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Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes

Written on September 10, 2010 at 7:51 pm, by Eric Cressey

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25 Responses to “Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Great blog post Eric.

  2. Stuart Van Kooten Says:

    Very good article and all very , very true. I have been in coaching since the early 80’s, and have been counting pitches and innings for all of that time. I am not a fan of “The Showcase”, or even radar guns as kids will overthrow trying to impress the scouts. Not a big fan of some scouts either. If they scout the player unannouced they, and the player, would be better off; No trying to impress, just true pitching and playing the game we all love.

  3. Bill Hummel Says:

    Eric – great article. As a high school coach, I’ve found that starters need a week off between starts to keep them healthy. But I’ve seen coaches in our league give kids 2 starts in a week (Tuesday and Friday!) Or throw kids 140+ pithces.

    We staircase our pitch counts for kids as the season progresses. 40-50 in the first start , go up 10-15 per start and then no more than 95-100 at the end of the year. I’ve found they end up strongest and freshest at the end of the season this way (when the games become a little more important).

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Richard Bell Says:

    Coaches to day ask too much of these young athletes, and give very little back in return.

    Great Peace Coach!


  5. scot Says:

    I don’t know much about you but just stumbled across this blog and love what you have to say. As a reluctant 10u select coach (I don’t believe in year round ball for kids this age but I coach so that I can control my son’s pitching use) I see way too much of abusing young arms.
    What are your thoughts on using a heavy bag, speed bag, etc. to strengthen the muscles used to power and decelerate the pitching arm?

  6. Eric Cressey Says:


    I’m not a huge fan of punching stuff, as it tends to just re-engrain the same patterns most pitchers live in all the time. As a change of pace here and there, though, it can be good for guys to have some fun with training.

  7. Larry Says:

    When I was fourteen years old I was pitching two seven inning games a week – maximum 14 innings a week. I coached American Legion players 15 -18 year old kids for 5 years. We sent 13 pitchers to college on scholarships on this same limit of 14 innings a week. I monitored the number of pitches of each game. I believe pitcher’s arms can be damaged by pitching a few innings every day or playing another position where it is necessary to throw a lot of balls like catcher the following day after pitching. I don’t believe it is wise to pull a pitcher and move him to the outfield where he will need to make strong throws back to the infield after his arm has cooled down. I believe pitchers should wear long sleeves and a light jacket after warming up and between innings while on the bench between innings. I believe a long warm-up is needed (at least 20 minutes of throwing on the sideline before entering a game. I believe bringing in a positional player into the game in the middle of the inning is not wise because they cannot get enough throws to warm up their arms.

  8. Mark Kelly Says:


    Thank you for your article. I coach 12 year old elit type baseball players after many years of coaching high school, college basball bound players for the past ten years. Dropping down to this 12 year old group I have learned that there is a mis-guided feeling among parents that the more you play the better your chances of making the high school team. We are in Lexington, South Carolina the heart of Gamecock country so baseball is big down here. I actually had to have a parents meeting when I ended our season in August and print them your articls on off season conditioning and the importants of having three -four months rest. I asked each parent to read your article while in the meeting so they had a clear understanding of the dangers of continuous play. These kids start playing baseball in February and some play into late October/November. Here is my concern
    1) Highscool baseball programs in South Carolina started “B” team baseball programs whereby 7th and 8th graders are competing on 90′ bases and pitching from 60’6″. 2) Parents feel that if their son is going to make the highschool team they have to play into october and even November. AAU provides the opportunity to play just about year round so parents beleive that this must be OK.
    At our team meeting I gave them your information to reinforce what I had been telling them. I told each parent we will not play past mid August and we would have an off season workout routin. Educating baseball parents as to how to play safe baseball has been difficult but every parent agreed to follow this advice. I follow them weekly with conditioning drills just to make sure they are compliant. The are to young for weight training so we do pushup sit up and one mile runs and use the tubes for the shoulds. Next season we will be stronger and heathier than most of the teams we play and I wanted to thank you for your work in this area. If I may, I was wondering if you hade the same type article for kids. The technical terms go over their heads as well as their parents. Being an old college pitcher I understand external verses internal rotation but 12 year old boys don’t. A youth baseball seaction would be great, especially for our area were baseball is played way to far into the winter.


    M. Kelly



  10. Phil Says:


    As an Australian I am very interested in this debate. We have a huge controversy within the cricket community including the national team on the amount of fast bowling these guys are doing due to the number of breakdowns, especially stress fractures in L5SI, feet and shins. If you can youtube fast bowlers in action you will appreciate the forces on the body but especially young guys up to 23 years of age. The national team is trialling a rotation policy but there is still a strong voice that believes that more hard work makes stronger fast bowlers and refuses to accept the human body has limits.

  11. nunzio Says:

    Thanks Eric

  12. steve Says:

    Question is there a study out there that is looking at how many southern players vs northern players are having arm or shoulder surgerys from over throwing because of perhaps there location?

