What Can A Toddler Teach Us About Pitching?

By Jonathan Massey-



Everyone meet my niece, Charley. She is the most precious thing in the world! My wife, Sarah, and I love her to pieces. She is 17 months old and full of spunk and sass, so please say a prayer for my sister and her husband (she will be a handful as she gets older).


Now, what can we learn about pitching from a 17-month-old? Well, Charley, like most 17-month-olds, is constantly running around and getting into things. As to be expected, every now and then, Charley will bump into something or trip and fall. At that moment, it’s like a silent message gets sent to everyone in the room and it says, “Whatever you do, do NOT look at her”. Why? Because we inherently know that babies are incredibly resilient, and that a little bump isn’t going to hurt them. Yet, if you look at them in that moment, they will undoubtedly start to cry and want you to comfort them. Yes, there might be a tear or 2 in their eyes, but if you avoid eye contact, after a moment, they will continue like nothing ever happened.


So again, what does this have to do with pitching? Well, sometime between when a kid is born and when they turn 14, 15, or 16 years old, we forget just how resilient human tissue can be. We handle these athletes with “kid gloves” – “Don’t throw too much today because you have to pitch this weekend”. I have no real evidence to back this up, but I believe that more arm injuries occur because of a lack of preparation than from overwork. I actually cringe a little when I hear a dad say, “Yeah, he hasn’t thrown very much so he’ll be fresh.”


Now, I’m not saying, “Alright, go out and throw 150 pitches, you’ll be fine.” There are some general guidelines on how to build a pitch count.


  1. Throwing is skill-specific. This means if you want to be able to throw more, you have to throw more. You cannot arm care your way to having more resilient soft tissue. Throwing is just too specific of a skill to replicate without actually throwing.
  2. Start early. The slower the buildup process, the better it is for the soft tissue. Tendons and ligaments are the least vascularized of any of the soft tissue, which means they get the least amount of blood flow and take the longest to adapt to the stress that is applied. So, give yourself plenty of time – it is better to be ready a week or 2 early than to be scrambling at the end to try to make up time.
  3. Nothing can replace in-game throwing. There are reasons why a big leaguer’s first outing in spring training is 1 to 2 innings AFTER 2 weeks of throwing pens. It’s because as soon as you put a batter in the box and an umpire behind the catcher, the pitcher’s adrenaline kicks in and the stress on the arm increases.


Stress is not a bad thing, it can actually be a very good thing. The only way to strengthen soft tissue is to stress it.


Now, is Charley at risk to really hurt herself? Of course she is. But if we swing in there every time she bumps her head, we actually stifle her development. We do the same to pitchers if we handle them delicately. Our goal should be to over-prepare them for what we ask of them, yet most players out there will be or are underprepared.

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Important TBR Updates


  • Information and dates for our 2022 3-Day Elite Pitchers Bootcamps can be found on our website.  Our May 28-30 camp is sold out and June 10-12 camp is at limited capacity. Space is filling up fast so don’t delay! Call the office or fill out the online registration form(s) to reserve your spot. https://www.texasbaseballranch.com/elite-pitchers-bootcamp/ 



  • Would you like to experience both?  We do have that option.  Attend one of our 3-Day Elite Pitchers Bootcamps and Add-On one week of our Summer Program.  Call for the details (936) 588-6762.

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