This blog is a compilation of the messages and life lessons we teach at the Legends Youth Academy. All content and messages have been developed and taught by Legends Founder and Head Coach, David Klein. Hope you enjoy and keep living a Legends Life!
With the rise of travel ball and emphasis on pitching with extreme velocity, arm care has been a VERY hot topic over the last few years. The majority of information and research has been surrounding kids in High School and older, however, I believe that paying attention to arm care and developing proper arm care habits should start as young as 8 years old!
Based on over a decade of experience working with ballplayers from ages 6-24, I have drawn my own conclusions as far as best practices to take care of ones’ arm. In my experience, the summers have proven to be the most tricky time for managing arm care because most kids are coming off a period of heavy arm usage and also because of vacations…
I’ve therefore assembled a list of 10 tips for kids ages 8-14 to keep arms healthy during the summer. Hope this helps!
- Listen to your arm! Potentially the most important tip of all, you have to learn your body. If you’re feeling pain or fatigue you must stop and communicate with a coach, parent or doctor. Don’t push it! It’s not worth the risk!
- Pick up a pair of Jaeger Bands and memorize the routine! J-Bands (surgical tubing) have been used for many years for maintaining arm health and for warming up the small muscles in the arm. Use J-Bands EVERYTIME before you throw! CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE AND TO PRINT OUT THE ROUTINE
- Don’t start and stop! Most injuries occur when kids are starting and stopping with a week or two in between throwing. Not throwing for a week or two then jumping into a game or intense practice shocks the arm and puts one at high risk for injury!
- Ramp up slowly. If you just took a few weeks off throwing, great! However, you MUST build your arm strength back up slowly. Start at 45’, then go to 60’ the next day, followed by 75’, 90’… As a general rule of thumb for kids, for every week you take off, you need that much time to ramp back up to be at full strength. For example, if you take 3 weeks off throwing, you need 3 weeks of throwing ramp up before you’re ready for aggressive/mound throwing.
- Throw as often as possible – at least 3-4 days/week! Contrary to what people say, I believe the more throwing the better. The more you throw and stretch out your arm the more it will grow and develop!
- Don’t pitch on back to back days. While I know it’s tempting to pitch on both days of a tournament, just don’t do it. Even if the arm is feeling good and even if you only threw 1 inning. Studies show this creates a major strain on the arm.
- Plan out your throwing for the year. Recent studies have indicated youth athletes who throw more than 8 months out of the year are 5x more likely to have Tommy John Surgery from overuse or another catastrophic arm injury. The recommendation is to take 4 total months off throwing with 2 months of consecutive rest (I recommend December/January as being a great time for a 2-month break)
- Focus on fastballs and changeups only until little league is finished. Yes, throwing curveballs and sliders is fun, however, they create more strain on the arm (despite how good your pitching coach is). A quality changeup is the best pitch in the game. Focus on locating fastballs and getting a feel for your changeup. Once a kid finishes little league he can begin developing his breaking pitches.
- Play other sports. Playing other sports will develop different muscle groups which will make your child an all-around better athlete. College baseball coaches nowadays prefer multi-sport athletes as they have less wear and tear on tendons/ligaments. They also have developed different movement patterns and core strength which helps to take stress off the arm.
- Long toss! Long toss, AKA the practice of extending out, progressively, to the furthest possible distance (stretching out) is the most important element of building a healthy arm. There are 2 major components: the “stretching out” phase where you move away from your partner, throwing with arc until you reach the maximum distance… AND the “pull down” phase, where you keep the same “max effort” long toss throws but instead of throwing with the ball as hard as you can on a line. Please note: you can only do pull downs once your arm is fully conditioned for aggressive throwing.
Follow these guidelines and enjoy a long healthy baseball career. And don’t forget the #1 most important rule: LISTEN TO YOUR ARM!