Pitching Injury Prevention
My work on pitching injury prevention is quite widely read
and well known the youth through major league levels. However, every week or so I get
an e-mail from someone
asking my opinion about some aspect of pitching injury
prevention that I have already addressed.
While this frustrated
me at first, I have come to understand that what these
e-mails are telling me is that what people need is a primer that pulls together,
at a high level, all of my current thinking about
pitching injury prevention. They can then drill into the
different aspects of pitching injury prevention that interest
This page is my attempt at
putting together such a primer and an overview of my current
views with respect to pitching mechanics.
Overuse: The Biggest Problem
Facing Younger Pitchers
The biggest problem facing young pitchers — and by that I
mean pitchers who are younger than 16 and who generally still
have open growth plates in their elbows and shoulders — is not the
curveball, it's overuse.
ASMI recently completed a study of
youth curveballs which suggests that the forces that
result from throwing a youth curveball aren't great enough to
cause the kinds of injuries that young pitchers are experiencing.
Instead, it appears that the primary things that are driving up
injury rates in young pitchers are...
- Multiple pitching appearances in a single
- Travel teams.
- Year-round play.
In my opinion, the reason why curveballs were blamed for
these problems is that you only tend to see them in more
advanced pitchers, and by that I mean pitchers who are much
more likely to travel, play in multiple tournaments, and
pitch in multiple games in those tournaments (which make
them vulnerable to overuse injuries).
PAP is (Mostly) Crap
I do not believe that metrics like Pitcher Abuse Points (PAP)
or PAP3 (PAP cubed) are, in and of themselves, good predictors
of pitching injuries. If there were, then durable old Randy
Johnson wouldn't appear at the top of nearly every career PAP3
list I see.
If abuse, as it is defined by PAP3, is so bad then
why has Randy Johnson been able to tolerate it so well?
I do believe that there is some interaction between abuse and
pitching mechanics. I think it's plausible to believe that if
you abuse a pitcher with poor pitching mechanics, like Dusty
Baker did to Mark Prior, then he will break down sooner.
However, if you heap the same level of abuse on a pitcher with
good pitching mechanics, he will tolerate it.
My Current View of Dr. Mike Marshall
Anyone who has followed my work for any period of time will
know that my thinking about pitching mechanics has been heavily
influenced by the work of Dr. Mike Marshall. Dr. Marshall was
the person who convinced me that it was a worthwhile effort to
drive down the rate of injuries in pitchers.
However, anyone who has closely followed my work
also knows that I have become increasingly uncomfortable
with many of Dr. Mike Marshall's latest ideas. While I
am a big fan of his ideas about pronation and conditioning, I have come to believe that, in an effort to
differentiate his work and demonstrate how much he has broken
with the establishment, Dr. Mike Marshall has basically gone off
the rails. I explain this in
more detail in my essay,
Dr. Mike Marshall: My