Elbow hurting

Chinmusic,
I agree. A classic, little or no baseball background type trying to make it look like he knows something about the game. Dangerous.

We just finished summer ball with the incoming sophmores. The coaches threw the kids 2 innings each and because we only had 2 or 3 mediocre pitchers that meant that one or more weak pitchers threw in each game. So we lost, but nobody’s arm was injured during meaningless summer ball.

The coaches had other obligations during the last two games of our “all-star” playoffs. We were coming through the loser’s bracket and had no chance of advancing. A parent who has never played baseball in his life coached the kids even though there were several of us with coaching backgrounds in the stands. Our best available pitchers threw 7 innings and we won. I probably would have pulled him after 5 and we probably would have lost.

The next game, two days later this guy throws his son who pitches the game of his life. The other team is getting as far up in the box as they can because although he used to throw slow his arm is obviously shot and he’s throwing really slow. They hit the ball hard but hit enough balls to people that they only score 4 runs off him through 5 innings. He goes out in the sixth and literally can barely get the ball to the plate. Somehow he gets through the sixth when he’s saved by a double play despite three walks. Meanwhile the kid who threw 7 innings two days ago and is one of the weakest hitters on the team plays shortstop for several innings because “he wanted it more than the others” i.e. was willing to play through a sore arm. Of course we lost, since a couple of our best hitters sat the bench until the last inning. In a game where we only got three hits and only three balls were hit hard one of the two singled and the other hit a line drive that was caught near the fence in their only plate appearance. They didn’t “want it” enough, to be in the lineup.

The funniest thing was that our starting first baseman hit infield rather than take infield at first because this guy wasn’t capable of hitting infield.

My guess is that there are two very sore arms out there. It doesn’t matter much with this guy’s son because he has little or no future in baseball other than what this guy’s sucking up can bring him, but the other pitcher does have some potential and risking his arm just wasn’t worth it. These people can be very dangerous to kids.

While having the elbow too low will reduce the velocity of the throw, I haven’t seen any evidence that supports the idea that dropping the elbow increases the risk of elbow or shoulder injuries.

What’s more, many great throwers (e.g. Greg Maddux and Nolan Ryan) sure look like they drop their elbows if you look at high speed video of their motions.[/quote]

I don’t need high speed video to see a low elbow, so maybe we are talking about two different things. I do know, firsthand, that pitchers who throw with their elbow below their shoulder before and at release, will get little league elbow/tennis elbow or worse, eventually. I don’t have evidence on paper, but I have seen over two dozen pitchers with this style eventually hit the DL and/or the surgery room (I’ve been playing and coaching for over 25 years).

Furthermore, I’ve seen many pitchers who throw with a low elbow also tend to throw across their bodies, which in turn puts significant strain on the shoulder and causes another area of injury.

Lastly, I pitched myself a long time ago, in high school (senior year) about a hundred years ago … and came down with tennis elbow. After healing, I went to a good pitching coach, learned what some believe to be the “correct” way to throw (elbow at shoulder level), and never had an elbow problem again, despite going on to college etc., and throwing plenty more than I ever did in high school.

Now me and the two dozen injured side-slingers I’ve seen might be a coincidence, or an exception, but I’ll respectfully agree to disagree with you and continue to offer my bad advice to pitchers who come to me with elbow problems.

Greg Maddux has his elbow below his shoulder in this picture (which is the moment the shoulder starts rotating)…

I have multiple pictures of Nolan Ryan doing the same thing.

Sticks and stones…

Lots of people, including Steven Ellis think I know enough about baseball. That’s why Steven asked me to be a moderator here.

Just for the record, I’ve coached my son, who is a solid pitcher, since he was 5 and have been his pitching coach (and the pitching coach for the other kids on his two teams) since he was 8. My son is now 11.

No, I didn’t play baseball seyond grade school, but that’s because I permanently injured my shoulder when I was younger by throwing sidearm/submarine. That’s why I’m so knowledgeable about pitching injuries and concerned that coaches teach proper mechanics.

It doesn’t matter what pitch he’s throwing. The arm mechanics are the same.

Greg Maddux has his elbow below his shoulder in this picture (which is the moment the shoulder starts rotating)…

I have multiple pictures of Nolan Ryan doing the same thing.[/quote]

I happen to have multiple pictures of Nolan Ryan as well … in fact his entire motion from high-speed photography … it’s in his book, The Pitcher’s Bible … and I don’t see a low elbow in his delivery.