  13. Eric Cressey Says:


    Yes, there was a study a few years ago.  You should be able to find it if you search around on Pubmed.  Southern = higher.

  14. Mayo Holloway Says:

    Thank You Eric great video your baseball content is very helpful

  15. Cheryl B Says:

    I came across your article a few days after my son began complaining of shoulder pain. His first season of hardball was Spring of 2012 and he played April – Oct to include summer and fall ball. He started off with pitching position (I didnt even know he could play baseball) short stop, 1st and 3rd base. He completed Spring ball in July and is in 2nd week of Summer ball. This past weekend his coaches entered a tournament which I was unfamiliar to how this works, and my son ended up pitching in 4 games within 24 hrs (fri/sat). I wasnt tracking his pitching (didnt dawn on me that I should) but I know he pitched at least 3 or more innings in the first 3 games, the last game not a full inning. On Sun he began to complain about his shoulder. Let me tell you my son has only complained about his shoulder last year and that was after the second game and I thought he just needed to ‘get used to it’ … I iced it and he hadnt complained since until now. Now after 2 days of saying ‘it’s still sore’ I put icyhot on it but am getting really concerned. I asked him if it was sore or does it hurt and he’s not really giving me an answer so to be safe im taking him to the doctor tomorrow to get checked out. He has practice this week and a game sat but im thinking of pulling him the whole week. Mind you this is city park ball and a small league in our community for summer not LL so our coaches arent ‘professional’ so to speak and dont seem half as knowledgeable as the coaches who have commented here. None of these coaches have ever talked to us about conditioning or anything about how to prevent pitching injuries. I am going to print out your article but am wondering what to do at this point. I hope my son (he’s 10 by the way) hadnt seriously damaged anything and if not im not sure I want him to continue pitching. He’s VERY good, I mean thats what they tell us…but I dont know a lot about the sport.

  16. jim Says:

    Eric at what age do you believe your elite baseball is designed to help a player start strengthening for pitching

  17. Eric Cressey Says:


    We’ll start working with kids as young as 11. Has to be a good fit pscyhological maturity-wise, too.

  18. Brian M Says:

    Can any of this apply to a tennis player trying to strengthen his shoulder after an injury(torn labrum many years ago? I have pain at the top of my serve, and I can’t hit flat serves anymore, only slices. Thanks, Brian

  19. Eric Cressey Says:


    Potentially!  Really depends on what you have going on.  You don’t want to stretch unless you absolutely have to.

  20. Brian M Says:

    Thank you Eric for the reply. Maybe I’ll stick with some of the Y raises off the bench, or take a 25 minute trip up the road from Fall River to see you guys for some real rehabbing!!! Take care, Brian

  21. Paco Says:

    Puberal and kid’s bones/joints are WAY different comparing with adults; specially if into account we take the fact that they are still growing and are sensitive for potentially dangerous injuries to the joints, including cartilage and growth plates!

    Did you know if there are general orthopaedic guidelines regarding these issues in the overhead athletes? i have seen some cases where “bad” coaches and “bad” parents meet………it ends up being a disaster for kids’ joints!!!!

  22. Melinda Says:

    Although 4 years after you wrote this,Yes you are right.

  23. Gavin Forbis Says:

    Why would you ever run miles for a youth player to learn how to move or be more athletic? Sprints of 5-40yrds max are not only scientifically validated to be best protocol but it actually applies to game they play, quick burst speed and power generation needed. Sprinting correctly would be your task at hand.

  24. Gavin Forbis Says:

    WHAT? I COULDN’T HEAR YOU, can you please calmly repeat that info. In lower case this time lol. I am, or rather, was, a real minor league guy too, lol, just don’t want to risk eye injury from that giant upper case letter thing you got going,
    I would be interested in what Eckersley taught you about long toss given i have seen his response to this question on some old show somewhere and he said due to where he threw his game pitches from he didn’t get much of a response from trying to long toss from there and throwing long toss from overhand 1 or 2 o’clock position would be just asking for arm injury as that wasn’t his throwing slot. I am a long toss believer myself, just done with an outline to get progress made and not a session for kids to start launching balls in air. Nolan Ryan still talks to kids here around TX and says alot about throwing program w long toss that Eric would probably agree with. He likes the warm up at usual distance working back to base length you play at (youth 60′ or 70′ senior and HS and up 90′) then to 1.5 x base length for about 10-15 then 2x base length (ex 180 ft) for 10-12 throws and then 2.5 x length for 10. If any more throws are done stay at same length and do long hop throw maintaining the arm speed but keeping as flat an arm release angle throw as possible, or low arc is better term as opposed to what lots of kids do using rainbow throw. Then long toss session can be ended with a quick 10 throws splits between coming back in at 2x 1.5x and 90.

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