Recognizing Pitching Arm Fatigue
Besides the loss of control (command of his pitches), and some loss of velocity, a pitcher will often change his throwing motion to compensate for the loss of arm strength and hand speed, or he will change to protect his arm from further stress and pain. Be alert for:
1. The pitcher rushes his motion trying to generate more power with the body and reduce the stress on his arm. This action actually causes more stress because the arm drags behind the normal throwing rhythm. The pitcher will have a greater loss of hand and pitch speed.
2. The pitcher may shorten his arm deceleration path and follow-through. He will lose his normal arm extension during the release and deceleration phases.
3. The pitcher takes more time between pitches, walks around the mound, etc.
4. The pitcher stretches, shakes, or swings his arm or shoulder more between pitches.
5. The pitcher may not get his hand and elbow up to the normal height in the cocked position. It will appear that he has lowered his elbow during his motion and is accelerating in more of an upward plane.
6. The pitcher grimaces (flinches) during the release and deceleration phases.
7. Between innings, the pitcher may massage his elbow (lower biceps) or top of the shoulder (biceps tendon) area. With arm fatigue, a pitcher’s hand often trembles.
8. Between pitching assignments, the pitcher is reluctant to throw, or throw properly during defensive drill (PFP) work. He is protecting a stiff or sore arm that needs more recovery time.
9. Many pitchers will not admit to their coach that they are overly sore or have a minor injury. They will see the trainer or team physician if they believe the medical person will not tell the coach. There needs to be a good open communication, in confidence, between medical personnel and coaches.
10. At higher levels of baseball, your opponent’s hitters will show you that your pitcher has fatigued and lost some command and velocity. They will take better swings and hit the ball harder more frequently.