We're starting to hear the call to play ball all over the Quad Cities. That means more sore arms from pee-wees to the pros.
As the River Bandits begin the long season, it's the first professional stop for many young players. Some are still in their teens. That's why it's crucial to prevent arm injuries.
"Trying to make sure they're putting their bodies in safe positions," said Pitching Coach Graham Johnson.
Johnson, in his first season with the River Bandits after coaching at the college level, is a man in motion these days.
At the ORA Clinic in Davenport, he uses an indoor mound to teach a proper routine.
"How hard they're throwing," he continued. "How many throws they're going to make."
That routine helps to prevent shoulder and elbow injuries at all skill levels. Players learn that throwing starts from the ground up.
"The mound is a useful tool because it allows us to break down that technique all the way from the feet to the tip of the finger at release," said Dr. Ryan Dunlay, ORA Orthopedics, who also serves as the River Bandits' team doctor.
For Coach Johnson, routine, schedule and discussion with trainers and Dr. Dunlay help to develop a plan for each pitcher.
"It's what helps them feel like they've put themselves in the best position to be successful once they go out on the mound," said Johnson.
That mental edge also builds physical confidence on the hill.
"These guys are professional players," Dr. Dunlay said. "Every little bit helps, and every edge that we can give them as an orthopedic community is going to help them."
For the River Bandits, it gives a purpose to each pitch.
"There's only so many throws you can make in a day," Johnson concluded. "How we can be as efficient as possible to make sure that we're giving our guys what they need to be successful."
On indoor and outdoor mounds, it's a wind-up for wins and healthy arms.