The Running Doctor: Learning proper technique in youth baseball

In the past I have had the privilege of being a Little League coach whose team finished one season with the All Stars.

When you are throwing or hitting the ball, proper technique involves bringing your arms in toward the body. The body position is also important in both throwing and hitting the ball as we use the entire body including the upper body, hips, and legs.

Proper technique involves pointing your front hip and upper body towards the person you are throwing to, or the direction the ball is pitched. The motion goes from back to front, as the back motion follows front motion. There should be a 45-degree position of the feet as the front foot is in line with the back foot. The front shoulder assumes the position of the back shoulder. A good method for developing this technique is from start to finish before it actually takes place. Many athletes can use this mental rehearsal procedure as a means of improving their technique to gain improved performance.

Prior to the actual practice session or game, muscles should be stretched or strengthened safely during warm-up. Utilize easy limbering movements until you feel the muscle is ready to go. In addition, a brisk and easy run around the entire field will aid your breathing and heart rate to respond to the all-out running in the field plays and base running. Using proper techniques in body position and warm-up stretching and strengthening exercises may save you lost time from injuries.

In the past while sharing some of my baseball articles with Paul Hartzell (a former major league baseball pitcher) he was kind enough to share some advice which is worthwhile to review to future young pitchers.

He pitched six seasons for the California Angels, Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles and Milwaukee Brewers. In June 1977, Hartzell became one of the very few major league pitchers to be credited with two wins in one day, in defeating the Texas Rangers in both games of a doubleheader.

Paul’s advice (especially for young arms and legs) comes from all those pitches and outcomes. They are as follows:

Never throw a curveball or a slider until you are 19 years or older.

Never throw a baseball from October 15 to January 5 as the arm needs rest. When throwing 10 or 11 or 12 months of the year, it can cause more serious injuries to young players at every level. Let the arm rest.

Dr.Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist. He was a former member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the Olympic Marathon Trials. Dr. Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathons. For more information visit www.facebook.com/drrobertweiss