Register-Mihalik and her
team cited two culprits:
high pitch counts and
pitching too often.
are not fully developed,” Register-Mihalik said. Yet
her surveys revealed
that not many Little
Leaguers throw sliders. And kids who don’t throw curveballs or
sliders still get hurt. Some even develop ten-donitis.
Register-Mihalik’s team found two
main culprits: high pitch counts and pitch-
ing too often. A pitch count is the maxi-
mum number of pitches a player is allowed
to throw in a game. “When
we first started our study,
pitch counts weren’t
mandatory in Little League
Baseball,” she said. “About
half the leagues used pitch
counts and half didn’t. We
found that pitchers in
leagues with pitch counts
were at a much lower risk of
getting injured.” About 50
Since the researchers released
their findings, Little League Baseball has put the report to good use,
showing it to coaches and parents to
back up the organization’s decision to
make pitch counts mandatory.
LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL, INC.
Still, there’s only so much one organization or league can do.
Some kids play on two teams at the same
time — a traditional summer league team,
for instance, and a travel team. One league’s
rules don’t apply to the other league. Also,
the best youth players often participate in fall
travel leagues and attend special baseball
tournaments called showcases where college
coaches and professional scouts look for
future players. The surveys that Register-Mihalik’s team used show that Little Leaguers and high schoolers who pitched on
travel teams or in showcases were at a much
greater risk of getting injured.
The researchers also found that compared
to Little Leaguers, high school pitchers were
at double the risk of developing arm prob-
lems. And college pitchers
faced twice the risk as
that of high school play-
ers. Sixty percent of col-
lege pitchers reported tak-
ing pain relievers to pitch
through elbow or shoulder pain. More than
80 percent of college pitchers reported
pitching when their arms were tired. All this
is despite the fact that college coaches have
much tighter control than high school and
Little League coaches over what their pitch-
ers do at the gym, on the practice field, dur-
ing games and in the off-season.
Visit during our serene winter
season to rejuvenate your spirit
with the unequalled beauty and
artistry found only at Biltmore®.
Plus, enjoy the spectacular Tiffany
at Biltmore® exhibition extended
through January 31! Go online to
biltmore.com/uncgaa to purchase
and print discount tickets for up
to 15% savings off gate price.
For more information,
The five-year study was developed and
implemented by Fred Mueller ’ 61, the director
of the National Center for Catastrophic Sport
Injury Research at UNC; Stephen Marshall
’ 98 (PhD), a professor of epidemiology in the
UNC Gillings School of Global Public
Health; and Barry Goldberg, the former director of sports medicine at Yale University.
— Mark Derewicz
CAROLINA ALUMNI REVIEW