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Hey Coach, My Arm is Sore!

By: Cindy Bristow

Is your pitcher just not herself during practice, or have you noticed a drop in her speed? Weekend after weekend and game after game is adding up in the arms of your pitchers so find out how to make sure they can finish their season strong!

Fastpitch Softball pitching arm sore rest hurt injury

This is the time of year when your pitchers are starting to get both sore and tired. That part is not unusual as it’s happening to almost every pitcher out there in travel ball. What matters is that your pitcher knows how to tell the difference between being sore and being hurt.

Of all the things that are important for a pitcher to know one of the most important is being able to tell the difference between when they’re simply sore from having pitched a lot, and when they’re actually injured. It’s the difference between saying my arm is “stiff or sore” and “my arm is killing me!”.

Stiffness and soreness can happen after a pitcher pitches a lot of innings in either a day or an entire weekend, or even when those innings and weekends begin to add up. Any pitcher that pitches for very long will end up stiff and sore but what we all should work hard to avoid is our pitchers getting injured.

Knowing the difference between these two closely related feelings is hard for anyone other than the pitcher to distinguish. I’ve been pitching or working with pitchers most of my life and I can’t tell if a pitcher is sore or injured just by looking at her – only the pitcher can tell. We not only want our pitchers to be stronger at the end of the season when the really important games and tournaments happen, but we also want them to stay injury-free.

While the logical thing to do when any player gets really sore, tired or even injured is to rest, that logic goes out the window when we’re talking about a pitcher. Pitcher’s are often afraid to rest and actually take a break because they think it will somehow hurt their pitching or that they’ll forget how to pitch. While that might sound crazy, the biggest reason that pitcher’s don’t take breaks when their arms are telling them to is that coaches either don’t let them, or don’t insist on it. Players get a little nervous telling coaches they’re sore so you’re going to have to do a better job of knowing the signs.

So let’s look at a few simple things we can all do as coaches and players to help our pitchers take better care of their arms based on whether they’re “sore/tired” or “hurts”.

Sore or Tired:


  • This is the first step for a pitcher on the road to hurt or inured so pay attention to it.
  • It’s common the first 1-3 days after a weekend tournament where the pitcher pitched a lot.
  • Its common 1-3 days after a pitcher threw a long game of 10+ innings or after a weekend of 2-4 games.
  • It happens toward the end of the season when all the practice & games before that have taken their toll on the pitcher’s arm and she gets a tired arm.
  • The pitching arm doesn’t hurt unless you’re pitching.
  • The pitcher will really notice it when she first starts warming up. Her arm will feel stiff or “dead” meaning it doesn’t have any energy.


  • Be sure to warm up slowly and thoroughly. Jog more and raise your body temperature before you start actually warming up your pitches.
  • Make sure you ICE your arm every day – especially after a game or workout.
  • Rest – take a break from pitching at least 1-3 days a week.
  • Cut your practices a little shorter
  • Don’t pitch as fast during practice and don’t pitch at full distance
  • Listen to your arm!

Hurt or Injured:


  • The pitcher will usually say her arm is killing her.
  • Pitching arm hurts at the joints (shoulder, elbow).
  • The pitching arm hurts even if you aren’t pitching.
  • Pitcher never can get warmed up because of the pain.
  • Pitcher can’t throw full speed because her arm is just too sore.


  • ICE and rest!!!
  • Don’t pitch for at least 4-5 days.
  • See a doctor if necessary.

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  1. OMG This works so good !
    I Pitched Yesterday for 6inning’z my arm Was SO Soree
    ,. Today it feels a Lil Better .
    When i put ice on it IT feels 10times more better !

    Comment by Jordann GRAYY ! — May 5, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

  2. I pitched 2 and 1/2 games yesterday!!! We won the state championship!!! Now I am so sore!!!! Ice helps a lot!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Meg — June 27, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

  3. my arm is sore after i pitch not when i pitch just when i throw after pitching what should i do??????????????

