Going Through The Pitching Mill
There is so much talk nowadays about kids pitching, the safety and the danger. I've read a lot about it all, and from throwing curveballs too soon, to over-pitching, the danger is very real to a young developing arm. You might see in our league, coaches using clickers to keep better track of pitch counts. This is so kids don't pitch their arms out. The league has really made an effort to keep better track of this, mostly to discourage over-zealous coaches from dwelling too much on winning at any cost (possibly your child's arm). *We also discourage the use of the Curveball, as it adds more stressful wear & tear to a kid's arm. No one in TSLL (or any kid under approx. 14yrs of age) should be throwing curveballs. But don't just take my word for it, here's some of the best information I've come across on the subject. It's from former pro ball player (pitcher) and Instructor, Dick Mills. He gives it to you straight, with examples and explanation, for those that want to know, and all those that know-it-all. I've checked other professionals and experts about his comments, and the real wisdom overwhelmingly agrees with Mills. It's interesting stuff and it really relates to the kids (even all the way down here in LL). Here's a little of what he had to say:

How Uneducated Coaches Are Ruining Young Arms

Though I admire their effort and commitment, most youth coaches out there from Little League right through high school, don't have a clue about overuse injuries. Thousands of pitchers each year are ruined because of one thing overuse injuries or simply THROWING TOO MANY PITCHES AT A TIME and or not getting enough rest between pitching assignments.

Whether you are a Dad, a coach or a player, remember one thing there is a reason to stay within certain pitch count limits. And you better know what they are. And here it is. Young Arms Are Not BIONIC.

Did you know that every time a pitcher throws a baseball both his shoulder and elbow want desperately to fly out of the socket? That's the kind of stress a pitcher's arm goes through. In fact, pitching a baseball is the single most stressful act in sports.

And do you know what keeps that arm stabalized so that it doesn't fly out of the socket. Nothing more than what orthopedic doctors call SOFT TISSUE; Muscles, tendons and ligaments. And these tendons and ligaments are attached to undeveloped bones.

So every time that a young pitcher goes over a certain pitch count, here is what happens. The soft tissue fibers begin to get what are called micro-tears the beginning stages of injury. And these tendons start tugging on the bones. And since these bones are not fully developed and are actually bone cartilage (bone waiting to happen) the tendons can actually pull a piece of bone away and guess what you have BONE CHIPS. Or you develop bone spurs. And this starts happening believe it or not as early as 10 years old.

So when a pitcher starts complaining of elbow pain or soreness you had better listen. Better get yourself a little hand held counter and start counting pitches. DonÂ?t let some over-enthusiastic coach ruin another young arm. It doesnÂ?t have to happen.

Now Why do Curveballs stop young pitchers from throwing harder?

When my son Ryan got to Little League all the pitchers were throwing curveballs. But I told him that throwing curves would keep him from throwing harder later on. I explained that to be a hard thrower he had to train his arm to throw fastballs. The more fastballs he threw the stronger his arm would get.

So, instead of curveballs, Ryan learned how to throw a change-up. He worked throwing his fastball for location. And how to upset a hitter's timing by changing speeds. But most importantly, he was gaining confidence in his fastball.

So What's wrong with Curveballs?

Now here's what happens when young pitchers start throwing curveballs. First of all, most young hitters from Little League on through even high school can't hit a curveball. So the pitcher and the coach begin to fall in love with the pitch. After all, since nobody can hit it, why not throw it more. It becomes the out pitch in every situation. And guess what happens to that pitcher's fastball? He never develops it.

And you still hear even some so-called experts say as long as a curveball is thrown correctly there is no problem with arm injury. DON'T BELIEVE IT! Any orthopedic doctor will tell you throwing a curve puts undue stress on the young growing arm. Bones have not fully developed of hardened. Need more information? Listen to what Dr. Ralph Salzer, and orthopedist and Dixie Youth Baseball coach says about youngsters throwing curveballs. (Dr. Salzer by the way assisted Dr. James Andrews when then Boston Red Sox pitcher, Roger Clemens had his first shoulder surgery back in 1985). Think about this for a minute.

When a Little League pitcher cocks his wrist to throw a curveball, for example, it fires a flexor muscle in the forearm, which is attached directly to a growth plate in the elbow. An over-dependence on a curve can cause the bones in the forearm to elongate, which in turn stifles the growth of bones in the upper arm. As a result the forearm bows out as an odd angle. Dr. Ralph Salzer, MD., Orthopedic Surgeon, Beaufort, SC.

Pretty scary wouldn't you say? And yet nobody wants to listen.

As Per Official Little League, On SAFETY:
Play It Safe!


Responsibility for procedures should be that of an adult member of the local league.

Arrangements should be made in advance of all games and practices for emergency medical services.

Managers, coaches and umpires should have some training in first aid. First Aid Kit should be available at the field.

No games or practices should be when weather or field conditions are not good, particularly when lighting is inadequate.

Play area should be inspected frequently for holes, damage, stones, glass and other foreign objects.

Dugouts and bat racks should be positioned behind screens.

Only players, managers, coaches and umpires are permitted on the playing field during play and practice sessions.

Responsibility for keeping bats and loose equipment off the field of play should be that of a player assigned for this purpose.

Procedure should be established for retrieving foul balls batted out of the playing area.

During practice and games, all players should be alert and watching the batter on each pitch.

During warm-up drills players should be spaced so that no one is endangered by wild throws or missed catches.

Equipment should be inspected regularly. Make sure it fits properly.

Batters must wear approved protective helmets during batting practice, as well as during games.

Catcher must wear catcher's helmet, mask, throat protector, long model chest protector, shin guards and male catchers must wear a protective supporter at all times.

Except when runner is returning to a base, head first slides should be avoided.

During slide practice bases should not be strapped down and should be located away from the base anchoring system.

At no time should "horse play" be permitted on the playing field.

Parents of players who wear glasses should be encouraged to provide "safety glasses."
Players should not wear watches, rings, pins or other metallic items.

Catchers must wear catcher's helmet and mask with a throat protector in warming up pitchers. This applies between innings and in the bull-pen.

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