Monday, April 06, 2009

More on Little League Baseball and pitch counts

Few people (as in none that I know of) follow the politics of Little League Baseball pitching rules as closely as Steve Kallas.

Over the years, Steve has been a persistent critic of LLB for failing to protect kids from too many pitches, curve balls and alike. He has kept an especially close eye on policies, in effect starting in 2007, regarding pitch counts.

The rules have been modified since, including changes in 2009. But Steve still sees room for improvement. In this recent blog post, he makes many good points but the best one is this: Why not let orthopedic surgeons and researchers decide the issue? In other words, the people who understand the physical limits of 12-year-old elbows and shoulders? To be fair, Little League has looked to such experts and has adjusted its rules based on their advice. But why not err on the side of safety?

The reporting for Until It Hurts underscored this for me. Surgeons are seeing overpitched kids in their offices every day. They understand the problem far better than the most well-intentioned coach, parent, private tutor and Little League administrator.


Cal said...

I haven't read the book yet, but I did hear you being interviewed on the Baltimore NPR station. It sounds like a must read for all parents with kids in youth sports.

There is a former major leaguer, Mike Marshall, who won the NL Cy Young Award in 1974. Marshall has a PhD in kinesiology. Dr. Marshall basically states that the pitching motion that has been used ever since baseball was invented is the primary cause of injuries at all levels. The guy has tried to get MLB as well the doctors to consider his motion, which he has researched for over 40 years. He pitched in 106 games in 1974 and threw every day. MLB has pitch counts and still the hurlers are injured a lot.

I suggest any parent look at his Web site,, if they want to help eliminate pitching injuries. All of the information is free.

I am not affiliated with him or have never met him. I just think the resistance to change is criminal since so many kids are having these Tommy John surgeries and there is someone who can eliminate them. Imagine if Dick Fosbury had listened to the traditional track & field coaches when he developed his Fosbury flop?

But change has to start with the parents.

Ben Brewster said...

To Cal:

Dr. Mike Marshall has never produced a high level player. His students fail to throw harder than the 70s (including Jeff Sparks)

The mechanics Dr. Marshall used during his career bore absolutely no resemblance to those which he preaches fanatically to his current students.

He calls this young student "amazing" and says he is extremely close to having mastered the mechanics:

Another "guru" if you will, Ron Wolforth, approaches the issue from a different perspective. Not only do his students outperform the competition (he has produced 42+ 90 mph pitchers in the past 5 years and the average student gains 7-8 mph in the first 6 months on his program), but he has virtually eliminated arm injuries among his students. I havent seen the data from his recent boot camps but i remember him posting the 2004 results on an online forum: roughly 75 players participated and not one report of arm soreness much less arm injury. The average gain in velocity was a little over 7 mph in 6 months.

He advocates aggressive arm care routines, aggressive total body workouts, extended warm-ups, identifying and correecting muscular imbalances (primarily GIRD), high intensity and high volume throwing among other things.

Here is a relevant article on pitch counts by Wolforth. He challenges some of the commonly held beliefs and recommendations put forth by ASMI