Year Round Youth Baseball?


#1

As the father of an 8 year old, the increasing popularity of year round youth baseball has concerned me.

There is plenty of medical literature out there strongly advising against it, recommending at least three months each year away from baseball.

Here, along the lines of the medical literature, are the views of Tom Glavine and John Smoltz on year round youth baseball:

[quote]Dr. Joe Chandler, Director of Medical Services Emeritus for the Atlanta Braves and Resurgens Charitable Foundation, presented Striking Out Injuries in Youth Baseball. Resurgens has just completed the new video presentation and Dr. Chandler was on hand for the presentation and facilitated the discussion. The video features interviews with both John Smoltz and Tom Glavine about their successes in baseball and their views on youth baseball today.

Highlights from Interview with Tom Glavine:

  • Was 7 years old when he started playing baseball.
  • Was 8 years old when he first pitched.
  • Was 16/17 years old when he first threw a breaking ball.
  • Started throwing a change up when he was 10/11 years old.
  • Was 16/17 years old when he first threw 100 or more pitches in a game.
  • Was 22 years old and in the Major Leagues when he first threw 150 innings or more in a year.
  • Has had 22 seasons in the Major leagues; was never on the DL in the first 21 seasons.
  • Never received private pitching lessons in youth baseball; received lessons when he was in the Minor Leagues.
  • Has never played year-round baseball.
  • As a youth, played hockey about 6 months out of the year; baseball about 3 months out of the year.
  • His parents taught him to “enjoy what you do”.
  • Remembers his high school coach during his Senior year of play; during the playoffs, his coach would not put Tom in the game after 2 days of rest because he did not want to injure his arm.
  • Can just 1 game harm the arm? Yes, it only takes one game or 1 pitch to injure the arm.
  • When a pitcher can throw his fastball for a strike 70% of the time, then it’s time to learn a new pitch, preferably a change up in the younger years.
  • Is the “cut fast ball” a dangerous pitch? Yes, anytime you try to manipulate movement on the ball, it’s dangerous.
  • Children need to play multiple sports, experience more things.

Highlights from interview with John Smoltz:

  • Has had 21 seasons in the Major Leagues.
  • Was drafted in the 22nd round.
  • Too many kids are having surgeries at young ages.
  • After surgery, you will return to the level of play you were at when you had the surgery; you will not exceed that level.
  • Year-round baseball is “horrible”.
  • Kids are throwing too much.
  • Teach mechanics, limit pitches.
  • Repetition of good mechanics will improve the player.
  • Parents need to see their child through the eyes of others.
  • Allow children the freedom to play in the sports they feel comfortable in.
  • The drive to succeed comes from the individual, cannot be instilled by others.[/quote]
    http://www.eteamz.com/llbgeorgia/news/index.cfm?cat=235659

#2

Good stuff.

I am a firm believer that there is short-term overuse and long-term overuse and that kids need to shut down a few months each year.


#3

Great point, Roger. Everyone agrees there is short term overuse; so how can there not be long term overuse?


#4

Here is some of the medical literature on year round youth baseball:


Atlanta Braves’ Orthopedic Doctor on Youth Baseball

“Interviews were conducted with professional baseball pitchers (30 major league and 71 minor league) to characterize coaching practices that they experienced in their youth, as compared with current coaching practices … These pitchers recalled that high pitch counts (greater than 75 pitches per game) and reports of arm injuries were rare in their youth. Year-round baseball was uncommon and most participated in other sports … The following are risk factors for injury in youth baseball: … 4. Participation in year-round baseball.

http://www.resurgensfoundation.com/files/PitchingInYouthBaseball.pdf


Journal of the Louisiana State Medical Society - Prevention of Arm Injury in Youth Baseball Pitchers

“Compared to controls, the group that required reconstructive surgery had pitched more months/year, games/year, innings/game, pitches/game, and pitches/year … Multivariate analysis identified the most significant risk factors for high school and college pitcher injury and need for surgery as: an increased risk of 500% for pitching greater than 8 months per year.

