After 23 years in the Northern Virginia area and experiencing many baseball seasons, here we are again, the time of year for baseball players where the term “Shut Down” is widely proclaimed. I have spent decades studying and researching elements of motion relating to overhand throwing athletes at the Youth, High School, College and Professional levels.
My objective for this article is to provide a scientific approach to this term for families & coaches to consider before setting a formal non-throwing time-line. By applying individualized details with personal data we can establish a personalized shutdown (Recovery) period for Pitchers & Players to gain maximum benefits for arm rest & recovery. Craig Pippin
“SHUT DOWN” The Term As It Relates to Baseball
When a team or group of pitchers are told to “Shut-Down” what is that based upon and what does that mean?
For decades the word “Shut Down” has been used when describing a period of time by which a baseball player takes a break. I prefer the term “Recovery” to describe the “Post-Season” phase of a player’s training cycle
Saying “Shut-Down” without individual data leaves a Coach or Family with little information as to what is best for their individual player(s). If one player has an active season and another with a less active season, why should both have the same arm recovery program? Be certain to understand the facts before determining what is best for your son or daughter.
My 23 years of research, data collection & experience training baseball players has greatly reduced the guess work relating to designing each individual’s training season. This short article takes a scientific look at how to use a designated time period to best benefit a player.
Utilizing over one hundred-thousand units of baseball specific measurements determining strength and flexibility along with pitching centric motion points we’re able to establish a scientific understanding of the over-hand throwing athlete. This has allowed for the development of ‘best use’ programs for the “4 Seasons” of a baseball player. Particularly when addressing the Recovery Season we are now entering, making note of the specific variables when assessing position players vs pitchers.
1. In Season (Maintenance) Maintain The Gains of Pre-Season Prep
2. Post Season (Recovery) Non-Throwing Period & Design of a personalized Strength/Flexibility Program
3. Off Season (Strengthening) Targeted Strengthening & Flexibility for Pre-Season Results
4. Pre-Season (Preparation) Individualized Program Designed to Achieve Players Performance Goals
Keep in mind that for ages 15 & under the importance of playing multiple sports during Non-Throwing makes a significant difference for developing various muscle groups & learning the dynamics of competition. Often times by 16 years old a player will make a decision on a primary sport-of-choice motivated by their interest, natural ability, schedule, individual goals, & athletic desire.
Multiple years of personal experience both pitching & instructing at the MLB, Collegiate, High School & Youth levels; collecting and quantifying 100,000+ units of measurable data; along with the analysis of over 10,000 hours of high-speed video has provided me with a mass of information to reveal valuable age specific tendencies. This has led me to develop proven methods to design safe arm related guidelines while increasing performance levels.
Let’s take a closer look at the use of data to determine an individual program relating to the “4 Training Seasons” specifically, the Post Season (Recovery) period.
Do we count pitches in games, plus those in workouts, plus related bull-pen reps?
What about showcase events, long toss warm up throws and the estimated throws in neighborhood playing-catch time?
Are you a position player, catcher and pitcher or all three?
What is the formula used for number of pitches to determine the time of “Shut Down” / Recovery?
The total number of throws/pitches is not the only data to consider; A player’s personal physical measurements (strength/flexibility), coupled with throwing/pitching motion efficiency assessment all play a key role. The answers to all of these questions & more can help design the appropriate time frame for Recovery or “Non-Throwing” period for each individual.
Additional questions typically considered when determining an appropriate Post Season or Recovery Program during a calendar year includes:
1. How many teams played for?
2. How many games played?
3. How many practices each week?
4. What positions played & how often?
5. Were proper pre & post game arm care protocols followed?
6. Pitch efficiency rate?
7. Pitching/throwing motion efficiency?
8. Physical strength, weaknesses and injuries as it relates to baseball?
Without the answers to these questions we are guessing how the term “Shut Down” actually relates to EACH player. Here is a proven, simplified “rule of thumb” formula that has been successfully implemented by coaches and parents with confidence:
YOUTH (13U): 1 week of non-throwing activity per 10 innings pitched
HIGH SCHOOL COLLEGE: 1 week of non-throwing activity per 15 innings pitched
PROFESSIONAL: 1 week of non-throwing activity per 20 innings pitched
So the next time someone suggests a player or pitcher needs to “Shut Down” understand that it’s specific to the individual & does not necessarily meet the same timeline appropriate for everyone else. Having a greater understanding of these factors provides valuable awareness and gives each player a much greater opportunity to compete with a healthier arm.
Craig Pippin Craig@pitchersedge.com