Hard Throwing kids and future injuries


#1

[quote=“Roger”]
I’ve seen all of this happen too. The kids who throw hardest are considered to be the kids with the strongest arms and are asked to pitch the most. But they’re the ones who put the most stress on their immature skeletal systems. Those growth plates eventually give out.[/quote]

Is it imminent that hard throwing kids will end up with serious injuries? Does being protective reduce the risk, or is it just something that cannot be avoided?

My son throws very hard for his age (11U). There’s no comparative in our area for velocity either in the youth leagues/TT (12U and under) nor the Middles School ball, and he’s never been “gunned” to quantify what velocity he throws. Long toss is well over 200’. From 250’ out, he throws the ball back on two-hops. I coach for both (LL & MS) and am very aware of the talent level under 14U, and there’s no kid that comes close to his velocity in this age group (We’re not in Georgia, Texas, or So. Ca where every LL age kid throws in the mid 70’s. Here, 62 is fast.) :). He plays LL and one or two TT tournaments each year. So I’m very protective. Pitch count - daily, weekly and yearly - plenty of off-season rest, making sure the arm is properly warmed up before pitching, icing after wards, etc.

This year the weather has been cold and wet, so his throwing has been limited to playing catch, one 30-pitch bullpen session two weeks ago @ 75% velocity (on a warm day) and a 20-pitch simulated game yesterday, again at about 75% velocity. He should have another playing catch/light bullpen session and a 40-pitch bullpen session later this week. Then next week he’ll do the same thing: A two-inning simulated game, a light BP/playing catch session and a 40-pitch BP session. Then once the season starts, the routine remains the same, except a real game replaces the simulated game. I want to limit his pitches in the opening game to 36 pitches, then build up to 50 and finally 75 for a game. In summary, that’s his throwing schedule.

After yesterday’s 20-pitch simulated game, he had some soreness on the inside part of his elbow for his throwing arm. Cause for concern, or just pre-season soreness that goes away once he’s throwing regularly? He says he’s not throwing hard when he pitches, which I believe 'cause he throws much harder when playing catch. BTW, this is his 1st soreness in his arm.

Thanks for your comments.


#2

Well first thing is mechanics, put some video up and let us have a look for mechanical issues.

Next, overthrowing/underthrowing, with respect to my own son he has always been limited to pitch counts/weekend which has done really well for him, he tells me when something feels funny and then we figure out if it is just muscular soreness or what. Soreness is the name of the game, pitchers will get sore arms, runners get sore legs, weighlifters get sore backs and professors get sore brains (I just can help the jokes, haha). Soreness should be taken care of with running, blood flow, massage and ice if it persists. Injury on the other hand, which is what pitch limits etc, try to minimize on the other hand should never be taken lightly, elbow injury can be as minimum as tweaking the ulnar nerve to something severe like dislocation, if you aren’t sure the injury run/don’t walk to see a professional.

So onto your question, I think that as pitchers get into game time situations they throw different and only lots of work, both mentally and physically can keep them relaxed enough to pitch the way that they pitch in a bull pen. So back to video, need video of bull pens vs game time. His soreness sounds very normal though, did it go away within 24 hours or is it persisting? Soreness does need 1-2 days rest before activity again but if the soreness went away within 24 hours get him back on the bump for a longer session, this builds the body to get used to this activity.

Kinda rambling but good luck.


#3

Once he starts pitching regularly I’ll add a video update

I think this is just being sore from not using those muscles for a few weeks. He’s fine today.

He throws the same whether it’s a bullpen session or a game. He has 40 pitches in a bullpen session. Each pitch is charted, etc. A light BP/playing catch session is 20 pitches where he can experiment with different grips, etc. At 85% full velocity he has excellent control and still has the velocity to get it past the best hitters.

[quote=“buwhite”] His soreness sounds very normal though, did it go away within 24 hours or is it persisting? Soreness does need 1-2 days rest before activity again but if the soreness went away within 24 hours get him back on the bump for a longer session, this builds the body to get used to this activity.

