In youth baseball leagues and little league baseball, sore pitching arms, sore shoulders and sore elbows are common. Yet many of these youth baseball pitching injuries can be avoided by following some simple tips.
1. Throw less in games, more in practice.
A broad recommendation is that pitchers base their number of pitches each week by multiplying their age by 10, so an 8-year-old would limit his pitches to 80 a week. A 12-year-old would throw no more than 120.
2. Warm up.
Coaches should educate players to the importance of and techniques for stretching and strengthening the arms and shoulders, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says. Always take time to warm up and stretch. Research studies have shown that cold muscles are more prone to injury.
3. Throw correctly.
Poor throwing motions put too much stress on the elbow. Discourage sidearm throwing because it is three times more likely to cause injury, according to the surgeons' group.
4. Master the basics and fundamentals of pitching
From ages of 8 to 14, players should work on three phases -- gaining control, increasing velocity and developing a command of the strike zone, throwing only fastballs. Pitchers should begin throwing change-ups at age 10, but no breaking pitches (curves, sliders, etc.) until at least 14.
5. Recognize injuries
Any persistent pain, loss of motion (especially extension) or X-ray abnormalities should keep a player on the sidelines until the symptoms disappear or a doctor clears the player. Little League elbow is known medically as medial apophysitis because it's always on the inner side, or medial side, of the elbow. So not all elbow pain is Little League elbow.
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