Preventing youth Pitching injuries

As coach of a “club” team heading into HS at 15U, it is amazing how many quality players have or have had arm issues. I know of one boy that has missed PT 4 seasons in a row. Tournament overuse. While its fun to have your son be the star, get him on a team where the load is shared. Then follow this simple pattern(not in order) - Do some light dumbell flys for rotator cuff strength on off days and off season…Long toss…Stretch and warm up well…Make your pitch count and rest a hard rule…Dont go back to back days…Work on mechanics to reduce injury…Or don’t wonder why you’re on the bench with tingling in your hand. Or a sharp pain in your shoulder.

One of the most important things to remember is: never mess with a pitcher’s arm slot. My wise and wonderful pitching coach—an active major league pitcher who was one of the finest coaches anyone could ever hope to work with—had this basic premise: every pitcher has a natural motion. And what he would do was work with that pitcher to show him how to make the most of it. I have heard of too many coaches who try to change a pitcher’s arm slot, a lot of the time just because it offends said coaches’ sensibilities, or because the coaches have always done it that way and so it becomes a 'my way or the highway" situation, either of which can only lead to disaster. I was a natural sidearmer, I threw all my stuff that way, and when I picked up the crossfire (a beautiful and lethal move that works only with that delivery) my coach helped me refine it. He showed me how to take full advantage of my delivery and all my pitches, and as a result I pitched for more than twenty years with no arm or shoulder problems. And I won a ton of games.
So whatever your kid’s natural arm slot is, work with it, not against it. And emphasize good mechanics, control and command. It’ll all pay off in the long run. 8) :slight_smile: :baseballpitcher:

The issue seems to be overuse at a young age. I’ve have quite a few discussions with my 12 yo this past month about what he wants to do next year, since next season’s registration time is here and travel ball clubs sets their roster.

These are his feeling:

  1. Wants to play LL and have a chance at State or Williamsport.
  2. No travel ball. Wants to enjoy his weekends and summer playing with neighbors and riding bikes.
  3. Prefers private instruction with a pitching coach/batting instructor in lieu of travel baseball and intense practices, so he can work on his mechanics and be better.
  4. Doesn’t care to be on an Elite Team until he’s either in college or with the Phillies/Yankees/Giants.

I support his feelings. He understands he’s alone in his thoughts. Rest of the boys will give up everything to be on an elite team and pitch everyday on multiple teams. Their belief is the more they play/pitch during their youth years against the highest compitition will best prepare them for High School ball. They could be right.

Yet, I wonder which of these boys will have stronger, healthier arms and more success in High School? It’s one of these things only time will tell . . . .

[quote]The issue seems to be overuse at a young age. I’ve have quite a few discussions with my 12 yo this past month about what he wants to do next year, since next season’s registration time is here and travel ball clubs sets their roster.

These are his feeling:

  1. Wants to play LL and have a chance at State or Williamsport.
  2. No travel ball. Wants to enjoy his weekends and summer playing with neighbors and riding bikes.
  3. Prefers private instruction with a pitching coach/batting instructor in lieu of travel baseball and intense practices, so he can work on his mechanics and be better.
  4. Doesn’t care to be on an Elite Team until he’s either in college or with the Phillies/Yankees/Giants.

I support his feelings. He understands he’s alone in his thoughts. Rest of the boys will give up everything to be on an elite team and pitch everyday on multiple teams. Their belief is the more they play/pitch during their youth years against the highest compitition will best prepare them for High School ball. They could be right.

Yet, I wonder which of these boys will have stronger, healthier arms and more success in High School? It’s one of these things only time will tell . . . .[/quote]

Stay couragous…I believe that ultimately this approach will be adopted on a whole scale basis

I support many things that your son wants…there will eventually be a point in his baseball life that finding out just how good hi is, is going to be important though, knowing when that is isn’t easy for sure but competing at as high a level as possible is part of wanting to play in the next level (HS) (college) whatever his choices might be. Travel ball isn’t the only answer but he will have to play lots of games to find out how he stacks up.

[quote=“West2East”]The issue seems to be overuse at a young age. I’ve have quite a few discussions with my 12 yo this past month about what he wants to do next year, since next season’s registration time is here and travel ball clubs sets their roster.

