Maybe I'm crazy but

Alright well our paper had an article about “Little League Elbow” and how kids need to use proper mechanics.

I got a kick out of the main picture, with the caption “Chad Shepard practiced his pitching form at Scott Willard’s baseball camp in Georgetown earlier this month.”

Maybe I’m crazy but that doesn’t look healthy at all to lead with you elbow that much and abduct(?) the shoulder that much. I can honestly not get my arm into a position where my forearm is perpendicular to my shoulder…

If the article puts the blame for Little League Elbow on improper mechanics then they missed the boat. Little League Elbow is an overuse injury. Yes, poor mechanics can lead to injuries. But overuse is becoming more and more of a problem these days and many coaches don’t have an appreciation of it. It sounds like the author of the article didn’t have an appreciation of it either.

You can’t do it when you’re just sitting there, but if you throw with any force then your arm does that automatically when you rotate your shoulders.

Also, what you are referring to as looking unhealthy is extreme external rotation, and it can cause problems. Abduction is lifting your upper arm so that it’s level with your shoulders and it’s easy.

This is typically called “full” external rotation. I wouldn’t say “extreme” although it’s about as far as it can go. Chris is absolutely right when he says that this position is not possible without the momentum and action of the rest of the body. You can’t do it if you just try to lay the forearm back.

If you don’t get to this position at the right time, you will not likely throw as hard as you possibly can. Almost every time someone says to me that they are just not getting any velocity, the commonality is that they don’t get to “full external rotation”.

Now, this is really a paradox. That which begets velocity is what is most likely to result in injury to the rotator cuff and/or the UCL. That’s the dilemma for pitchers and their coaches. On one hand, we try and try to develop mechanics that maximize power and on the other hand, we try and try to find ways to reduce the likelihood of injury. They’re almost mutually exclusive. Just check out the stats re: pitchers on the DL and those that have had shoulder or elbow surgery.

Long story short, this picture does not represent an unusual or extreme condition. ALL, and I mean ALL, hard throwing pitchers get to full external rotation at exactly this time. Also, it is VERY stressful on the elbow and shoulder. What to do, what to do???

I agree that “full” is probably a better description (although it’s still pretty extreme).

This is why it’s critical that pitchers pay close attention to strengthening the muscles of the rotator cuff. If not, you’re shoulder won’t be able to handle the stress.

It’s not a coincidence that long-lived pitchers like Seaver, Ryan, Clemens, and others were also freaks about conditioning their bodies.