With high school baseball and softball tryouts starting this week in Massachusetts, it’s a good time to talk about injury prevention strategies. Research has shown that preseason injury rates are more than three times higher than in-season or post-season rates. Inevitably I see athletes every spring who hurt their arm or pull a muscle during tryouts. This can be a minor annoyance for some causing them to miss a few weeks, or can be devastating for others, causing them to miss a season or more. Here are a few strategies to help reduce the likelihood of injury.
Show up in shape. Tryouts are not a time to get yourself in shape, as you will be doing everything you can to show your skills to the coaches to get a spot on the team. If you haven’t been exercising prior to tryouts, you will probably have a tough time. Playing other sports to stay in shape, working out in the gym or with a trainer, as well as taking some swings and fielding some balls are all important to get ready for the upcoming season. And no, playing MLB The Show on PlayStation 4 doesn’t count!
Get your arm ready. Every year I have players come in for physical therapy, especially baseball players, with shoulder or elbow problems after tryouts. You need to get your arm ready before tryouts. Start out just playing catch, progress to a long toss program, then gradually start pitching if you’re a pitcher (start with flat ground pitching then build up to pitching off the mound). I know many high school coaches will use a radar gun during tryouts and I see many kids who try to throw as hard as they can for the gun. They often end up hurt and this to me is criminal. If you are not ready to pitch during tryouts, don’t - you will get hurt.
Cold weather concerns. Especially here in the northeast early in the season (and sometimes even through a good part of the season) it can be quite cold. Be sure to perform a good, dynamic warm up prior to tryouts, games, or practice. Also dress appropriately, wearing layers that you can remove as you get going.
These are just a few ways you can help reduce the likelihood of injury during baseball/softball tryouts this year. As the great Bill Belichick likes to say, “you can’t make the club from the tub,” which means it doesn’t do any good to just go out and get hurt. For more info on preventing injury for the upcoming baseball/softball season stay tuned for my new ebook 7 Arm Care Strategies for Youth Baseball/Softball.
Good luck and have a great season!
- Greg, Complete Game Physical Therapy