As we are in the middle of the off-season I wanted to share some insight from Driveline Baseball on rest and suggestions for year round baseball activity. Since we live in a place that gives us access to 365 days of throwing outside it can be a huge advantage if you have a throwing plan, but can also lead to arm stress and potential injury. Driveline, who partners with Jaeger Sports, does not suggest to continue to throw year-round off of a mound and just started max-intent pull-downs with their professional clients this week. It is important to have a schedule on when to rest and when to throw and as Alan Jaeger says, "Listen to your arm."
I highly suggest that pitchers who threw a lot in the fall should take a few weeks to recover and stay off of a mound. However, that leaves plenty of time for Plyocare balls, Jaeger bands, and other drills and workouts to prepare for the spring. Elite's Off-Season Training Program Phase II will offer an On-Ramp throwing program in January to help pitchers get their arms in shape after resting and educate on the best practices to keep the arm healthy during the season. We know that overuse of young pitchers contributes to injury, so make sure that you are monitoring your own throwing on and off the mound throughout the year.
After all, it's your arm!
Below is an excerpt from Driveline's, "Hacking the Kinetic Chain":
Yearly Suggestions: The 10,000 Foot View
A yearly outlook on training may be a grander scale than you are used to. As you climb the ladder of baseball, it becomes more and more important to see the road far ahead of you. There’s generally no problem with a short-term outlook when you’re throwing 75 MPH and you’re on the bench in high school, but professional pitchers who have a more stable level of ability must start thinking about the next off-season’s training plan well before it arrives. Much of this is centered around rest or time away from training.
Rest is an interesting subject that has incredible complexity to it. Many leading medical organizations and baseball training industry figure heads have blanket recommendations for how much time to spend away from throwing a baseball, yet few – if any – of these recommendations are based on actual physiological research; rather, the research is culled from longitudinal surveys with little control for external variables. The rest guidelines are not based on data collected about anatomical variations, training loads, or physical adaptations, but rather well-intentioned but naïve assumptions about stress.
Make no mistake – the professional pitcher who starts in February and pitches 200+ innings through October needs significant time away from throwing a baseball. He is near the top of his game, has little to gain by adding increased stress, and likely needs to attenuate considerable accumulated central nervous system fatigue. However, giving the same recommendation to an uncommitted high school pitcher entering his senior year is ridiculous – he probably only threw 40-60 innings, he does not throw nearly as hard, he has a lot to lose if he steps away from throwing for 2-3 months, and he is nearing the end of his career without drastic change. This is often referred to as a “risk-reward” tradeoff, but even this particular negative label is overly simplified.
Driveline Baseball’s Year-Round Suggestions
We adhere to very few hard and fast rules, but there is one major thing that should be avoided – pitching year-round, whether it is competitive or just throwing bullpens throughout the entire off-season. Pitchers who live in warm weather climates will often be pressured to throw for the high school, summer team, fall ball, winter showcases, and then prep for the next year’s high school season while toeing the mound the entire time. Too much stress accumulates on this schedule while throwing off of a slope. Research is mixed on whether or not a sloped surface adds additional stress to the soft tissue of the arm. We believe it does and the fact of the matter is that gains are hard to come by if you can’t take extended time away from competition. Without the opportunity to ignore pitchability and required to focus on the skill of pitching, getting better as a pure thrower and building physical ability becomes nearly impossible.
Placing additional focus on recovery protocols is extremely important as you become a better pitcher. As you build velocity, you require higher amounts of training to produce supercompensation so you can throw harder, throw more strikes, and increase your breaking ball spin rates. However, this higher amount of stress then also demands that recovery protocols become more and more relevant. It is very common to see a pitcher who has never had arm pain start to build velocity and assume that what he did in the past will continue to keep him healthy. What professional pitchers eventually learn is that higher output training, while exciting, isn’t the end-all be-all of training. A lot of the work is “boring” active and passive recovery to ensure that every time the pitcher toes the rubber, he has close to 100% of his best stuff – and that when he is ready to train hard, that he can do so free from injury for months on end.
As Mark Twight, owner of Gym Jones and famous for training the athletes from “300” and “300: Rise of an Empire”, has said himself: “Recovery is more than 50% of the process.”