Pitching Techniques for Youth
Written by: Dr. Jamey Gordon, DPTPLAY BALL
Proper mechanics on the mound mean less injury.
The frequency and severity of injuries in young baseball players is a hot topic. So much so, theLittle League baseball organization recently amended its recommendations for the number ofpitches per day to 50 for 7 to 8-year-olds. Previously, the pitch count limits began at age 9. Howdo we keep our kids safe on the field?The first and most important step is teaching the players how to throw properly. The act ofthrowing a baseball is not a natural motion. If done incorrectly repeatedly, it can cause severestress on fragile areas of the arm. Growth plates at the ends of long bones are particularlysusceptible. The upper arm at the shoulder and the inside of the elbow are two of the mostcommon areas injured by throwing. These areas can also be irritated with aggressive throwinglong-term without gradually increasing endurance. This typically happens at the beginning of theyear as a player resumes throwing after the off-season, or later in the season if the player hasnot had enough recovery time between sessions.Proper throwing technique can be taught at an early age, as soon as the child startsorganized play. This requires coaches who know how to teach throwing and who are willing totake the time to instruct on safe mechanics.As players reach the age of 11, they begin to get bigger and stronger. Larger, strongerbodies can generate more force, and consequently, more injury. At this age, and even into highschool, players often carry over their throwing mechanics from when they were 8 or 9 years old.The larger the body, the more important proper mechanics become.Video and computerized analysis of a player’s throwing motion can easily be done byrehabilitation and sports performance professionals. In choosing someone to analyze yourchild’s throwing motion, make sure they are well-versed in biomechanics, injury prevention, andhave experience teaching pitchers. The mechanical issues of that cause most injuries can oftenbe corrected.
Tips for healthy throwing:
• Limit pitches to 50 per day for players 8 and under. You can add about 5 per day each yearafter age 8.• Teach proper mechanics, with the player’s elbow raised to shoulder height during the throwingmotion and using the whole body throughout the motion and follow-through.• Don’t encourage players to pitch if they don’t have proper mechanics.
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