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Baseball & Softball Injury Prevention

How can we work together to prevent injuries in youth baseball and softball players?

Keeping players on the diamond for life.

Injuries in young athletes are on the rise, but elbow and shoulder injuries in children are on the verge of becoming an epidemic. If a young athlete is throwing too hard, too much, too early, and without rest, a serious elbow or shoulder injury may be on the horizon. If the athlete complains of elbow or shoulder pain the day after throwing, or movement of the joint is painful or restricted compared to the opposite side, call us today.

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Preventing injury for pitchers

Research points to overuse as the principle risk factor for injury amongst all youth baseball players, especially pitchers. Poor physical fitness puts all youth athletes at a higher risk for injury.

For pitchers, good pitching mechanics can help prevent shoulder and elbow injury. Throwing curveballs has been suggested as a risk factor, but the existing research does not support this concern. However, a youth pitcher may not have enough physical development, neuromuscular control, and proper coaching instruction to throw a curveball with good mechanics. Throwing curveballs too early may be counter-productive, leading to arm fatigue as well as limiting the youth’s ability to master fastball mechanics.

Preventing injury for softball players

from stopsportsinjuries.org
Softball injuries in young athletes are on the rise and nearly as frequent as baseball injuries, but they generally result in less time lost to competition. These injuries most commonly involve the back, shoulder, forearm, wrist, and hand. Pitchers are not more prone to injury than position players; catchers and infielders have similar injury rates. However, pitcher injuries differ from position player injuries because pitchers use a windmill motion that places unique demands on the back, neck, shoulder, forearm, and wrist.

Recommendations for baseball and softball injury prevention from the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI):

  • Watch and respond to signs of fatigue (such as decreased ball velocity, decreased accuracy, upright trunk during pitching, dropped elbow during pitching, or increased time between pitches). If a youth pitcher complains of fatigue or looks fatigued, let him rest from pitching and other throwing.
  • No overhead throwing of any kind for at least 2-3 months per year (4 months is preferred). No competitive baseball pitching for at least 4 months per year.
  • Do not pitch more than 100 innings in games in any calendar year.
  • Follow limits for pitch counts and days rest.
  • Avoid pitching on multiple teams with overlapping seasons.
  • Learn good throwing mechanics as soon as possible. The first steps should be to learn, in order: 1) basic throwing, 2) fastball pitching, 3) change-up pitching.
  • Avoid using radar guns.
  • A pitcher should not also be a catcher for his team. The pitcher-catcher combination results in many throws and may increase the risk of injury.
  • If a pitcher complains of pain in his elbow or shoulder, discontinue pitching until evaluated by a sports medicine physician. Inspire youth pitchers to have fun playing baseball and other sports. Participation and enjoyment of various physical activities will increase the youth’s athleticism and interest in sports.