30+ year old’s experience after injury (Torn labrum) | Talk Pitching | TopVelocity Baseball Forum
July 23, 2013
I wrote Brent an e-mail and he asked me to post it in the forums. I don’t know how often I will get back to the forums…so direct questions to Brent because even though I am curretly 39 years old I am very green when it comes to using the principles and terminology that Brent uses. I don’t ever expect to know 1/2 of what Brent does…just being able to point people in the right direction is good enough for me right now…I have a day job..:)
My father was drafted by the Detroit Tigers but instead took a full ride scholarship to a D1 college. He pitched in the Flint, Michigan area during the hay days of baseball. They had some very competitive teams/leagues in the Flint area in the 1960’s and 1970’s and during that era my father stood out as the #1 pitcher in the area. What young guys today need to understand is that back then if you weren’t signed when you were a teenager/right out of high school they considered you old as a pitching prospect. In your early 20’s most guys couldn’t get signed as a pitcher because they were considered too old. It isn’t like it is today whereas they turn over every rock looking for pitching talent and they will sign an older guy if he has the talent. So, my point for sharing all of this info is to show that I came from a baseball background. I was around baseball, played baseball as a young boy and my father was a very accomplished pitcher.
I was shown the “basic” pitching motion growing up as most boys are shown. My motion was better than most but I could only throw slightly faster/harder than the average pitcher of the same age. I always had a lot of pain after pitching. My shoulder and back on my pitching side (right handed) were always sore for a long time. This of course was attributed to everything: I was not training my body correctly before pitching, not using correct mechanics and after pitching was not taking care of my body to help it recuperate. I also ate as a young man ate…not the best. I was consistently a #4 or 5 pitcher on really good teams and a #1 or #2 when playing on weaker teams. I threw strikes and had an intense desire to win but lacked the velocity to be considered a #1 pitcher on good teams. I also lacked explosiveness…I was never quick. I never used my legs properly. I was an average speed for a runner and never worked on becoming faster, quicker or stronger with my legs. My father on the other hand did have great leg strength and was a fast runner. What he did pitching by using his legs I tried to do solely with my arm and would eventually pay the price.
I still remember the pitch, the feeling and the noise like it was yesterday. I was 15 pitching in a High School Junior Varsity game. I released the ball (Strike 3 on the batter) and I felt a tear in my shoulder and it sounded like someone unzipping a zipper. I had torn my labrum. The medical reference is a SLAP lesion tear. You can type it in on YouTube and watch surgeries they conduct to repair it. Immediately after the pitch it began to hurt a little and bothered me to the point where after a couple of more pitches I came out of the game. I had therapy on it…heat, ice, massage, rehab, strengthening…everything you could do for it and nothing helped. There was a continual throbbing pain all day every day. I struggled thru it continuing to play baseball for years. I no longer had good pitching control, lost velocity, had constant pain, my arm angle dropped even lower to help compensate for the pain, couldn’t follow thru to throw a decent curveball or slider. I continued to play summer rec league ball for years mainly playing outfield because I loved playing but the shoulder never got better. I was to the point where I was going to quit playing baseball forever and decided to try one more thing. I found a shoulder brace on-line and bought it. That brace stabilized my shoulder and for the first time in 10+ years I had much much less pain throwing the ball therefore I was more accurate and had more velocity. It dawned upon me that I “had a chance” to play again. I used the shoulder brace for a couple of summers before I finally went to see an orthopedic surgeon. I know, some of you are reading this saying to yourself that “You should have gone after you originally hurt it”….I know I know but back then they just tried to rehab it. A labrum tear wasn’t as recognizable as it is today. At 30 years of age I had surgery on it and it was a 1 year rehab. It hurt for a long time but after completely healing my shoulder felt very good and was at 85-90% of what it used to be. For everyday living/use it was fine…no pain at all, I could do what I wanted to and could lift weights without it bothering me at all. I still used the shoulder brace to help stabilize and take the “shock” out of the shoulder when throwing and it helped for a long time. Of course I pushed the shoulder…hopping back on the mound pitching in a 30 and over men’s baseball league. I could throw decent and with the shoulder brace on I was back to pitching….but I was still using my old pitching motion/mechanics and again was very sore for a long time after pitching.
