It’s that time of year when I go out and watch all my guys (with a great sense of pride I might add) play ball and in doing so, get a chance to watch many other young pitchers on the mound as well. A common thread that I see with many of them is the similarities in the breakdown that happens in the later innings.
More often than not, I believe this is fatigue of the lower half. The pre-mature change in lower extremity kinematics and timing can generally be attributed to a lack of strength (or a loss of strength if they have stopped training in-season) bringing on many command problems as well as velocity issues. Today, we’ll touch on three topics.
Leaving Pitches up in the Zone
When the lead leg tends to become tired it can no longer support the landing forces coming down the mound, forcing the athlete to land with a less than desirable angle at foot strike. This puts the upper body into a more upright position forcing pitchers to leave pitches up in the zone for the taking.
Decrease in Velocity
Okay, you guys knew this one was coming. When the rear (drive) leg fatigues, the ability to hip hinge and engage the powerful glutes and hamstrings becomes less than optimal, robbing the drive leg of power to be transferred through the core and into the arm. This not only lowers the velocity ceiling but forces the pitcher to try to make up for it by over-using the arm and lower back.
Lower Back / Shoulder / Elbow Pain
These altered lower extremity kinematics which are likely due to a lack of strength, as well as fatigue, may also affect trunk and upper extremity function, performance, and risk of injuries during pitching in adolescent athletes, particularly during actual game play.
Just one more reason to stay strong all season.
See ya’ in the gym…
By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)
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