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Indoor Training: To Pitch or Not to Pitch?

With a lot of the country experiencing the effects of winter weather, baseball and softball players in those areas know the time is here to do all their training indoors — unless those players are comfortable simulating baseball activities in snow boots and winter attire.

Since that probably isn’t the case, those baseball and softball players who don’t play winter sports and want to train for their spring seasons are ready to flock to indoor facilities with precautions in mind. Pitchers, in particular, must be particularly cautious.

During this time period between Thanksgiving and the new year, many pitchers are likely getting this piece of advice from baseball instructors at indoor facilities: Don’t throw.

“I do think because there is far more access, kids are throwing considerably more,” said Chuck Van Robays, director of the Varsity Shop Training Center, an indoor baseball and softball training facility that is located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.

“We look at it by a case-by-case basis and sometimes say this kid needs to stop throwing for two-to-three months. Now is the time for the next six to eight weeks where we don’t throw. We give them a little bit of time off. We still work on our mechanical stuff. I think throwing is something you need to be careful of, especially with younger kids that don’t really have that shut down phase where they let themselves heal.”

Also a former college catcher and a summer travel ball coach, Van Robays said taking time off from throwing is essential because of the amount of stress shoulders go through for an entire spring, summer, and even fall of pitching.youth camp 2.jpg

The same goes for trying to heal elbows, hands, and fingers.

“When there is so much access all the time, there is never really time for a shut down,” Van Robays.

Van Robays added the big exception to shutting down pitchers this time of year is those who played football during the fall and are just ending their seasons.

It’s likely those kids didn’t throw while playing football and have already gone through their shutdown period, thus freeing them up to start throwing a little more than players who played fall baseball.

While overuse of arms is a major concern among pitchers during indoor winter training, the precautions extend to hitters as well, mostly from a mental standpoint.

The growth of indoor facilities have made it possible to have countless hours of video analysis and mechanical instruction for hitters, and often times that pays off once spring arrives and games start outside.

Sometimes though, all the indoor work for hitters can lead to over-thinking things when they take the field outside again.

“It can be a double-edged sword,” Van Robays said. “There are guys that are so mechanical that they are thinking about the process as it’s happening instead of going out and playing. You need a good mix of it. As it gets closer to the season, it’s less and less about the working parts and more about the game situations. We just have to trust all the work we have done in the offseason.”

From GameChanger and Keith Dunlap.

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