Sunday, May 23, 2004

Coach K's 10 tips



YOUNG ARMS
Over-the-top pitching throws off young arms
Case studies
Every player under count
Decision protects son's arm
Coach K's 10 tips
Knuckle curve easier on the wrist
Q&A: Dr. Timothy Kremchek
Q&A: Larry Redwine
Q&A: Ted Power
Fast facts  
Coach Jack Kuzniczci, who was a catcher in the Montreal Expos' minor leagues, has been the varsity baseball coach at Madeira High for 14 years. None of his pitchers has needed arm surgery. Here are his recommendations for young pitchers and their parents:

1. Learn the proper mechanics, including emphasis on the legs, hip turn, balance and follow-through.

2. Warm up before entering the game. That is, 10-20 minutes, at the proper distance, off a mound, with a catcher, and with a gradual increase of velocity and types of pitches.

3. On the pitch-count chart below, pay particular attention to the "days' rest" category. Rest does not mean playing high throwing-stress positions such as catcher and shortstop.

4. Pitch counts are critical. Begin tracking them as soon as your child enters organized baseball. The colder the weather, the fewer pitches you should allow.

5. If your child's youth league has regulations on how many innings a pitcher may pitch and how much rest he should have before his next appearance, be aware that it is possible for coaches to abuse these rules if he or she is not counting pitches.

6. Be conscious of "big pitch-count" innings. Even if your child hasn't reached his pitch count, if he throws a lot of pitches in one inning (defined as 25 or more) and is struggling in his next inning, pull him.

7. Encourage the young pitcher to develop a changeup to go with his fastball. Absolutely no curveballs until high school, although the knuckle-curve as taught by qualified experts might be acceptable if it is closely monitored by parents so as to avoid the wrist snap that stresses the elbow. (See box on Ted Power's knuckle curve.)

8. Have a "throwing program" between starts. Don't lurch from one Saturday start to another Saturday start with no throwing in between.

9. Protect the young pitcher's arm at all costs. An overemphasis on winning before the high school level is a breeding ground for abuse. Do not allow the young pitcher to pitch through the pain.

10. If the coach is doing his job, then you, as the parent, need not worry. But if you see the coach violating the rules as listed above, inject yourself into the situation.




YOUNG ARMS
Over-the-top pitching throws off young arms
Case studies
Every player under count
Decision protects son's arm
Coach K's 10 tips
Knuckle curve easier on the wrist
Q&A: Dr. Timothy Kremchek
Q&A: Larry Redwine
Q&A: Ted Power
Fast facts


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