No matter what level of pitcher you are, injury is a real possibility. Use these tips to help you avoid injuries throughout your career:
1. Keep your elbows tight to your side. There should not be much gap between your elbow and the side of your body during the windmill. In fact, your elbow will brush or almost brush the side of your body at release. If you can see daylight between your body and your elbow, you are at risk of injuring your arm and shoulder.
2. Finish the pitch. Do not stop your pitching motion as soon as the pitch leaves your hand. Finish your follow-through and allow your arm to decelerate naturally. A jarring stop right at release puts unnecessary pressure on your shoulder.
3. Stand tall. This is one you’ll hear over and over again throughout your career as a pitcher, and for good reason. Not only is it difficult to consistently throw accurate pitches when leaning forward, you put yourself at added risk of injury. Leaning forward during your pitch puts strain on your back at an unnatural angle and should be avoided at all costs.
4. Take breaks and don’t overdo it. It is common for a traveling softball pitcher to be asked to pitch 2 or three games in a single weekend. Couple this with poor mechanics and you put yourself at risk of a repetitive motion or strain injury. If you feel pain during your pitching motion in a game, let your coach know immediately. The same thing goes for practice…While practice makes perfect, too much practice can burn out your arm and cause you to lose speed and accuracy. Take the day before a game off or only throw a light session of practice.
5. Warm-up. Most pitchers don’t like warm-up and tend to rush through it or skip it altogether. These pitchers put themselves at added risk of injury. A good warm-up prepares the muscles for the explosive motion of pitching. A good warm-up routine will include stretching, throwing and running until the muscles are warm. I’ve seen pitchers throw a couple pitches from halfway and say that’s all they need to warm up. This is worrisome because they then move into full speed pitching from the mound without any further preparation.