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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

New Baseball and Softball Guidelines from the AAP

By February 28, 2012

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A little league pitcher who is carefully followed so that he doesn't pitch too much. - Photo by Vincent Iannelli, MDOrganized sports are a great way for kids to stay active and get their exercise. Unfortunately, they can also contribute to accidents and overuse injuries.

Even baseball and softball, which are typically considered to be among the safest sports, are associated with injuries and some rare, but catastrophic, life-threatening injuries.

A new policy statement on "Baseball and Softball" from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which will be published in the March issue of Pediatrics, will help pediatricians "offer appropriate counseling and guidance to the many boys and girls, their parents, and members of the sporting community who participate in baseball and softball each year."

This new policy statement will hopefully decrease overuse arm injuries in youth baseball and softball and other injuries.

Specifically, the AAP offers 'an ounce of prevention' guidelines, including that:

  • pitchers don't throw a curve ball until after age 14 and the slider until age 16
  • pitchers follow age guidelines for maximum pitches per game and minimum rest requirements
  • pitchers rest for at least 3 months of the year
  • pitchers should stop throwing when they show signs of arm fatigue or pain
  • all players use proper equipment, including a batting helmet with eye protection, rubber-spiked soles, a hard plastic athletic cup for all male players, and low impact balls in youth leagues
  • coaches and officials should be aware of how to recognize and treat concussions and commotio cordis

The AAP policy statement also highlights the importance of adequate core strength and scapular muscle strength to provide a critical foundation for pitchers and proper instruction in throwing mechanics and conditioning to help avoid injuries.

"Baseball is America's pastime," said co-author, Joesph Congeni, MD, FAAP. "In order to minimize the risk of injury and maximize enjoyment of the game, coaches, parents and youth baseball and softball players should be familiar with 'an ounce of prevention' guidelines. Being aware of a few issues regarding overuse, appropriate equipment, environmental factors and those rare but catastrophic injuries can help accomplish these goals and ensure kids are having fun and staying healthy playing ball."

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