by: Sarah Harrison – Lexington Beaumont, KY Center
Spring in almost here and with it come the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd and fresh dirt on the pants of Little Leaguers everywhere. Kids love to throw, catch and slide, but these motions can result in injury.
1. Before practice, start with a dynamic warm-up to stretch muscles. These exercises may comprise large arm circles, “helicopters” (arms out to sides, then step and turn trunk), hugging knee to chest while upright, lunge walking or even jumping jacks.
2. Strengthen the muscles needed for throwing by shrugging shoulders, performing rowing motions, and pinching shoulder blades together. (see below)
3. Get power behind those throws by developing a strong core (back and abdominal muscles working together). This can be achieved with planks and side planks.
4. Watch the pitch counts. It is recommended that children ages 7-8 throw no more than 50 pitches per game; ages 9-10, 75 pitches; ages 11-12, 85 pitches; ages 13-16, 95 pitches; ages 17-18, 105 pitches. Consider these numbers for catchers, too, as they throw every one of those pitches back to the pitcher.
5. Pay attention to any complaints of sharp pain in the elbow or shoulder of pitchers. If a youth player reports these symptoms, he or she should be assessed before being allowed to continue pitching.