Little League Pitchers
By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
Little League Baseball implemented a new pitch-count rule in 2007, a change organizers hope will reduce wear and tear on youngsters' arms.
Little League pitching…such a broad topic! In this article, I will briefly discuss some good safety practices to help keep Little League pitchers' arms safe and healthy. There are some precautions that should be taken as far as pitch count, and when to learn certain types of pitches.
When kids are 10, 11, or 12 years old, Little League baseball is like the World Series for them. They want to win, and the parents of these players want to win even more, it seems. These parents need to keep in mind, however, the staggering amount of young players who are undergoing serious shoulder surgeries every year. This number is on the rise, and there are a few things that can be done to prevent this trend from continuing.
According to the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI), Little League pitchers should take a certain amount of rest days depending on the amount of pitches they throw.
A pitcher age 8-10 should throw no more than 52 pitches in a game, and should rest for four days if they throw the max amount of pitches. A pitcher age 11-12 should throw no more than 68 pitches per game, and should rest for four days if throwing the maximum amount of pitches. A pitcher age 13-14 should throw no more than 76 pitches per game and should also rest the four days.
Another study done by the ASMI suggests a certain age before a pitcher should learn certain pitches. It is healthy for a pitcher to learn the fastball at age eight, the changeup at age 10, and the curveball at age 14. If a curveball is taught at too young of an age, arm problems can plague that youngster later in his baseball career.
The biggest thing to remember when dealing with Little League pitchers is to use common sense. Think of the big picture…is it really worth this kid's future to pitch him two days in a row to win a Little League game?
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