Baseball Reflections

8 Ways To Know That Your Pitcher Is Getting Tired!

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I can’t think of anything on the baseball field that’s more important than the well being of my players. Can you? This really holds true when it comes to your pitchers. When they are tiring, the risk of injury to their throwing arm skyrockets. Skyrockets! Hey, let’s forget that the outcome of the baseball game may be put in jeopardy. Of much greater importance is the well being of your pitcher’s throwing arm. Here are eight excellent warning signs that your pitcher is getting tired and at a higher risk of injury.

1. Keep track of the number of pitches thrown. There isn’t anyone on the planet that can give me one valid reason as to why baseball coaches at any level of play do not keep a pitch count on their pitchers. In no time at all, you will know for sure at what number of pitches any of your pitchers are starting to run out of gas. It can influence the outcome of the game by leaving the pitcher in the game too long but more importantly it can increase the chance of injury to your pitcher’s arm! It’s one of the easiest things to do on the ball field. You can pick one person on the team to do it. It can be the manager, coach or a player on the bench. If you are not doing this, you really should start immediately.

2. Watch to see if the pitcher’s elbow is dropping down lower. Keeping a pitch count is foolproof and this is a very close second. It is a very clear warning sign! Watch carefully to see if the pitcher’s elbow is starting to drop below the point that it is normally raised to, which is usually about shoulder height. When the elbow starts to drop down low, it’s because fatigue has set in and the arm is saying “no” when it’s asked to elevate. Obviously, this would not apply to side-arm pitchers because their elbow is low already. Aside from a pitch count, which is foolproof, this is one of the best baseball coaching tips that a pitcher is getting tired. It also causes a pitcher to “push” the ball instead of throwing the ball. It will make the fast ball and off speed pitches miss high and the curve will flatten out. It will also increase the risk of injury to the pitcher.

3. Is your pitcher taking more time between pitches? Be very observant if your normally fast worker has slowed down the pace considerably and is taking more time between pitches. Occasionally, the opposite can also be true. A normally slow and deliberate pitcher is starting to take less time between pitches. This is because he knows he’s tiring and wants to hurry up and get the inning over with.

4. Watch for a pitcher who stops following through. The more a pitcher tires, the less he follows through and doesn’t “finish” his pitches. It’s affectionately called “getting lazy.” Remember that the follow through protects the arm from coming to a sudden halt. It’s not good for your automobile if you’re driving 60 M.P.H. and jam on the brakes and it’s not healthy for your pitcher’s arm accelerating and then coming to an abrupt stop either. When a baseball pitcher stops following through, the risk is not just the quality of the pitch but more importantly, the risk is to injuring his throwing arm.

5. Watch for any changes in your pitcher’s usual mechanics. Watch everything in general. He may be raising his front leg more, he may be raising it less, he may be turning his hips more or less, he may be leaning back more, etc. He may be consciously or sub-consciously changing his pitching mechanics because he is tired. Knowing your pitcher’s normal mechanics ahead of time will make it easier for you to recognize a change in his mechanics.

6. Is your pitcher striding longer than he usually does? This clearly tells you that the pitcher is trying to use his legs more in order to compensate for his tiring arm.

7. Observe the pitch selection. He may be throwing more of a certain type of pitch and less of another type of pitch. Watch to see if your pitcher hardly ever throws breaking balls and all of a sudden he’s throwing them often. It’s quite possible that he’s tired and finds the breaking ball easier to throw but of greater concern is the fastball may be hurting his arm when he throws it.

8. Is the fast ball losing velocity? If you have a power pitcher on the mound and have watched batters swing late for several innings and all of a sudden they are out in front and pulling his fastball, he is running out of gas. You should strongly consider making a pitching change right away.

Please take these eight guidelines very seriously and put them near the top of your baseball coaching tips. They can determine the outcome of the ball game but the real important thing here is they will lessen the chance of injury to your pitcher!

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