Posts Tagged ‘USA Baseball’

USABat Standard Adopted by Youth Baseball for 2018 Season

USA Baseball takes over bat-standard setting to preserve integrity of game

As the governing body of youth baseball, USA Baseball adopted a new bat standard for youth baseball ages 14 and under, effective January 1, 2018. USA Baseball assembled a bat study committee of leading scientists that conducted field and lab testing of bat performance to arrive at the new standard. The standard, known as USABat, has been adopted by its member organizations, including AABC, Babe Ruth/Ripkin, Dixie, Little League, and PONY. The purpose of the new wood-like standard is to protect the integrity of the game, not for safety reasons as “youth baseball continues to be one of the safest of all sports,” according to USA Baseball.

NCAA and NFHS BBCOR standard comes to youth baseball

USABat will follow the lead of the NCAA and NFHS in adopting the BBCOR standard with some minor modifications to account for differences in balls, bat lengths and pitching speeds in the younger age groups. Recent advances in technology and materials now allow manufacturers to produce bats that can perform at the wood-like level for youth baseball through the entire range of lengths and weights.

What about the 2017 season?

The USABat stamp will replace the existing 1.15 BPF stamp that is currently displayed on approved youth bats. The 1.15 BPF stamp will continue to be used throughout the 2017 season. However, effective January 1, 2018, approved bats must bear the USABat stamp.

Additional points of interest:

  • The new standard will allow for bats to be made of the lightest weight materials since there will no longer be a drop-weight limit.
  • The new bats will not be available for purchase until Sept. 1, 2017.
  • The new standard will apply both to 2-1/4” bats as well as 2-5/8” bats.
  • USSSA will not adopt the new standard.

Personal observations

As a member of the USA Baseball Medical/Safety Advisory Committee, I was privileged to observe some of the meetings with the various scientists who conducted the lab and field tests of the new bats. It was amazing to see how these professionals applied physics to arrive at their conclusions. The leadership at USA Baseball did an outstanding job of managing this project.

New Studies on Curveballs in Youth Baseball

Research results fuel new debate

Parents and coaches of young baseball players know the drill: no curveballs. The edict is based on the potential for injuries in young pitchers due to the mechanics involved in delivering the pitch. But recent studies have fueled the debate as to whether risk of injury from throwing curveballs actually exists.

“For years, we told people that curveballs were bad. Then we set out to prove it. We did not prove curveballs are safe, but we could not prove they were dangerous,” said Glenn Fleisig, the research director of the American Sports Medicine Institute, who has conducted studies on breaking balls and young arms since 1996.

The force of throwing a curveball is no greater than for a fastball when the proper mechanics are employed. But many kids either don’t have proper mechanics, enough neuromuscular control, or are fatigued when throwing curveballs, according to James Andrews, an orthopedic surgeon and a founder of ASMI.

A study by the University of North Carolina was conducted on more than 1,300 pitchers aged 8 to college age. The study was commissioned by the Little League and USA Baseball leagues. The pitchers were observed over a five year period, annually assessing the number of innings pitched, types of pitches thrown, number of teams played for and any arm pain or injuries experienced.

“There was no association betwamateur baseball insuranceeen throwing curveballs and injuries or even arm pain,” said Johna Mihalik, author of the study.

Dr. Timothy Kremchek, an orthopedic surgeon and Cincinnati Reds’ physician, thinks Little League’s position is irresponsible.  It’s his opinion that Little League has an obligation to protect the young players but are instead are saying, “There’s no scientific evidence curveballs cause damage, so go ahead, kids, just keep throwing them.” Medical professionals who have to treat those players a few years later are pretty sure there is a cause and effect, according to Kremchek.

Others wonder if asking whether the curveball is safe is the wrong question and whether overdoing it is the problem. It’s been proven scientifically that too much throwing leads to injury, and sometimes serious injury.

In my opinion:

I’m on the USA Baseball Medical and Safety Committee with Glenn Fleisig. Based on the studies that I’ve seen, the quantity of pitches in a season is the number one predictor of elbow/shoulder pain in youth baseball.  As for curveballs, it’s important to give more weight to scientific research than anecdotal observations.  However, additional studies should be performed on the impact of proper techniques vs. improper technique when throwing curveballs.

The USA Baseball Medical and Safety Committee has a number of excellent articles on youth baseball safety.

John Sadler

Source: Bill Pennington, “Young Arms and Curveballs: A Scientific Twist,” 11 Mar. 2012