From the photo of Maddux you’ve posted, I can’t see his elbow at that point in his motion, it’s hidden from view.

However, here is an image of Maddux when he was with the Braves. To me it looks like his elbow is up.

Still photos are like statistics; if a person looks hard enough, he can find what he needs to justify / support just about any argument. That’s not an indictment on your research nor your theories; rather, I think it’s important for everyone to understand that looking at one photo will not necessarily tell you the whole story.

Years of playing, practicing, training, coaching, research, watching video, watching players live,consultation with successful coaches and highly respected sports doctors and trainers — these are the building blocks for understanding the fundamentals of how this game is played. I applaud you for the time you take in researching the game and helping your son and other players. And once again I think we’ll need to respectfully agree to disagree, this time on the subject of the low elbow.

[quote=“joejanish”][quote=“Chris O’Leary”]Greg Maddux has his elbow below his shoulder in this picture (which is the moment the shoulder starts rotating)…

I have multiple pictures of Nolan Ryan doing the same thing.[/quote]

From the photo of Maddux you’ve posted, I can’t see his elbow at that point in his motion, it’s hidden from view.

However, here is an image of Maddux when he was with the Braves. To me it looks like his elbow is up.

[/quote]

The difference between the two photos is that in yours (the lower one) Maddux’s shoulders are tilted. In both cases his elbow is below the level of his shoulders (draw a line through each shoulder).

Photo analysis and interpretation isn’t nearly as subjective as many people believe.

[quote=“Chris O’Leary”]
The difference between the two photos is that in yours (the lower one) Maddux’s shoulders are tilted. In both cases his elbow is below the level of his shoulders (draw a line through each shoulder).

Photo analysis and interpretation isn’t nearly as subjective as many people believe.[/quote]

I disagree on both points. To me, the elbow looks like it’s “up” (in the Maddux as a Brave photo). Looking at it, drawing lines, turning it upside down, using a protractor, it makes no difference: to me his elbow is “up”.

Since I see the photo differently from you, I have to disagree with your second point. Photo analysis and interpretation are indeed subjective, as evidenced by the fact that you and I are looking at the same exact photo and seeing two different things. (Or am I misunderstanding the definition of “subjective” ?)

As stated before, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

Yes Maddux’s elbow “up” in the air but it’s not “up” above the level of his shoulders (as you can see by drawing a line through the top of each shoulder). That is an extremely important difference, because it means he won’t be vulnerable to an impingement injury.

It’s not to be taken lightly.

[quote=“Chris O’Leary”]Yes Maddux’s elbow “up” in the air but it’s not “up” above the level of his shoulders (as you can see by drawing a line through the top of each shoulder). That is an extremely important difference, because it means he won’t be vulnerable to an impingement injury.

It’s not to be taken lightly.
[/quote]

Check the posts … we already agreed on the elbow too high / impingement thing.

At this point I think we should find out if the original poster can get some video up so we can see what HIS problem is, rather than continue our quibbling over semantics.

You obviously have done your homework, I have coached over 200 pitchers from 11-year-olds through Major Leaguers without one major injury (nor surgery); between the two of us and the others on this forum we can help the kid.

Though as someone mentioned a long time ago in this thread, the first thing he needs to do is SEE A DOCTOR !

Thank you everyone for the advice…
I went to the doctor and I didnt throw anything for 3 weeks, the doctor sent me for physical therpy which worked very well…
I learned many differnt training exciercies, became stronger and healthy agian…

[quote=“Bostonsportlova”]Thank you everyone for the advice…
I went to the doctor and I didnt throw anything for 3 weeks, the doctor sent me for physical therpy which worked very well…
I learned many differnt training exciercies, became stronger and healthy agian…[/quote]

GREAT NEWS!

Now … you want to make sure this doesn’t happen again. See if you can get a session or two with a good pitching coach to take a look at your throwing mechanics and correct any issues.

Good luck !

Your elbow pain is basic to understanding what is happening when you throw.

Your forearm is made up of two bones the Ulna and the Radius while the upper arm is one bone the Humerus. In the joint action of the elbow the Ulna’s olecranon process fit into the humerus’ olecranon fossas when you extend your arm. This fit limits the elbow joints’ flexion range of motion which can only flex or extend.

