Arm care programs consisting of upper extremity strengthening and stretching have been recommended for injury prevention for pitchers of all ages. There has been no investigation into high school baseball coaches’ usage and perceptions of arm care programs to mitigate physical impairments associated with injuries in baseball players.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the current usage of arm care programs by high school baseball coaches. The primary objective was to determine if coaches use group-based or individualized arm care programs. The secondary objective sought to determine if the use of arm care programs is influenced by coaches’ age, education, and experience level. Finally, this study explored the potential barriers to arm care implementation and high school baseball coaches’ current awareness and beliefs of injury prevention.
Descriptive cross-sectional survey
A 29-item online survey was emailed to 18,500 high school baseball coaches throughout the United States. Data were collected for three months, and the response rate was 3.7%.
A total of 87.3% (n=571/654) of responding coaches use arm care programs with their players. Of coaches performing arm care, only 18.5% of 571 individualize their arm care exercises based on specific player needs. However, older and more experienced coaches are more likely to individualize their programs. Among the 12.7% (n=83/654) of coaches who do not use arm care programs, the two most commonly cited reasons for not implementing arm care were lack of observed benefit (41%) and insufficient staff (31%). Although 42% of 654 coaches recognized reduced shoulder mobility as a major contributor to injury, risk factors such as throwing with a fatigued arm, previous injury history, and throwing > 8 months per year were not consistently identified as primary risk factors.
The results of this study suggest that the majority high school baseball coaches implement group-based arm care exercise programs to prevent injury. Lack of confidence in the effectiveness and staffing limitations were major barriers to implementation of arm care programming. However, the responding coaches exhibited inconsistent risk factor awareness and dated injury prevention beliefs. Therefore, better educational collaboration between rehabilitation professionals and high school coaches regarding injury risk factors and preventative strategies is warranted.
Level of Evidence
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Matsel, Kyle A.; Weiss, E. E.; Butler, R. J.; Hoch, Matthew C.; Westgate, Philip M.; Malone, Terry R.; and Uhl, Timothy L., "A Nation-Wide Survey of High School Baseball Coaches’ Perceptions Indicates Their Arm Care Programs Play a Role in Injury Prevention" (2021). Physical Therapy Faculty Publications. 123.