Mechanics…one thing leads to another:
With YouTube, web sites, home video use, local experts ect…the transfer of knowledge is amazing today. I was struggling hitting a couple of years back and so I went on line to check out some hitting instructional videos and of course learned a lot, applied it and can really crush the ball with consistency now. As I was doing searches for hitting many times instructional videos would pop up for pitching …but since I cannot pitch until I am 40 in my current baseball league I never clicked on them. But since I am now 39 I figured that I have 1 year to “get in shape” to pitch when I am 40. That led me to searching YouTube and watching instructional videos. I have watched many and some were basic and some were a little more in depth but what captured my eye was the video analysis Brent was posting. I am an engineer and one of the questions I have always had was “Why can some guys throw hard and some can’t?” I’ve seen little guys throw hard and big guys throw slow…so what are the major factors causing these drastic differences? I am 6’ 1”, 220lbs and can bench press 315lbs so why can’t I throw harder? Only after asking that question and watching instructional videos like Brent’s did the light truly go on in my head. Brent has taken the same approach…to answer the question why some guys can throw hard and some can’t. He has done the right thing…analyze guys that can do it, find commonalities and then apply them to physics, mechanical advantage principals, the physiology of the human body…i.e. take all of the variables of the pitching motion and find the best set of characteristics to apply to the pitching motion to obtain the highest consistent velocity possible while spreading the entire stress of the pitching motion throughout the body getting the larger muscle groups in the body to do more therefore limiting the stress on the smaller muscle groups reducing injury rates and hastening recovery.
Re-injury, changing mechanics and the reason you should listen to Brent’s teachings:
I believe things happen for a reason in your life and most of the time we don’t get to understand why for a long time after the event. Last year at the age of 38 I re-tore the labrum in my shoulder trying to throw a guy out at home from the outfield. I wound up and really threw as hard as I could and from that day on I’ve had that same nagging pain day after day in my shoulder no matter whether I am playing baseball or just doing regular every day activity….the same pain I had when I tore it the first time so I know a re-tear is causing the pain. This summer is when I started to really watch the pitching instructional videos and only a few weeks ago stumbled across Brent’s YouTube postings. I watched with great interest. Everything he said made sense. The pitching motion I had always used since my youth was filled with “What not to do” and for the first time I was seeing the reasoning in slow motion video with explanations and examples. I watched many video analysis posts taking mental notes of what Brent was saying during each portion of the wind up and delivery. I then took those mental notes out to the mound and started applying them one by one. I know I can’t remember everything and by no means am I doing everything right but I broke them down to basic movements, worked on them little by little and have seen a tremendous positive change in my pitching. The list of changes I have been working on include:
- I now am using my legs MUCH more than I ever have in the past. For the first time ever my push off leg is finally getting the work out it always should have had
- I now keep my back leg much straighter. I used to bend my knee right away when starting my motion home. I still bend it a too much out of habit…but I am working on it
- I am getting my left leg much higher and at a better angle when raising it to start my motion
- I am leading more with my hips now
- I am staying “closed” much longer. I used to break my hands and really fly open much too quickly.
- I am really working on my “explosiveness” to the plate…i.e. legs much more. This is such a change to me because I used to try to do it all with my arm henceforth the strain and injury
And the list goes on and on…even though I know I am nowhere near doing everything right I am on the right path and have noticed significant positive changes: throw harder, much less strain on the entire arm, better arm speed for better breaking balls ect..
If you skip everything else and only read one thing, read this:
My injury (Torn Labrum) was 100% due to very poor mechanics. Even with my labrum currently re-torn I can throw off the mound and there is very little stress on my shoulder when trying to apply the correct principals that Brent outlines. As soon as I try throwing using my “old” mechanics there is tremendous pain and strain on my shoulder while going through my old motion full of very detrimental mechanics. If during the very next pitch I go back to trying to apply the mechanics Brent preaches the strain and pain is reduced greatly. It is a night and day difference. The bottom line is that when using poor mechanics I can physically feel it due to my injury and therefore I can also feel the difference/the improvement when using more proper mechanics. I am also much LESS sore the next day. My shoulder doesn’t throb in pain, my elbow has very little pain and I have no pain in my back like I used to. Of course I can’t guarantee that you will never obtain an injury using Brent’s mechanics…but I can testify thru 1st hand experience that there is less strain when using proper mechanics. I think Brent even says in one of his video analysis when using Chapman that “When throwing 100mph anything could go wrong”..i.e. injury of some type because there is just so much force and mass moving forward so quickly. The old adage of if you’re throwing correctly the arm is “along for the ride” really does seem to apply. Instead of trying to just throw all arm the larger muscles throughout the body need to do more of their fair share of the work.
