My thoughts on "overuse"

I don’t like the current wave of “overuse” theories, and here’s why!


Couldn’t agree more. I wrote an article on this subject months ago and needless to say, most don’t agree because it’s not the popular answer. Most are waiting to hear:


When it comes to throwing the baseball.

Great articles guys!

You guys and your applied science. What do you think this is?!


Whew, 4 months!?! That is a long time. I feel like there is a medium in resting for a pitcher. I myself am taking 3 weeks off from throwing, just a little break from my throwing frenzies of the season.

Taking 3 weeks off to rest your arm (and more importantly, your brain) can make sense. It’s a psychological benefit.

I really think a lot of people confuse pitching and throwing. While I see a need to take a break from pitching, physically and psychologically, I see no reason to stop throwing a baseball.

If anything I see advantages in continuing to throw during breaks from pitching. Continuing to throw keeps the muscles, joints and all of the associated nerve bundles loose and in shape. I like all of my guys to do some sort of throwing year round.

I, by no means, know the physiological terminology nor am I a PT or medical professional. I do know what I’ve seen from 20 plus years of coaching and coaching pitchers.

Right you are, turn22!
Many pitching coaches advocate throwing every day. Yes, there is indeed a difference between throwing and pitching. Doing the former every day, even just twenty minutes or so of playing catch, will certainly help keep the arm loose and flexible, and doing a full bullpen session a couple of times a week will certainly enable a pitcher to zero in on what’s working and what isn’t. Guys like Johnny Sain and Leo Mazzone knew what they were talking about when they said "Throw every day."
And I firmly believe that it’s not an either-or situation, overuse vs. undertraining. It’s a combination of the two that’s responsible for so many ailments among pitchers, and it’s those irresponsible coaches—the ones who don’t know their elbows from third base—who contribute to the problem. THIS HAS GOT TO STOP! :x

Unfortunately it’s a sign of the times we live in. So many of today’s youth coaches get their information from as many sites on the internet as they can find. Not that the internet isn’t a wealth of knowledge but their is large amounts of misinformation and contrasting info.

I’ve seen coaches who are coaching to promote their own kid and make sure he gets a fair chance to play the game. Lke it or ot, we live in the “ME” generation, where parents routinely watch Derek Jeter or Justin Verlander and think little Johnny can do the same things. Fading away are the days of hard work and blood, sweat, and tears.

There should be an unwritten rule that one must have some sort of qualifications to coach youth baseball. Those quals also need to roll over to HS.

Even on this site, which I dearly love and believe is one of the most informative baseball sites on the net, we routinely give suggestions and recommendations to people who will try and implement our suggestions. Are most of our suggestions and advice sound? Sure it is. The problems arise when the recipient of the info doesn’t really understand how to implement those suggestions and would rather look elsewhere to better understand rather than ask the poster, for fear of…something.

Again it plays into the “me” culture, where the uninformed routinely rely on what they believe is their knowledge, rather than look as uninformed as they truly are. It goes hand in hand with their kids being as uninformed as the parents(coaches) and believing they can be that Jeter or Verlander only to realize, sometimes too late, the incredible amount of hard work and knowledge it takes to play or pitch anywhere close to that level.

I’ve seen the shock on HS freshmen and sophomore’s faces when their told that they don’t have he skills to make the varsity squads. I’ve also seen the rage in the parents faces and utter disbelief that the coach didn’t see their kids talent.

Parents and coaches do your kids a favor and open your eyes to the incredible amount of work that it takes to make a HS varsity team, and much, much more to play college ball.

And there’s another important factor: the kids themselves. They too have to be made aware that a lot of hard work goes into becoming a baseball player—or anything else, for that matter. Hard work. Concentration. Oh, once in a while you hear of some kid who “gets” it by osmosis, but such things are almost as rare as hens’ teeth. Even when someone catches on quickly, they still have to work at it.
Eddie Lopat once told me that he would work with anyone, from Little Leaguer to a fellow professional, it didn’t matter what team, who needed advice and assistance, if that person was interested, who really wanted to know, and who was willing to work at it. I will never forget the day I asked him about the slider—I just said I wanted to ask him something about the slider—and as soon as I asked him he knew instantly, don’t ask me how, that I was serious, that I really wanted to know about that pitch and was ready and willing to work at it and master it. And so he decided he would take me in hand, work with me, and help me all he could; because I was serious, he had absolutely no reservations about teaching me some very advanced stuff he felt I needed to know.
Believe me, it all paid off. Are you listening, coaches? 8) :slight_smile:

What about the “Over-use” theory that says it is wrong to have a kid pitch a cg during the week and then make a Friday, Saturday (X2) and a Sunday appearance…every week for a year…is that “over-use”? Is it wrong?

More than one way to define over-use I’d say.
Should a kid recover from that sort of performance profile I mention above?