These are his feeling:

  1. Wants to play LL and have a chance at State or Williamsport.
  2. No travel ball. Wants to enjoy his weekends and summer playing with neighbors and riding bikes.
  3. Prefers private instruction with a pitching coach/batting instructor in lieu of travel baseball and intense practices, so he can work on his mechanics and be better.
  4. Doesn’t care to be on an Elite Team until he’s either in college or with the Phillies/Yankees/Giants.

I support his feelings. He understands he’s alone in his thoughts. Rest of the boys will give up everything to be on an elite team and pitch everyday on multiple teams. Their belief is the more they play/pitch during their youth years against the highest compitition will best prepare them for High School ball. They could be right.

Yet, I wonder which of these boys will have stronger, healthier arms and more success in High School? It’s one of these things only time will tell . . . .[/quote]

I agree with both of you.

My 10 year old is doing what West’s son is doing. In particular I am convinced by point #3: “Prefers private instruction with a pitching coach/batting instructor in lieu of travel baseball and intense practices, so he can work on his mechanics and be better.” I think the combination of 12Us playing in a quality Little League (or other local league) combined with quality private instruction beats the hell out of - and is cheaper than - simultaneous Little League and Travel Ball.

And jd may be right about this being the new approach. One factor in all this, which I haven’t seen discussed much, is the economy and its adverse affect on travel ba$eball. Around my parts, though, I have witnessed first hand a huge drop off in travel ba$eball this fall as parents simply cannot fork over thousands in team fees and travel expenses. I had several travel teams approach me this fall and ask to scrimmage my Fall Ball team, as they didn’t have enough games, but our Fall Ball schedule was full and we simply could not accommodate them. As it turned out here, our Fall Ball had many more games - and was more competitive - than what our local travel teams experienced. I wonder if travel ba$eball has taken a hit from the economy in other parts of the country too?

[quote="south paw
My 10 year old is doing what West’s son is doing. In particular I am convinced by point #3: “Prefers private instruction with a pitching coach/batting instructor in lieu of travel baseball and intense practices, so he can work on his mechanics and be better.” I think the combination of 12Us playing in a quality Little League (or other local league) combined with quality private instruction beats the hell out of - and is cheaper than - simultaneous Little League and Travel Ball.

And jd may be right about this being the new approach. One factor in all this, which I haven’t seen discussed much, is the economy and its adverse affect on travel ba$eball. Around my parts, though, I have witnessed first hand a huge drop off in travel ba$eball this fall as parents simply cannot fork over thousands in team fees and travel expenses. I had several travel teams approach me this fall and ask to scrimmage my Fall Ball team, as they didn’t have enough games, but our Fall Ball schedule was full and we simply could not accommodate them. As it turned out here, our Fall Ball had many more games - and was more competitive - than what our local travel teams experienced. I wonder if travel ba$eball has taken a hit from the economy in other parts of the country too?[/quote]

Cost wise for me it’s a bucket of balls, a mound and the cost of a tutor. The mound was some dirt packed down, clay for the pitching area, and the mound. Instructions are at the house, so there’s no travel. Fairly cheap. We pay $50 a week for one or two lessons during the spring and summer, and tutors also help him with conditioniing and stuff. We paid more for piano lessons. This upcoming year the local “elite” team is building a field at my sons school. Once it’s complete, he can have his lessons right after school and be home be 3:30 to be a kid. Since I travel more now than in the past, this works out very well.

I really do not believe in the whole “elite” team need to succeed.

My own son played AA or AAA youth baseball, never playing on an elite team. He is now a 15 year old freshman pitcher who will be starting on his varsity HS team this spring. Is he an exception, I don’t believe so.

I’ve seen lots of kids come through Rec ball and AA travel ball that did very well in HS and beyond. The whole premise that a kid has to play on elite teams is often a money making scheme. I’ve heard coaches tell me personally that they could provide exposure for my son if he played on their team. Really, exposure at 11-12 years old. Exposure to what.

My kid played in the lesser divisions cause that’s where HE wanted to play. With the majority of his friends. Thank God he did too, cause the cost of some of these teams, I simply could not afford. Instead, I used a portion of that money on a quality pitching coach beginning when he was 8 and continung today.

Another point or advantage to pitching in rec or AA travel ball I’ve seen as an umpire for 20 years is that the better pitchers in these leagues learn to throw more quality pitches due to the “lesser” defense behind them. Guys on elite teams typically have stellar defense behind them and mistakes are easier to deal with.