Throwing Without the Pain: Injury Prevention Strategies for Youth Baseball Players
Its that time of the year where our baseball players should be starting or better, have already started, their pre-season throwing and training programs. Unfortunately we see far too many injures come March in our young throwers and we want to give you some tips as to how you can help reduce the risk of injury come baseball season!
Injury prevention is an important aspect of any sport, and youth baseball is no exception. Pre-season is a crucial time for players to focus on injury prevention, as it can help reduce the risk of injury during the season and improve overall performance. In this blog, we will go over some key tips for preventing injuries in youth/high-school baseball players during the pre-season.
First and foremost, it is important for young baseball players to establish a consistent throwing schedule. This could mean throwing every day, or at least a few times per week. It is also important to vary the distance and intensity of the throws, gradually increasing the distance and intensity as the season approaches. Consistency will help players build up their arm strength and endurance, and will also allow them to focus on improving their mechanics and technique. You should start your throwing program at least 6-8 weeks prior to your Try-Outs (which here in Idaho are the last week of February!).
One of the most effective ways to prevent injuries is by maintaining proper conditioning and strength. Having a strong group of ‘core’ muscles supporting each key joint along the kinetic chain and proper conditioning can help support the demands of the sport and reduce the risk of injury. This can be achieved through a variety of methods, including strength training, conditioning drills, and proper nutrition. One of my favorite programs is the “Iron Scap” program from Cross-Over Symmetry. You can learn more about them here. (Please note that it is always important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise programs. This is especially true if you have any pre-existing health conditions or injuries that may affect your ability to safely perform these exercises)
Proper mechanics are crucial for any baseball player, but they are especially important for young players who may be still developing their skills. This includes proper grip on the ball, positioning of the feet and body, and the delivery of the throw. Working with a coach or experienced player to fine-tune these mechanics can greatly improve a player’s throwing ability.
Establishing a pitch count for young throwers is our last point and one of the most important as this is where we typically see the most injuries occurring. Pitch count guidelines are designed to help protect the arms of young baseball players and reduce the risk of overuse injuries. The specific pitch count guidelines will vary depending on the age and level of the player, as well as the league and organization they are playing in. Below are some general guidelines based on research and recommendations from various organizations, including Major League Baseball (MLB), the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI), and USA Baseball.
ASMI pitch count guidelines for high school baseball pitchers:
- For pitchers ages 15-18, it is recommended to follow the “Rule of 86,” which means that a pitcher should not throw more than 86 pitches in a game.
- For pitchers ages 15-18, it is recommended to have at least 4 days of rest between pitching appearances.
- For pitchers ages 15-18, it is recommended to limit the number of innings pitched in a week to no more than 10-12 innings.
Here are some general pitch count guidelines for youth baseball pitchers:
- For pitchers ages 9-10, it is generally recommended to limit the number of pitches thrown in a week to no more than 75-85 pitches.
- For pitchers ages 11-12, it is generally recommended to limit the number of pitches thrown in a week to no more than 85-95 pitches.
- For pitchers ages 13-14, it is generally recommended to limit the number of pitches thrown in a week to no more than 95-105 pitches.
- For pitchers of all ages, it is generally recommended to have at least 1-2 days of rest between pitching appearances, with more rest being required as the pitch count increases.
- For pitchers of all ages, it is generally recommended to limit the number of innings pitched in a week to no more than 10-12 innings.
It is important to note that these are just general guidelines and that individual needs and circumstances may vary. It is always a good idea to consult with a coach or healthcare professional for specific recommendations.
In conclusion, a well-designed pre-season throwing program and proper adherence to pitch count guidelines are essential for youth baseball players looking to improve their throwing mechanics, arm strength, and overall performance on the field while also protecting their long-term health. Consistency, proper mechanics, arm care, strength and conditioning, and following pitch count guidelines are all important aspects to consider when developing a successful pre-season throwing program for youth players.
If you would like further information or help with a pre-season throwing program, feel free to give our office a call and we will get you taken care of! 208-462-0808
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Matt Candau, PT, DPT, MPhtySt, MTC, Cert. DN
Orthopedic Physical Therapist
Certified Dry Needling
Certified Manual Physical Therapist
Australian Board Certified Physiotherapist