Kinda rambling but good luck.[/quote]

Thanks for the comments


#4

[quote=“West2East”][quote=“Roger”]
I’ve seen all of this happen too. The kids who throw hardest are considered to be the kids with the strongest arms and are asked to pitch the most. But they’re the ones who put the most stress on their immature skeletal systems. Those growth plates eventually give out.[/quote]

Is it imminent that hard throwing kids will end up with serious injuries? Does being protective reduce the risk, or is it just something that cannot be avoided?[/quote]
I don’t think injury is automatically imminent just because a kid throws hard. But add in overuse and there’s a chance. Combine that with poor mechanics and insufficient conditioning and the chances are even greater. Being protective surely helps - especially with young pitchers who don’t know better or who have a hard time sticking up for themselves.

[quote]My son throws very hard for his age (11U). There’s no comparative in our area for velocity either in the youth leagues/TT (12U and under) nor the Middles School ball, and he’s never been “gunned” to quantify what velocity he throws. Long toss is well over 200’. From 250’ out, he throws the ball back on two-hops. I coach for both (LL & MS) and am very aware of the talent level under 14U, and there’s no kid that comes close to his velocity in this age group (We’re not in Georgia, Texas, or So. Ca where every LL age kid throws in the mid 70’s. Here, 62 is fast.) :). He plays LL and one or two TT tournaments each year. So I’m very protective. Pitch count - daily, weekly and yearly - plenty of off-season rest, making sure the arm is properly warmed up before pitching, icing after wards, etc.

This year the weather has been cold and wet, so his throwing has been limited to playing catch, one 30-pitch bullpen session two weeks ago @ 75% velocity (on a warm day) and a 20-pitch simulated game yesterday, again at about 75% velocity. He should have another playing catch/light bullpen session and a 40-pitch bullpen session later this week. Then next week he’ll do the same thing: A two-inning simulated game, a light BP/playing catch session and a 40-pitch BP session. Then once the season starts, the routine remains the same, except a real game replaces the simulated game. I want to limit his pitches in the opening game to 36 pitches, then build up to 50 and finally 75 for a game. In summary, that’s his throwing schedule.

After yesterday’s 20-pitch simulated game, he had some soreness on the inside part of his elbow for his throwing arm. Cause for concern, or just pre-season soreness that goes away once he’s throwing regularly? He says he’s not throwing hard when he pitches, which I believe 'cause he throws much harder when playing catch. BTW, this is his 1st soreness in his arm.

Thanks for your comments.[/quote]
Definitely keep an eye on the elbow soreness. Pre-season soreness should, to me, be muscle soreness - not joint soreness. Also make sure his mechanics and timing are in order in case the soreness is due to a mechanics issue.


#5

He pitched two innings in a scrimmage game this evening. No pain. Started off the lead off hitter with two balls, then settled down and threw 16 of the next 18 pitches for strikes. 20 pitches total and 5Ks. :slight_smile:


#6

Had I known then what I know now - I’d have really rationed my son’s pitching (as is the case now).

Unlike a lot of parents that I see, I did hold him out of many more opportunities to pitch than he did. We sort of joked around about putting his arm in a glass case. It wasn’t quite like that, but I made it a point to get educated about potential injury and what guidelines to follow to prevent it.

Still he ended up with separation in his upper arm growth plate. I questioned whether I really did what I should to do right by him - and I honestly think I did. Right away his physical therapist started talking about overuse when it was originally thought to be tendinitis. The orthopedist he was seeing also (I felt anyway) was painting me with the same unflattering brush.

I told them that I didn’t deny being “that dad.” I just was “that dad” with a twist. I was looking to put his arm away for the future like I was investing in a 401k or something. Talking about the nuts and bolts of the traumatic element of my son’s injury with the doc, there’s no doubt in my mind that throwing hard (even with mechanics favorable to him) played a major part in his injury. As I feared could happen, so I kicked myself for letting it happen to him.

As it was explained to me (paraphrasing) THE cause of this type of injury is the stress from getting the arm decelerated…bodies in motion want to stay in motion. Now overuse in a traditional sense of too many pitches / too little rest time, even accumulated, I’m sure can be a major contributor. However, my first hand observation is that overuse can also equal too much accumulated force - higher dosage of damage condensed into fewer occurrences.