The USA Baseball Medical & Safety Advisory Committee (part of the United States Olympic Committee) … made the following general recommendations for youth pitchers:

  1. For at least three months a year, a pitcher should
    not play any baseball or perform throwing drills
    . In
    addition, any overhead activity (football quarterback,
    competitive swimming, javelin throwing) should be
    avoided during that period of time
    ."

http://tinyurl.com/3azshza


The Principle of Periodization (American Sports Medicine Institute)

“In certain parts of warm-weather states (Florida, Texas, California, etc.) baseball leagues are available in all seasons. However, the principle of periodization states that an athlete should have different periods and activities in his annual conditioning schedule. Specifically, baseball pitchers need a period of ‘active rest’ after their season ends and before the next preseason begins. During active rest a pitcher is encouraged to participate in physical activities that do not include a great amount of overhand throwing.”

http://www.asmi.org/asmiweb/usabaseball.htm#Baseball


#5

I agree that year round baseball is not a recommended strategy for youth players. BUT

There are some things being connected to the topic that appear to correlate but not necessarily so.

Short term overuse and longterm overuse occur in concert and seems obviously to be a major factor in youth pitching injuries. However, the unconditioned arm , in my opinion is the biggest risk factor at any age but more so for youth pitchers who are constantly growing and stretching out the ligaments, tendons and muscles of the arm.

I followed ASMI’s principles of periodization and their throwing/conditioning program with my son until he reached high school. He played hockey and basketball in the winter. Basketball gifted him a foot injury and hockey was just an overall brutal sport. But the time off allowed him the mental break from pitching that he needed.

This does not have to be organized baseball. During the sophomore and junior years of high school pitching prospects travel during the winter to college showcases wherre they usually pitch on “unconditioned arms” if they are from the north where indoor facilities are scarce. Those from the south do not have this problem.

Proper pitching lessons for some youth pitchers is absolutely necessary. Old habits that are bad habits will be hard to break. It used to be that the kids that naturally could, would pitch. Now everybody wants their kid to pitch and some of them are terribly inefficient with their throwing motion.

Some kids are throwing too much. But some kids are not throwing or conditioning enough and that’s why they get hurt.

My biggest complaint about the “kids are throwing too much” campaign is that if we are going to restrict pitches then we ought to set goals to develop and condition their arm better otherwise we aren’t going to see injuries go down at all.[/b]


#6

Does anyone know if Steven Strasburg is a product of year round baseball? I’d be curious to see how the latest group of kids were developed that are coming up through the Minors.


#7

I don’t know what is meant by an “unconditioned arm”. However, I don’t see how pitching 8 months a year or even 6 months a year (Glavin played baseball 3 months a year as a youth) will itself result in an “unconditioned arm”.

In any event, this discussion is on the other end of the spectrum: is 12 months a year really necessary, or even good, for a youth pitcher? From the medical literature, MLB players like Glavin and Smoltz, and just plain common sense, I believe the answer is a resounding “No!”

PS. Here is a look at Mariano Rivera’s youth of “year round pitching”. :lol:

[quote]Rivera was born in Panama City, Panama on November 29, 1969 to Mariano, Sr. and Delia. His father worked as a ship captain in the fishing industry. Rivera has one older sister and two younger brothers. He grew up in the Panamanian fishing village of Puerto Caimito – town he described as “poor” – playing soccer with his friends. They also played baseball in the streets by substituting milk cartons for gloves and tree branches for bats, and by fashioning balls by taping wads of shredded fishing netting and beat-up baseballs with electrical tape. Rivera used this makeshift equipment until his father bought him his first leather glove when he was 12 years old. He thought of baseball as a pastime and did not seriously consider playing professionally. After graduating from Pablo Sanchez High School at age 16, he worked six-day weeks on a commercial boat on which his father was captain, catching shrimp and sardines. Rivera did not consider taking up the profession as an adult, though, as he thought the job was “way too tough”, and he wanted to become a mechanic. As a 19-year-old, he had to abandon a capsizing 120-ton commercial boat, all but convincing him to give fishing up.

