Hi Dr. Fleisig, thank you for all of your valuable input. I am a father and youth coach who is very interested in protecting our boy and girl overhand throwers from injury. Have you heard about the football changeup? Youth throw the ball like a football (palm facing first base rather than third base). They do not break their wrist. The motion slows the ball down and causes it to break. I'm interested in your thoughts on the stress/risk of injury (if any) that this woiuld place on a 10, 11, 12 year old boy. Thank you!
I agree that it would be good to know Dr. Feisig's take on this. Here's mine; but keep in mind I'm not a doctor or any kind of expert in physiology, just a dad and sometime coach.
First of all, the way you explain the pitch is a bit off. It's easier to imagine, and to coach, if you think of the arm action as a hard karate chop with the fingers staying on the right side of the ball as it's released. But you're right, there is no wrist break. The spin and action of the pitch is between a slider and a curve.
I was taught this pitch when I was younger; as a LL coach I had a personal rule against teaching kids curveballs of any kind, so the only kids I ever taught were my own. Both were very, very effective LL pitchers partially as a result of their command of this pitch. Neither ever had elbow trouble. But the pitch only works at LL distance. Once you get to 50', good hitters will tee off on it. At 55' and above, everybody will tee off on it.
Post by Brett Ivey on Jun 23, 2014 10:54:11 GMT -6
Hi I work here at ASMI. I previously played baseball at a university. I actually have experience throwing this pitch. It is definitely more of a curve ball than a change up because of the supination of the wrist at ball release. Even though it is more of a curve ball action it is still safe for anyone to throw this pitch, as research has shown that normal curve balls are not inherently more stressful on the elbow or shoulder anyways. If thrown with full effort it can still be very effective and have sharp break. You can either throw it with a four fingers like an actual football or with two fingers like a curve ball, which is how I threw it. This pitch is safe for anyone to throw and in my personal experience I never experienced any elbow or shoulder pain from it.
Brett: You have me a bit confused when you said, "...supination of the wrist at ball release. Even though it is more of a curve ball action it is still safe for anyone to throw this pitch, as research has shown that normal curve balls are not inherently more stressful on the elbow or shoulder anyways."
The normal curve ball (MLB curve) ends up in pronation at release whereas the slider and slurve end up in pronation. How are you comparing the two?
Additionally, please cite the research that you refer to. Thanks.
Post by Brett Ivey on Jun 23, 2014 15:56:31 GMT -6
When you throw this type of off-speed pitch the wrist is a little supinated when you release it. The action im referring to is the break or path of the ball, I am sorry for not being clear. When you throw a normal curve your wrist should be supinated when you release the ball. I was also not comparing the slider and the curve I was comparing the "football change/curveball" and a normal curve-ball. Both are supinated at wrist when you release them the curve ball is just a little more. If you would like to see a reference for the supination of the wrist during a curve ball I can reference that for you as well, it was also a paper written by Dr. Flesig.
Research by Dr. Fleisig....
“The biggest risk factor for elbow injuries in young pitchers is the curveball.” Not true. Too much competitive pitching and pitching while fatigued are the biggest risk factors.4,5,6 While biomechanical research8,9,10 and epidemiologic research4,6 have not shown a strong connection between curveball and elbow injuries, a youth pitcher may not have enough physical maturity, neuromuscular control, and proper coaching instruction to throw a curveball with good mechanics. The first steps should be to learn, in order: 1) basic throwing, 2) fastball pitching, 3) change-up pitching.7
When my younger son was pitching LL, an out of town relation who happens to be a pediatrician saw him pitch a complete game. After the game, she started lecturing me about curve balls, which I was used to at the time, and I replied with my usual "studies have shown that overuse is the culprit not curve balls" response. She listened, said she'd check it out, and also said just be sure that he is pronating as he decelerates. If he is supinating, and it looks like he might be, he's likely to end up with elbow problems.
I got hold of a super high-speed camera and took a look at him throw the football curve. What I saw was that he was releasing the ball at about shoulder level, or a little above, with the pinky edge of his hand still toward the ground, but that immediately after release, his hand began rotating counterclockwise, so that his thumb was pointed down by the time his hand reached the level of his hips.
John: What you describe as to him pronating with his curve is no more harmful than the fast ball assuming that he is a right hander. Pitches that end up in supination such as the LL curve (slurve) and slider are problematic for the medial epicondyle of the elbow regardless of the position of AMSI regarding same. The research referred to was flawed in more than one way. I have seen the deformed elbows and limitation of motion so telling me that it is not harmful is like telling me about the research stating that it is scientifically proven that a bumblebee cannot fly. In fairness that research was debunked and I believe the ASMI position will also be. Forced supination is dangerous to the elbow.
By the way, overuse is the main culprit but poor technique is a contributing factor along with inadequate rest time. The problem is complex and there is no one factor to correct to protect those kids. Pitch counts is not the be all and end all but it is the most prominent help we have at the time with coaches who cannot or will not teach proper mechanics.