Tommy John at 13

When I was little (5 or 6), I wanted to be a quarterback. I threw a football every day with my father (when it wasn’t snowing or raining). I had no desire to play baseball . . . ever. I thought baseball was boring. My best friend talked me into coming out for Little League when I was 7. The coach had a team that carried over from pee wee league, so I was the newcomer on the team. I was put in right field on the first day of practice. He hit balls to the various positions and the kids were supposed to field the ball and throw it to a base or home or wherever he designated. He hit a fly to me and asked me to throw it home, so I did. . . on a line. He hit a few more to me and each time, I threw it right at his glove. The next practice, I was at 3rd base. I was the only kid on the team that could make that throw without an arc in it. I attribute my throwing ability to my throwing a football every day. I still threw with my dad every day through the fifth grade. After that we started throwing a baseball, and put the football away for good. We just threw. I wasn’t pitching just throwing for fun.
When I read the arguments about year long throwing being hard on your arm, I wonder what effect throwing a football has on an arm. I know high school quarterbacks who are also good pitchers. They have to be throwing either a football or baseball almost year round.
I’m 16 and I pitch 8 months out of the year and play basketball over the winter. I don’t have arm issues, yet. And I can throw a lot. I play with pitchers that don’t throw as much as me who complain about their elbows or shoulders. I pitched about 7 or 8 complete games in high school last year, pitched that many in a 16U league in the summer and then I pitched in a 17U league in the fall (only 3 innings every Sunday). My arm never bothered me all year. I never ice after playing either. And I throw pretty hard - I think anyway. Low 80s (hoping to be in the high 80s this spring). Personally, I think mechanics has a lot to do with it. I see pitchers who generate zero momentum with their bodies, trying to throw the ball as hard as they can. Those are the pitchers who complain about their elbows and shoulders. Whenever I hear a coach or dad say, “Come to a balance point”, I want to scream. Those are the pitchers who complain about their elbows and shoulders. It’s all about mechanics.
As a 16 year old, it’s tough for me not to use my throwing motion for 4 months out of the year. I even catch myself wiring a basketball when I’m trying to make a quick pass. I’ve just about tore someone hands off when they don’t expect the basketball coming at them. But I’m still using my throwing motion. That’s why I think proper throwing mechanics is the biggest factor in arm injuries. But I’ll let the doctors figure out. In the meantime, I’ll see you on the diamond.


[quote=“toeing_the_rubber, post:89, topic:16713”]
I’m 16 and I pitch 8 months out of the year and play basketball over the winter[/quote]
4 months off? That puts you right within the recommendation of ASMI and MLB to take 3-4 months a year off from throwing.

As for football, I’ve never heard of a QB getting Tommy John surgery; I have heard of a few pitchers getting Tommy John surgery, though :smile:, which tells me they’re different throwing motions.

But football is thrown with a supinated motion but they don’t make hundreds of throws per week…just a thought.

Throwing motions of pitchers and QBs are very similar but not exactly. But that’s not really the difference in TJ surgeries. I feel pitchers throw more, throw more with (close to) maximum effort, and throw more with higher arm speed and these are the things that contribute to pitchers having more TJ surgeries.

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This is where the weight of the football comes into play as well.
Because it weighs considerably more than a baseball the arm does not move nearly as quickly. Arm speed is much lower.
Also, pitching off of a mound adds stress.
A QB throws a ton during the week, much more than a pitcher, when you consider warm ups and practice. But, a QB throwing 100 times in a practice with 50% of those (or whatever) being short touch passes like screen passes…the effort is much different.


[quote=“south_paw, post:90, topic:16713”]
As for football, I’ve never heard of a QB getting Tommy John surgery; I have heard of a few pitchers getting Tommy John surgery, though :smile:, which tells me they’re different throwing motions.[/quote]
Following up my comment above, I did a little research and found that in fact NFL quarterbacks throw the football at about half the velocity of MLB pitchers. That is, NFL quarterbacks throw at maximum speeds of 52 mph (Drew Brees) to 59 mph (Peyton Manning), with exceptionally hard throwers hitting only 63 mph (Brett Favre). This is way under the MLB pitch velocity range of 90-100 mph.

Moreover, the quarterback throwing motion is different from the pitcher throwing motion. It is a much shorter motion, akin to an infield throwing motion. Quarterbacks don’t extend down and back with the ball as do pitchers. In fact, it is this extending down and back with the football that differentiated Tim Tebow from the typical NFL quarterback and hurt his career.

So basically, comparing quarterbacks to pitchers is comparing apples to oranges. Not a valid comparison. And the invalidity of the comparison is seen in the huge disparity in Tommy John surgery rates between MLB pitchers (20-35 per year) and NFL quarterbacks (0 per year).


I sent you an email with my response. The main reason I believe throwing all year around is because their have been plenty of case studies against. Like I said in your email, basketball was probably more of your off season.

