Thursday, July 02, 2009

Pitching; Taking care of your wing

As it goes I have pitched in the Irish baseball league since 1997. My team, the Dublin Hurricanes, has had several high standard players and pitchers and has taken part in many European competitions. I pitched for the Irish National baseball team from 1996-2006, and had the absolute privilege to play under several fantastic coaches. At just under 2,000 innings and counting, some of the excellent advice, coaching, training and pitching tips I have been given have, to some extent, seeped in through the Dagobah Jungle like mire that is my brain.

Over the last few years I have approached a couple of the younger pitchers in the Irish League and offered advice, only to be rejected on three separate occasions. Rather than continue to complain about the youth of today, to whine about it to friends, I am going to take positive action, and try and jot down everything I would have showed or told them anyway.

If you are a young pitcher planning on playing in the Irish baseball league any time in the next twenty five thousand years, listen up, you might trip over something interesting and digest it and use it to your own gain in the near future. You never know. Can’t hurt, right?

Part one; Taking care of your wing after pitching

If you are a pitcher the single most important tool you have at your disposal is your arm. Your wing. Your gun. There is no excuse for not looking after it. Pitching in Ireland presents its own unique set of circumstances and challenges. Primarily, the Irish weather. Therefore you have to be doubly careful with it.

Because of the unusual weather we get here on the beautiful Emerald Isle, Irish baseball games often play on through showers, sleet and even snow. The Irish league season generally runs April to September, and is book-ended by two periods of at best changeable, at worst awful weather.

In short, if you don't look after your arm, you can end up hurting it beyond repair. The most important aspect of looking after your arm is what you do with it after you pitch.

Prepare for a M*A*S*H like suggestion here.

When you throw you are basically damaging your arm, your muscles, the joints and the tendons. Therefore after throwing it is vital you do something to counteract that damage. Having talked to physiotherapists at great length about this the two main aspects of your defence here are icing and compacting.

Basically after pitching I would spray 'deep freeze' on my elbow and forearms. Then I would put a reasonably tight sleeve over that area, compacting it. Then I would freeze up my shoulder using the same 'deep freeze' and wrap that using a regular bandage, about 3-4 feet of it.

Pitchers best friend

The wrapping would be just tight enough that it felt snug, not tight enough to cut off circulation or anything that drastic. I always chose a medium or large sleeve when an XL would be what I would normally wear, this was so, again, I would get that snug/compact feeling in the effected area.

Normally I would leave the sleeve on for the afternoon/evening to support the elbow/arm area as it recovered. After pitching a particularly long game or breaking 120 pitches on the day, I would freeze up again later that evening, repeating the process basically.

Do the above after throwing your (hopefully) two hit shutout and you will be ready to go again when your nest start comes up! Any questions? Drop me a line!


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Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

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