A recent discussion with a few youth baseball parents and coaches has inspired me to write this post. The discussion was on the topic of performance training for baseball players, more specifically youth baseball players. One comment was particularly powerful in my mind and is the true inspiration for this writing. The comment went something like this, I’m just not sure these kids have enough time to train. They have practice 3-4 nights per week, tournaments on the weekends, and that’s just 1 team, some are playing on multiple teams.
Here are a couple quick thoughts on this topic.
1) My main concern regarding this statement is, “some are playing on multiple teams”. It is pretty well documented that playing on multiple teams is a huge contributing factor to youth baseball injuries ranging anywhere from shoulder/elbow soreness to fractures of the growth plate and/or ligamentous damage. We typically see fractures in the younger athletes (< 13) and ligamentous injuries in the older (> 13) but this can vary depending on the individual’s development. (I will save injury specifics for a later post). My first recommendation here would be to educate the parents about the risks involved with this and suggest they limit their child to only 1 team to help keep them safe and healthy. You can also refer them to this link, http://m.mlb.com/pitchsmart/risk-factors/ which will give them the most up to date information on ways they can keep their youth baseball player on the field and out of the doctor’s office.
2) I agree, that does sound like a very busy schedule. It certainly sounds like it would leave a parent wondering how they would fit training into that schedule. Here’s a thought, practice and game schedules have become extremely taxing on youth athletes, baseball in particular. Too many games, too much travel (causing poor sleeping habits as well as poor nutrition), too many throws, etc results in too much stress on our youth athletes and their “ill-prepared” bodies.
We, as parents and coaches, are pushing these young kids harder than ever before, but not giving them the tools to help them stay safe and perform at their best. The link above also points out several other contributing factors to injuries, including throwing when fatigued and lack of strength/mobility. I would urge parents, coaches, and players to play less and train more. We need to do a better job of preparing our youth athletes for the on-field demands and stresses. Keeping them active in a well rounded strength and conditioning program will give them the tools to stay healthy and perform at their best. Think quality over quantity. Some express concern in regard to reducing the on-field time as they feel it may limit their exposure to college/professional scouts. However, playing in twice as many games at 75% isn’t going to impress anyone. Making training a part of your weekly routine can help in so many ways. By improving your strength, power, mobility, and efficiency you ensure that each on-field exposure will be of high quality.
Thanks for reading. I hope you find this information useful. Be on the lookout for more great posts coming soon.