Posts Tagged ‘youth pitching injuries’

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.

New Studies on Curveballs in Youth Baseball

Posted | Filed under Baseball, Injury

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

Pitching Injuries in Youth Baseball

Pitch counts and prevention

Baseball is among the safer sports for today’s youth. However, many of the serious injuries adult baseball pitchers suffer may have begun to develop in their youth. One of the missions of the USA Baseball Medical & Safety Advisory Committee is to provide scientifically-based information to its youth baseball members in an effort to reduce injury risks and maximize the younger player’s ability to perform and advance to higher levels.

The following recommendations were made for pitch counts, pitch types, pitching mechanics and physical conditioning, multiple appearances, showcases, multiple leagues, year round baseball.

Pitch Counts: Youth baseball should incorporate the practice of pitch counts like high school, college and pro baseball. The primary factors in predicting arm injuries from pitching are the total number of pitches thrown per game, week, season, and year. 

Age specific pitch count recommendations: 

9-10 year old pitchers:
50 pitches per game
75 pitches per week
1000 pitches per season
2000 pitches per year

11-12 year old pitchers:
75 pitches per game
100 pitches per week
1000 pitches per season
3000 pitches per year

13-14 year old pitchers:
75 pitches per game
125 pitches per week
1000 pitches per season
3000 pitches per year

Pitch Types: Previous studies have shown that breaking pitches such as curve balls and sliders place more stress on elbows and shoulders than fast balls. As a result, it is recommended that youth pitchers should avoid throwing these types of pitches.

Pitching Mechanics: Lab studies show that good pitchers at all levels use about the same mechanics and as a result proper instruction should be given to youth pitchers at an early age to avoid undue stress levels on elbows and shoulders.Youth baseball pitching injuries

Multiple Appearances: The practice of allowing a youth pitcher to return to the mound after having been removed earlier in a game is frowned upon.

Showcases, Multiple Leagues, Year Round Baseball: All of these participation opportunities are likely to result in throwing too many balls and the related overuse injuries to shoulders and elbows.

In my opinion…

I served on the USA Baseball Medical And Safety Committee with Tommy John, I overheard him say that most kids today know his name from the so-called Tommy John elbow surgical procedure than from his days as an all-star pitcher in the major leagues. It’s sad to see the explosion of these surgeries in youth baseball and to learn that many youth actually want this surgery, mistakenly believing that they will somehow be made stronger then before. At the same time, I know that the media generated by the USA Baseball study on pitch counts is having a positive impact. My son plays in a youth league and I actually see coaches voluntarily starting to use pitch counts even though they are not mandated by the league. –  John Sadler

See the Youth Baseball Pitching Injuries report by the USA Baseball Medical and Safety Committee