“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify and vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Steve Jobs
The point of this article is to act a little bit like the people in this quote by Mr. Jobs. I want to challenge some of the status quo in the baseball world. I’d like for pitcher’s to stop doing what everyone else does, and start doing what works when it comes to their development.
Pitchers young and old continue to get injured at alarming rates. They continue to get sore for long time periods, complain of stiffness, and are often not truly ready for the next time that they take the hill.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein
I’ve seen this over and over in many different forms throughout my career both as a player, instructor, and coach.
It’s not uncommon to see players do things or act in a certain way that might be comfortable, normal, or accepted in their group of peers or teammates.
I always have the conversation with every pitcher that I encounter about how they recover from their outings. It doesn’t matter if the person is one of my high school pitching clients or a fellow professional ballplayer, the discussion with the ones who are always experiencing the same issues and complaining of the same things often goes like this…..
Me- Hey man. I was wondering what you like to do after you pitch to recover and feel good as soon as possible. Thoughts?
Sore/unsuccessful pitcher- I don’t know. Sometimes I ice of it hurts or if I threw a lot.
Me- Does that make it feel better?
Sore/unsuccessful pitcher- I’m not sure. I think it takes away inflammation. If its extra sore I’ll take some Ibuprofen.
Me- What about getting bloodflow or range of motion back into your arm?
Sore/unsuccessful pitcher- Well for that I run to flush my arm out. That helps with recovery I think.
Me- Does it?
Sore/unsuccessful pitcher- Well I see everyone else running and icing….
The conversation with a super successful player is always different. I won’t bore you with another dialogue rundown, but the 2 points they always make known are……..
1.) They know what works for them. Everyones different, and no two routines are alike.
2.) They are open minded only if it will benefit their progress.
Although I haven’t reached my ultimate goal of getting to the big leagues, I feel like in the grand scheme of things as a pitcher, I’ve been pretty successful because these two traits are always constant.
Here’s what works for me when it comes to post-game (immediately after game) recovery
FIRST- Replenish calories on a large scale and replenish lost liquids.
There’s plenty of times where I come out of the game so amped up that eating is the last thing on my mind, but then I’ll catch myself and remember that it’s just another day and I have to stick to my routine. I try to have a diesel protien shake loaded with everything good with a focus on calories. Then I crush a heavy dinner with a focus on meat, veggies, and a carb source like sweet potatoes, baked potato, rice, or quinoa. I realize that this isnt always possible, but the main goal is always calories and hydration.
Obviously your plan will change a bit if you have a few pounds to lose, but replenishing nutrients is still a must.
– After your post-pitching meal is a good time to take your vitamins! I stick to a multi, fish oil capsules, and vitamin d.
SECOND- Getting some bloodflow back to my pitching arm.
1.) I do something on the very light side for shoulder exercises. The two I like the best are external rotations with light tubing in a scapular plane and light dynamic stabiliations. I learned these from my strength coach, Eric Cressey, who understands the way of the shoulder better than anyone I know. I just try to make sure I don’t overdo it after the game, as my main goal is to get some extra blood back into my arm.
2.) I try and get a trainer or teammate to help me with some light soft tissue, or I’ll do some rolling on my own. Check out more specific strategies in my soft tissue troubleshooting post here.
THIRD- Get range where you need or have lost range.
1.) Light static stretching only on areas that tend to lose range of motion (ROM). For example, I tend to lose some mobility in my throwing elbow from a supination point of view (opening up palm to sky). Some pitchers simply lose extension, but I’ve needed to focus more precisely on the supination of my forearm, as it tends to get junked up. Shoulder wise, I simply check to make sure my internal rotation hasn’t gone by the wayside with a nice easy sleeper stretch (NO CRANKING INTO A FULL ON STRETCH!!! VERY IMPORTANT). Once checked, if it’s a bit tight, I’ll do a bit more soft tissue and then check it again.
I follow the same protocol for for my hips and hamstrings. For my hips, I like to check them with a lying knee to knee stretch, and with my hamstrings, an easy band hamstring stretching on the ground. If tight, more soft tissue!
So in a nutshell, that’s what I do after each outing. Be your own judge as to how much or how little works for you. For me, it varies on how much I’ve thrown, what the conditions were like. Was it hot? Cold? How much did I sweat? How did I feel in the game? Before the game? After the game?
All these questions will guide you to your own customized post pitching routine. My advice is to continue to soak up information and techniques that work for you. Do not under any circumstances think you have it figured out. Do not go along with what is the norm just because your teammates do that. Let them be average.
“I will persist until I succeed. I was not delivered into this world into defeat, nor does failure course in my veins. I am not a sheep waiting to be prodded by my shepherd. I am lion and I refuse to talk, to walk, to sleep with the sheep. The slaughterhouse of failure is not my destiny. I will persist until I succeed.” ~ Og Mandino