“Tommy John”!

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS April 6, 2015 #535 Up next…”Tommy John”!

After further review…As a kid no one could keep me off the playground after school, or during weekends, holidays, and vacations. No one?  Well, maybe my mom, when it was time for dinner or my chores weren’t done. I always had a ball, glove, bat and the necessary equipment, thanks to dad being a playground director. As the seasons changed, so would my chosen sport, from football to basketball to baseball.

That doesn’t seem to be the case in today’s youth sports. Parents and coaches steer kids toward hopeful success in a single sport, often with the eventual goal of securing a college scholarship and even at the chance to play at the professional level. At very young ages, kids are competing year round in select “club” organizations.

As we begin this year’s baseball season, the name Tommy John surfaces. John was a left-handed major league baseball pitcher who played 26 seasons for six teams (one team twice). He is best known as the namesake for the “Tommy John Surgery,” which occurred in the middle of his career (1974) when he was pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers. John, 13 & 3 at that point in the season, had damaged his ulner collateral ligament. The probable cause of his injury was due to his sinkerball pitch, virtually impossible to hit. It was thought that he would never pitch again. However, he rehabbed the elbow, skipping the 1975 season, and returned to pitch 13 more seasons.

The successful surgery was good news/bad news for baseball as major league elbows today are wearing out at record rates. Already this season two players have opted to have that surgery. “There is a real sense of urgency to understand the entire TJ surgery now”, said Stan Conte, the Dodgers’ vice-president of medical services. Over the past three years there has been an average of 28 TJ surgeries in Major League Baseball, more than double the rate of the years 2000-2010.

What is of bigger concern is that some teenage prospects are electing to have the TJ surgery. The American Sports Medicine Institute said that these injuries begin when these kids are adolescence amateurs. Research points to overuse, poor pitching mechanics, and poor physical fitness. While prematurely throwing curveballs is often a trigger, the ASMI’s research cites insufficient physical development, neuromuscular control, and overuse due to improper coaching as underlying causes.

Will you observe closely how your youngsters develop as balanced and healthy athletes?

To contact Jim go to www.jimtunney.com or email him jim@jimtunney.com.

Three of Jim’s books are available (“101 Best of TunneySide of Sports,” It’s the Will, Not the Skill,” “Impartial Judgment”) are available at the value price of $40.– $20 off the list price. Please email him at the above address. Thank You!


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