American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting
Source/Disclosures
Source:

Erickson BJ, et al. Presentation 11. Presented at: American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting; July 8-9, 2020 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Erickson reports he receives hospitality/education payments from Arthrex, Smith & Nephew, Linvatec, Stryker and DePuy Synthes; and is an AOSSM and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons committee member.
July 08, 2020
2 min read
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Training with lighter baseballs could improve pitching velocity without injury

Source/Disclosures
Source:

Erickson BJ, et al. Presentation 11. Presented at: American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting; July 8-9, 2020 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Erickson reports he receives hospitality/education payments from Arthrex, Smith & Nephew, Linvatec, Stryker and DePuy Synthes; and is an AOSSM and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons committee member.
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A 15-week baseball training program that utilized lighter baseballs resulted in increased pitching velocity and no injuries, according to a sports medicine specialist at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute.

Velocity is becoming a very important metric by which pitchers are evaluated,” said Brandon J. Erickson, MD, who presented findings of his 6-week weighted baseball throwing program at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, which was held as a virtual meeting.

“What we found is that many players and teams have begun to participate in training programs that are aimed at increasing pitching velocity,” Erickson said.

Brandon J. Erickson
Brandon J. Erickson

While many programs in the past have instructed players to throw with heavier balls, Erickson and colleagues hypothesized use of lighter balls would still increase velocity without the risk of injury.

“If you look at the study by Mike Reinold, where they took two groups of pitchers – had one group throw with heavier balls, one group throw with standard balls over a course of 6 weeks – they found that the heavier baseball training program did increase velocity significantly,” Erickson said. “Unfortunately, it also increased the injury rate. So, 24% of players who did this heavier baseball training program got injured vs. no pitchers in the control group.”

The program included 44 male baseball players aged 10 to 17 years old. They used 3-, 4- and 5-ounce baseballs for 25 sessions during the course of 15 weeks.

“We asked players after every session if they have sustained an injury, and we defined an injury as any issue that caused a player to miss time - either leave a session early or to miss a subsequent session,” Erickson said. “We recorded pitch velocity at four time points - four sessions over the course of the training programs - and pitchers were instructed to throw five fastballs at max effort after they had warmed up,” he added.

After the completion of the 15 weeks, none of the 44 players had sustained an injury. Velocity also increased “significantly and sequentially,” Erickson said.

“So the average increase in fastball velocity from the start to the end of the program was 4.8 miles per hour, and everyone except one player – so 98% of the players – saw some kind of increase in fastball velocity over the course of the program,” he said.

Erickson concluded by acknowledging some limitations to the study and discussing goals for future research.

“We don’t know if these results hold water outside of the 10- to 17-year-old age group, and there was no control group that was used in this study,” he said. “So, the goal is to institute this program again – potentially include some of those other groups and weighted baseballs – and to follow these players throughout the course of a season to see if anyone gets injured.”