Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

Reducing Pitching Injuries in Youth Baseball

Biomechanics could be a game changer

More than two million youth put on their baseball gloves and caps each spring and head for the diamond to participate in America’s pastime. Sadly, a growing number of the pitchers among them will experience serious arm injuries.

There’s been a dramatic rise in surgical treatments since the 1990s that repair the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in the elbow, such as Tommy John surgery. What’s alarming about that is that the fastest growing category of UCL reconstruction patients are youth and high school pitchers.

Youth baseball injuries

What’s behind the rise in injuries

Youth baseball is increasingly being played as year-round sport or even the only sport for some players, so it’s all too easy to exceed 100 innings in a year. Parents, lured by the hope of college scholarships and even the possibility of a pro career, are encouraged to have their children play on travel teams, in year-round leagues,and participate in showcases.

Ironically, a great number of young pitchers suffer micro-tears of the UCL before they’re even drafted.

Pitch Smart was introduced in 2014 by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball and offers pitching guidelines for each age group and encourages pitch count limits and resting the arm for extended periods.

Taking steps toward reducing injuries

Making biomechanic analysis more accessible to non-professional players may be a way to reduce UCL injuries in young players. Biomechanics is the study of how the skeletal and muscular systems work under various conditions. For instance, rather than simply measure the  the acceleration of the elbow, a biomechanical equation calculates the force on the elbow.

The technology of biomechanical analysis enables the correction of certain mechanics that typically can’t been seen with the eye. Fleisig sits on the board of Motus Global, which is looking to commercialize this technology.

Motus Global, of which Fleisig is a board member, is looking to commercialize their biomechanical analyzation products to all levels of the sport – professional, collegiate, high school and youth leagues. Fleisig says there are two benefits in the mainstreaming the use of using biomechanics: avoiding injury and improving performance. That’s a win-win.


Source: Ben Berkon. “Biomechanics and the Youth Pitching Injury Epidemic,” www.sports.vice.com. 07 Apr 2016.

Protecting Against Risk of Commotio Cordis

Study shows new chest protector is effective and youth athletes most at risk.

Athletic chest protectors are critical to the safety of hockey and lacrosse goalies, baseball/softball catchers, and umpires. There is a wide assortment of chest protectors on the market, most of which have proven to be less than adequate against serious injury and can give a false sense of security.

But one manufacturer’s product apparently now offers better protection from potentially fatal blows to the chest.

The Unequal Technologies HART Chest Protector have proven 95 percent effective in the prevention of Commotio cordis,  according to a study published in The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. Commotio cordis is a sudden disruption of the cardiac rhythm caused by a forceful impact to the chest that often results in fatal cardiac arrest.

Unequal Technologies develops protective padding for a variety of athletic of headgear, including the popular Halo headband.

Youth athletes under the age of 16 are most at risk from such incidents. About 10 to 20 cases occur annually in the U.S. More than one-third of Commotio cordis incidents occur in athletes wearing chest protectors, according to a study published in 2013. Therefore, it’s paramount that appropriate padding is properly placed.

For more information on Commotio cordis, click here.


Source: “Study Finds Unequal Technologies’ Chest Protectors To Be First To Significantly Reduce Risk Cardiac Concussions For Youth Athletes,” www.sporttechie.com. 22 April, 2016.

Youth Baseball and Eye Injuries

Looking at preventative measures

As everyone know, baseball season is now in full swing. But what many probably don’t know is that youth athletes under the age of 14 incur more eye injuries in baseball and softball than any other sport. In rare instances, these injuries can result in permanent damage or even blindness.

Overall, there are more than 40,000 eye injuries reported each year, most occurring in baseball and basketball, followed by water and racquet sports. Balls, bats, pucks, racquets, and sticks are used in the sports that pose the highest risk for eye injuries. These sports also typically include body contact.

The leading cause of child blindness in the U.S. is injury, with most cases occurring in sports-related activities, according to the National Eye Institute. Penetration, blunt trauma and radiation are the most common causes of sports-related eye injuries. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can result in radiation damage, which can be a particular risk when snow skiing, water skiing and participating in other water and snow sports.

Prevention measures

According to Jay Novetsky, 90% of sports-related eye injuries are preventable. Novetsky, an eye surgeon at the Vision Institute of Michigan, advocates for protective eyewear as part of every sports’ regulated safety equipment, such as safety shields, safety glasses, goggles and eye guards.

To specifically prevent injuries in baseball, batting helmets can be fitted with protective face guards and fielders can wear safety-certified sports goggles.

