As the weather warms and the fields are prepared, another season of baseball is upon us. I remember quite well how excited I was about the start of another little league season. At that time, we had only one season… and no special camps, clinics, indoor leagues or travel teams. Perhaps that’s why I survived my limited pitching career with a normally functioning shoulder and elbow.
Many factors are to blame.
- There is no longer one season. Many children are playing the same sport, year round.
- End of the season showcases can be particularly stressful on a tired arm.
- Our children are not only pitching for their little league teams. They now have throwing coaches, pitching clinics, etc.
- Pitch counts and rest rules are being ignored.
- Youngsters are throwing curve balls, and sliders far too often.
- Coaches — want to win. So did mine.. but it was a short season and then I moved on to another sport.
- Many children (and parents) actually think that surgery can “fix” whatever injury might occur.
Pitching Injury Risk Factors:
- Pitching more than 100 innings a season increases the risk of injury threefold.
- 75 pitches or more/game doubles the risk of injury.
- If a pitcher was “tired”, their risk of injury is 4-6x greater.
You as the parent must play a very active role in making sure that your child does not suffer what could be a very debilitating injury with potentially lifelong implications. Coaches, Little League officials, and trainers have a very important role as well.
Some suggestions to minimize the risk of developing a pitching or throwing injury:
- All pitchers and active throwers should participate in a solid conditioning and strengthening program. This should not neglect the trunk and legs since most of your power and torque comes from below the belly button.
- Dynamic and static stretching should be performed before the game.
- Do NOT allow your child to play if they are in pain.
- Obey the mandatory pitch count. A pitch is a pitch… whether it’s with their coach, in a game or in the backyard.
- Rest means rest… I’ll cite the suggested Rest Rules soon.
- Don’t let your little pitcher play catcher on off days. Science shows this can increase the risk of injury.
- Don’t let your child’s seasons overlap… and if they do, they should not pitch for both teams.
Preventing Pitching Injuries:
Recommended Pitch Counts:
Age: Max # of Pitches/day
Rest Days: Based on the number of pitches thrown.
# of Pitches Thrown # of Days of Rest
76 + 4
Baseball is a fantastic sport and there’s no reason why your child can’t enjoy themselves and remain injury free. There is no getting around the facts borne out by a multitude of studies which demonstrate the risk factors associated with pitching injuries. Your child’s health is of paramount importance. With a little effort and “playing by the rules”, hopefully, you can provide them with a memorable, pain-free experience on the diamond.