I think the time-off concept isn’t necessarily “bad” per say…I agree on the premise of a guy who Kyle mentioned who is in process of “learning” the art…4 months? No serious player above perhaps his sophomore year could ever consider that as a reasonable alternative…I think (IMO), so pundits can spew it but it is an impractical methodology.
I do preach a month of what is called “active rest”, I consider it re-vitalizing and allows refocus but doesn’t rob competitive edge.

IMO, I don’t think its a good idea to have prehigh school kids pitch twice in six days. That would be my definition of overuse for kids. That’s not to say they shouldn’t throw.

I believe that as soon as a kid starts to train as a pitcher, he should starts throwing every day or at least three to four times a week. It shouldn’t matter whether he’s 9 or 19.

I do like Jd’s option of “active rest”. I agree that all pitchers need time away from the mound and perhaps their throwing routines. If nothing else but to recharge their minds and bodies. Do they need 4 months off? Not in my world. I like to see guys step away for a month to 6 weeks even if they are two sport athletes. Following completion of the other sport, I feel they still should step away and recover their bodies and mind.

It seems to me that there is a serious issue of overuse from ages 8-14 and underuse from 14 and above. Here’s some insights into youth ball in my area.
From ages 8-12 a lot of kids play LL, LL Allstarts, Travel, AAU, Fall Ball. From 12-14 its Babe Ruth, Babe Ruth Allstars, Travel, AAU, fall ball and Jr. High. Kids pitching over 200 innings. More and more kids with rototor cuff and TJ than ever before and their careers end before high school. But then they get to High School and only pitch 40-50 innings of HS ball. Thats it. The LL and AAU stuff ends and there is no other organized Baseball. There is American Legion, but that is mostly college kids and not HS. So young arms are being overused while they are still developing (which causes injury), but underused when they are developed and need more conditioning.

Kyle, you are not the only one who expresses this particular sentiment! A number of other posters have said the same thing: too many young pitchers are overused while they are still developing and underused—perhaps even ignored—when they need more work, more conditioning. I call this putting the cart before the horse, and I too say “Shame on you” to all the coaches who persist in following this erroneous reasoning, not realizing—or just ignoring—the simple fact that a lot of injuries come about in this way. And someone else put forth the idea that most coaching at the lower levels just plain stinks on hot ice—it’s very uncommon to see a coach whose brains are where they should be. :x :shock:

That 40-50 innings does not include the guys that are in the bullpen. With (at least where I live) 3 games a week (21 innings) there are precious few innings to split up. If starters do well in two of the games, lets say 5 innings and change, and the starter gets run after 2 innings in the third game, the “closer” gets the 7th inning it leaves very few for every one else. Have seen plenty of situations where a guy is designated to the pen and ends up getting warmed up 4 times in two weeks but actually ends up getting 1 or 2 innings of work. Plenty of pen guys go a whole season and get 10 or so innings. If they are not doing a lot of throwing on their own it makes it very tough to get better and also to build themselves up. That said, a friend from my sons high school team who played SS went off to college and has been designated as a PO, even though he couldnt get to the mound in high school because his arm was always sore. First thing they did when he arrived at college was put him on a throwing program.

Great point! On our HS team, the top 2 pitchers amassed about 80 innings between them. The other 6 pitchers divided the remaining 60 or so innings. Not exactly preparing you for the next level.

Zita and fearsome. And its almost impossible for an underused pitcher to work, throw , and condition himself during the season. If he throws too much during the week, he runs the risk of being “unavailable” that one time he may get to pitch for the week. Instead he plays long toss every day and tosses some 70% batting practice.

This is the part where desire comes in…the “need” to play…to pitch…A kid burning with it will find a way…as evidenced by our friend Lanky Lefty’s log…the kid didn’t start out with much chance…but his laser focus and that burning desire, turned it all around and made the difference.

This is the part where desire comes in…the “need” to play…to pitch…A kid burning with it will find a way…as evidenced by our friend Lanky Lefty’s log…the kid didn’t start out with much chance…but his laser focus and that burning desire, turned it all around and made the difference.[/quote]

I see your point about LL, but its also a double edged sword if you read his entire thread. He is a top ranked pitcher, has no scholarship, and is fighting for playing time. Some knucklehead wanted to convert him to a submarine pitcher. His story is a testament to his own desire, but it is an indictment of the politics and unfairness of baseball at many levels. And how despite one’s work ethic and desire, sometimes talent never gets a chance.

Here is a quote from kyleb that rings true:

“Welcome to the world of college (and pro) baseball, where skill and performance aren’t necessarily the reasons why you get playing time…”

Ahh no accounting for the world…Bens ride isn’t over. The point is…winners figure it out…desire overcomes…we’ll always have “things”…unfairness…things that make you want to shake your fist at the rising sun…
It is frustrating when you can see a clear field in front of you (You and me)…we don’t have the issues before us that his coach has so we aren’t there…I think the kid, left to his own could get there…too much messin in the stew??? and who knows.

I guess there will always be a down side…making MLB money makes for all types of agenda…