CSULB Coach Cautions Parents: Raise Men, Not Just Ballplayers

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ve probably figured out by now that Lefty plays for a travel ball organization called MIT. What you might not know is that while MIT officially stands for Mentoring, Instruction and Training, my wife and some of the other MIT moms often joke that it should really stand for “Men in Training” (because of the important life lessons our kids are learning through baseball.) Looks like the MIT moms are onto something . . . at least that’s what CSULB’s pitching coach, Mike Steele, would say. Mike, who was an All-American pitcher and outfielder in college and a 29th-round draft pick and 3-time All-Star in the minors, has spent the last 10 years as a pitching coach—first at Michigan State University and then within the Pittsburg Pirates organization. Now that he’s at CSULB (go Dirtbags!) I reached out to him and asked for one piece of advice he could give to parents of youth baseball players. And his no-nonsense response went a lot deeper than that…
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Young Player’s Arm is Sore…Now What?

Having a sore arm is a part of baseball. Throwing a baseball is an inherently difficult and unnatural motion. And if you have a baseball player, there will most likely be a time when you hear, "My arm is sore." We can spend hours (if not days or weeks) discussing important topics like prevention, training and overuse. As a parent of a youth baseball player, I know it's my responsibility to be well-informed and his biggest advocate when it comes to injury prevention. But, what I want to know today is what do I do if I hear Lefty state that four letter word...sore. I've already heard some of his teammates use the word. So I reached out to Dr. Alex. My friend, Dr. Alexander Espinoza, graduated from UCLA medical school and, for the past 15 years, has practiced family medicine with a strong focus on prevention of disease and sports injuries. He is a member of the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine and someone I would entrust with Lefty's arm and overall health. I asked …
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MLB Announces “Pitch Smart”

USA Baseball and MLB team up to help young players reduce arm injuries by providing a comprehensive resource for safe pitching practices. Pitch Smart - A series of practical, age-appropriate guidelines to help parents, players and coaches avoid overuse injuries and foster long, healthy careers for youth pitchers. Baseball is a safe game to play at all ages, but research has shown that pitching too much — particularly at a young age — can increase a pitcher's risk of injury. GUIDELINES FOR YOUTH AND ADOLESCENT PITCHERS Each organization — whether it be a league, travel team, showcase or tournament — should establish rules to ensure that players must follow the guidelines while playing in that league. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the parent and the athlete to ensure that the player follows the guidelines for his age group over the course of a year — given that he will oftentimes play in multiple leagues with different affiliations covering different times of the ye…
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American Sports Medicine Institute Examines Pitchers Ages 9 – 14

Researcher at the American Sports Medicine Institute believe there is a the link between overuse at a young age and future injuries.  An ASMI study published in 2011 examined 481 pitchers ages 9-14, and then checked with them 10 years later. Those who threw more than 100 innings in a year were 3.5 times more likely to need elbow or shoulder surgery or were forced to stop playing baseball.

ASMI Position Statement for Youth Baseball Pitchers

With the rise in elbow and shoulder injuries in youth baseball pitchers, the adult community needs to take steps to prevent these injuries. Research points to overuse as the principle risk factor. Poor pitching mechanics also contribute to injury risk. Another suggested risk factor is poor physical fitness.

Throwing curveballs has been suggested as a risk factor, but the existing research does not support this concern. However, a youth pitcher may not ha…

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Rice Bucket – Build Arm Strength

#4 Rice Bucket - Build Arm Strength This is one of my favorite exercises because it does not involve weights so players of all ages can do this drill.  This drill will strengthen the wrists, forearms and shoulders.  Give this exercise a try with your player, you will be amazed at the strength developed in your wrists and forearms.

Rice bucket drills can be used as strength building exercises for ball players of all ages.  The following rice bucket drills will help pitchers develop the necessary wrist and forearm strength.

To perform these drills you will need a 5-10 gallon bucket, filled with 10-15 pounds of rice  (not cooked! - favorite disclaimer ever).  Each drill should be performed for approximately 30 seconds.

Finger Flicks Wrist Rotations Reverse Wrist Rotations Digs

Steven Ellis Baseball Pitching Tips

  Rice Rice Baby! Lefty Digging The Rice (Slippers Sold Separat…
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SHOULD YOU ICE?

#3 in my journey...Icing Arms At some point in  your young player's development, you will ask yourself the same question I did about a year and a half ago.  I wrote a post called Should Young Pitchers Ice Their Arms.   I contacted Dr. Alexander Espinoza, Board Certified in Family Medicine and Sports Medicine, with Medicine-In-Motion and posed the question, should young pitchers ice their arms? Dr. Espinoza stated "Icing in a young thrower has not been shown to prevent injuries.  We tend to use heat for muscles and ice for joints/ligaments/tendons.  That is why a pitcher puts on a jacket when he gets on base when it is cold to keep his muscles nice and loose.  On the other hand, he will ice his shoulder or elbow after the game to reduce swelling or treat an injury.  Most of what we see on T.V. when players ice is because they are on a specific treatment protocol for a specific injury, and not necessarily to prevent an injury.  I would suggest icing a young thrower's elbow and …
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How to Strengthen and Prevent Injury in Young Arms

THE PROPER CARE OF LEFTY'S ARM I care for Lefty's arm more than I ever cared for my own.  I am consumed by idea that his arm health is my responsibility at this age.  I am on a journey of discovery.  I spend a lot of time scouring the internet and speaking with coaches, players, physicians for information on age appropriate arm strengthening drills and injury prevention for Lefty.  How can I strengthen and prevent injury to this 10 year old arm? As I begin my research, here is one thing I have learned.  There are a lot of suggestions, but....there is no absolute guaranteed one way.  Every player is physically different.  Every arm is not the same.  What works for one, may not be ideal for another.  But, there must be some commonalities.  I want to find those.  I believe I can learn from the success of others. My journey includes speaking with current and former players.  What did they do? What worked for them?  Did they battle injury?  How did they overcome injuries? I a…
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