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Knee savers? Pros, cons?

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  • CatchingCoachJR
    replied
    Hey guys,


    So that the info has a permanent place on this forum, I'll re-post the article that was linked to by Ralanprod.

    Running a camp for catchers around the country, this is definitely one of the most common questions we are asked. Personally, I never liked wearing them. But of the 100+ catchers who attend our two weeks of summer camp each year, usually more then 40 will wear them. Now technically speaking, a catcher with a good stance will almost never touch them unless they are in the sign-giving stance. However, the question that has always bothered my father and I was what amount of research was done in the development of the Knee Savers regarding catchers, prolonged squatting, and eventual knee damage anyway.

    To get that answer we spoke at lengh with Dr. Douglas Farrago, the doctor in Maine who actually designed them, patented them in 1991, and sold the rights to Easton. What we learned was that there was no specific study done relating to catchers or sports at all. Certainly not on the preventative value of knee savers on young healthy athletes. All of the research which was done, and the subsequent conclusions drawn from that research, was from work done with coal miners. You know, 6-ft tall, middle-aged miners in 4-ft high caves. Lots of squatting going on there for sure. The application for catchers was a spinoff from that research, and when it was applied to catchers it was initially applied to older MLB catchers with existing knee conditions.

    Dr. Farrago made it very clear that the Knee Savers MUST be worn on the lower strap settings to avoid putting pressure on the back side of the knee joint. He gave the example of placing a tennis ball behind your knee and duct taping it there and then attempting to crouch. The damage done from placing those pads directly behind the knee will far outweigh the damage done over time while playing the position without them.

    Now, seeing that the knee is designed to bend that way, we also asked him whether it is the mere act of repeated squatting that causes this damage or something else? My father's illustration was "why are their entire Asian cultures that spend more time in a catchers squat position as a daily routine and no real increase in degenerative knee disorders? Elderly people in these cultures are in that position for hours a day, yet they do not seem to need Knee Savers." Dr. Farrago had thought about that situation himself and does not have a medical reason why they do not suffer from this "catcher specific" problem. He questioned whether it may have to do with the fact that from childhood these people sit that way, but he was not positive.

    However, after talking with a few more doctors regarding this matter, it was explained to me that although the crouching position does tend to put some added strain on the knee joint, there is a chance it is the constant standing back up that could really be the key to the added wear and tear on a catcher's knees. Sometimes even getting up out of the crouch in a very explosive and violent manner.

    So it is clear that many older adult catchers have been able to lengthen their careers after knee injuries with Knee Savers, but anything more than that is still up in the air. At the very least, please make sure that if your catcher is wearing them, they NEED to be properly attached to the shin guards on the lowest possible strap setting.


    Hope this helps answer the question....

    Leave a comment:


  • JCincy
    replied
    Originally posted by The Flush View Post
    Size does not matter.
    I agree.

    Does he mind wearing the gear and having an umpire right behind him and a batter swinging in his line of sight?
    Can he set-up 'quietly' behind the plate and catch strikes?
    Can he throw consistently back to the pitcher and as he gets older to the bases?

    Leave a comment:


  • mudvnine
    replied
    Originally posted by CircleChange11 View Post
    Curious as to what you are disagreeing with ....

    1. Him being in a good catching position.

    2. Him sitting on the knee savers.
    Him sitting on knee savers in the wrong location, but I think you've addressed all of that in your above post......"Okay, Knee savers are coming off. I placed them high because that's where catchers "sit". If they're "low" then what's the point?"

    Exactly.

    Leave a comment:


  • The Flush
    replied
    Aren't knee savers really only supposed to be used for pre-pitch comfort anyway? It should not matter if the catcher is on his toes during pre-pitch, as long as he gets ready for the pitch. It does appear that my son can sit on them in the low position without being on his toes, but he should not do that with runners on. I am sure that he is not always using them correctly. They really should not affect receiving the ball.

    391443_4271346831392_512816410_n.jpg

    Leave a comment:


  • The Flush
    replied
    Originally posted by bbrages View Post
    Keep in mind that I don't know anything about catching, but doesn't he seem like he's pretty far behind the plate?
    That is the one thing he needs to be reminded of from time to time.

    Leave a comment:


  • CircleChange11
    replied
    Originally posted by Coach C View Post
    We'll have to agree to disagree on that one.
    Curious as to what you are disagreeing with ....

    1. Him being in a good catching position.

    2. Him sitting on the knee savers.

    Leave a comment:


  • CircleChange11
    replied
    Originally posted by bbrages View Post
    Keep in mind that I don't know anything about catching, but doesn't he seem like he's pretty far behind the plate?
    Yes. I would tell him "2 hops up", as in "2 small catcher hops toward the plate". Low strikes, at that distance, are likely to bounce before he catches them ... perhaps even turning strikes into called balls.

    Leave a comment:


  • CircleChange11
    replied
    Originally posted by bbrages View Post
    Note that this guy is wearing the "savers" on the high calf position -- this is a no-no?
    Since this guy is my son, my ears perked up. Found this in the e-mail (link in this thread) from Jay at NECC ...

