Part 1: Early Development Danger Zone Proven in LLWS Study
Part 1 in our Series on Arm Injury from the ASMI Injuries in Baseball Conference
Michael J. Axe, MD is a world leader in sports medicine. This research has been scientifically proven and validated in MLB Countries: US, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela, Japan
Here is some baseball trivia for you, compliments of Dr. Michael J. Axe and his informative presentation at this years ASMI Injuries in Baseball Course: Question 1: How many pitchers have thrown in both the Little League World Series and continued to pitch in Major League Baseball? Question 2: How many of those pitched in the MLB World Series? Before I give you the answer here is some info for you to consider. The Little League World Series was founded in 1947 (71 years ago). Each year there were 8, and starting in 2001, 16 teams from around the world who compete, each bringing ~13 players. That gives us a little under 9000 of the best 11-13 year olds in the world playing in the prestigious event. So any guesses? The answer... 8 pitchers have made it to the big leagues after playing in the LLWS and only 2 have gone on to pitch in the World Series (Rick Wise & Jason Marquis). _____________________________
The Talent Disappears
This should stand out because it is always the pitching that proves so impressive in these tournaments. Surely the ones who would "make it" are the pitchers who are throwing 70+ mph as 12 year olds??? Quite the opposite. Again the incredible research that follows and it's conclusions are compliments of Dr. Michael J. Axe and his team, including Dr. James Andrews, the world leader in treating pitching injuries.
The chart above lays out an average velocity of pitchers ages 8-14 and then continues (to the right) giving deviations away from the average in velocity. The yellow, orange, and red highlights show the highest velocities of those ages and at the very bottom you can see just how many of those pitchers there are in the MLB countries listed above. For example, a 12 year old who throws 70 mph (orange zone) would be a 1 in 100,000 talent. So what happens to these pitchers who are so far above their peers in velocity and arm strength? Well in the 2010 LLWS, Dr. Axe and his team put his chart to the test....and every single pitcher that played in the final few games (20 pitchers) fell into the orange or red (1 in 100,000 or 1 in 1,000,000 talent). High Volume + High Stress = ??
As you can imagine, the greatest young players (8-14) are going to be used the most (more volume) and are throwing the hardest (more arm stress on developing arms). So we have a high volume + high stress and that gives us a recipe for disaster. But it's not the volume alone or the stress alone that create arm pain. Its that this volume and stress is done on poor mechanics (poor mobility, poor body control, weak core and legs, etc.) How does this apply to you? Don't Wait for the Pain
Well we want you to consider this chart above. It's possible that your son is throwing too hard for his age. These are the pitchers who are most susceptible to injury due to too high of volume done on poor mechanics. Also, the higher velocity throwers at this age are putting more stress on the arm which is still developing, making the risk of injury very high. Even if you aren't in the yellow, orange, or red zones, if you are a standout pitcher on your team, throwing too much at a young age when your body is poorly developed and weak could be a major issue that keeps you from ever developing to your full potential. But stopping throwing isn't the answer either. The body must be continuously evaluated through developmental years (8-14) and volume of throwing must be enforced. Start Before the Season
Our evaluation was created to help address these issues specifically. A head-to-toe physical evaluation can check for areas of concern and provide great information on how much volume of throwing may be too much for developing pitchers. Additionally, spending time training the body well before the season starts and throughout the year is far more valuable than pitching alone. By training the body and limiting volume of pitches thrown, we can decrease stress and develop the special talent and keep it from disappearing.
Call Power Pitching today and make a plan for this season!