Arm care part one

Our two-part “Arm care” series features a Q&A with two of the foremost experts on shoulder and elbow injuries:

Dr. Michael G. Ciccotti is a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Chief of Sports Medicine, and Director of the Sports Medicine Fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University. He also serves as the Head Team Physician for the Philadelphia Phillies, and is the President of the Major League Baseball Team Physicians Association.

Michael Ciccotti

Michael Ciccotti

Dr. W. Ben Kibler is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and shoulder and elbow conditions with the Lexington (Ky.) Clinic. He has worked with professional baseball since 2001, and has been involved in spring training medical education for all levels of the Houston Astros’ sports medicine staff. He received his M.D. from Vanderbilt University, where he was an All-SEC outfielder for the Commodore baseball team


Michael Ciccotti: There are so many theories as to why there seems to be an epidemic of pitchers with UCL and other catastrophic injuries. One of the theories is the sports specialization that occurs so early in life. These pitchers that are currently in Major League Baseball in their first, second, or third year seem so protected, pitching every fifth day and with very strict pitch counts. In spite of that, we have this high incidence of catastrophic injury, whereas decades ago we had pitchers that would pitch every fourth day and with virtually no limit in terms of pitch counts in a single game.

Ben Kibler

Ben Kibler

Ben Kibler: First of all, it appears that the actual number of elbow and shoulder injuries is going up across the board from about age 15 on up. Secondly, our ability to treat these injuries is less than sterling. We operate on these people and they don’t get back to 100 percent and sometimes not even close to 100 percent.

We seem to hear a lot that players do better after Tommy John surgery and there is some evidence that for a short time you can achieve a level of competitiveness again, but it takes over a year and it makes the career shorter in the long-run. The point is that the treatment is not the answer.

The third point is that the impression of the major league team physicians and medical staffs is that they’re having to play “catch up” once players get into their system. There are a lot of miles on arms and other injuries on these guys once they show up. [The physicians and medical staffs] feel that there is a higher percentage of guys that are being drafted that have some wear and tear, stiffness, bad mechanics, a lot of things that make it harder for them to succeed at the highest level.


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Pressure is all around us (part 1)

by Justin Brown, Assistant Baseball Coach at Mount Vernon Nazarene University (OH)

If you have been around the world of collegiate baseball for any time at all, certainly you are familiar with the concept of pressure. Pressure is all around the game of baseball itself, but especially at the college level. It’s not just on the field itself, but in the dugouts as well, pressure will follow anyone who is trying to make a career associated with this game. For athletes the pressure feels different and looks different than it does for coaches, however, pressure is certainly present for both athletes and coaches alike. The pressure that I am speaking of is not necessarily the nerves, doubt, and fear of failure that we find in the athletic realm. The pressure that I am speaking of is the worry/fear/gut wrenching angst that plagues us day in and day out, the fear that the course we are on may not actually come to be. This type of pressure is not a quick fix for a mental coach on how to throw strikes or make solid contact. Pressure has many forms. Continue reading

Recruiting is a two-way street

IMG_0022.PNG“If you’re good enough, they’ll find you” is a myth

It’s true that the internet has given coaches the ability to see and evaluate (to a certain extent) players near, far and everywhere in between, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to sit back and wait for schools to come knocking. Here are some tips to help you seek out the right school for you:

1. Make good grades. You will be recruited first because of your ability and awareness. Obviously, grades are certainly a very important aspect of this: high academic marks result in additional scholarship money, which can be a great aid to players, parents, and coaches alike.

2. Don’t send a bunch of e-mails, send a bunch of quality e-mails. Considering the immense amount of emails that coaches get on a daily basis, anything stating something like, “Coach, I love your school and really want to play for your program” is probably going to get deleted. So for example, after you find out that Coach John Doe at State University College has just lost all three of his left handed pitchers to graduation, drop him a line explaining that you’re a left-handed pitcher with some good breaking stuff and remember to add a link to your YouTube channel.

3. Use your references. Find a coach (or a couple of them) that will reach out to college coaches on your behalf, if they’re not already. Make sure you let them know where you would like to go and get their opinions on how they see you fitting into those particular programs, if they’re familiar with them. If your coach doesn’t seem willing to reach out to certain higher-echelon, Division I programs, then take a hint and aim a little lower. Or if you’re convinced that you’re flying that low under the radar, you can always just quit seeking your coaches’ help. Chances are, however, they are looking out for your best interests as a student-athlete and their best interests as an “advance scout” for college programs – remember you’re probably not the first player in your high school program that will go on to play college ball. Also remember that there are a lot of high school coaches with very good reputations as liaisons to colleges, and that’s because they’re honest. Conversely, there are many poor reports that are heard often about “five-tool players” and “diamonds in the rough” that fall of deaf and tired ears.

4. Gather information. Understand the personnel needs of the school(s) that you hope to attend. For example, if you’re a first baseman and there’s a school on your radar that’s already got a bunch of them, it’s not likely that they’ve earmarked scholarship money (or a spot on the roster at all) for another.

5. Make a list, and check it twice. Have you only ever had one good, recurring dream that occurs over and over when you sleep? No, probably not. Then why would you limit yourself to just one “dream school?” It’s fine to have a “favorite,” but it’s just unrealistic to LIMIT yourself to just one school, and it is likely to set you up for failure and disappointment.

6. Find a school that fits. Once you’ve made a list, start visiting campuses! Take a tour and do some research on who offers what in terms of majors before you look into the baseball program. Find a place where you can see yourself as a student before you start thinking about being an athlete. After all that, go to a couple baseball camps and for goodness sakes, go check out a game! How can you have legitimate interest in playing for a team that you’ve never seen in person?

7. Go somewhere you can play. There are around 500,000 high school baseball players across the country. In 2013, there were 298 NCAA Division I baseball teams, each with 35-man rosters. That’s a roundabout way of saying that only 2% of high school baseball players end up playing Division I baseball. Some of the best players in the country are currently with Division II, III, NAIA and junior college programs because they went somewhere where they could play right away. offering clinic videos to all

ABCAVideos now available online, with special discounts for members and free access to Convention attendees

If you attend the ABCA Convention this January, there’s a huge benefit coming your way. All convention attendees will get free online access to the Orlando clinic videos on the new website. “It’s an initiative we’re really excited about,” said Jon Litchfield, the ABCA’s Communications & Business Coordinator. “This will really increase the availability of our coaching clinic videos from the conventions.”

The website, which launched in early October, offers every clinic video since 2008 for instant download to any device. “You pay once for access to the video, and it’s in your online library for good. You can buy individual videos or packages from the whole convention,” Litchfield said. “We’re also going to come out with some other packages as well.”

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Thank you, Boston

Who could’ve guessed that would provide parents with their questions regarding their children’s playing time (okay, maybe a few votes for in there). Either way, thanks for our friends in the northeast for answering the ‘why isn’t my kid playing’ question:

They’re not good enough!