It is starting to turn colder here in Virginia, and my 12 y/o son still has a couple more weeks of baseball. Last night it was a real feel in the low 50’s and windy, and my lanky lefty had a hard time keeping his hand warm. I could tell it was affecting his pitching. Do you guys have any advice for cold weather pitching?
hand warmer in the back pocket and think warm thoughts.
lol I thought about that and will definitely go that route. My wife suggested a hand warmer like football players wear, but I assume that would not be allowed as there could be something inside that could be used to doctor the ball.
The problem is, you never know what the weather is going to be at this time of year. I know the weather is going to turn colder, but when I was living in New York City we would often get what is called Indian summer—sometimes more than one—where the temperature would shoot up into the high 70s, even to 85, for a couple of weeks at a time—baseball weather. I also remember one year when we were digging out from a snowstorm in early January, and suddenly the temperature shot up into the low 70s—one day it hit 76, and the next day there was a photo in the papers of a bunch of kids sitting around the lake in Central Park with their feet dipped in, and it was perfect weather for baseball. For three weeks we had that; then it turned cold again, and boy, what a letdown!
And I remember how as a kid Eddie Lopat used to play stickball in the snow. That was before he grew up and became a hot-weather pitcher—the hotter it was the better he liked it. So you never can tell. Meanwhile, if you want to keep on throwing, there are venues where you can work indoors, such as a school gym or an armory, where you won’t freeze your tush off.
There are cold weather pitchers and then there are warm weather pitchers. Rarely, if ever, can one be both. Now this doesn’t mean that one can’t pitch either way, it’s just a matter of effectiveness.
Cold weather requires a different pitch inventory for most pitchers. Those that have - say, pitches with movement, may be less effective in the cold. On the other hand, there are those pitchers that are completely out of their game during brisk weather regardless what their inventory is.
So, I wouldn’t feel too bad about your boy. In fact, he’s rather lucky that he’s not stretching one outing after another, worried about meeting his grocery money.
I’m going to give you some suggestions that I’ve encountered. These suggestions should be tempered with your son’s age, his physical tolerance(s), his life style, your budget, his playing schedule and where he is prior to game time, etc.
First, a healthy diet for breakfast of 70% carbs and 30% protiens is a start. Balance this with his normal eating habbits and his actual and potential food allergies.
Second, dress for the weather. Just be mindful of body’s movement. In that regard – movement, wearing thermal undergarments that restrict his movement can cause a shift in the body’s ability to progressively time his pitching, instead of smooth rythem for his age group.
Thrid, sometimes liniment rubs*, like Absorbine Jr*. DEEP HEAT*, and the like can warm shoulder and back muscles just enough to get your boy through the day. However, if he’s a reliver and sits on the bench without keeping active in some way, those liniments* will be for nothing.
(*)prior to using any liniment rub, test a small area on the body – usually the forearm, for any skin reactions. There are other considerations when using liniments, but that topic goes well beyond this reply to your question.
Fourth, a bullpen jacket is mandatory. A multilayered quilted jacket is good, but not ski jackets or other heavy winter jackets. A bullpen jacket should allow the pitcher to stay warm, but not to the point of sweating. The baseball bullpen jacket is expressly designed for pitchers – it breathes, keeps the back, shoulders and arms warm without the bulk. This jacket should also have a neck band that goes up to the bottom of the chin and ears and totally covers the back of the neck. A good bullpen jacket does not allow the pitcher to get a chill when taking it off. On the other hand, a pitcher that sits for a long time between innings, must move around and not allow his upper body to “tighen up”.
Fifth, keep the hands wrapped in a multilayered towel – not gloves. The multilayer effect is achieved by covering the hand with progessively wraping the towel around the hands. Gloves tend to have the hands sweat.
Sixth, and this may be out of reach for you and your boy, silk shirts are very warm when worn directly against the body. Placing a threequarter sleeve baseball jersey over that silk shirt provides remarkable warmth without restrictions. Today, modern clothing has made remarkable strides in providing the same thing – just be mindful of any restrictive movement.
Finally, being realistic about weather is just that – being realistic. When the temp drops to being REALLY COLD… well, it’s really cold! When this is the case, nothing that your boy will do will satisfy the equation.
However, his best pitches in order of effectiveness is his best bet. I have found that pitchers that can effectively locate pitches do better than those that depend purely on velocity or the junk stuff.
I hope this helps some. Dealing with cold weather is one of a pitching coach’s biggest headaches. Dependability and certain tendencies that a coach relies on all season long can be flip of the coin with a lot of pitchers during cold weather.
What i found useful when pitching in cold weather is a. obviously wear long sleeves, I prefer to wear them loose but it really is a matter of preference, and b. I took a light jog from dugout to foul pole between every inning and this helped keep me loose and warm. I did not put anything over my hands because, atleast for me, once my hands get sweaty they stay sweaty. Hope this helped.
ReMartin2 brought up a very good point about sweat. For him, under the conditions that he mentioned, his hands get sweat and then stay that way.
Sweat is the body’s natural function of cooling itself down. Sweat on the skin’s surface evaporates thus taking heat away from the body - on the surface. This process is the body’s way of maintaining a temperature that is somewhat normal under both physical and environmental conditions.
Now here’s the thing about sweat in cold weather - sweat alone is not given up by the body. Combined with sweat is body oil. When the two are combined, they leave a cold film on the surface of the body that can induce chills. In other words, the body is doing exactly what it’s suppose to be doing - reducing heat from exertion. But for pitchers, you want to regulate this bodily function the best you can - stay warm, but control the lost of heat during inactive rest, like on the bench after an appearance.
This is something that requires careful planning and preparation. Like ReMartin2 does, he jogs from dugout to foul pole between every inning to keep loose and warm. He doesn’t just sit. he tries to keep his body’s temperature somewhat on an even keel.
As your son gains experience with things that work and won’t work for him, he’ll settle into a pattern of behavior that suits him best.