Too Many Pitches in Youth Lead to Increased Injury
As spring baseball season approaches, a new 10-year study, published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, reports findings that too much pitching in a year can lead to increased stress injuries.
Researchers followed 480 young, healthy pitchers, aged 9 to 14 years, for 10-years (1999-2008). The young athletes were surveyed at the end of each year about what positions were played, how many months out of the year were played, what types of pitches were thrown, and how many showcases were played in a year. Each player was also asked if he had an elbow or shoulder injury that led to surgery or retirement from baseball.
The study concluded that participants who pitched more than 100 innings in a year were 3.5 times more likely to be injured. By the 10th year of the study only 2.2 percent of the sturdy participants were still pitching and 5 percent had suffered a serious injury requiring surgery or retirement from baseball.
Lead researcher of the study, Glenn S. Fleisig, PhD, says, "“The study proved a direct link between innings pitched in youth and adolescent baseball and serious pitching injuries. It highlights the need for parents and coaches to monitor the amount of pitching for the long-term success and health of these young athletes. We need to all work together to end the epidemic of youth sports injuries, and education through campaigns like STOP Sports Injuries is in excellent first step."
Fleising also says, "It is a tough balancing act for adults to give their young athletes as much opportunity as possible to develop skills and strength without exposing them to increased risk of overuse injury. Based on this study, we recommend that pitchers in high school and younger pitch no more than 100 innings in competition in any calendar year. Some pitchers need to be limited even more, as no pitcher should continue to pitch when fatigued."
Awareness of sports injuries and ways to prevent them can be found at: STOP Sports Injuries
This resource has many great tips specific to each sport for athletes, coaches, parents, and healthcare providers.