Archive for the ‘Sports Performance’ Category

It was great to see Garrett Richards opted to rehab his partial torn UCL Ligament instead of opting for Tommy John Surgery.

Garrett Richards 2

This choice seems misguided to the general public. Why not just go ahead and get the surgery out of the way? Don’t you come back throwing harder after Tommy John? Isn’t it just part of the job description now?

Unfortunately, the success of the surgery almost now seems to be somewhat of a detriment to the sport. We hear of all the success stories at the Major League level while the high school, college, and minor league pitchers who don’t make it back, or return as a shell of their former selves, are swept under the rug.

The accepted success rate for TJ surgery is somewhere around 80-85 percent. This percentage needs a huge asterisk beside it. Success rate is defined, in this case, as returned to pitch in one game at the level the pitcher was at before the injury occurred. So if a Low A pitcher has Tommy John and comes back to pitch one inning in Low A, it’s a tally for the successful TJ surgery count. If he is throwing 4 MPH slower, in pain, barely makes it through the inning only to get released the next day and quits, it’s a tally for the successful TJ surgery count.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Mets

Jeremy Hefner is part of the 15-20% that hasn’t made it back after two Tommy John surgeries. Mandatory Credit: John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

 

The scary thing is no one really seems to know the cut off for what percentage of a tear is a definite for surgery. There seems to be such a casual attitude towards the surgery now, it’s blindly prescribed for any chronic elbow issue.

For instance:

 

If that doesn’t make you leery, I don’t know what will.

Also remember the big league pitchers have big league resources. They get the best surgeons, one-on-one attention from an Athletic Trainer or Physical Therapist, and other rehab methods like soft tissue work. Very few high school and college players are going to have the resources professional baseball players have, lowering the percentage even more.

Hopefully more guys will be successful choosing the Masahio Tanaka and Garrett Richards’ route and pitchers will realize there is more than one option when dealing with damage to the UCL.

And maybe even one day we figure this whole ulnar collateral ligament thing out and prevent some injuries.

If you would like more information on UCL injuries and prevention, I highly recommend Jeff Passan’s new book, The Arm.

Other great resources are:

What We’ve Missed About Tommy John Surgery

PitchSmart

It seems like every sport is a year-round-sport now. Ten-year-old kids are playing similar schedules to professional athletes. The mentality seems to be if you aren’t playing on three travel teams and your school team, then you are falling behind.

Parents read about Bryce Harper playing 100 games per year and having teams fly him to tournaments at a young age and think that’s the blueprint for little Johnny to be the next phenom.

Harper SI Cover

The thought of taking time off the primary sport to play a different sport or to focus your time and effort into training is ludicrous. How will the scouts see your child if he/she doesn’t play on that special 12u team?

The shame of it is most athletes would benefit immensely from some sort of off-season strength program. It doesn’t do any good for a right-handed pitcher that is a high school junior and tops out at 80 MPH to play on a fall travel ball team and go to showcase events. Any college or professional scout will put their gun away and cross him off the list after 5 pitches. Trust me, I’ve been there. That athlete would be much better served spending 6 months getting after it in the gym and utilizing a long toss and/or weighted ball program.

Baseball Scouts

On the flip side, some athletes do need to spend more time practicing their particular skill. For example, if there is a pitcher that throws 98 but can’t find the strike zone, improving his deadlift probably isn’t the answer. Or if you have a golfer that crushes the ball but can’t putt, their time would be better spent on the putting green rather than doing medicine ball throws.

We have seen athletes on both ends of the spectrum. Sometimes we have to encourage athletes to leave the gym and go practice. Most of the time we are trying to educate the parents and the athlete that time spent in the gym now will lead to better results later.

There is a fine line for every athlete. It is very easy to get caught up trying to be the best right now, but foolish to do so when that hinders the future. It is important to realistically evaluate yourself every so often and make sure you are improving your weaknesses. Parents, have a trusted coach assess your child to prevent any bias from getting in the way of constructive criticism. Taking a break from competition to train may be the best decision you could make for your athletic career.