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In the past several years there has been much controversy regarding the incidence of injuries occurring in little league baseball pitchers(and catchers also). Recently Williamsport LL started using pitch counts to reduce arm injuries as opposed to the old method of using innings pitched.
So in the past an 11 year old pitcher could only pitch in 3 innings/game and 6/week. But he could have thrown 80-100 pitches in those 3 innings resulting in 150-200 pitches /week. Now he is allowed as an 11 year old only 85 pitches and then mandatory 3 days rest. For more informstion on pitch counts visit http://blogs.rep-am.com/strikezone/files/2010/05/Little-League-Pitch-Count-Regulation-Guide.pdf
This is a good step to reducing arm injuries, but 2 more issues must be addressed to make these counts effective. They are: conditioning between starts and types of pitches thrown. Regarding conditioning , if a pitcher throws 85 pitches and pitches on 3 days rest without proper conditioning in between starts he is bound to get sore after his starts and risk injury. Pitchers should have a program of light throwing between starts and cardio work should be done after throwing 70 pitches or more Jogging after pitching reduces the lactic acid build up which causes the soreness and stiffness in the shoulder and arm. Ice is necessary after throwing to reduce swelling.
Also important is types of pitches thrown . Players under 13 still have growth plates developing in their elbows. Therefore pitches like curveballs and sliders that pronate the wrist put excessive stress on this part of the elbow and lead to injury such as little league elbow. Fastballs and change ups are enough at this age to keep the advantage on his side and prevent injury.
If you have questions concerning any of these issues call us today and arrange a free consultation with one of the doctors. Dr Saladino has coached Little League and High School baseball for 15 years. He is well versed in the injuries that effect young athletes especially throwing injuries.