I'm a sports medicine physician at the university level, and serve as the safety officer for my son's little league. I want to expand our pitcher safety program beyond just monitoring pitch counts, and am using the new Pitch Smart guidelines as a general model. I'm sure you all have noticed that the Pitch Smart guidelines contain a recommendation to "Make sure to properly warm up before pitching", which is not in the ASMI recommendations for youth pitchers. What is missing from the Pitch Smart guidelines is a description of what constitutes an appropriate warmup procedure for youth pitchers.
In our little league many managers make a habit of bringing in a relief pitcher during an inning directly from whatever other position he was playing previously, which gives the reliever very little time to warm up. This intuitively seems inadequate to me, although I could find very little in the medical literature to support to support the warmup recommendation. I would like to propose an alternative in-game warmup procedure to our league that would be better for the relief pitcher but as I am not a pitching coach I don't know what to recommend. The Throw Like A Pro app contains basic recommendations for the starting pitcher but nothing for relief pitchers. I would really appreciate some guidance on what is an appropriate warmup procedure for the little league level. Any links or reference documents would be helpful.
That is a tough one and there is no good answer in the scenario given. I note that most umpires give extra lenience to incoming pitchers in such situations but the rules do not recognize this practice allowing between 5 and 8 warmup pitches except for a pitcher brought in as a result of an injury to the previous pitcher and then it is whatever the pitcher/umpire feels is needed.
The greater the arm muscle mass, the longer it will take to get loose for pitching. Preadolescent kids loosen up quickly but this is of no help to you in formulating a procedure to put in place. Maybe someone will chime in for some practical advice.
Thanks for the reply, daque. The best solution I've been able to come up with so far is to encourage the managers to have a game plan (duh) and anticipate who their next pitcher will be, so that that player can be warming up during the team's previous at bat. The better managers are already doing this.
Your plan is a good one the the situation that usually comes up is that the pitcher runs out of gas or develops a sore arm. No pitcher available in the dugout to get warmed up. Center fielder takes the mound and begins warming up. This is where your question really begins, especially if no injury was involved. I would at least mandate 9 pitches for warmup. That can, I believe, be supported in the rule book of the MLB as a maximum number. Injury situations allow what is needed.
I have a pet peeve in the health arena unrelated to this issue. Maybe you can help me. Catchers seem to be the red headed child of baseball. They are at risk even more in hot muggy weather due to all the gear they wear. I asked in a separate post, this being the 3rd year, what procedures do the readers of this site put into place to help protect them from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration. In those three years, not one reply was received. I know what I did but no sense priming the pump talking to a dead wall. Any thoughts?
Well, I live in coastal central-northern California where heat illness almost never occurs. We do get hot days but the humidity stays low so the heat index is rarely dangerous. However I know that if I did live in the south or the midwest that this would be a big concern of mine, and that I would have a system in place at the league for dealing with it. I'm sure it would involve regular heat/humidity checks and a lot of education for coaches and families. Knowing me I'd probably go out and buy a sling psychrometer so I could check the wet bulb temperature and calculate the heat index myself (although there are probably easier ways to do that nowadays). I would research the different types of catcher gear available and make recommendations to the league to purchase whatever gear provided the least overheating while still maximizing catcher protection. Catchers would be instructed to remove their gear as much of the time as possible when not on defense and all kids and coaches would instructed to remain in the shade whenever possible and to aggressively hydrate with cold water or sports drinks, not waiting until they felt thirsty to drink. Education program would also include education for the warning signs of heat illness, so it could be detected and treated in its early stages in order to prevent it from progressing to heat stroke. Prevention, early recognition and early aggressive intervention is key with heat illness, especially in kids who are more susceptible to it than adults. And you are right, the catcher is at greater risk because of the protective gear. We do have info about heat illness in our LL first aid manual (which I wrote), but if we were in a different part of the country it would be emphasized a lot more. But like I said, it is really a non-issue here for the most part.
Why don't you write an informative booklet, maybe get it published by the manufacturers of chest protectors and attached to it at purchase? Water is the biggest loss factor with low humidity and heat (Arizona) perspiration on clothing may not be noticeable due to rapid evaporation. I have no issues with sports drinks but feel you are paying a lot that water alone will take care of most times. Pregame addition of salt to the meal and drinking more water are both good preventative measures. Watch for the beet red dry face as an early indication of a need for intervention. Get them out of the game and down to their shorts and pour water over them in the shade. I have a sling psychrometer but the wick is no more. Be extra careful on hot days with a relative humidity of 80% or more. Well, enough prattle for the moment. Thanks for letting me vent.