Stacie L. Grossfeld, M.D.
Board Certified Orthopaedic Sports Medicine
4001 Kresge Way Suite 330, Orthopaedic Specialists, PLLC
Last year there were 3.5 million visits to the emergency room for sports related injuries that occurred in children under the age of 14. That is a 5 time increase in the number if sports related injuries compared to the previous 10 years. Why is this occurring?
One of the reasons according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery (AAOS) is that youth athletes are now typically only competitively playing one sport and playing that sport year round. The problem is that the child is using the same set of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Constant stress is being placed on the same region of the body in athletes with open growth plates, and children that are undergoing significant hormonal changes.
The most common question I get asked in my sports medicine practice from my youth baseball player parents is, “How many pitches should my child throw?”
The answer lies in the number of pitches thrown per game, how many games are played per week and how many rest days are given.
The USA Baseball Medical and Safety Advisory Committee commissioned the American Sports Medicine Institute to study pitching limits and recommendations for youth baseball players.
The commission was made up 85 orthopaedic surgeons and coaches. They came out with specific recommendations regarding number of pitches to be thrown, the type of pitch, and the number or rest days that should be given.
The conclusions of the commission were as follows:
- The number of pitches allowed in each outing increases with age
- A pitcher should be limited to 2 appearances per week
- Participating in multiple leagues, playing different positions and practice hitting should be considered when defining the number of rest days
- Improper technique is a common factor in injury potential
- Conditioning the throwing are and the entire body can reduce a young pitchers risk of injury
- When symptoms of discomfort or fatigue arise, longer rest period are needed.
The advice I give my youth baseball player parents is three-fold. I recommend that they purchase a pitch counter hat mom can throw in her purse or dad in his back pocket and use it. I also recommend keeping a training log to map out their workouts and game time to accurately determine their rest days. I also instruct them that it is their child and not the baseball coach’s. It is their job to help prevent an over use injury.