Banner Health Services  

Keeping young pitchers safe

Dr. Grant Padley  

Grant Padley, D.O. is a sports medicine physician and orthopedic surgeon on staff at Banner Estrella Medical Center. His office can be reached at (602) 277-6211.

Question: My 10-year-old son is a little league pitcher and my husband and I want to help protect him from suffering some kind of throwing injury. Can you please discuss the number and types of pitches that are safe for young pitchers to throw?

Answer: As durable as children are, injuries in young athletes are on the rise. Thousands of children are seen each year by health care providers for elbow or shoulder pain. Therefore, it’s critical that parents and coaches proactively monitor the sports-related activities of children. 

For young pitchers, proper pitching form and technique need to be monitored, as well as the number of pitches being thrown. If a young pitcher is throwing improperly, too much, too early, and without proper rest, serious elbow or shoulder injuries may occur. To protect kids from overuse injuries, guidelines have been recommended for the number of pitches baseball players should throw, based on age.

Maximum Pitch Counts

Age

Pitches per game

7-8

50

9-10

75

11-12

85

13-16

95

17-18

105


Pitch types require monitoring as well. When kids are still physically developing, advanced pitch types, such as screwballs and sliders, can lead to damage and injury to joints, ligaments, and growth plates. These types of injuries, if ignored, can potentially cause significant or permanent damage. As young athletes mature physically, however, their elbows and shoulders can handle the more stressful pitches. 

Pitch Types

Pitch Type

Age (+/-2years)

Fastball

8

Change-up

10

Curveball

14

Knuckleball

15

Slider

16

Forkball

16

Screwball

17

Common symptoms of throwing injuries include continued pain, swelling, bruising, weakness, and a "dead arm feeling". Other overuse signs include loss in velocity, control, and endurance.

If any of these symptoms appear, make sure your child gets plenty of rest. Ice and ibuprofen can also help with soreness and inflammation.  If symptoms persist, contact your child’s health care provider for a thorough examination.

Page Last Modified: 03/13/2012
Follow Us:  
Twitter IconFacebook IconYouTube Icon
 
 
 
Jump to top links