For the love of baseball with Andrew the PT~

What I wish someone would have told me before I coached baseball…

Dr. Andrew, Physical Therapist, here, and I love baseball!  I played baseball at Lewis and Clark College here in Portland, and I continue to enjoy playing softball. I grew up in Corvallis and coached my former high school baseball team and also coached youth baseball/softball there.  

Now that I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy, and after spending the last five years working with a lot of patients with shoulder and elbow injuries and surgeries, there’s things I know now that I wished I knew when I was coaching. I could have helped better protect my players from injury, as well as how to get them the right care when injured.

The most common youth baseball shoulder injuries are:  

  • Little League shoulder  
  • Rotator cuff strain  
  • Shoulder impingement  
  • SLAP or labral tears

The most common youth baseball elbow injuries are: 

  • Little League elbow  
  • UCL injury 
  • Medial epicondyle injuries  
  • Ulnar neuritis

This is where you are most valuable!

Injury Prevention is Paramount:

  • The game is inherently physical, and injuries are an unfortunate reality in any sport.  
  • A young athlete is over five times (5x) more likely to have an elbow or shoulder injury if they have already had an arm injury previously.  
  • You need to be on the lookout for pain in the elbow, shoulder, wrist, neck, and/or back, as well as numbness and/or weakness.  
  • Knowing when to see your pediatrician or PT about an injury, no matter how minor, can prevent it from escalating into something more serious.  
  • Many injuries are preventable with proper precautions. Teaching players proper throwing, swinging, and running techniques at an early age can significantly reduce the risk of injury.  
  • Incorporating thorough warm-up and stretching routines, such as a dynamic warm-up prior to activity also reduces injury risk.  

Understand the Importance of Rest and Recovery:  

  • The primary cause of arm injuries is overuse, not the type of pitch that is thrown.  
  • Pitch count rules, laid out by the Pitch Smart Program, are vital in creating an environment of safety to prevent overuse injuries. This program did not exist when I was a coach.  
  • Pitch Smart also provides rest requirements. 

Avoiding Sports Specialization: Again, overuse. 

  • Sports specialization can significantly increase the risk of being injured.  
  • Be a well-rounded athlete, and let kids be kids and play. This goes a long way in avoiding injury. Aside from baseball, I personally played soccer, lacrosse, football, wrestled, golfed, and ran cross country during my high school and college careers.  
  • This also encourages the athlete to be strong everywhere! A PT can help with this as well.  
  • Precaution is needed around pitching at showcases and on travel ball teams.  

If your youth athlete is having pain or issues, the Pediatric Physical Therapists at Inspire Physical Therapy are here to help. We are especially adept at being able to assess and address issues that may be contributing to a young athlete’s injury, as well as individualize a treatment plan tailored to each child’s specific needs to get them back on the field as quickly as possible.   

Wishing you, and your players a wonderful (and healthy) season,
Dr. Andrew Conner, PT, DPT 


To learn more, here are some great links!
Elbow Injury prevention
Warm ups for Baseball
Pitch Smart
Little League Pitch Smart
Learning the Curve
Risks of Intense Training Patterns | Young Athletes

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