Baseball has been called our national pastime for decades. It's a lot of fun to play. But players are at risk for injuries from things like wild pitches, batted balls, and collisions in the field.
These safety tips can help protect kids and teens from injuries while playing baseball.
Safe Baseball Gear
Wearing and using the right gear can help prevent injuries. Safety rules for most leagues include:
- Batting helmets must be worn whenever a player is at bat, waiting to bat, or running the bases. Some leagues may even require pitchers to wear them. Helmets should always fit properly and be worn correctly. If the helmet has a chin strap, it should be fastened. If it has an eye shield or other faceguard, this should be in good condition and securely attached to the helmet.
- A catcher should always wear a helmet, facemask, throat guard, full-length chest protector, athletic supporter with a cup, shin guards, and a catcher's mitt whenever catching pitches, whether it's in the game, in the bullpen, or during warm-ups.
- All players should wear athletic supporters. Most (particularly pitchers, catchers, and infielders) should wear protective cups.
- Baseball spikes should have molded plastic cleats rather than metal ones. Most youth leagues don't allow spikes with metal cleats.
Some leagues have rules about not using aluminum bats, which hit the ball harder than other bats.
Some players also like to wear:
- sliding pants that go under baseball pants to protect against scrapes and cuts
- batting gloves that can keep hands from getting sore while hitting
- shin guards and foot guards designed to protect against balls fouled straight down
- a mouthguard
Safe Baseball Training
To prevent injuries during training, players should:
- Be in good shape before starting the season.
- Always warm up and stretch before practice and games.
- Stop training if they get hurt or feel pain and get checked by an athletic trainer, coach, doctor, or nurse before going back to training.
Too much pitching can lead to serious injuries. These guidelines can help prevent pitching injuries:
- Follow league rules for the maximum number of innings kids are allowed to throw. This is usually from four to 10 innings per week.
- Follow the pitch count limits recommended by U.S.A. Little League and the American Sports Medicine Institute:
- 7–8 years old: 50 pitches a day or 75 pitches a week
- 9–10 years old: 75 pitches a day or 100 pitches a week
- 11–12 years old: 85 pitches a day or 115 pitches a week
- 13–16 years old: 95 pitches a day
- 17–18 years old: 105 pitches a day
- Pitchers younger than 14 should limit total pitches to less than 1,000 per season and 3,000 per year.
- Pitchers should take at least 3 months off per year from overhead sports (i.e., sports that involve a lot of overhead arm movements, like baseball or volleyball).
- If pitchers feel pain in their throwing arm, they should not be allowed to pitch again until the pain goes away.
All coaches should emphasize safe, fair play. This includes knowing the rules and:
- teaching players how to slide correctly
- making sure the field is in good condition and has breakaway bases (bases that are not fixed)
- having a first-aid kit available at all practices and games
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