As a shortstop, in 1988, Rivera began to play baseball for an amateur team, Panamá Oeste, representing his local district. Herb Raybourn, the New York Yankees’ director of Latin American operations, saw athleticism in Rivera but did not project him to be a Major League shortstop. A year later, Panamá Oeste’s pitcher performed so poorly that Rivera volunteered to pitch. Yankees scout Chico Heron attended one of his games and after watching Rivera throw, Heron arranged for him to attend a Yankees tryout camp in Panama City where Raybourn was visiting. Raybourn was surprised that scouts had shown interest in Rivera as a pitcher a year later, considering they passed on him as a shortstop. Although Rivera had no formal pitching training and only threw 85–87 miles per hour (MPH), Raybourn was impressed by Rivera’s athleticism and smooth pitching motion, along with the ease with which he threw the ball. Believing Rivera to be a raw talent, Raybourn signed the amateur free agent to a contract with a US$3,000 signing bonus ($4,994 in current dollar terms) on February 17, 1990 in Rivera’s living room.[/quote]

A legitimate question is whether Rivera would even be in MLB today had he engaged in year round pitching as a youth?


#8

If you want to strengthen your arguement you can do it with a much better approach than just taking hall of fame major league baseball players one at a time and stating that they generally meet your qualifications against year round baseball.

An unconditioned arm is one that has not been properly strengthened for the rigors of whatever type or duration of throwing you are asking it to do on a given day. Spring Training for MLB is an example you should be able to grasp. Any extended time off from throwing will require a program of gradual bulding up of the arm. Relief pitchers will approach this a little differently than starters. An arm at rest, assuming it is healthy will immediately begin to lose its “conditioning”.

Glavine was born and raised and played baseball in Massachusetts, hardly a climate that would permit year round playing. It wasn’t because he wouldn’t have given the chance. He played hockey also. It is not inconsequential that you are describing elite athletes and trying to draw assumptions about the average youth pitcher. Glavine was drafted out of high school by the NHL, ahead of Brett Hull for God’s Sake. We are talking stud here.

In my son’s particular case, we took the two to three months off but we are in a climate that is extremely inhospitable to year round playing. Had I lived in florida, he probably would have played quite a bit more. And when you travel south and watch kids of the same age from the south play kids from the north, you will see how much more developed their throwing is. Colleges and the major league scouts recognize this also. There are exceptions, like Glavine.

THE ANSWER IS NOT A RESOUNDING NO.

There are kids that are perfectly capable of playing ten months of the year. To me, it is a decision that shouldn’t be criticized if the kid is tolerating the schedule and has the desire. I’m not saying it would be my choice to go year round but I think there are other issues at least as important to consider for instance:

A kid in the north finished up his high school and legion schedule mid August lets say. He has played from possibly indoors in february through until now without much of a break. He stops throwing for two months. He signs up for a college pitching clinic in October. He doesn’t properly build his arm up before the clinic and then throws for four hours, drills and then off the mound for a coach. While throwing he feels a little sore in the elbow but he doesn’t say anything because he’s paid for this and some day he wants to be a college pitcher too. By the way, this can be an eight year old too.

Rivera is from a dirt poor third world country. He was a natural baseball player (born that way!) and if it wasn’t for the New York Yankees investing in searching for cheap latin players to [quote]signUS$3,000 signing bonus ($4,994 in current dollar terms [/quote]he would still be fishing for sardines and probably just as happy as he is today.

I disagree. Had Rivera been playing year round in the US, he would have had an opportunity to attend a DI College or sign a lucrative contract right out of high school.