Many people don’t realize  that prescription glasses (and sunglasses) worn during play not only don’t offer protection, but they increase the risk of eye injury. Street eyeglasses and contacts can easily shatter upon impact and puncture the eye and surrounding areas.  Athletes who wear glasses or contacts can usually have their prescriptions matched in protective eyewear.

Return to Play

In order to return to play following an eye injury, the eye should be pain free, cause no discomfort and vision returned to normal. Release by an ophthalmologist should be required before an player with a serious eye injury returns to play. The team physician or athletic trainer should be able to determine if and when players with less serious eye injuries can return. Athletes returning to play following an eye injury should be required to wear eye protection to avoid a second injury.


Source: “Baseball Ranks #1 in Sports-related Eye Injuries for Kids.”.  www.digitaljournal.com. 14 April, 2016.

Top 5 Sports Risks Resulting in Insurance Claims

You need to know them to try to prevent them, but sports insurance still a must

Accidents can happen any time, to anyone, on and off the sports field. Many aren’t even related to playing the sport itself, and many result in serious injuries. Sadly, a large portion of them can be prevented with a little attention to hot spots and putting into place proven risk management policies. However, others are just part of the game.

We take pride in offering our clients risk management advice in an effort to prevent claims. We hope you’ll be able to avoid making the top 5 list:

  1. Wayward balls are the cause of more claims for damages and injuries than anything else in sports. Baseballs in particular are high-speed missiles that slam into players, dugouts, spectators, cars, windows, and anything else in their path. Wild pitches, overthrown lacrosse balls and basketballs, and baseballs hit out of the park are only some of ways balls can cause injuries. A real horror story to a client occurred when an assistant coach was struck in the face by a pitched baseball while warming up the pitcher. He later lapsed into a coma and died of his injuries resulting in total claims cost of $1,001,000.
  2. Falls by players, coaches, spectators, groundskeepers and officials are by far the most common sports injury. Holes in the field, slippery or wet surfaces, obstacles in or around the field, bases, field markers, and equipment cause people to fall. Falls from bleachers, benches, ladders, playground equipment, backstops, and goals are also not uncommon. Broken, sprained or twisted limbs can result in expensive medical bills and even time off work. Falls can even result result in death.  One of our baseball leagues had a claim that settled for $41,781 where a spectator fractured both ankles after stepping in a washed out grassy area of a ballpark.
  3. Vehicles of all sorts are involved in numerous sports-related claims. Many can be avoided if parking and traffic flow signage is displayed properly. Delivery trucks backing into concession stands, golf carts and riding mowers overturning, tents and awnings collapsing on vehicles, tractors hitting parked cars, vandalism, and balls flying through windshields are common incidents at the ballpark. One of our baseball leagues experienced a claim where a person was injured by being pinned between a scoreboard table and golf cart with a resulting settlement of $50,000.
  4. Roughhousing and unsupervised children can cause all sorts of mayhem. Playing or climbing on goals, vehicles, bleachers, gates and fences frequently ends in injuries. This includes unattended children in play areas, near water, or in wooded areas of the park. It’s also not unusual for players to be swinging bats or tossing/kicking balls in areas where others can be hurt, such as concession areas, parking lots and near bleachers. And in heated competitions, it’s not unusual for fights to break out among spectators or between players on the field. An example of this type of claim was when one of our local league clients was sued as a result of children climbing on statue at an awards banquet which caused $4,789 in damage to Sports insurance claimsa water fountain.
  5. Player collisions with other players, spectators and equipment are common. Baseball, soccer, football, and basketball players frequently collide with one another on the field, often resulting in concussions, fractured limbs, and other injuries. Basketball and football players often crash into spectators on the sidelines. And it’s not unusual for players to collide with teammates and coaches on the bench, down markers, goals, and bleachers. One of our clients had a situation where a youth football player was driven into a 1st down marker and fractured his arm. The insurance settlement was $75,000.

These are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to accidents that can happen in and around sports. The examples listed on this page are expected to occur with some frequency. However, it’s often the unexpected types of claims that result in some of the largest payouts. You just never know what can happen and that’s why you must have quality sports insurance. We have a whole list of horror stories about what can go wrong on our risk management page, which also includes lots of free risk management material.

USA Baseball Announces New Youth Bat Performance Test Program

New standard aims to eliminate performance disparities for long term integrity of the game

USA Baseball recently announced the adoption of a new bat performance testing method for youth baseball bats for ages 12 & under.

