Get in the driver’s seat and return better than ever!
I frequently receive calls from a pitcher or a parent worrying about what to do once an injury has occurred. The pitcher is usually depressed…and the parent is usually scared. Sometimes it’s a short-term injury, and sometimes it’s a potential career-threatening surgery. What you do with regard to the injury is as important as healing and recovering from it. Here’s my philosophy and personal message to anyone on the DL. I hope it wakes you up, gives you a new perspective, and gets your fire burning again.
Get in the driver’s seat and use this time wisely not only to think but to take action by doing all you can do to prevent its reoccurrence and to make sure you finish ahead, not behind.
Get as clear of an understanding as possible as to how the injury occurred.
Try and go back and recall the moment or situation of the injury. The injury is often times only the “the effect” of something else that was actually the cause. Do you know the cause? Did you have warning signs you ignored? Did you not warm-up properly? Do you have an issue with your mechanics that contributed to the problem? Does your injury have to do with pitch counts or lack of recovery?
The most important thing about injuries is that you understand them.
Without the clarity, you run the risk of being tentative mentally or reinjuring yourself. Don’t let the injury be the beginning of a long future of problems. We see this happen all the time in the Major Leagues. It does not have to turn out that way. Pitching injuries very rarely just happen. There is always a reason and the first thing on your list is to create a possible scenario so you know what to do next. It will pay off in the end and allow you to return to an even better level of play. If your injury remains a mystery to you, you may not recover on a performance level.
Just because you’re not pitching doesn’t mean you’re not still a pitcher.
Think about where you were at with your pitching skill before you got hurt.
Were you happy with your performances? What needs work now?
Are your mechanics where you want them to be? How was your location? How about velocity?
Did you know that we can make connections between the location of your pain and your pitching mechanics? Often times, we can know what part of your motion needs work, or what type of strength you might need to avoid a recurrence. Just think of the possibilities for improvement.
There are very specific physical skills that occur within a consistent and effective pitching delivery. These are skills that can be worked-on and trained without having to release a ball. Again, imagine the potential for progress.
Commit to improving your mechanics during this time. Use drills if you are unable to release a ball. Use the gym to priority train movements. Create a plan and get organized with what you are able to do to get a jumpstart on your return to play.
Use the downtime wisely.
Accept that you have an injury and even though there is going to be down time, don’t waste time being down. We know that when you are in-season, you have to hold back with your training so you don’t interfere with game day. Take advantage of having your training be the priority. Get creative.
Use this time to become a better athlete. Improving your general physical attributes can only enhance your pitching. Here’s a few of many ideas:
- Train any part of your body that is not involved in the injury.
- Get in excellent cardiovascular shape, specific to what a pitcher needs.
- If your pitching shoulder is injured, train your pitching wrist and fingers.
- If your pitching elbow is injured, find out what is allowed for your pitching shoulder.
- Get out a calendar and plan objectives and training time.
Plan to return to play being better than you were when you left….and get excited about the possibilities.
Put a concerted effort into keeping your head together
We all know stories about pitchers who never really were themselves again after an injury. And in many cases, it was more about their tentativeness than the actual condition of their body. Programs and surgeries can heal the body, but only you can heal your head.
Keeping your head together during an injury requires the same skill as keeping your head together when you give up a bases-loaded home run.Thinking about in those terms can help you know that with every minute that your fighting off being frustrated or depressed is actually a minute that your fighting to be a better pitcher.
Remember: the mental skill of being able to handle difficulties is one that can best be practiced in the face of difficulty. So use this time to hone the most important mental skill a pitcher must have…the ability to keep only that which you can control foremost in your thinking. When you’re in a game, you can’t do anything about a bad pitch you already threw…and when you’re injured, you can’t do anything about what already happened.
Bring your best self to the situation and make a decision to take control.
The six top reasons why pitchers get injured
- didn’t warm-up or had a sloppy or incomplete preparation before throwing
- poor mechanics
- pitch count issues
- not enough physical strength to meet the demands of his pitching motion
- structural and postural weaknesses that cause improper muscle recruitment patterns
- lack of range-of-motion in hips, shoulders, and/or elbow-wrists