“Despite the lingering cold temperatures that February often brings us in the South, February is a time where those of us in sport medicine often turn our attention to spring sports. With spring comes longer days, warmer sun, greener grass, and the sounds of baseballs hitting the leather. Youth baseball is right around the corner and if you haven’t already been doing so, it’s time to get the arm in shape to prevent the early season injuries and soreness that often occurs.
Here are some tips from Pitch Smart USABaseball to prevent throwing injuries and avoid the overuse injuries we commonly see:
- Play multiple sports, not multiple teams. Playing multiple sports throughout the year helps to enhance general fitness and aid in motor development, while playing on multiple baseball teams with overlapping season results in decreased rest. This can lead to an increased risk of overuse injuries and the inability to monitor pitch counts
- Allow time to rest and count pitches. Pitchers should not throw for 2-3 months per yr and avoid competitive pitching for 4 months per yr. Check out the age specific pitch count guidelines at http://m.mlb.com/pitchsmart/pitching-guidelines/
- Do not pitch on consecutive days, regardless of pitch count totals. Studies have shown that pitchers who pitched on consecutive days were 2.5 times more likely to have arm pain.
- Avoid pitching while fatigued. While this may be difficult to spot for some, it’s imperative that a young arm is not forced to pitch through fatigue whether it’s in a game, a season, or over an entire year. According to ASMI, youth pitchers who routinely pitched through fatigue are 36 times more likely to need elbow or shoulder surgery at some point in their baseball career.
- Avoid excess throwing while not pitching; specifically avoid playing pitcher and catcher. Allow pitchers to play other positions but catcher. The pitcher/catcher dual role players are over 2.5 times more likely to suffer arm injuries according to ASMI.
- Avoid using a radar gun. Using a radar gun on the youth level simply encourages a pitcher to throw hard, at maximum effort when they should be learning how to change velocity.
The common theme on the tips above is apparent; give your pitchers the rest they need and avoid year round, max effort pitching. A pitcher should try to get outs, not try to throw every pitch as hard as they can. Visit http://m.mlb.com/pitchsmart/risk-factors/ for more tips on risk factors in pitching.”
1. Federation Internationale de Medecine du Sport/World Health Organization Ad Hoc Committee on Sports and Children. Sports and children: consensus statement on organized sports for children. Bull World Health Organ. 1998;76(5):445–447.
2. Andrews, James MD, Risk Factors for Injury, Pitch Smart USA Baseball, 2014, http://m.mlb.com/sections/pitchsmart/pdf/risk-factors.pdf