Arm, shoulder and elbow, injuries are on the rise in youth baseball rather than decreasing!! There are more Tommy John surgeries and labrum repairs in youth ball than in professional baseball!! Listed below are the common causes found in the American Sports Medical Institute(ASMI) data from treating and rehabbing thousands of youngsters.
1. Lack of a long term throwing and conditioning program. There should be at least one month of progressive throwing before actually pitching in a game. Preparing the arm to pitch is very important. A solid pre-season throwing program should include stretching, form running, and throwing short to long (increasing the distance periodically). Youth players need to throw (catch, bull pen, etc) and long-toss in order to build arm strength and endurance.
2. Over-use. This is caused by throwing too many pitches in a single outing/game. This may cause throwing with arm fatigue and will increase the risk of serious injury. Pitch counts are vital! It is not about the innings but the actual pitches thrown.
3. Overload. This is pitching without proper recovery time. Generally this is a result of pitching for more than one team, too many starts in a week, too much pitching in the off-season, and lack of arm care/maintenance between pitching starts. Pitchers should have a scheduled program throughout the season with days of rest and recovery.
4. Improper pitching mechanics. If a player does not have proper mechanics, the chance of injury is exponential. The body and arm MUST be in the optimum position during the delivery. The head alignment, landing, posture, trunk flex, and balance all must be considered.
5. Over-exertion of the pitching arm. This is a result of a player attempting to throw 100% all the time. Pitchers should vary their throwing and generally be at the 90% effort level.
Be careful of the arm and develop a common sense regimen for proper pitching!!