USAB is basing the new standard on research that demonstrates manufacturers now have the technology and materials to construct non-wood youth bats throughout the entire range of lengths and weights that perform on the same level as wood bats.

USAB National member organizations American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), Babe Ruth Baseball/Cal Ripken Baseball, Dixie Youth Baseball, Little League Baseball, and PONY Baseball are supporting the new program, USABat.

USABat will go into effect January 1, 2018 and be applicable to bats classified below NCAA and National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) age levels. The 2018 date means no immediate changes will be made to the rules and allows time for the bat manufacturer to get the products into retail outlets.

The goal of USABat is to make the game more uniform by eliminating performance discrepancies to maintain the integrity of the game. The USABat performance test is based on the coefficient of restitution from a bat-ball impact. This is similar to the BBCOR standard that is being used by NCAA and NFHS. However, the youth bats were tested with different balls and pitch speeds to simulate the youth game.

All new bats displaying USABat licensing mark (available in the fall of 2017) will be permissible for play in participating youth baseball organizations. Bats currently deemed acceptable by their league will be permitted through December 31, 2017.

In my opinion: Even though not a stated goal, this new standard will address the issue of the “hot bat” and the fear of line drive injuries to pitchers and infielders.

UF Softball’s Great Bambina

Gator pitcher ties the Babe’s record

University of Florida senior Lauren Haeger tied Babe Ruth’s record of pitching at least 70 winning games and hitting at least 70 home runs. Nicknamed the Haeger Bomb, the Gator pitcher is a wildly popular player who boosted ESPN’s prime-time broadcast of the last three games of the Women’s College World Series to 2 million.

Haeger is idolized by thousands of young softball playing girls who want to be just like her.

“It’s great to be a role model for them and show them it can happen because I was once in their shoes,” said Haeger.

Haeger is a product of the UF athletic program, which is serious about gender equity. Athletic director Jeremy Foley has watched his Gator teams  win the SEC All-Sports Trophy 22 of the last 23 years and 14 national titles since 2008 (more than than any school in the country). The UF women have won 10 national titles in the last five years.

 

Source: Mike Bianchi, “Bianchi: Haeger’s sunflower power is reason Gators softball outdraws NHL,” orlandosentinel.com, 06 June, 2015.

MLB and USA Baseball Hit Home Run with Pitch Smart

Posted | Filed under Baseball

Program aims to reduce youth pitching injuries

Major League Baseball and USA Baseball recently developed the Pitch Smart compliance program to help identify the youth baseball organizations that have adopted its principles and guidelines.  Pitch Smart offers players, parents and coaches guidelines on avoiding overuse injuries.

Organizations can be designated as being in “full compliance” or “select compliance.”

Organizations in full compliance are required to:

  1. follow the Pitch Smart pitch count and rest period guidelines pertaining to pitch counts across all competitions;
  2. request that players, coaches and parents follow all additional Pitch Smart guidelines;
  3. post or link to the Pitch Smart information on the organization’s website;
  4. distribute Pitch Smart information to all coaches;
  5. include Pitch Smart information in all formal coaches’ meetings; and
  6. encourage parent and player awareness with the inclusion of Pitch Smart information in team orientation meetings.

Organizations in select compliance are required to:

  1. follow the Pitch Smart pitch count and rest period guidelines across select competitions;
  2. request that players, coaches and parents follow all additional Pitch Smart guidelines;
  3. post or link to the Pitch Smart information on the organization’s website;
  4. distribute Pitch Smart information to all coaches;
  5. have a developed plan and continue to show progress in adopting all of the Pitch Smart full compliance standards standards.

“Education supporters” will also be recognized by the program. These groups help in promoting awareness of the Pitch Smart principles and are making continued efforts toward compliance in the program.

For a full list of organizations in full or select compliance, visit the Pitch Smart website, which also offers information on other pitching risk factors. You can also read more articles related to pitching injuries on our blog.

Benching of Youth Participants and Resulting Lawsuits

Parents who pay want their child to play

It’s not yet what you’d call a trend, but there’s certainly an uptick in the number of parents filing lawsuits to get their child off the bench and onto the playing field.

Parents put out big bucks in registrations fees, equipment and travel costs associated with high school and youth club and travel teams, to say nothing of the time they invest attending practices and traveling to games. Many parents sacrifice their time and money for their children hoping to get the attention of college coaches, earn scholarships, and improve chances of college admissions – or even advance a professional athletic career. So, it’s understandable that some are dissatisfied when their child rides the bench more than he or she plays. In other words, they expect a payoff for their investment.

