Should Young Kids Throw the Curve Ball?

I was listening to a sports talk radio show the other day hosted by Dan Patrick. He mentioned he saw an article the New York Times about a study done on if coaches really do need to be careful about letting young pitchers in Baseball throw the curve ball.

I have never played baseball on any kind of serious level but being around athletes and coaches for the last few decades I was always under the impression that it was a big mistake to have the younger kids (ages 9-14) throw a curve ball. Many coaches and parents would bring this topic up frequently. It was not until more recently that I realized that this can really not be the case.

pch8338Here is what I believe about throwing and not only just young pitchers but all pitchers. First to throw a ball without the risk of injury requires several things to be happening. You need to have balance, strength, flexibility, power, coordination and on and on and on. Can we just make life easy and call it muscular efficiency. We have in every other post so why not this one. So with the motion of throwing, it is just like everything else we ask our bodies to do. Our ability to do it is based upon the overall efficiency of our muscular system.

In a young pitcher you have to understand the limitations that go along with being a 9-14 year old boy, or girl for that matter. First and most importantly they are limited in their muscular endurance when it comes to power. They simply do not have as developed of a muscular system as kids who have gone through puberty. Their strength endurance is not as high as it becomes later in their physical development. I am not a Doctor but I have simply watched the thousands of athletes I have trained over the years and the younger kids lack the strength endurance to do high reps of power moves like pitching.

My 8 year old can run all day. Today at Trinity Camp he ran 150 meter sprints close to 20 times with a few minutes recovery but he lacks the strength and power to do even a small number of legitimate pushups, even with steroids (kidding of course, unless slurpees count as steroids).

Another issue is growth. As younger athletes go through their big growth spurts it wreaks havoc on their overall muscular efficiency. As the skeletal system lengthens the muscles and of course the tendons and ligaments try to keep up. During this time it is very easy for their bodies to loose that natural posture they had just a few years prior.

Now the danger comes into play of doing repetitions of power type moves. The lack of muscular efficiency means they will most likely not be using proper throwing mechanics regardless of what pitch they throw. Curve ball, fastball, slider, sinker, they are all going to be detrimental to their young arms if they throw to many of them.

The article goes on to say more or less the same thing only not in regards to muscular efficiency. The article instead says that it is about the amount of pitches a kids throws that is far more important than the type of pitch it is.

I worry that we keep asking our young athletes to do more and more. If you are a coach or parent, please allow your kids to continue to play multiple sports and encourage them to still go out and just play. Obstacle courses, climb fences and trees, just go out and challenge their bodies. The best way to help prevent injuries in the younger athletes is to keep giving them the muscular stimulus they need to protect their soft tissues. It just so happens this is the same training they did before they were the next All Star pitcher.


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