For years I have been telling parents to minimize the amount of time their children spend pitching and instead concentrate on teaching the basics and the finer points of being a team player. Baseball is a complex sport, and it takes years to master the nuances of the game. To a teenager, pitching presents itself as the most sought-after position because of the role associated with being the pitcher — the team leader.
Teenagers do not need to pitch to learn the game, participate in the game, or have fun playing the game of baseball. Pitching is one of the most demanding activities we can put our body through. Many injuries can occur … physically and emotionally. Our elbow accelerates at 3000 degrees per second and the stress on the shoulder is enormous. Our children have open growth plates, which are very plastic and very sensitive to the forces that pitching places on them. The growth plate will respond quite unfavorably if asked to do too much of a difficult activity.
This Cat Scan shows a loose fragment of bone from a process known as OCD, which is related to chronic stress from pitching.
Many professional coaches and some of the finest trainers for children will also stress that pitching is not appropriate for children under 16. Even over 16, a child’s growing skeletal system will suffer significantly if pushed past the breaking point.
What is the breaking point? Good question. In some kids that might be 50 pitches a week. In some in might only be 25 … we just don’t know, and we often don’t find out until it is too late and a season-ending injury has occurred.
Bottom line: let your children enjoy themselves and thrive by being a productive member of a wonderful team sport. They do not need to be perceived as the “leader” and should not be allowed to pitch more than 50 pitches per week! There will be time to perfect their pitching motion/strength and their form as they become older and their bodies can handle the stress.