    Dr. Farrago made it very clear that the Knee Savers MUST be worn on the lower strap settings to avoid putting pressure on the back side of the knee joint. He gave the example of placing a tennis ball behind your knee and duct taping it there and then attempting to crouch. The damage done from placing those pads directly behind the knee will far outweigh the damage done over time while playing the position without them.
    Okay, Knee savers are coming off.

    I placed them high because that's where catchers "sit". If they're "low" then what's the point? The only youth catchers I see sitting ON the knee savers in the "low" posiiton are youth catchers that are "on their toes" (which IS a no-no).

    The kid in the video (my kid) is blessed to have a "squatter's lower body". He's been able to squat like catcher (feet flat, weight on inside, sitting "between his legs") since age 5.

    As a dad/coach, this will remove a distraction as he's always readjusting them (you can see it before each pitch) because as he squats and sit on the "inside" his thighs push the knee-savers "outside". So, he's always "pulling them back in".

    I can safely say that the knee savers don;t prevent or assist him from getting into a good catcher's squat and being able to stay balanced while swaying (something we've started working on), now that framing and blocking are pretty much habits.

    In the runner's on position his thighs have no contact with his calves, so that's not a concern ... nor should it be for any catcher.

    Thanks for the information.

    Leave a comment:


  • bbrages
    replied
    Originally posted by The Flush View Post
    [ATTACH]111601[/ATTACH]
    Keep in mind that I don't know anything about catching, but doesn't he seem like he's pretty far behind the plate?

    Leave a comment:


  • The Flush
    replied
    Originally posted by bbrages View Post
    Note that this guy is wearing the "savers" on the high calf position -- this is a no-no?

    I'm really not so much concerned about the question of long-term injury. What I was really wondering was if the Knee Savers help promote a good receiving stance, if they are an aid that would help develop good technique. It sounds like they are not.

    For what it's worth, I don't really think my son -- at least this one -- is going to end up being a catcher. Too thin and gangly, too good at pitching, not really a tough "contact" player. Still, he's enjoying trying and maybe as a pitcher he'll have more sympathy for the guy on the other side of the dish.
    Size does not matter. My 9YO is the youngest, smallest kid on his 10U all-star team and has been proven to be the best catcher on the team. There really has not been much contact to speak of anyway.

    As far as whether knee savers are good or bad, I don't know. My son uses them because they came with the hand me down gear he was given this year. My only concern is whether it could lead to a cather being lazy and sitting back on them too much with runners on. They do not appear to affect receiving the ball though.

    529468_4331110085436_119438770_n.jpg
    Last edited by The Flush; 07-27-2012, 11:56 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • bbrages
    replied
    Originally posted by CircleChange11 View Post
    Disagree.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8srQswjerWM&feature=plcp

    He looks to be in good catching position AND sitting on his knee savers.
    Note that this guy is wearing the "savers" on the high calf position -- this is a no-no?

    I'm really not so much concerned about the question of long-term injury. What I was really wondering was if the Knee Savers help promote a good receiving stance, if they are an aid that would help develop good technique. It sounds like they are not.

    For what it's worth, I don't really think my son -- at least this one -- is going to end up being a catcher. Too thin and gangly, too good at pitching, not really a tough "contact" player. Still, he's enjoying trying and maybe as a pitcher he'll have more sympathy for the guy on the other side of the dish.

    Leave a comment:


  • ralanprod
    replied
    Until Jay shows up...

    http://myemail.constantcontact.com/A...id=O9GS805CPSA

    Should answer all of your questions.

    Leave a comment:


  • Rufus67
    replied
    If he's going to wear them you might want to consider strapping them onto the lower straps on the shin guard. I believe if they're on the upper they end up pushing the knee forward and that could cause problems. Don't know if it's medically true or not but it seems to make sense so my son's are on the lower straps.

    Also, if they're on the upper, it's more difficult for the catcher to get into a no-runners-on stance.

    Leave a comment:


  • Coach C
    replied
    Originally posted by CircleChange11 View Post
    Disagree.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8srQswjerWM&feature=plcp

    He looks to be in good catching position AND sitting on his knee savers.
    We'll have to agree to disagree on that one.

    Leave a comment:


  • CircleChange11
    replied
    Originally posted by bbrages View Post
    I recently bought a second-hand set of catcher's gear for my nine-year-old, as he had shown some interest.

    The set did not come with "knee savers". Should I get a pair? Do they help learning the correct receiving stance? Is there a drawback to them?
    To me, this is just one of those issues that simply doesn't matter all that much. If your catcher is more comfortable wearing them, then wear them. If you don't like them, don't wear them. Many times it seems to end up being sort of a macho debate among male adults as to whether their kid wears knee-savers or not.

    I tend to focus my energy toward making sure catchers block balls in the dirt, frame strikes, and throw runners out (or keep them from stealing).

    Quite frankly, to me, it's like wearing batting gloves, wrist bands, etc. If they make you more comfortable, wear them. There's no scientific research that shows wearing wrist bands makes a player perform better, yet many wear them.

    My kid wanted to try them, likes them, wears them. Doesn't really matter to me one way or another.

    If he is using correct mechanics the only time he "sits" on them is sign giving.
    Disagree.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8srQswjerWM&feature=plcp

    He looks to be in good catching position AND sitting on his knee savers.

    Leave a comment:

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