Monitor your body weight on a daily basis throughout the season. A loss of bodyweight means you will have to work harder to maintain your velocity. It also means you are not eating enough and or losing muscle mass.
Monitor the height of your shoulders; your pitching shoulder should never be lower than your non-dominant shoulder. A lower shoulder signals a lack of stabilization which is a precursor to injury. Use a consistent regimen of strength and conditioning to avoid this.
Check the length of your arms; be especially careful if your pitching arm cannot straighten to the same length as your non-dominant arm. A contracted elbow can be a precursor to an elbow injury. Use a post-pitching regimen that helps you maintain range of motion.
Pay attention to small signals from your shoulder, forearms, and elbows. They will let you know when something isn’t right. Watch out for…
- tightness in the forearm after pitching or between innings
- pain on the inside of the elbow prior to ball release
- pain on the back of the elbow after ball release
- discomfort in any part of your body after pitching that feels out of the ordinary and doesn’t seem to recover
Fuel-up and hydrate in the dugout between innings. Low blood sugar can cause fatigue and a change in your mechanics.
Know exactly how many pitches it takes to be warmed-up, rehearsed, and prepared before you start your innings.
Do exercises after you pitch to restore and bring blood to
- 1) the back of the shoulder
- 2) the external rotator of the rotator cuff
- 3) the rear of the upper arm (the triceps)
Think about the issue of icing after you pitch. Are you injured or inflamed? If yes, ice for sure; if not, try blood flow to the area with tubing exercises and see how you recover. Decide which works best for you and your recovery.
Make sure you are pitching sufficiently between outings for consistent conditioning. Organize your bullpen schedule and confer with your coach.
Be responsible for your own longevity and health as a pitcher. Learn all you can, do all you can, and always be in the driver’s seat when it comes to your skill. There is always a solution to a problem if it is detected early enough.
Make sure you have “technical” bullpens for focusing on specific issues for your mechanics. Designate other bullpens, or specific numbers of pitches, for your location and velocity. Never stop trying to improve the way your body moves.
Remember, there is something special about the guy who says “give me the ball, Coach”. Pitchers have a special mentality. Nurture and protect yourself and your skill so you can enjoy it for as long as you want!