Keeping kids from injury on the baseball field

April 25, 2019

Little League Baseball season is in full swing and many parents might like to believe their kids, especially those who play pitcher, will throw their way to scholarships or an MLB contract.

But Dr. James Paci of Orlin & Cohen Orthopedics on Long Island, who was recently interviewed on WCBS-AM in New York, says it’s up to parents and coaches to protect young arms from serious injury.

Dr. Paci says half of the baseball injuries he treats are due to overuse—excessive and repeated use of bones, muscles, and/or tendons—and coaches and parents need to protect young arms that are still growing.

Among his advice to parents and coaches:

  • Know when to rest. A child may want to play as much as possible, but he/she needs to rest his/her arm to prevent injury.
  • Observe pitch counts. Both schools and extracurricular leagues have a maximum number of pitches a player can throw per week to protect the player from an overuse injury. Also remember to coordinate among all the teams that player is on and combine them. Every pitch counts!
  • Don’t rest a pitcher by having him/her play catcher. Both positions are constantly throwing the ball. Put them in the outfield or just have them sit out.
  • No single sport specialization. Playing one sport year-round can run your child’s body into a rut. They need to take a season off to play a different sport or none at all.

Of the 30 million kids in youth sports across the country, Paci says two million are injured at some point and 30,000 are hospitalized. Most, he says, are due to overuse injuries, which are 100% preventable.

He calls a fastball pitch “the single most violent action in all of sports” and says it is the equivalent of a high-speed car crash in terms of the stress it puts on the muscles with every throw.