    Comment by brittany — May 20, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

  4. Hey Brittany – It’s normal for pitcher’s to have slightly sore arms after they pitch, particularly if they throw really hard or have thrown a lot that particular day. The good news is that your arm doesn’t hurt while you’re pitching! You need to ICE your arm for at least 20 minutes every time after you pitch – practice or games, it doens’t matter. Take care of your arm and it will take care of you, so stretch after you pitch and ice your arm. Best of luck! Cindy

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — May 21, 2012 @ 11:07 am

  5. Hello, Cindy. I know my daughter should ice her arm after a long day of pitching, but should the ice go on her shoulder or her bicep or both?

    Comment by Patricia — June 12, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

  6. Pitchers should put ice around their shoulder area as much as possible since that joint gets a lot of overuse. If any other part of her arm hurts as well, like her elbow or bicep ice those as well. Remember that ice won’t hurt you but injuries will! I hope that helps!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — June 14, 2012 @ 10:18 am

  7. thanks for telling me this I’m a pitcher for my travel softball team and this is really nice info thanks!

    Comment by carley — July 11, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

  8. Hi I am a pitcher and I have been pitching for our last 5 games I’m like in really bad pain and its been there for like 2 weeks and it just hurts if I move my arm a little do you think I should see a doctor or just keep iceing

    Comment by Karen montano — May 11, 2013 @ 1:47 am

  9. You should definitely go see a doctor. Quit pitching until you see one!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — May 13, 2013 @ 8:58 am

  10. I made the All-Stars team in my league and I’ve been practicing my pitching almost everyday after school since I first found out. I found out at the end April. My pitchung finally improved now. But just suddenly last night, whenever I simply when move my arm around in almost any position, it hurts. However, it doesn’t hurt at the elbow and/or shoulder. It hurts in between. Should I just rest and ice it, or do I need medical help?

    Comment by Sonia — June 14, 2013 @ 10:18 am

  11. Sounds like you might need to see a doctor – just to make sure you haven’t hurt anything!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — June 14, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

  12. My daughter keeps complaining the muscles in between her neck and shoulder on throwing arm is knotted up and sore. She has pitched more in last two weeks than normal. Every time she pitches her muscles tighten up. Does this sound like an injury or just overuse and not enough care? She is 12 and we have never iced her before and no one has really suggested it but will start now.

    Comment by Irene — June 17, 2013 @ 11:23 pm

  13. Irene, without watching her pitch I can’t know for sure, but it sounds to me like a combination of her being a little to tense in her shoulders when she pitches (very common in pitchers) and a little overuse. She definitely needs to ice at least once a day. Plus, she needs to take it easy in practice and make sure she’s jogged and warmed up her body temp, then stretched her arms, shoulders a bit before she pitches. If it persists then see a doctor. Good luck!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — June 18, 2013 @ 9:50 am

  14. Hey My daughter started pitching this year and has bed complaining about her arm hurting. The coach however doesn’t listen and made her still pitch. After that she complained so she didnt throw for 3-4 days. Her arm felt better so she went and did her usual 4 warmups. After that she threw 5 pit he’s half way and couldn’t pitch anymore because her arm hurt what should we do?!?!?!?

    Comment by Kendra — June 24, 2013 @ 10:40 am

  15. Ice her arm and take her to see a doctor!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — June 25, 2013 @ 10:24 am

  16. My 12 year old daughter is having pain in her catching arm bicep when she pitches. Even though it is not her pitching arm, it is still impacting her pitching. She can’t go more than half a hour before her velocity and accuracy drop considerably, and we have been ending her lessons with her coach early. My gut tells me she needs to strenghthen her shoulder to handle the load (albeit a small one) of repeadetly holding up her glove in the pitching motion. Anyone experience this before?

