As kids start to finish their summer seasons, the offseason starts to come into play. Most people take a month or two off from throwing. Most coaches recommend that players take a month or two off. I read an article somewhere about Max Scherzer. He used to take time off during the offseason earlier in his career from throwing. But in recent years he has not taken time off from throwing, using the logic of “kids throw every single day and never have arm injuries” or something to that extent. I’m on his side. I feel like baseball players should throw consistently. I’m not an expert, but it seems to me that taking a month or two or more could put the arm under more stress because it’s less conditioned. I wanted to get other people’s opinions on this.
You are going to get people in two camps to varying degrees…take a set period of consecutive time off (3 months or whatever) or else it is foolish/abusive…on the other side are the folks who think year round throwing is fine. Prescribing the same sort of programming for a 14 year old who throws 40 innings spread over six months of playing and is trying to develop skill as a pro pitcher who is throwing two hundred high stress, high velocity innings is foolish. The flip side is overuse of course. The extremes of either side are not wise in my opinion.
Things to consider is age, physical maturity, how many innings/pitches have been thrown in the last three, six months, what velocity does the person throw with?
Personally, I like year round throwing with some break periods mixed in. But, I also don’t agree with year round playing.
If you are going to throw year round (not pitch, but throw) have a plan…arm care and recovery are key components.
There’s two general opinions floating around. One is that you need to take time off. It allows the body to get back to neutral, recover, and heal. You gain external rotation and lose internal rotation (this does create velocity and it’s one of the reasons why you see guys throwing harder mid-season then preseason, because of the gain in ER). However, losing internal rotation also creates its own problems. Along with that its very difficult to strengthen and correct bad movement patterns when you’re always throwing and putting yourself in them. For example if you have a lot of lower back arch, or poor scapular control when you throw and you’re trying to correct these bad patterns and develop strength in the weight room to have more stability you’re inhibiting that effect by continuing to throw and move in ways that are counter to what you’re trying to change. Being a college pitching coach and strength coach I’m a big advocate of this approach as I feel a month or two off is necessary to develop strength and allow the body to heal. Here’s two articles (really one broken up) by Eric Cressey, one of the top performance coaches there is.
On the flip side of that you have the school of thought that it’s under training that is killing pitchers and I do believe this is why there are a spike in injuries come spring training, or the beginning of a high school season. Pitchers just don’t prepare properly for the demands that are placed on them. By training year round you keep your body prepped and ready for those demands and reduce the risk of injury. Here’s a great article by Driveline on why to train year round.
Really you need to make the decision on your own based off your sons needs. But just to throw my two cents in there , my opinion would be to plan your training appropriately. Take two months off but make sure that time off doesn’t leave you with only a month to prepare for the next competition season. But make sure to stay training in the weight room during the off season. Playing different sports is also important. Multi-sport athletes are sometimes more desirable and tend to be more athletic since different sports train different movement patterns. A lot of this also depends on how old your son is.
I agree with Slider…
Year round throwing or not throwing is only part of the puzzle.
Baseball is chronically undertrained in general.
Developing a strong base of strength and mobility along with throwing will go a ways to not only improved performance but health as well.
One of the most important take aways from this is throwing is not pitching. Time away from both is fine as long as other work is being done (this includes playing another sport) and there is an “on ramping” back to throwing. I cannot tell you how many times I have had high school kids get sore or dead arms every year of high school ball. Why? They would play other sports, never throw until a week or two before try outs.
Pretty obvious but it happens all the time.
It is hard work to really prepare oneself and most guys don’t do it.
I like year round throwing if there is a program in place and other things are being done as well.