Posts Tagged little league

Baseball: Preventing Injury to a Pitching Arm

Preventing injury should always be on the mind of the pitcher and coaching staff. Pitching is stressful to the arm and the human arm is not designed to withstand long periods of such tremendous stress. That goes without saying. Without proper training and care, a pitcher can so easily injure or even permanently damage their arm. And once an injury occurs, proper attention is key to keeping the injury from turning into something more serious.

Over-exertion often leads to strain and injury. While most Little Leagues have rules regarding the number of innings a pitcher can throw, this is not necessarily the best way to determine over-exertion since innings can vary in length and intensity. An inning that drags out for 25-30 pitches will have an exertion level much higher than one in which less than 10 pitches are thrown. Obvious, right? Right. So, it stands to reason that pitch count is a better indication of exertion level than actual innings. Keep the pitch count low, or trade out the pitcher if the inning proves to be too long.

Between innings, pitchers need to keep their arm warm since the arm temperature can cool down rapidly. “Warming up” is not just a saying. The muscles loosen during the warm-up process, but should be done slowly. Pitchers should keep a jacket on between innings (even during summer months) to keep the muscles from contracting during the cooling effect and to lessen the soreness felt the next day. Just remember… proper care means less risk of injury.

As soon as the pitcher leaves the mound, have a coach, trainer or another player stretch his arms and legs to prevent the joints from tightening up. Requiring your pitcher to do wind sprints at the end of an inning is a great idea as it will also increase blood flow to the exerted muscles.

Keep in mind that care for the arm does not stop once the game is over. Now the cool down process is necessary to stop the micro-bleeding in the muscle tissue. Keep an ice pack handy and apply to the shoulder area for about twenty minutes. Be sure to use a thin towel between the arm and the ice pack to prevent over-freezing.

Diet is also key! A pitcher should eat a high protein/high carb meal about 1 to 2 hours after pitching to replenish the energy lost during the game and to feed those tired muscles.

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Baseball/Softball: How to Choose a Batting Helmet

Baseball Helmets

One of the leading causes of sports related injuries among children, teens and adults is ill-fitting gear or wearing none at all. Baseball can be quite dangerous. If your head lacks proper protection, it can even be fatal. Just consider for a minute the speed and force in which a baseball or softball is actually thrown (even in Little League) and you will realize the damage that can be done by a ball hitting you in the head. Our heads are pretty tough, but were never meant for THAT.

No matter your age or playing level, a batting helmet should be worn whenever you are at the plate. You just never know when a wild fastball will be thrown your way. We’ve all heard the complaints of helmets being uncomfortable, leading a player to skip its use if not mandated by league rules. Chosen properly, a helmet should not be uncomfortable at all. Read on to learn how to buy a proper batting helmet.

When you’re shopping for a batting helmet, you want to consider several things before making a purchase. A batting helmet should cover the back, top and sides of your head.

They should also cover at least one ear. For right-handed batters, the left ear should be covered and vice versa for left-handed batters. This protects the ear that will have a ball coming towards it and allows the batter to hear the umpire with their other ear. There are also batting helmets that cover both ears available as well. Learn the helmet requirements from your league. Some leagues have strict helmet specifications, and failure to adhere to them may result in removal from a game.

The batting helmet should fit securely on the head without squeezing the head. It should not move when your head is turned from side to side and should be easy to take on and off as well. A secure batting helmet should not fall forward over the eyes. Whether you are buying a helmet in a store or online, be sure to take a measurement of your head’s circumference at its widest point. A secure fit is important in a batting helmet, as it could cause more damage to a player if it were to get hit by a ball.

But all helmets are not created equal! The cheapest batting helmets are made of plastic with a protective layer beneath while more advanced batting helmets are made of durable polymers. The foam interior of the helmet is a safety must-have. This padding keeps the head away from the outer shell of the helmet in case of impact. Save money elsewhere, but don’t skimp on the batting helmet that you choose. You are buying safety and in this case, you really do get what you pay for. Find a brand name you trust and do the research on that particular helmet. Be sure the shell is made of quality materials and the foam padding is thick and durable.

Batting helmets were not required in the MLB until 1971. Ron Santo of the Chicago Cubs was the first to wear an earflap helmet in the game. Today, all batters, base runners, bat-boys, bat-girls, and catchers are required to wear a batting helmet. Catchers and bat-boys and girls usually wear a flapless batting helmet with no ear protection. After the recent death of Tulsa Drillers first base coach Mike Coolbaugh, many base coaches are electing to wear batting helmets as well. Coolbaugh was hit in the head with a line drive.

Softball Helmets

Buying a softball helmet, whether for fast pitch or slow pitch, please consider the tips for proper fit above. Using a helmet that isn’t up to NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) standards can cause you to be ejected from the game, or worse yet, it may lead to serious injury.

Softball helmets are made of impact-resistant molded ABS plastic. They are solid one-piece helmets with interior foam padding. Many have face guards in front with straps that secure them to the head.

Ponytail batting helmets do just what their names says… they allow room for a girl’s ponytail. More comfortable than the standard softball batting helmet, it fits better because female baseball and softball players don’t have to cram their ponytail into it.

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Softball: Fielding Face Masks Should Be Mandatory

The need for protective equipment has evolved and will continue to evolve. There was a time when players went on the field in nothing more than matching street clothes. We’ve come to realize that the threat of injury is real. It is also more probable than possible.

In baseball and softball, catchers wear full body protection. Batters wear helmets. Shin guards, elbow pads, gloves, shoulder pads and other protective gear have become commonplace. Any athlete playing a sport (baseball, softball, hockey, lacrosse, football, soccer, etc.), where the chance of injury is high, should wear the proper protection. Age, level of play and position are not important. Gender doesn’t matter. You only get one body… one face… one head. You need to protect yourself.

It seems like common sense to most of us these days to cover our heads when a 90 MPH fast ball is being thrown at you. It seems unreal that batting helmets were not made mandatory in Major League Baseball until 1971! Despite the death of Ray Chapman in 1920 and countless head injuries that resulted in hospitalization, batting helmets were fairly uncommon in the major leagues until 1952, with the Pittsburgh Pirates the first major league team to permanently require their use.

So, today’s batters are protected in every league. Now, let’s take a minute to consider the needs of the fielders. A hit ball can return to the field at a speed of 80-110 MPH. With nothing more than a baseball cap protecting the fielders, it’s a wonder nobody has required the use of defensive face guards in both baseball and softball. Football players wear helmets with cages (as well they should) and they don’t have a missile being hit back at them! Designed properly, face guards offer protection without limiting the player’s range of vision.

Baseball and Softball have each become more and more competitive. Pitching is harder and faster and added strength training allows players to throw and hit the ball farther, faster and with more accuracy. With this comes the need to protect yourself with the latest and greatest equipment. While we have yet to see a nationwide push toward defensive face guards, the time will come soon. But why wait for a mandate?

Each year we hear of players being hit in the face or head. Facial injuries can be devastating and life altering. Injuries to the mouth, teeth and eyes can cause expensive problems… both financially and emotionally. The orbital bones surrounding the eyes are thin and fragile… one hard hit can shatter those brittle bones and cause serious damage to the sinus cavities and/or loss of vision. A broken nose from a bad hop on a grounder, front teeth being knocked out, surgeries, stitches, missed games, pain, recovery and the emotional toll of an injury… We cringe at the videos, we sympathize with the stories and yet we keep hoping it won’t be our child. It may never be, but why take the chance?

Need a Fielding Face Guard or other protective equipment? Check out our On Field Accessories.

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