A baseball/pitching coach not using video is not using all of the tools at his disposal. I believe that 100%. So many of the details are not noticeable by the naked eye. We can see larger errors in the mechanics but as everyone knows; the devil is in the details. If I ran a high school team I would buy Brent’s system and everyone would watch it and apply the principals as well as the physical work out portion of it. I have umpired in my area for nearly 15 years and still have never heard of any coach using video analysis for either batting or pitching instruction. Some guys go to private instructional facilities but 99.9% never have and never will. I know that most guys would never master it…but they would be much better mechanically and I’d have them constantly working on getting better. The days of a pitching coach standing there saying “All you need to do is open up” are long gone for serious pitchers. When do you open up, how, what opens first…ect…those are the questions that need to be asked and only using video can you see all of the variables and address them one at a time. Serious people will use video for hitting and pitching…I firmly believe that. Even if they only use it sparingly they will still want to see what they are doing right and wrong all of the time. As afore mentioned I have been an umpire for 15 years and I now find myself noticing so many things young baseball pitchers and hitters are doing wrong. I now see why there are so many blown out elbows and shoulders littered across the fruited plain. I coach my daughter’s softball teams and am very successful because I have them using the correct throwing and hitting mechanics while every other team has terrible hitting and throwing mechanics due to their coach not applying the correct knowledge to help them. Last I knew yelling “Hit the ball” or “Throw strikes” doesn’t help anyone with their mechanics. If learning from my mistakes can save just one kid from experiencing the same injury/set backs I did, it’ll be worth it. I have a video camera I tape myself with and of course see many things to keep working on but I feel I have a new understanding and a new starting point for pitching that puts me much further ahead of the mechanics I was using in the past. Use proper mechanics, use video analysis and take care of your body. That is my plan for the next 10-20 years I hopefully have left playing this great game of baseball.
April 27, 2008
July 23, 2013
I agree 100% Brent. Young men/aspiring pitchers of tomorrow need to understand how important it is to use the right mechanics and that every last detail of the pitching motion is important. They also need to understand that it takes a LOT of work to achieve their goals and nobody is giong to give them anything. They will have to earn it all thru working both smarter and harder….and luckily they have you to help them with both of those.
July 23, 2013
I located some old footage of me pitching as a Freshman in High School. Long story short, I am embarrassed to post it. You name it and I was doing it VERY wrong when it comes to mechanics. I was drop and driving, my front leg was flying open, my left glove arm was flying open ect…looking at it now after being educated by Brent it is embarrassing. I can now see why I did tear the labrum in my shoulder due to the excessive shoulder strain.
I also looked at some video footage of my father pitching and guess what? His mechanics were much closer to being “right”… he was keeping torsion on his right leg, he was good at starting quickly towards home with his hips, he kept his left lead leg back a long time ect….so in essence he was doing a lot of things right with his mechanics. As I told Brent, he was nearly 60 years old and still striking out guys half his age because he still had good velocity and good breaking balls. His hip to shoulder separation wasn’t ideal, but a lot of the rest of his wind up was pretty good. Henceforth now I can see why he was one of the harder throwers in our area for many years. He also had pin point control and good breaking balls so he got a lot of people out over the years.
Literally in the last month of my adult men’s baseball league I started throwing according to the 3X ideals. This was the 1st time in my life I had ever lead with my hips, kept torsion on my rear/right leg and worked hard to create hip to shoulder separation and then finally stabilize at front foot strike. I can’t pitch until I am 40 but just playing outfield, playing catch before the game ect…I was practicing the 3X mechanics. I told Brent that the difference was unbelievable. As stated above I am a fairly strong guy to start with…with mass…so as I started to throw with correct mechanics I could throw the ball much further, much harder and with less effort. I believe that I have seen such a big difference quickly because I have more strength to start with and my mechanics were so horrible to start with. As I started doing one thing at a time and then stared stringing more correct mechanics together it all added up in a big hurry. Of course I have much further to go..I need more core work, leg strength and to just become more explosive. I credit all of my gains to Brent’s approach to mechanics and to the way he teaches/explains them. I have to admit that the 1st time I threw off a mound leading with my hips it was a really strange experience. I had never lead with my hips before and starting forward as soon as my front leg came up made me feel like I was going to fall to the ground…but as I kept concentrating on one part of the mechanics at a time the overall timing has gotten much better. I look at who 2 of the hardest throwers in our league are…and when you watch them throw they are doing everything that Brent talks about as far as having good mechanics. What an incredible eye opener Brent’s entire program has been. I know that most of the guys coming to him are younger but I have guys in their 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s learning from his overall program. Sure we aren’t trying out for a pro team but we are still competing and trying to be the very best players/pitchers that we can be. In the last week of our season I threw out 3 guys from right field…2 at third and the fastest guy in the league at home. I listened to what Brent said about position players…how they basically use the same motion (with different stride lengths) to throw with as his 3X pitching motion. I watched video of Rick Ankiel throw and of course Brent was 100% correct. If you watch Rick throw he looks just like a 3X pitcher but with a sideways crow hop first in most cases. So, going into that last week of games that is how I threw…using the 3X approach from the outfield and it made a huge difference. I couldn’t be happier and I am going to work very hard this winter getting ready for next summer. Thanks again Brent for your incredibly insightful information!
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