Wednesday, May 30, 2001
Keep baseball kids healthy
Recently a Fayette baseball parent wrote a very good letter to the paper and its readers explaining the necessity for warming up young players properly and watching pitch counts in order to maintain healthy arms.
I would like to take this just a bit further. In today's world many parents are concerned about the competition that their child faces in their child's chosen sport, and in order to carve a "secure" niche for their child they forget some of the precautions that should be taken with young athletes. While the damage that may be done to young arms may not be seen for several years, it nevertheless can materialize and thus end the career of a young athlete.
The Hughston Clinic recently reported a rise in rotator cuff injuries, especially among the 13- to 14-year-old athletes. Elbow injuries are also on the rise. The act of pitching a baseball is very stressful to the body because it is an unnatural motion. Growth plates can be affected. The years of puberty can be hard on a young athlete's body. Watch those pitch counts, and watch the types of pitches a player learns and practices.
An article in The Physician and Sportsmedicine, June 1999, listed the recommended ages for learning various types of pitches. They recommended that a curve ball not be taught before the age of 13 or 14 to avoid injury. (There is a 2-year deviation to this suggested age, depending on the skeletal maturity of the athlete.)
The article also lists a maximum number of pitches per game and per week for various age groups. For 8- to 10-year-olds, a maximum of 52 pitches (+/-15) per game should be thrown. For 11- to 12-year-olds, that goes to 68 (+/-18). For 13- to 14-year-olds, they go up to 76 (+/- 16). And for 15- to 16-year-olds, we are still under 100 pitches per game, 91 (+/- 16). You can see how important those pitch counts are.
Little League Baseball continues to research the safety aspects of the game and to regulate pitching by the athletes in their programs for the purpose of maintaining healthy bodies. We want all players to enjoy the sport and stay healthy. It just takes a little guidance from an adult who is equipped with the proper knowledge.
Little League District Administrator