The American Academy of Pediatrics is warning parents about the risks of pushing children in learning new skills, before their bodies are ready. Excessive pitching and catching, for example, and teaching them how to throw specialty pitches, could be putting way too much stress on our children's arms. And it could have a lasting impact.
Experts recommend youth baseball pitchers (14 years and younger) should only throw 65 pitches in a day, no more than three times a week, with at least one full day's rest. Research proves that injuries to our kids' bodies from repetitive overuse are usually preventable injuries.
Doctors suggest children should be taking part in regular exercises that develop their core muscles. For pitchers and catchers especially, arm strengthening exercises and rest are keys to both successful seasons and long-term health. Remember, moderation is the key.
And please, don't mess around learning curveballs and sliders until our children's bodies develop. Other safety tips?
Make sure your baseball or softball fields are equipped with an A.E.D. – automated external defibrillator, in case a player gets struck in the chest by a pitch or a line-drive. An A.E.D. can also be a life-saver if any of the family members cheering your son and daughter at the game should suffer a heart attack. Again, prevention is the key.
Players should be wearing batting helmets with face guards, and younger players should be wearing chest protectors when playing the pitcher's position, to protect against line-drives up the middle.
There are few absolutes. While every child develops at different rates, use common sense. Because when it comes to the "game" of keeping our kids safe, it really is a "win-at-all-cost" mentality that will get the job done.
Have a great (and healthy) season!