Every youth sports league should employ “reality coaches”
Your kid isn’t that good.
I know he looks like Cy Young’s long lost nephew when he is mowing down hitters wearing those size youth-medium pants, but the chances of your kid playing in the major leagues are about as good as you really being as good in high school as those stories you tell.
But parents often push their kids into playing the same sport all year because they have seen above average talent and see visions of Little Johnny’s name being flashed on Sports Center in 10 years.
Instead, they set their kids up for long roads to recovery after injuries.
“The parents are the root cause of all the surgeries,” said Tommy John.
You remember Tommy John. He’s the guy that surgery overworked and under-rested young pitchers are likely to have is named after.
Basically, Tommy John surgery repairs elbow ligaments that give way to overuse and great stress.
Most doctors will tell parents that pitching is hard on shoulders and elbows and rest is required to prevent injury. That is why youth baseball leagues have pitch counts or inning limits. But a lot of parents forget the golden rule of pitching and let their children pitch for multiple teams or encourage a season that never ends.
They put their little flame thrower in a fall ball season with a new team. Then, they go to camps and workouts over the winter. Then spring comes around and they play a season for their schools. Then summer baseball starts and we have completed the dangerous cycle.
“Doctors will tell you vehemently, ‘Do not pitch year-round baseball as a youngster. Your arm is not made to pitch year-round,’” John told Sports Illustrated. “But you’ve got parents that are looking at it and saying, ‘This guy just signed for $200 million, and my son’s got a chance to pitch on this select team or this travel team, and coach XYZ has got a workout facility and he’s going to be able to work with him during the winter.’
John was quick to point out that the best pitchers in the world would never pitch year round. After the season ends, many either do very light throwing or never touch a baseball until pitchers and catchers report for spring training.
So why do you think your 11-year-old can handle it?
There are some really good traveling teams in this area who play a long season and a lot of games. Those kids and good and getting even better.
But most, if not all of them, put the bat bag in the closet when summer ends and they go play soccer, football, basketball or wrestle.
Then when spring rolls back around, they are back on the diamond ready for a season of baseball. That is the only way to make sure the kids play plenty of innings and improve without playing so much that they risk being damaged for life.
The American Sports Medicine Institute tested elbows of cadavers and the elbow ligaments broke down at about 40 pounds of force on the joint. A pitcher who throws around 90 miles per hour routinely pushes that limit on every pitch.
Multiply the effects of extreme force over the course of a season and you have an arm that needs rest. If the season never ends, make sure you have some solid health insurance because you are going to reach your deductible without any problems.
Nothing is more fun than watching your kids play sports. If they do it well, it can be especially rewarding.
But every youth sports league should employ “reality coaches” to explain the difference between good baseball players and pro prospects to overzealous parents.
Teach your kids to work hard and get better. Give them every opportunity to improve and be the best they can be.
But make sure they always know that you are more concerned about their health and happiness than how fast they can throw a ball.
Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org