Baseball season is finally here! As we watch our Major League Baseball heroes take the field this April, kids of all ages will be returning to the field after winter break and time off from practicing.
It is important that our kids return safely to help prevent overuse injuries from occurring during the season. Common overuse injuries in baseball are injuries to the elbow (ulnar collateral ligament, UCL) and shoulder in the throwing arm. A proper warm up, maintaining an age appropriate pitch count and good throwing mechanics are essential to preventing overuse injuries.
Here are some specifics to keep in mind:
- Warm Up: Start practice and games with light jogging and stretching. Start your throwing with soft toss and gradually work your way up to desired distance as you warm up.
- Age Appropriate Pitch Count: Little League Baseball has established age appropriate pitch counts, required rest periods, and recommended ages for various pitches. These guidelines were established with the help of medical professionals who researched baseball mechanics and child development. They have determined that observing a pitch count is a safer way to regulate pitching in youth baseball (see tables below).
| Ages 14 and Under
| Ages 15-18
| Required # of Rest
| 4 Calendar Days
| 3 Calendar Days
| 2 Calendar Days
| 1 Calendar Day
- Good Throwing Mechanics: A strong shoulder is necessary for a strong thrower, but strong scapular (shoulder blade) control and core is essential. Your arm should be used more like the end of a whip when throwing. A throwers power in generated in the legs and core and transferred to the arm. The scapular muscles and rotator cuff needs to be able to control the power that is generated and stabilize the shoulder as it whips the ball towards the catcher. Talk to your coach and seek out an Athletic Trainer or a medical professional trained in throwing mechanics to make sure your core and scapular muscles are strong enough to maintain proper mechanics as you throw.
- What not to do:
Do not pitch or throw with pain. If you have pain stop and ice, stretch and seek out a medical professional if pain persists for more than 3 days.
Do not use a radar gun which encourages throwing harder and improperly
Do not pitch on multiple teams in the same season
Do not pitch year round - play other positions as well.
Adhere to pitch count guidelines
Inform your coach and parent if you have pain
Work with your coach on proper mechanics
Ice after pitching even if you are not sore because it will help prevent muscle soreness the next day.
Enjoy your season
I wish you a safe, successful, and healthy season!