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Many Injuries in Youth Baseball Are Preventable

 Safety during the baseball season 

  • Talk to and watch your child's coach. Coaches should enforce all the rules of the game, encourage safe play, and understand the special injury risks that young players face. Coaches should never yell at players or engage in any other form of emotional abuse 
  • Limit pitching. 
    • Observe pitch limits. Based on research showing a strong link between the number of pitches thrown and increased risk of arm injury, Little League Baseball instituted daily pitch limits and mandatory rest periods between pitching appearances in 2007, which it updated for the 2010 spring season. Dr. James Andrews of the ASMI, perhaps the world's foremost authority on pitching injuries, hailed the Little League pitch limit and rest rules as "one of the most important injury prevention steps ever initiated in youth baseball." USA Baseballrecommends pitch limits but does not mandate them.
    • Limit innings per week, per season and per year.  A 2010 ASMI study also suggests that the number of innings is a factor increasing the risk of serious injury, with pitchers who throw more than 100 innings in a calendar year at 3.5 times greater risk of elbow or shoulder surgery or retirement from throwing due to injury.  A note of extreme caution to parents of youth baseball pitchers on independent travel and all-star teams competing in independently-operated tournaments: they may have NO rules at all on pitch limits and rest.  It may be up to parents to track their child's pitch counts so they don't exceed recommended limits.Baseball pitcher in windup
    • In its 2011 position statement on overuse injuries,4 the National Athletic Trainers' Association recommends the following general limits:
      • No more than 75 pitches per game for players 9 to 14 (90 pitches for pitchers between 15 and 18)
      • Avoid competitive pitching more than 8 months a year
      • Avoid pitching more than 600 pitches per season and 2000 to 3000 pitches per year (9- to 14-year olds)
      • Pitchers between 15 and 18 years of age should throw no more than 90 pitches per game and pitch no more than 2 games per week. 
    • Consider delayed throwing of breaking pitches.  The relationship between pitch types (particularly curveballs) and injuries in youth baseball pitchers is controversial, with some experts saying pitchers under age 14 should not throw curveballs and others saying curveballs are okay. For more on the curveball controversy, click here.
  • Never allow players to play through pain. Any persistent pain is a sign of a chronic (i.e. overuse) or acute injury that should sideline a child from playing until it subsides. Teach your child not to play through pain. If your child gets injured, see your doctor. Follow all the doctor's orders for recovery and get the doctor's (or physical therapist's) OK before allowing your child to play again.
Above all, keep baseball fun. Coaches and parents can prevent injuries, including emotional injuries by creating an atmosphere of healthy competition and de-emphasizing a"winning-at-all-costs" attitude. Putting too much focus on winning canmake your child push too hard, ignore the signs of injury and riskinjury by playing in pain.


Sources: Numerous, including the American Academy ofPediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ConsumerProduct Safety Commission, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

Updated March 27, 2011