If you know a Little League athlete, Read this Post!

Posted: March 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

With spring right on our doorstep, I think it is a great time for a post on baseball injuries. The amount of children getting hurt while playing baseball or softball is truly  becoming an epidemic in our society.

With that, here are a few quick stories and observations and a few links to articles that you should certainly take the time to read:

Baseball is obviously a topic that interests me greatly as I was involved in playing the sport until I was 23 years old. I realize this topic does not interest everyone BUT  I do feel every health care provider and parent should at least have a working knowlege of the subject. Last year around this time I did a presentation at school to our Sports Performance Club about baseball injuries and I started off by saying whether you want to treat baseball players or not, you really need to know something on this topic. Some of my fellow students want to focus their careers on Pregnancy and Pediatrics and that is fantastic. (I mean, who wouldn’t want to deal with angry pregnant woman?!? Juuust kidding :)) However, these woman who are pregnant are going to have children and those children may eventually play Little League baseball/softball. As a clinician, being able to at least point a patient in the right direction in order to keep their child safe is essential. And a little working knowledge of the subject is even better. Unfortunately as one of the articles below will indicate, many coaches out there simply do not have this working knowledge needed in order to keep our kids safe and on the field.

  • From my experience over the years involved in the sport, I can honestly say I have seen almost everything when it comes to parenting. This includes pre-game WWE style battle royals just like this (sadly I’m not joking):

There are hundreds of other amazingly sad incidents that I probably should write a book about as well. Actually, someone already did. Coach Scott Illiano, a New Jersey high school baseball coach recently published a book titled, Our Time and this is one of the topics he discusses. A quick preview: One story he tells involves a parent defecating on home plate (no lie). From these experiences, I have basically come to the conclusion that there are two types of overbearing parents. 1) The overbearing parent that is so enamoured with his/her child’s ability that they abuse the kid’s arm by making them throw way too much and 2) The overbearing parent that is so enamoured with his/her child’s ability that they baby the kid’s arm and never allow them to throw enough to become an effective player. Luckily, we now have universal guidelines to follow (that I will share a link to at the end of the post) which should be the standard throughout the world.

  •  In high school, my team traveled to a tournament in upstate New York. There, we played a team from Alabama with a pitching staff that was absolutely outstanding. After a game, I remember hearing one of the Alabama team moms speaking to our team moms and basically saying that even though her team had great pitchers now, none really had a chance to do anything in the future because she was afraid they played so much (because the weather allowed for it), that the kids were going to flame out before they got to a high level. Looking back, I think that lady was some kind of genius because the research now proves exactly what she feared. Simply put, The #1 reason for youth throwing injuries is OVERUSE.

As an aside and completely off topic, at this same tournament we faced a team that attempted to use this against us (no, it didn’t work)  

  • Piggy-backing on the point made above, weather in the Northeast used to be a limiting factor for baseball and softball players. Because of the winter months, we simply can not get out to play for long periods of time. However within the last 10 years or so, fall ball, indoor facilities, and all-turf baseball fields (eliminating poor field conditions) have become the norm for our youth and I think it will now begin to show with the amount of injuries. The basic recommendation for any youth baseball/softball player is between 3 and 4 months of rest each year from throwing. Some athletes play spring ball, summer league, go right into fall ball, and then begin a winter throwing program, literally not taking even one month off. This is just an injury waiting to happen. Now please don’t get me wrong, I fully support the indoor facilities. Honestly, I spent every winter there while growing up. All I am saying is that we need to be responsible. If a player finishes his/her season in August, then by December or January they should certainly begin throwing again and working towards the next season. In fact, most indoor facilities have highly qualified instructors who will further help to prevent injuries by working on proper throwing mechanics. Furthermore, I think something that is just as bad as overuse is being under prepared. I remember in high school, we would have some pitchers who literally would not touch a baseball until the first day of spring practice and then wonder why throwing three innings in 28 degree weather bothered their arm a few weeks later.

Wow, that certainly turned into quite the rant that I did not expect…

Really, what I want everyone to read is this fantastic post by Dr. Mike Reinold titled, “The Real Reason Why There are so Many Youth Pitching Injuries”. Dr. Reinold is the Head of Physical Therapy for The Boston Red Sox and is highly involved in the research and treatment of overhead athletes. He is certainly someone who I consider and authority on the subject.

Also, here is an absolutely fantastic post by Eric Cressey called, “Your Arm Hurts? Thank Your Little League, Fall Ball, and AAU Coaches”. Eric is a leader in the field and a pioneer in the baseball strength and conditioning community. In fact, this past off season I read that he worked with a  player representing every Major League Baseball organization except 2. Truly impressive stuff!!

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading!!

Go Yankees!!

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