A Question of damage to growth plates of kids pitching arms

A Question of damage to growth plates of kids pitching arms.

Hi all – This is my first post.  I’m a concerned dad of a 10 yr old soon to be 11.  He first began house league last year and loved it.  He was one of the team pitchers and in the league they are limited to 2 innings. The season ran from mid May to August. He played well enough to be spotted by some city AAA league for tryouts this year and looks like he’ll be on the team.  He’s so enthused about it that he’s taken up training with push-ups, crunches, light dumbbells for shoulders, exercise bike, etc.  It looks the schedule is a little heavier than the house league.

After recently researching the WEB and reading a few postings here I have concerns about my son hurting his arm especially after reading Michael G. Marshall “Coaching Baseball Pitchers” who says: 

“No pitcher with open growth plates should perform my wrist weight or iron ball exercises. If youth pitchers perform the wrist weight or iron ball exercises, then they will certainly cause trauma to their pitching arm. Even minor trauma can cause premature closure of the growth plates that permanently shortens their pitching arm. Major trauma can separate, avulse or fracture their medial epicondyle, deform the head or the radius or worse. I strongly recommend that until the growth plate of their medial epicondyle completely matures, no pitcher should practice pitching for more than two months per year, no pitcher should pitch competitively in games against opposing hitters until they are thirteen years old and no pitcher should pitch more than one inning per game twice a week.”


How much should I be concerned? How much should I limit his throwing and pitching?  I read that in counting pitches be it a game or in practice it only when he’s throwing near his max that should be counted and limited, is that correct?  Also what work-out program is appropriate?

Your help will be appreciated.

You should definitely be careful.

First, I wouldn’t have a 10/11 YO do anything in terms of lifting weights. Instead, I think that throwing a number of times a week is enough.

Second, I would count and limit his pitches. I limited my 10/11 Yo son to 45 pitches once a week.

Third, I would focus on his fastball and change-up. No curves until he’s 16.

Nobody that I have coached has ever had an arm problem.

I totally agree wit chris, when I was younger I would get so mad at my dad for limiting my pitches and not allowing me to throw a curve when everyone else was.

When I look back now I find those are a few of the things that has let me have a successful career thus far.

Well said Chris, and although your son might get mad at you (especially when hes rolling in a game) he will understand in the future.



You should understand that the author of what you read (Dr. Marshall) has some very unique ideas. He claims the throwing motion that all of us use (“us” being everyone but his own students) will lead to injury. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be anyone in the big leagues that throws the way Marshall recommends. Further, it’s difficult to even find video of pitchers truly throwing the way Marshall describes.

The replies you’ve received so far are good. Weight lifting for kids that young is not necessary. Avoiding the curveball until older is a good idea as well.

The limiting of pitch counts is also a good idea. This is normally done to avoid short-term overuse. However, long-term overuse is also an issue and often overlooked. Kids who play one sport all year round need to take a significant break each year. The American Sports Medicine Institute
(ASMI) recommends taking 2-3 months off each year. This is more of an issue in warm climate states.

Would no weight lifting exclude the program described on this WEB site:

“Youngsters under 12 years of age should not be “pumping iron”. Yet, exercises with a pair of very light dumbbells (under 3 lbs.) in conjunction with “Jobe” exercises can be very helpful. But make sure you can do at least 10 reps and limit it to 2 to 3 sets. Do 4 to 6 exercises at most. Don’t go bonkers … a 20 to 30 minute conditioning program is plenty at this age. “

I want to say thanks for the input so far and that I’ve taken the advice to heart. One thing I did know for sure was not to allow him throw any curves or sliders but to work on spotting his fastball. At first he was frustrated at me for being so strict about that but has come to accept it. The coaches have now started him on the change up.

I think some light training is ok.

Thanks for the input. We’ll put it to practice. 8)

As far as “weight lifting” I like to use the rule NOTHING OVER 10% of your son’s body weight.

My son has trained with Mike Marshall for the past two years at his facility in Zephyrhills, FL. The quality of the six different pitches my son now throws is amazing. Velocity much greater than we ever thought possible and movement that is “dirty”. We are looking forward to a very promising career if he is willing to put forth a sustained effort.

Dr. Marshall’s concern for the growth plates in youth pitching arms is a very real concern. The main thing is that his training techniques will strengthen the arm and eliminate the injurious flaws associated with the traditional pitching motion we all have used.

When folks comment about Dr. Marshalls motion not being evident in the majors they are accurate in their assumption. Being trained in the tradition pitching motion is a very hard thing to break therefore you will see some that will have a variation of Dr. Marshalls technique but with alot of the traditional stuff still there. Plus these guys get tremendous signing bonuses so why would they think they need to change, that is until they are injured. (Ask Pedro Martinez why he now has a copy of Dr. Marshalls training video with him in spring training)

What you will find is that Dr. Marshall has a true and genuine concern for the well-being of young men in the development of their pitching technique as well as eliminating pitching arm injuries.

If you want to see the results of his teaching e-mail Dr. Marshall and ask for the Jeff Sparks demonstration video (yes, there is a video).