The Biggest Mistake Baseball Players Make When Playing Catch

Over my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with a wide variety of baseball players.  I’ve worked with everyone from youth to MLB Cy Young winners, and I’ve also worked with hundreds of healthy and injured baseball players.

I have found that many baseball players make the same mistake when playing catch, and I think this mistake can cause a lot of soreness, decreased performance, and maybe even injury down the road.

But more importantly, I’ve found that most big leaguers do NOT make this mistake and most injured players DO make this mistake.

The Biggest Mistake Baseball Players Make When Playing Catch

The mistake is simply that they start throwing too hard too early.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a throwing program with someone coming back from an injury and their first few throws are near max effort at my knees from 45 feet!

Throwing a baseball is such a dynamic activity, it’s very stressful on the arm when this happens.  It’s the equivalent of waking up, getting out of bed, and then immediately running sprints.  You’d never do that, you’d maybe stretch out, go for a jog, then start sprinting.

I’ve always used this simple phrase when starting to teach players this concept:

Let distance dictate your intensity.

This is very similar to Alan Jaeger’s concept of stretching out and compressing on the way back in when long tossing, but something I apply to any throwing situation.  The arm needs to get ready for the upcoming demand.

Luckily, this mistake is easy to fix.

Watch my video below to learn how.  I discuss this common mistake and how I teach baseball players to warm up their arm.

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Mike Reinold

Website at MikeReinold.com
Mike Reinold, DPT, SCS, CSCS, is a world renowned physical therapist and performance enhancement specialist and the former Head Athletic Trainer and Physical Therapist of the Boston Red Sox. He is currently the owner of MikeReinold.com and Champion PT and Performance just outside Boston, MA.
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2 replies
  1. john power
    john power says:

    Great article Mike! As a coach/parent of a now 14 yr old I see several issues w/catch/throw warm ups. Many young players, especially pitchers learn to throw (arm slot/foot work) based on one position. Long toss is typically an outfield type throw – full arm motion, body moving forward w/hop, good shoulder/torso deceleration, glove side drive. Many young players stand relatively still and throw w/out these type of mechanics. My concern is that young players are not educated in various arm slots/throwing motions – long arm, short arm, side arm, flip/toss. A long toss program can be detrimental or not helpful if players don’t have the skills to throw w/a full arm motion and decelerate adequately

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