When is it too much? Talking with experts in every field, the consensus is that we are overdoing it, so if you want to play year-round, this is an article you will not enjoy.
Dozens of top medical experts are warning that playing almost year-round has led to a dramatic increase in injuries. The body and mind are not built for the constant stress of battle. Fatigue leads to injury. This fatigue is not just physical.
When does she recover? A physical therapist can try to correct imbalances. Let’s say a pitcher uses the wrong muscle in the arm circle. and is in pain. The PT may prescribe a lot of corrective exercises, but if the pitcher is involved in 3 games every weekend, that can be 300 reps using the muscle incorrectly. That muscle is being used powerfully and violently. That can override any effort by the PT to change patterns, tighten up shoulder tendons, to balance muscles, and to allow the body to feel correct movement.
Doing any repeated movement leads to fatigue especially when she is mentally exhausted. The more tired she becomes from school, homework, pitching practices, team practices, then driving or flying to tournaments, eventually fatigue will cause her to simply go through the motions with no emphasis on correct movements. Ouch! She cannot be focused all of the time, especially on one task.
Actually, expecting any athlete to be laser focused for a 10-month season can be mentally unhealthy, especially in her formative years. I know some people in the field, you might call it sports psychology or performance psychology, to whom we refer athletes when their mental games have imploded. Their business is good. They are not particularly happy about growing in that way.
Frequency of play leads to increase in risk. In the past couple of months, because they are on the field so much, my students have torn an ACL running bases or just twisting to make a quick throw to first base, one was in a wrist brace from suffering a nasty line drive, I saw a video of one student barely blocking a line drive coming at her throat, one was hit in the elbow while batting, and one damaged her knee stepping in a little hole in the outfield. We see more injuries not related to pitching than ever.
Emotional well-being. Just as they need muscle balance, they need social balance. They are living in a very specific world, almost sheltered. I love what softball does for them, but always felt that our daughters needed time off to experience a thousand other things in life. Softball comes to an end for everyone. Prepare her to enjoy other worlds.
Financial stress. The cost of travel ball, team dues, equipment, lessons, hotels, meals, and especially flying a family to tournaments, wow! That is stress. She feels it.
Spiritual. Another part of life that is important to many people. It is totally up to you as to how important and how to meet those needs.
I love the game. I also love bacon and chocolate and coffee and Dr. Pepper. I may not be the best one to talk about self-discipline. So, search out the experts’ opinions for yourself while I pour myself another cup.