They say training hard at an early age sets you up for a career of success. All the hours and sweat given will one day lead to utilizing dreams and aspirations as a professional athlete. For anyone out there, let the dangers of throwing too many pitches and its link to Tommy John ligament injuries serve as a warning for parents and their children.
There is a lot of research that demonstrates the number of pitches a little league and high school baseball pitcher correlating to the likelihood of ligament damage. This ligament is known at the Tommy John, the famous pitcher that has a surgery named after him. Throwing a baseball at a high velocity requires a lot of power and strain, and the pitching motion is very much unnatural for the human body. This repetitive motion can be applicable to other motions that young athletes typically engage in, and the results are damning within Major League baseball.
Dr. Koco Eaton, surgeon for the Tampa Bay Rays, highlights the disturbing trend of pitchers having multiple surgeries and at an earlier age. In the case of pitching, Eaton believes there is a finite amount of pitches a human body can throw, due to its unnatural motion and its strain. The best thing Eaton suggest is for young pitchers throwing at a maximum of 75 per week, and plenty of rests in between starts and games.
Having parental supervision and limiting the workload of a young athlete is encouraged, and often the best way of preventing future injuries. Eaton believes the parent has to be the advocate for the child, not the coach. By paying close attention and managing the amount of practice and game time a young athlete can have, future injuries can be prevented from repetitive motions.
Though repetition and practice is an effective way for young children to actualize their dreams of becoming a professional athlete, there must be a definitive line drawn to prevent crippling and debilitating from occurring. Staying on top of current literature and research with sports medicine is the best way, along with parental interventions. Listening to your body is key, and sometimes young athletes tend to needlessly push through this barrier. Make the unpopular decision if you have to limit their playing or practice time, as it will cut down on injuries.
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