In this 3 part series we will be showing you how to define, calculate and monitor workload.
P.1 Defining Workload
“The organization will be monitoring (insert MLB young star pitcher name here) workload this season to protect his arm.”
All across the game organizations are drawing up guidelines to protect the arms of pitchers. What does it mean to protect an arm though and what should we take away from these measures at the other levels of the game today?
It is important to first understand what it means to monitor “workload”. Often times this is simply viewed as keeping track of a pitch count. As the topic of arm health has evolved in recent years though so have the noted variables that play a factor in arm health. Upon closer evaluation many have seen the flaw in monitoring pitch counts alone. Best stated below, pitch count in a game is only a small part of a much larger picture.
“In high school baseball players, pitch count monitoring does not account for the substantial volume of pitching that occurs during warm-up and bullpen activity during the playing season. These extra pitches should be closely monitored to help mitigate the risk of overuse injury.”
Often times we want an A + B = C equation to apply to arm health. For example, many coaches and parents want to believe that if they do not allow a player to throw X amount of pitches in a game than the player will ultimately stay healthy. As the above journal mentions, though, this is simply not the case. Total throws in a day must include warm up, bullpen pitches and in game throws. Within warm up throws an athlete should also include any weighted ball work they may utilize. Many do not take into account all of the factors at play. Players may have only reached their pitch count on the mound in a single game but they may have doubled or tripled that total in high intensity throws through a single day when all throws have been accounted for. The following factors all play a role in long term health of a pitcher…
Duration– Total time of activity.
Load– The amount of resistance or stress a pitcher undertakes during a throw.
Genetics– The way your body is designed to grow. This can determine each athletes ability to recover and adapt to training. This can also determine each athletes body type and body composition.
Frequency– How often an activity occurs in a given time frame (will typically pertain to a recurring period of time).
Intensity– The exertion level of an activity.
Volume– The total amount the activity that is performed (will typically pertain to a single period of time).
Many today are closely evaluating these topics to determine a training formula to keep pitchers healthy. Organizations are paying large amounts of money to protect their million dollar investments but we still do not have an answer that clearly shows how to keep players 100% healthy. It is often times easy for parents, players and coaches to point a finger one way or another after an arm injury. However taking into account all of the aforementioned variables it may be a more clear to see that it is often times simply not the fault of one single individual, instance or one single factor.
The youngest players in the game today face a challenge. With injury rates continuing to sky rocket it is important that we continue as a baseball community to place emphasis on looking deeper into what causes these injuries and how we can prescribe a simpler solution for players everywhere to follow. As technology continues to advance and our understanding of workload continues to grow we as a community have to be accepting to the change of growth within the game. MLB organizations all have a uniquely different approach to workload. In P.2 and P.3 of this series we will discuss some of the reasons for these differences. We will also illustrate how you to can apply some of these principles to understanding your own development of proper workload.
Note from KineticPro: To fully understand workload be sure to check out our workload workbook. In the header of our website you will see a link you can enter your email to receive your free workload workbook. This series reflects the importance of workload and was released prior to our workbooks release.