Ask any of the BayBears what the key to becoming a pro athlete is, and most will say “staying healthy”. At the pro level, enormous amounts of time, resources and research is spent developing and implementing stretching, strengthening, and practice regimens.
At the little league and high school level, focus on injury prevention is even more critical for several reasons. Up to the age of about 15, young athletes have active growth plates in their bones. These growth plates are made of soft cartilage-like material that is far more susceptible to injury than mature bone. Additionally, rapid changes in weight, height, strength, and flexibility result in constantly changing body-mechanics. If care is not taken, the changing mechanics can quickly result in injury to tendons, joints and growth plates.
Too many times, parents and coaches, encourage excessive repetition to develop skills ignoring the physiologic weaknesses in the young athlete and injury results. In tragic cases, a child “with promise” may have to give up baseball all-together due to avoidable injury.
Here are some simple guidelines:
1. Do not play year-round baseball & never pitch two leagues at once
2. Follow age-appropriate pitch count and type guidelines
3. Warm-up and stretch regularly
4. Do not ignore or “play through” pain
5. Focus on good mechanics and fundamentals rather than speed/stats
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Article by Clayton G. Lane, M.D.
- Orthopaedic Specialist at Alabama Orthopaedic Clinic P.C. in Mobile, Alabama
- Official Team Physician for the Mobile Baybears 2008,2009
- Participated in surgical and clinical care of athletes from the New York Giants, New York Knicks, and New York Mets 2006-2007
- Rutgers Football 2004