Elbow pain occurs when the olecranon process slams into the olecranon fossa at the release of a pitch and at you age you have open growth plates in your elbow (specifically the medial epicondyle). This continual slamming of the elbow has, with several youngster, irreparably damaged the medial epicondyle.

The way to eliminate this is to pronate your forearm on all releases. Pronate means we turn our thumb downward. This simple action will cause the elbow to pop upward and therefore stop the slamming condition that is causing your pain.

I agree that you’ve got to deal with the root cause of the problem, which may be mechanical, if you are going to keep the pain from coming back.

Pronating through the release point is a good place to start.

I have had a couple of guys complain of elbow pain and in both cases the problem was that they were supinating their forearms through the release point and accidentally throwing sliders.

You should also stay away from anyone who advises you to…

  1. Keep your fingers on top of the ball.
  2. Show the ball to 2B or CF.
  3. Get your back elbow up above the level of your shoulders.

Finally, you’re at a vulnerable age (because you are developing the muscles of a man but still have the bones of a child) and if you throw too much, you will increase the likelihood that your problems will come back.

(because you are developing the muscles of a man but still have the bones of a child) and if you throw too much, you will increase the likelihood that your problems will come back.


Amen to that statment!Ian.

[quote=“Chris O’Leary”] …
Pronating through the release point is a good place to start.

I have had a couple of guys complain of elbow pain and in both cases the problem was that they were supinating their forearms through the release point and accidentally throwing sliders.

You should also stay away from anyone who advises you to…

  1. Keep your fingers on top of the ball.
    [/quote]

Please be more specific about this statement. Generally speaking, when a pitching coach uses the term “keep your fingers on top of the ball”, it is because the pitcher has a tendency to allow his fingers to slide to the side of the ball, which in turn causes his forearm to supinate at release (causing a football-type delivery or the “accidentally throwing sliders” thing you’re referring to).

So please tell us where in the arm motion is it not OK to keep the fingers on top of the ball. It would be detrimental to have this advice misconstrued (not to mention, I’d hate to have pitchers staying away from me for something other than my bad breath).

One place that coaches advise pitchers to keep their fingers on top of the ball is as they break their hands and through the High Cocked position. I think this is problematic advice because it causes pitchers to pronate their forearms too soon, which then forces them to supinate through the release point which increases the load on the UCL.

I have my pitchers have their palms face 3B after they break their hands and as they swing their arms up into the high cocked position. That way their forearms are neutral to somewhat supinated at the high cocked position. This then forces them to pronate through the release point which protects the UCL.

Having the fingers at the side of the ball at the release point is far more common than many people realize, especially for pitchers who throw from a sidearm arm slot. For example, here’s a picture of Pedro Martinez just before the release point and with his fingers at the side of the ball…

There are only two ways that a pitcher can actually have their fingers on top of the ball at the release point…

  1. Raising their arm slot (by tilting their shoulders).
  2. Canting the wrist at the release point.

Also, it’s more accurate to say that you want your fingers BEHIND the ball, as Jeff Suppan is doing in the photo below, rather than off to the side…

I think that supination is independent of the position of the fingers. As a result, I have my guys pronate through the release of their pitches.

One place that coaches advise pitchers to keep their fingers on top of the ball is as they break their hands and through the High Cocked position. I think this is problematic advice because it causes pitchers to pronate their forearms too soon, which then forces them to supinate through the release point which increases the load on the UCL.

I have my pitchers have their palms face 3B after they break their hands and as they swing their arms up into the high cocked position. That way their forearms are neutral to somewhat supinated at the high cocked position. This then forces them to pronate through the release point which protects the UCL.
[/quote]

Third Base? A few months ago you were telling us that pitchers should be facing the palm toward shortstop. What has made you change your position on this ?