#9

Dino,

Why are you so nasty? In your earlier post you wrote that “I agree that year round baseball is not a recommended strategy for youth players”, and now you are parsing my post to pick a fight. Blow it out your arse. As long as you are on this site I’m not.

But before I leave …

[quote=“Dino”]If you want to strengthen your arguement [sic] you can do it with a much better approach than just taking hall of fame major league baseball players one at a time and stating that they generally meet your qualifications against year round baseball.

[b]If you want to strengthen your argument you can do it with a much better approach than just taking the medical doctors and hall of fame major league baseball players that I cite and blithely dismissing them, when you can’t cite anyone other than Dino.

Fact is, I cited a lot more than “major league baseball players one at a time”, as you say. I cited several medical sources, and gave the links, that support my argument. You don’t mention them. Just an oversight, I’m sure.[/b]

An unconditioned arm is one that has not been properly strengthened for the rigors of whatever type or duration of throwing you are asking it to do on a given day. Spring Training for MLB is an example you should be able to grasp.

Like I said, you can’t be anything but nasty. “Unconditioned arm” can mean anything, and it was not defined in your lame post, so I had every right to ask what you meant. Only problem is, you can’t engage in friendly banter.

THE ANSWER IS NOT A RESOUNDING NO. There are kids that are perfectly capable of playing ten months of the year.

Ten months per year is not “year round”. In fact ten months per year means two months off (I can show you the math), which is in line with the three month rest period recommended by the medical experts I cited. Thanks for making my case.

Had Rivera been playing year round in the US, he would have had an opportunity to attend a DI College or sign a lucrative contract right out of high school.

Or an opportunity to be injured early and never make it, which is the legitimate point of the medical literature I cited (which you seem not to have read).[/quote]


#10

Adieu :slight_smile:


#11

Ok , why not continue…

littlelefty said,

Quoting from the same medical source littlelefty cited and provided a link to also recommends:

Proper pitching mechanics are important as early as possible in the development of the pitcher. Year round physical conditioning should be employed as the body develops.

Just one example.

Now the two infallible sources quoted by littlelefty are “major league pitchers” and “medical experts”. Medical experts from time to time renounce previous information they have taught as fact in the past.

The same source as quoted above says this about the curveball…“Subsequently a recent analysis of biomechanics of various pitch types suggests that the curveball MAY NOT BE MORE HARMFUL THAN THE FASTBALL for youth pitchers. The greatest mechanical stresses on the elbow and shoulder were found to be the fastball, followed by the curveball and least of all the change up.”
Yet the recommendation from the same source says, “Do not throw breaking pitches (curveballs and sliders) until puberty (about age 13). Instead a youth pitcher should focus on a fastball and change up, and also pitch control.”

Why is this…because the average youth baseball coach can’t be trusted to teach them how to throw it right.

And a previous position statement from the very same source only dated May 2006 states,

" Showcases are established to give young players the opportunity to display their skills to scouts at higher levels of baseball. Unfortunately, showcases often occur near the end of the players’ season, when players are often fatigued and require rest and recovery. In other instances, players participate in a showcase after a prolonged period since their league ended and without adequate preparation to throw hard again. It is without a doubt that young throwers will try to overthrow at these events in an effort to impress the scouts and coaches, which further increases the risk of serious arm injury."

And one last point…

littlelefty posts this quote from The Journal of Louisiana State Medical Society:

It also says this:

When regularly pitching despite arm fatigue the risk for injury requiring surgery increased 3600%.

3600%…it makes 500% look like chump change.

Is it not possible that a pitcher could maintain his arm (following pitch counts, doing RTC exercises, conditioning, running, icing, proper rest between games, length of innings etc. for 12 months without ever pitching with a fatigued arm? And likewise, couldn’t a pitcher who does none of these things and only participates for 3 months injure himself due to arm fatigue? Just asking?


#12

LOL. The clown still can’t cite anything or anyone other than a “Dino”. Medical experts? “Dino” knows better. Major League pitchers? “Dino” knows better.