    Comment by Romy Goco — November 30, 2013 @ 9:45 pm

  17. Don’t take any chances – go see a doctor and have her arm checked out!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — December 3, 2013 @ 9:02 am

  18. I hit 59 mph a couple of weeks ago. But I’ve done weights since then, about two weeks ago I lost MAJOR speed. I’ve tried again tonight and I’m only throwing 52/53 mph. Nothing hurts when I pitch, but it is like my muscle aren’t wanting to go as fast as what they were before. Is it possible that my shoulder is simply growing and taking a long time to recover? Because I need to be back to where I was in at least a week for a big showcase coming up

    Comment by Summer — December 17, 2013 @ 10:45 pm

  19. Hi Cindy. Last high school softball season I injured my elbow and it has bothered me since. It hurts on the inner part of my elbow and the pain goes all the way up to my rotator cuff, both when i throw overhand and underhand. After I throw my whole arm shakes and my fingers get super weak. I do ice after my workouts but it only helps for a short time. Do you have any idea on what might be going on or what i should do?

    Comment by Haley Schmidt — January 19, 2014 @ 10:29 pm

  20. IV been pitching for about 3 years and I’m 13 I have had to go to the hospital for my shoulder and see a doctor I stoped yesterday I had try outs and pitching is my passion and I don’t want to. Quit so I tried out for pitching and I got all strikes but now my shoulder is KILLING ME!!!!!! what do i do??

    Comment by Katie — March 9, 2014 @ 10:31 am

  21. Katie – you definitely need to go back to the doctor and find out what’s making your shoulder hurt so much. It might be something with your pitching mechanics, but whatever it is you shouldn’t be in pain pitching. Take care of yourself and go see a sports orthopedic doctor. Good luck! Cindy

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — March 12, 2014 @ 11:15 am

  22. I’m 15, they say I’m a great pitcher, I need your help. I pitch first three innings and i’m striking them left and right, but after the fourth inning the start hitting on me, do you think I need to slow down the pitch and then throw them off with a fast pitch? I working on my change up, need alot of help on that. I have a great riser, curve, drop ball.

    Comment by Andrea — March 24, 2014 @ 5:46 pm

  23. Andrea – I think all that’s happening is that the hitters are coming up against you for the 2nd time around the 4th or 5th inning so they don’t want to strike out again, so they are making adjustments. And, they are expecting you to pitch them the 2nd time like you did the first time. You don’t have to slow your pitches doesn’t – but, you could throw more change ups, or simply throw the same pitches but in a different order. Keep them guessing more> Good luck!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — March 25, 2014 @ 5:16 pm

  24. Hello Cindy,
    My 11 year old daughter hurt her shoulder while working on her pitching. She said it went numb and she thought she heard a pop or something. Its been a couple days and she said it still hurts to raise it but not as bad like say pain level at 8 before now 3. Is a tear possible or what would your opinion be on her injury? Im just worried and would feel better if I heard your opinion. Thank you.

    Comment by Dustin Bandy — June 19, 2014 @ 2:40 pm

  25. She needs to see a doctor. I’m not a doctor so doesn’t matter what I think it is. If you think it’s serious, go see a doctor.

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — June 24, 2014 @ 10:58 am

  26. I’m 11 and I pitched for at least 30 mins yesterday and I started pitching further than before I can make it to the catcher but only if I pitch very fast my arm is sore and I have practice today and he will probably make me pitch I tool a Advil and I have it on ice now but do you have any more advise

    Comment by Jordan — August 5, 2014 @ 3:12 pm

  27. Yes, don’t pitch much if at all until your arm feels better. It sounds like you’re either pitching too far, or too long, or both. Try pitching less and from slightly closer until your arm feels better. AND ICE IT!!!! Good Luck!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — August 7, 2014 @ 10:42 am

  28. My 10U daughter (catcher) felt a pinch on her shoulder after throwing from home plate to 2nd base. She felt the pain for about 30 seconds and went away. She continued throwing to 3rd base with no pain. She tried to reach 2nd base on a clear shot instead of one hop as she normally does. She does not have any pain but I’m afraid that if she tries to throw back to 2nd will cause an injury. She also pitches but does not have any pain pitching.

    Comment by Geo Alv — October 2, 2014 @ 10:41 am

  29. we ice our daughter frequently. It helps so much. Another thing we’ve found to be a life savor is massage. Sore neck muscles can be confused for shoulder pain. The first time my daughters neck and shoulders were worked on they removed so many knots! Please also make these girls drink lots of water!!!!! Muscle need hydration. :)

    Comment by K — December 2, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

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