With spring training underway and opening day just around the corner, we would like to focus on how your young pitcher can avoid injury this baseball season. The most common injury in baseball is damage or tear to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) from pitchers throwing too much. This ligament stabilizes the elbow during the pitching motion. When it becomes damaged, it can be difficult to repair and rehabilitate.
The following tips offer sound guidelines to prevent injury:
1. Warm Up properly
Be sure to warm up by jogging, stretching properly, and gradual throwing.
2. Rotate positions
The younger athlete, especially, should get experience in different positions on the team during the season.
3. Age-appropriate pitching
Famous pitchers like Nolan Ryan didn't start pitching until high school. Adhere to the following maximum pitch counts according to the player's age (counts are in pitches per game):
Age 7-8: 50
Age 9-10: 75
Age 11-12: 85
Age 13-16: 95
Age 17-18: 105
4. Avoid pitching on multiple teams with overlapping seasons
5. Do not pitch with elbow or shoulder pain. See a doctor if pain persists.
6. Do not pitch on consecutive days.
7. Do not play year round.
8. Communicate regularly with your child about how his/her arm is feeling and if he/she is experiencing pain.
9. Master easier pitches first
Learn the fastball and change-up before learning the breaking pitches.
10. Emphasize control, accuracy and good mechanics in young pitchers.