Youth Baseball Pitching Mechanics:
A Systematic Review
As athletes continue to become younger and younger when they begin their athletic journeys, injuries remain increasingly common. Shoulder and elbow pain remain staple gripes in baseball and other throwing sports. Even with a decrease in youth baseball participation, throwing injuries are increasing in youth pitching. The causes of these injuries can be contributed to playing year round as well as ‘a lack of basic bio-mechanical understanding of the normal pitching motion. ‘ This study dissected 10 separate studies that related to bio-mechanical parameters of the normal youth pitching motion or compared mechanics of pitch type.
We must first recognize fundamental movements within the pitching motion to gain a full understanding of this review. ‘The windup and the stretch are the traditional starting positions used during the thrower’s ball release. The nuts and bolts of these positions collide when the lead hip and knee are flexed. The lead leg should then extend toward home plate, all the while the pitcher’s upper trunk rotates to face the target.’ The arm deceleration phase begins when the ball is released and ends with maximum shoulder internal rotation. Once the ball is released, the young pitchers had ‘challenges controlling throwing arm deceleration as a result of underdeveloped rotator cuff musculature; this showed to increase horizontal flexion across the torso in an attempt to decelerate the throwing arm.’
Little League Baseball recommends that breaking pitches not be thrown until 14 years old because of shoulder pain Youth pitchers showed that elbow valgus torque was a cause in several types of elbow injuries.
Joint torque was measured through out the throwing process of these 10 biomedical studies with athletes that ranged from 10-15 years old. The weight of the pitcher showed to be the bio-mechanical factor that paralleled with the significance of valgus torque and also connects with elbow injuries. Furthermore, several of the studies used showed that maximum elbow valgus torque occurs just prior to maximum shoulder external rotation. Forces on the elbow and shoulder are greater for the fastball than the curve. This article did bring up that there are not enough studies being done on the lower body of the adolescent pitcher since ‘the young pitcher will attempt to compensate lower body mechanics will subject the upper body to added stress and increased risk of injury.’ Further studies must be done on the lower body so that a complete understanding of adolescent pitchers so that a reduce in injury can truly be seen.
Sports Health A Multidisciplinary Approach
Youth Baseball Pitching Mechanics: A Systematic Review
Samuel F. Thompson, MD, Trent M. Guess PhD. , Andreas C Plackis, MD,
Seth L Sherman, MD, and Aaron D. Gray, MD
Volume 10 Number 2