There is also an increase in lawsuits by parents of children who have been cut from teams, injured, disciplined by coaches or penalized by officials. But is hiring an attorney the answer? Many are questioning not only the attitude of entitlement, but how the children, who generally play for the fun and camaraderie, are affected by such lawsuits. What are the children learning when parents step in so heavily handed to smooth the way? Will they learn they’re entitled to play on a team simply because they attend practice? And are parents setting these athletes up to be bullied by other team members?

The increasingly competitive nature of youth sports has helped shift many parents’ focus from fun, exercise and sportsmanship to an investment in their children’s academic and professional futures. Youth sports officials are watching the case of a 16-year-old volleyball player. The girl earned spot on a volleyball league but ended up on the bench, so her parents filed suit against the volleyball association, alleging it won’t let the girl play or to switch teams, per the contract she signed.

General Liability policies, which typically only respond to certain lawsuits alleging bodily injury or property damage, don’t cover these types of lawsuits that allege loss of college scholarship or loss of pro career. Such lawsuits generally require a Professional Liability endorsement on a General Liability policy or a stand alone Professional Liability policy.


Source: Tracey Schelmetic, sportsdestinations.com, 21 Apr. 2015.

Boundary Dispute Fells Little League Champs

When adults cheat, it’s the kids who pay

Fraud and cheating occur too frequently in government, business, education, mediaand, sadly, even youth sports organizations.

Little League stripped the Jackie Robinson West team of its U.S. championship and suspended its coach for violating the league’s team boundary rule. In what can only be called a team-building effort, team officials altered a league map that determines the areas from which players can be recruited.

In addition to the team being relieved of its international tournament wins, the team manager was suspended the administrator of Illinois District 4 was removed. But it was the players, who were unaware of the team’s manipulation, who paid the highest price. Mountain Ridge Little League was awarded the championship.

It was an agonizing decision but critical in upholding the integrity of Little League, according to Stephen Keener, Little League International president and CEO.

Over the past 10 years, a number of Sadler Sports Insurance sports league clients were sued over boundary disputes involving the eligibility of a particular player (usually a superstar). Disqualification of an ineligible player by a sanctioning body prior to a tournament can result in a legal challenge for injunctive relief asking to halt the tournament until the judge can rule on eligibility. Due to the legal expenses and inconvenience involved, it is recommended that sanctioning bodies have tight boundary rules that are not subject to alternate interpretations. And, of course, they must always follow their own rules when making a decision.

Source: Tom Farrey, “Little League punishes Chicago team,” espn.go.com. 11 Feb. 2015.

Spectator Injuries at the Ballpark

Does the “Baseball Rule” need to be revisited?

Spectators and baseball stadium employees occasionally suffer injuries from home run balls and shattered bats flying into the stands. However, foul balls were the most frequent cause of the 1,750 spectator injuries that occurred last year in major league baseball, according to Elias Sports Bureau.  That number translates to about two injuries for every three games. That’s more than the 1535 occurrences of batters being hit by pitches in the 2013 season.

What’s worse is the rising trend in foul ball injuries. Contributing to the increase in incidents are seats in the new and renovated ballparks being seven percent closer to the field, stronger players, and spectators who are increasingly distracted by smart phones and the flashing messages and graphics on enormous electronic scoreboards.

Hard-hitting facts

Fans have almost no time to respond to foul balls driving into the stands, sometimes at more than 100 mph. A ball traveling at 80 mph is traveling 117 feet per second. Spectators sitting 150 feet from home plate have only a second to dodge the missile.

In response to the 2002 death of a fan by a flying puck, the National Hockey League required netting behind the goal and taller Plexiglas shields over the side boards. Major League Baseball has done almost nothing to reduce such risks and maintains that individual teams are responsible for the safety of spectators. Following the death of a minor league first-base coach in 2007 after being hit by a line drive into foul territory, it was mandated that all base coaches must wear helmets.

The “Baseball Rule” culture

The courts are apparently paying attention:  judges hearing appeals in Georgia and Idaho this year rejected arguments invoking the “Baseball Rule.” That’s a long-standing principle that absolves stadium owners and teams from liability as long as the spectators in the seats behind home plate are protected by netting.

MLB teams are responsible for their stadium backstop designs, display of warning signs and following local safety ordinances. Injuries this year took place in seating in field level and 2nd-tier seats, as well as the higher sections that are typical landing grounds for home run balls.

Source: David Glovin, bloomberg.com, 09 Sept. 2014.