals. If that goal is to play in college, then we guide them down the path that makes them attractive to college coaches. If a player is doing things on their own to improve, then we’ll reach out to college coaches and let them know about that player, if we feel the fit is right.
Throwzone Academy is a leader in improving the skills of the players working with us. We find out what a player’s goals are and give them the best plan we know of get them there. Warren and I have been doing this for years and we’ll keep doing it to help those who truly want to get better. If the goal is to keep the player healthy, we can identify those points where the body goes through its motion and work to reduce the risk of injury so that they throw pain free.
Our summer training is ongoing and there are spots available for the month of July. If summer is ending, it’s the perfect time to train!
Don’t make the mistake I made by “just hitting the gym” and you will become better on the baseball diamond. You need a plan to become the best player you or your child can be – and we can assist you with that plan!
Until next time…