Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

Our little league team has gone through a dozen pitchers in a year. They keep getting injured. I don't see this happening on other teams. What could be causing this?

It could be a fluke or there may be one or more specific reasons. Young baseball pitchers often are on the bench for overuse injuries. Many times it's because of poor throwing techniques. In other cases the boys' muscles and bones just aren't developed enough to keep up with the number of pitches required in a season of games.

A recent study of 12-year old youth baseball pitchers in Colorado is starting to shed some light on this topic. Using two high-speed video cameras the boys were filmed from the front and side while throwing 50 mph fastballs.

The movements of the arm and ball were analyzed. They found the arm-cocking position preparing for the pitch puts a lot of rotational force through the bone. The forward release of the ball causes a distractive force on the bone. Without enough muscle bulk to protect the joint, damage can occur.

The coaches can review throwing mechanics and other factors such as quantity and frequency of pitches. Pitchers should be limited in the number of pitches they throw each week. This includes both practice and game time. Some coaches only count the game playing time.

Michelle B. Sabick, PhD, et al. Biomechanics of the Shoulder in Youth Baseball Pitchers. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. November 2005. Vol. 33. No. 11. Pp. 1716-1722.

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