The topic of Pitcher’s shoulder injuries is a hot one. It’s unfortunately, a hot topic because it is so accepted within the softball culture.
We are a sport where pitch count, rest time for pitchers, or proper care of a pitcher’s arm is barely talked about. It’s almost like discussing the obvious elements of pitcher break down is taboo. If we don’t talk about it, it won’t happen. We do need to discuss this subject, if we educate ourselves on the setbacks and pitfalls maybe, just maybe they will slowly turn in a positive direction.
Here’s some scary statistics; Michigan State University promoted a study that included that 30% of all college athlete’s injuries are a result of some form of overuse. And 62% of that population are female athletes, with softball players ranked as one of the highest sports in that study (Science Daily Journal).
We know that softball pitchers have a tremendous amount of overuse in their pitching arm. The number of pitches a pitcher delivers during a game is incredible. The average number is 100 pitches per game. The problem is that pitchers are so used to the incredible amount of pitching they do they don’t find it unusual. And neither do coaches, parents or their teammates. We have no set guidelines as to an appropriate pitch count for pitchers to be throwing in the span of a game.
Cindy Bristow, a well-respected pitcher and pitching coach has suggested that pitchers under 12 should only throw 500 pitches a week, including practice, games and lessons. She also stipulated that pitchers aged above 12 should throw 700 pitches a week, again including practice, lessons and games. Some doctors have stated that number is still too high and not individualized enough to a player’s past injuries or pitching form.
I read that at the end of Monica Abbotts pitching college pitching career she logged in over 10,000 pitches.
So how do we start to decrease the chance of injury in your pitchers career? Here’s some easy ways to start
-Start keeping track of pitch count throughout the week.I know this sounds drastic but you may need to decrease the number of pitches by 10 or 20 a week. By decreasing her pitch count by 10-20 a week your decreasing it by 40-80 pitches a month, over a year that’s 480-960 pitches a year.
-Start taking care of your pitchers arm. There’s very little that is controllable in softball so take advantage of the things you can. A pitcher should be on a complete Arm Care program to keep her rotator cuff and the surrounding muscle groups strong. Your pitcher should be icing after games and have a mobility program for her shoulders.
-One of the largest contributors to injury is poor form. In fact various doctors list it before oversuse. Pitchers should be constantly checking in with instructors on form and technique.
-Don’t allow your pitcher to continue pitching while injured. In 2014,Max Preps wrote an article about the top four high school pitchers in the United States. The only negative aspect was that all three were suffering from serious arm issues. They were so poor that three out of the four were missing their senior year so they could play in college. All four of the pitchers felt some type of pain prior to their injury going full blown. There is always signs of a possible injury, do not ignore them!
Your daughter’s most valuable asset as a pitcher is her arm, she must be healthy to be a valuable part of a team. Let’s do whatever is in our ability to keep her healthy.