Pitching is a complex movement that requires flexibility and strength. The movement can create excessive stress at the shoulder joint. Youth baseball players are susceptible to injuries due to the excessive strain and repetitive motion of pitching. Common pitching injuries are the result of improper form or overuse and occur in the elbow and the shoulder.
Injuries to the Elbow and Shoulder
The excessive force of the pitching motion can damage the ulnar collateral-ligaments that provide stability to the elbow. The repetitive motion of pitching puts a youth pitcher at risk of developing microscopic tears in the ulnar collateral-ligaments, according to Medco Athletics. The website refers to the condition as "Little League Elbow" and describes it as an inflammation of the proximal humerus.An injury to the rotator cuff and the labrum in the shoulder is the result of impingement that can occur during a pitch. A labrum tear contributes to instability of the biceps, putting a youth pitcher at further risk for injury.
Full Count Pitch reports that the small size of a youth pitcher's hands prevent him from achieving a proper grip on the ball. A child has no control over this, but an improper grip contributes to improper pitching form, increasing the child's potential for injury. A youth pitcher is also at risk of a stress fracture from the intensity of throwing the ball.
Ossification centers in the elbows of children bear greater stress than in adult athletes, increasing a child's risk of injury. Ossification in the elbow is the process during which bones such as the distal humerus, olecranon and radial head develop and unite with the humerus, according to Medco Athletics. Excessive force from pitching causes muscles near the ossification center to pull away, contributing to weaker elbows as the child grows.
According to Full Count Pitch, the rotation of a pitcher's hips during the pitching motion contributes to the velocity of the throw. A proper pitch should place minimal stress on the shoulder if a pitcher rotates his hips through the pitch. Proper follow-through of a pitch includes extension of the stride leg to help minimize the risk of a shoulder injury. A youth pitcher can cause excessive stress to the shoulder when he fails to land his stride foot directly ahead of the rear foot with his toes slightly turned outward in the direction of his movement, according to Medco Athletics. The website advises youth baseball coaches to limit the number of pitches and the frequency of play to minimize injuries from overuse.