Having the fingers at the side of the ball at the release point is far more common than many people realize, especially for pitchers who throw from a sidearm arm slot. For example, here’s a picture of Pedro Martinez just before the release point and with his fingers at the side of the ball…
[/quote]

I know you like to back up your theories with photos of MLB pitchers, but this is really a bad practice for several reasons; the three most glaring being:

  1. any theory can be supported by a photo, if you look hard enough to find a photo taken at exactly the right moment that supports your case;

  2. a split-second in time doesn’t tell us the whole story. For example, in that Pedro Martinez photo he is probably throwing a slider. In addition, Martinez has dropped his arm angle in recent years to take pressure off his ailing shoulder (he just had rotator-cuff surgery). Do you think that the pressure taken from the shoulder then disappeared, or perhaps it transferred to his elbow? In any case, when we tell pitchers to stay on top of the ball, or to keep their fingers on top of the ball, it is when teaching the fastballs, thrown with a 3/4 or overhand delivery.

  3. Today’s Major Leaguers don’t necessarily have great mechanics, and even those that do, don’t always repeat their motion. If they did, off-season surgeries wouldn’t be so routine.

[quote=“Chris O’Leary”]There are only two ways that a pitcher can actually have their fingers on top of the ball at the release point…

  1. Raising their arm slot (by tilting their shoulders).
  2. Canting the wrist at the release point.

Also, it’s more accurate to say that you want your fingers BEHIND the ball, as Jeff Suppan is doing in the photo below, rather than off to the side…
[/quote]

Literally speaking, that’s true. Obviously, if you keep your fingers exactly on top of the ball at release, you will put it directly on the ground — more like dribbling a basketball than throwing a baseball.

But more than 90% of pitchers do not do things literally (I’m sure you’ll tell me that your kids do, and that’s great, consider yourself very lucky). A good coach uses an assortment of words and phrases that are all meant to guide the player toward an optimum goal — because some “click” with the player and others don’t. So if a pitcher has a tendency to throw high pitches, and isn’t getting downward movement on the ball, you tell him “stay on top” , “keep your fingers on top of the ball”, “aim for the catcher’s toes”, “throw through the catcher”, “bend your back”, etc., — until one of these phrases strikes a chord with the player and he begins “getting it”.

That said, a good coach will also see if the chosen words cause a pitcher to make a detrimental change in his motion — such as tilting their shoulders — and come up with a different set of words to get the point across.

Oh and by the way it’s interesing you chose that photo of Suppan, because he has his elbow much higher than his shoulder (impingement?) and his shoulders are not level.

I think that supination is independent of the position of the fingers. As a result, I have my guys pronate through the release of their pitches.[/quote]
I think that you’re only half-right on that one. Supination CAN be independent of the position of the fingers — not IS. It is entirely possible for the finger positioning to influence action on the wrist and rest of the arm.

No I didn’t.

Showing the ball to SS is better than showing it to 2B or CF, but showing the ball to 3B (or even the catcher) is best.

Dropping the arm angle will do nothing to reduce the load on the shoulder, because the thing that determines arm angle is the tilt of the shoulders.

I have found from personal experience (I tried all of the above when I first started coaching pitchers) that none of the above does much good when a guy is missing high because it doesn’t solve the root cause of the problem. More often than not, when a guy is missing high it’s because he’s rushing
http://www.chrisoleary.com/projects/Baseball/Pitching/PitchingProblemTroubleshooter/SymptomsCausesAndRootCauses/Rushing.html
. The only way to fix rushing is to slow down their stride, or break their hands sooner or faster, so that their arm is in the proper position when the shoulders start to turn.

I have no problem with the photo of Suppan precisely because his shoulders are not level. That means that, while his elbow is high, it’s still below the level of his shoulders (the white line in the photo below)…

No I didn’t.
[/quote]

Perhaps you didn’t. Maybe I wanted to believe that you did. I’ll take it back.

OK, so you’re advocating that tilting the shoulders such that the arm angle is sidearm or below, will not reduce the load on the throwing shoulder? Please explain then, why pitchers with shoulder pain start dropping their arm angle.

You’ve made it clear that your personal experience is extremely limited. Rushing is one but certainly not the most popular reason a pitcher misses high. It may, however, been the case with your small sample of pitchers.

[quote=“Chris O’Leary”]I have no problem with the photo of Suppan precisely because his shoulders are not level. That means that, while his elbow is high, it’s still below the level of his shoulders (the white line in the photo below)…
[/quote]

This gets more confusing with every picture. So, combining this comment with the previous one — shoulders dictate arm angle — we don’t need to worry about an arm angle getting too high and causing shoulder impingement? So what causes shoulder impingement?