So I’ve got this kid who’s very big, yet probably not as biologically mature on the inside as he appears on the outside. He’s working out like crazy - loving and rewarding his dedication and in turn he’s ramping it up even further. Very strong - beast. I’m a large man and he gets his share of pushing around in when he drops his shoulder in a 1 on 1 game with dad. That strength is applying force to stop the arm. The hand is, I assume, moving faster than what’s normal because he has always thrown more like an adult than a kid. Hearing and seeing what the orthopedist is telling me and showing me about the nature of his injury it seemed like it’d be a miracle if he didn’t have this injury. Even the orthopedist said he doesn’t treat kids that throw 45 or 50 mph - that’s not his client el.


#7

[quote=“BigShug27”]Had I known then what I know now - I’d have really rationed my son’s pitching (as is the case now).

Unlike a lot of parents that I see, I did hold him out of many more opportunities to pitch than he did. We sort of joked around about putting his arm in a glass case. It wasn’t quite like that, but I made it a point to get educated about potential injury and what guidelines to follow to prevent it.

Still he ended up with separation in his upper arm growth plate. I questioned whether I really did what I should to do right by him - and I honestly think I did. Right away his physical therapist started talking about overuse when it was originally thought to be tendinitis. The orthopedist he was seeing also (I felt anyway) was painting me with the same unflattering brush. [/quote]

Thank you for sharing your experience. At what age did the separation in his upper arm growth plate develop? What was he pitching and how often when 11 and 12? Any further recommendations for “rationing” a hard, young thrower?

[quote=“BigShug27”] . . . , there’s no doubt in my mind that throwing hard (even with mechanics favorable to him) played a major part in his injury. . . .

As it was explained to me (paraphrasing) THE cause of this type of injury is the stress from getting the arm decelerated…bodies in motion want to stay in motion. Now overuse in a traditional sense of too many pitches / too little rest time, even accumulated, I’m sure can be a major contributor. However, my first hand observation is that overuse can also equal too much accumulated force - higher dosage of damage condensed into fewer occurrences. [/quote]

I’m worried about these effects on my son as he gets older and wanting to minimize future injuries that will stop short his pitching. Right now, he loves the power and the domination that comes with pitching. He sees the fear in the kids and can’t wait for his next start.

Next week is opening day and he gets the starting nod with all of the parents watching. It’s designed to catch baseball fever. I’m told one of the dad’s from the other team will be gunning him during the game to answer the question everyone ask, “How fast does he throw?” I’m fairly certain it’s in the orthopedist clientele’s range.

I appreciate your experience and insight. Thanks.


#8

Games are no place for speed guns, it tells you nothing, it just gets you watching the gun vs the game. Then if the pitcher knows he is on the gun he will try to throw harder and harder to get bigger numbers. Put the gun away and have him throw. If you want to speed check him then once at the opening of the year, once in the middle and once near the end. Use it to get 10 mph off the fastball, even if he only throws 50 a 40 mph change up is dang impressive and really hard to hit, especially if he can move the fast ball around.

There is a dad on my son’s team that has one and I ask him to put it away when my son pitches. Enjoy the game, encourage you son to be better and better and not just faster and faster. You sound like you care about your son and not just his baseball so allow him to progress to that point in his life.


#9

Definitely agree. My son’s goal this year - a very lofty goal - is to have zero walks. He’s pretty much in a zone when on the mound. I’ll talk with my friend and have him gun him before the game begins. Then the question will be settled and life will go on.

As I’ve mentioned before, academics is his ticket to college, and he’s playing basketball more and more. He’s also very good at music and drawing, so he spends a good portion of times, especially these rainy spring days, working on his other arts.

Of interest, we work on location and ball movement. Velocity is a natural result of everything else coming together.


#10

Pre-game warmup for LL opener on March 30, 2011. Not throwing hard at this point, just warming up.

He pitched four innings, 63% strikes, started 14 of the 18 batters with 1st pitch strikes, and struck out 10 (5 looking) and walked four. For the wet spring and lack of practice, very pleased with his first game.

Different angle: