Compared to many other contact sports, such as football, baseball has a relatively low rate of injury. Most injuries are from sliding, or from being bit by the baseball. However, with youth pitchers expected to throw the ball faster and harder, pitching-related injuries are on the rise. Several studies show most elbow injuries in youth baseball are on the dominant arm, and result from repeated pitching.
However, most pitching-related injuries in youth baseball are preventable by following safety rules, and proper education. If you take the time to educate yourself on the risks and precautions in pitching, you can help prevent a pitching injury that could cause future issues. Continue reading to learn how to help prevent your pitcher from becoming injured.
The Biggest Issue: Overuse
An American Journal of Sports Medicine study found “There was a significant association between the number of pitches thrown in a game and during the season and the rate of elbow pain and shoulder pain.” It is especially important in youth baseball that the pitcher does not exceed the organization’s maximum pitch count. Disregarding this rule results in a significant risk of injury to the elbow.
In fact, the same study shows that pitching more than 100 innings in a year resulted in a 3.5x increase in chance of elbow injury. Bring that statistic and apply it to each additional year the pitcher players, and injury begins to look unavoidable.
Luckily, it’s extremely easy to avoid this risk: just don’t overuse your youth pitcher.
Another Issue: Pitching Incorrectly
If you see your pitcher performing poor mechanics in practice and in game time, this is a warning sign. Pitching repeatedly alone is enough to increase the risk of injury, but if it’s being done incorrectly, that further escalates the chance. Any youth baseball pitcher who appears to be using poor mechanics in their pitching should be re-trained and coached on proper pitching techniques. Early correction will greatly reduce the risk of the pitcher acquiring injuries.
The Obvious One: Condition
If your pitcher is not in shape, does not practice routinely, or hasn’t been properly conditioned to the sport, it’s well-known that injuries of any type are more likely. This holds true to pitching. Youth pitchers should be held to the same conditioning standards as the rest of the team, at least as far as physical condition goes. The better in shape your pitcher, the less likely they will suffer injuries related to poor body condition.
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