Just for the sake of discussion, there are some similarities…

  • Pitchers and QBs both have a stride (though the QB’s stride is much shorter) and a weight shift from back foot to front foot.
  • Both have an “equal & opposite” (though the QB’s throwing arm doesn’t extend as much as a pitcher’s so neither does the non-throwing arm).
  • Both have “hip & shoulder separation”.

Ill comment and as being a current HS QB I’ll say we throw a ton but its healthy for the shoulder but can really screw with your arm action and mechanics when you go from throwing 20 yard outs on Friday night and throwing 7 innings on Sunday for a fall tournament. I do also wish I knew why my arm hurts when I throw a baseball and feels nothing when I throw a football. Obviously different mechanics but would like to understand the science behind it.

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First thing I would say is stop playing fall baseball or at least pitching while playing QB.
Arm speed is much faster with a 5 oz baseball compared to a 15 oz football.

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I have a 5’6" 11 year old… He throws hard, but I don’t put a gun on him, and he only throws a 2 and 4 seam fastball… He plays baseball for about 4 months a year then plays football and Wrestles… I’m hoping by keeping his pitches down, keeping a light load on his arm, and 6+ months of not pitching every year he can be a 6’6" power pitcher in high school… The missing piece for him now is a program from off season to preseason, to in season throwing program to build up his arm strength and endurance to handle 80-120 pitches a week… Am I on the other side where I’m so afraid of blowing out his arm that I have him do too little??

Football and wrestling will certainly be good for general conditioning. That is great.
I would just make sure he starts throwing well before the baseball starts. Starting easy with just catch and slowly working his way up. Doing a throwers 10 program and arm/shoulder care is important as well.

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I believe in a year-round conditioning program AND year-round throwing. I did not say pitching, and the throwing needs to have some light load times. But I believe that losing the conditioning built up during the throwing season is counterproductive. We do have some time during the year (Nov-early Jan) where we are just light tossing 1x/wk and maybe a light BP every couple of weeks. We do stick to the shoulder/elbow care both in season, and during the time we are not playing. We do not pitch a ton. I’m very careful to monitor the amount of pitching he is asked to do. BTW, it is very common for wrestlers to hurt their shoulders, both from impacts and from torquing them in ways they aren’t really designed to operate.

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I agree with the year round throwing, with built in low volume times.
At 11 or 12 playing catch and doing some arm care should be good, outside of that, play other sports and have fun. No need to specialize at that age.
I don’t think you are saying a kid should specialize of course.

No, let them play anything they want. I want my son to play football. He says too many injuries…can’t argue. He’s always play QB and OLB and does it well. We played in a church basketball league the last couple of years. He actually told me if the wrestling coach recruited him, he would wrestle…hmmm, might call the principal…

My son played football until he was halfway through high school.
He used to sort of smile when a baseball coach would talk about how hard a baseball practice was going to be…his hardest baseball practice is easier (physically) than an average football practice.

Wrestling practice starts the week after football here… Every year my son thinks he’s in shape from football, and the first week of wrestling practice he is gassed… Grappling with someone your own body weight for 2 hours is grueling! Even now as he prepares for youth state this weekend, practices are hard enough that he will drop 3 pounds a practice as a 5’6" 125 pound 11 year old, so it’s not like he’s a chunk with lots of weight to lose… Today we start training for baseball too, taking him to a pitching coach to get his mechanics adjusted if needed and begin training to throw competitive games in about 50 days.

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Wrestling is such a great sport. Just not physically, but, mentally as well.
I had the same experience in high school. I thought I was in shape from football, got on the wrestling mats and just got destroyed. Good stuff!!
Good luck at the state tournament.

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Tom Glavine played hockey most of the year growing up, playing baseball only 3 or 4 months out of the year. He was in fact so into hockey that upon graduating high school in 1984 he was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 4th round of the National Hockey League draft! That’s how much “year round baseball” he played! LOL! Mariano Rivera played mostly soccer growing up and did not pitch competitively until he was 20, when his team in Panama ran short on pitchers. So, no, your son taking 6 months a year to play other sports is not only not a bad thing, it is a great thing. My son routinely takes 5 months a year away from baseball to play soccer and basketball, and not only does he not miss a beat when baseball starts, he returns to the game so much stronger, both physically and mentally. We did the year-round-baseball thing for a couple years, and for the past couple years have done the 5-months-off-from-baseball thing, and can say without a doubt that the latter is better. Much better.


Took 5th at state as the only 5th grader in his bracket… Beat 3 7th graders and a 6th grader, and lost to 2 7th graders despite having the lead in the 3rd… (birth year tournament)… Now on to baseball… Took him into a local baseball training academy to work with a minor league pitching coach who is there before heading out for his season… Mechanically, he looked e same as last year, when I thought he would have forgotten some things… Minor changes in his footwork to simplify things, and a fix The path his arm takes back before throwing… Fixed a problem he’d had with occasional short arming and has led to better velocity and more consistent movement on his 2 seam… Also started working in a 2 seam change up… Getting really excited to get going full speed up here in the north country!

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