Spring will be here soon enough.  As the weather warms and parents, coaches and our often ill-prepared children head out onto the baseball field there are some tips to keep in mind to minimize the risk of childhood shoulder and elbow injuries.  

Pitching is NOT a very “safe” activity when it comes to children who are still growing.  Shoulder problems are on the rise as parents and coaches have forgotten (or never learned) the basic tenets of protecting our children from common overuse injuries of the shoulder and the elbow due to pitching.

Childhood Elbow and Shoulder Injury Prevention: Obey Pitch Counts! Elbow Pitching Injuries Orthopedics Dutchess County NY

First… pediatric elbow and shoulder injuries can be very severe and can result in permanent, lifelong damage to your child’s arm!

Second… your child is likely not “the best on team” and “can not ” make it to the big leagues”!  Remember, we’re talking about living the rest of their lives without debilitating shoulder and elbow pain.  If your coach or doctor recommends resting a player… please abide by those instructions.  


Third…  When treating a pediatric or childhood shoulder or elbow throwing injury — Don’t let anyone tell you that shoulder surgery will return your little pitcher to perfect condition… it doesn’t happen in professional sports and it won’t happen to your child.

Fourth…  Preventing pediatric shoulder and elbow pitching injuries starts with proper preparation.  Late in the winter get your child off tossing a ball,  and working on lower extremity strengthening and abdominal strengthening months before they plan on tossing from a mound.  More than 75% of the torque or force needed to toss a ball comes from below their chest and requires strong, stable and able legs, pelvis, abdomen and lower back muscles.

Fifth… Obey the pitch count recommendations!!   They are there for a reason and they are reasonably (not 100%) effective at preventing most childhood overuse shoulder and elbow pitching injuries.   Many parents let their kids pitch with the team, hire a pitching coach, and practice with their children on their own.  If your little one is throwing with full force, each and every toss counts towards to the pitch count.

Overuse pitching elbow injuries

Pitching Recommendations : Pediatric Shoulder and Elbow Injury Prevention Strategies:

Recommended limits for youth pitchers are as follows:

  • Recommended limits for 9-10 year old pitchers:

    • 50 pitches per game

    • 75 pitches per week

    • 1000 pitches per season

    • 2000 pitches per year

  • Recommended limits for 11-12 year old pitchers:

    • 75 pitches per game

    • 100 pitches per week

    • 1000 pitches per season

    • 3000 pitches per year

  • Recommended limits for 13-14 year old pitchers:

    • 75 pitches per game

    • 125 pitches per week

    • 1000 pitches per season

    • 3000 pitches per year

Feel free to download this Pitch Count Advisory to minimize the risk of a pitching related injury to your youngsters shoulder or elbow.  Share it with other parents, coaches, etc…   Pitching Recommendations_Pitch Counts

About the author:

Howard J. Luks, MD

Howard J. Luks, MD

A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon in Hawthorne, NY. Dr Luks specializes in the treatment of the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. He has a very “social” patient centric approach and believes that the more you understand about your issue, the more informed your decisions will be. Ultimately your treatments and his recommendations will be based on proper communications, proper understanding, and shared decision-making principles — all geared to improve your quality of life.
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