[quote=“Dino”]Ok , why not continue…

Because you’re your making an arse of yourself?

Quoting from the same medical source littlelefty cited and provided a link to also recommends:

“Proper pitching mechanics are important as early as possible in the development of the pitcher. Year round physical conditioning should be employed as the body develops.”

[b]And?

Year round “physical conditioning” is very different from year round “pitching”. That’s why the medical doctors who wrote the article say two sentences later: “For at least three months a year, a pitcher should not play any baseball or perform throwing drills. In addition, any overhead activity (football quarterback, competitive swimming, javelin throwing) should be avoided during that period of time.”

More, it doesn’t say “year round physical conditioning should be employed from youth”, which was the subject of this thread - year round youth baseball (until you showed up and ruined it). Rather, “year round physical conditioning” is to be employed only “as the body develops”. That’s not my 8 year old son; or when he’s 9 or 10; when he’s 13, maybe.

Frankly, only a dishonest person would try to spin the advice of these four medical doctors into a recommendation of year round youth pitching.[/b]

Now the two infallible sources quoted by littlelefty are “major league pitchers” and “medical experts”. Medical experts from time to time renounce previous information they have taught as fact in the past.

[b]Now the fallible source quoted by Dino is “Dino”. “Dino” is a clown who in this very thread first said “I agree that year round baseball is not a recommended strategy for youth players”, but only hours later in this same thread disagrees with himself.

Clearly Dino’s not well, and needs to take his meds regularly.[/b]

The same source as quoted above says this about the curveball…“Subsequently a recent analysis of biomechanics of various pitch types suggests that the curveball MAY NOT BE MORE HARMFUL THAN THE FASTBALL for youth pitchers. The greatest mechanical stresses on the elbow and shoulder were found to be the fastball, followed by the curveball and least of all the change up.”

Yet the recommendation from the same source says, “Do not throw breaking pitches (curveballs and sliders) until puberty (about age 13). Instead a youth pitcher should focus on a fastball and change up, and also pitch control.”

[b]First, you selectively quote again. You conveniently leave out the preceding sentence, which says “past data have demonstrated a risk of arm pain in younger pitchers (ages 9 - 14) who throw breaking balls (curveball).”

Second, the doctors are citing another source for the proposition that the curve ball MAY be no more harmful than other pitches. They’re not saying it is.

You obviously don’t know this, but it’s common for academic journals to survey the available studies.[/b]

littlelefty posts this quote from The Journal of Louisiana State Medical Society:

“Compared to controls, the group that required reconstructive surgery had pitched more months/year, games/year, innings/game, pitches/game, and pitches/year … Multivariate analysis identified the most significant risk factors for high school and college pitcher injury and need for surgery as: an increased risk of 500% for pitching greater than 8 months per year.”

[b]I posted that because it addresses the topic of this thread - year round pitching.

The topic of this thread is not curve balls, or pitches per game, or sliders, or whether catchers should wear cups, or whether Dino took his meds. The topic is whether youth should engage in year round baseball, in particular pitching.

The medical literature says “no”; Major League players say “no”; med deprived Dino says “no” but then says “yes”; who are we going to believe?[/b]

It also says this:

“When regularly pitching despite arm fatigue the risk for injury requiring surgery increased 3600%.”

3600%…it makes 500% look like chump change.

Is it not possible that a pitcher could maintain his arm (following pitch counts, doing RTC exercises, conditioning, running, icing, proper rest between games, length of innings etc. for 12 months without ever pitching with a fatigued arm?[b]

Yes, with a 500% increased risk of injury and surgery. LOL.[/b][/quote]
[b]TO THE ADMINISTRATORS: Is there a way for me to ban certain people from threads I start? If not, I want my account deleted as I won’t be posting any more. Thanks.

littlelefty[/b]


#13

No

If you’d like I can block your ip from posting here again but we don’t “delete” accounts per say. If you don’t want to post, don’t post.