Researchers make recommendations to improve baseball safety

The basic rules of baseball have been in place since 1846, although they have evolved somewhat in the time since then. Despite its longevity though, some groups, including notable doctors, are clamoring to alter some of the rules of baseball for youth players in order to promote athlete safety.

The rules governing youth baseball have not been updated in more than 10 years, leading the American Academy of Pediatric's Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness to call for revisions that will help prevent injuries from occurring to youth baseball players. These modifications, which include enhanced baseball equipment and new training practices, are specifically geared toward youth players whose bodies are still developing.

"Teaching kids baseball at a young age is encouraged, but it does have some real issues that go with it," Dr. Joseph Congeni, director of the sports medicine center at Akron Children's Hospital, told The Akron Beacon Journal. "The best we can tell people is for coaches or parents who really care for the safety of their kids to be aware of the recommendations."

Those recommendations include athletes wearing baseball helmets with face protection at all times and the elimination of practice swings and on-deck circles, to reduce the likelihood of batted balls striking those players. Pitchers would face even more restrictions, including strict pitch counts and three months of rest in order to prevent arm injuries due to overuse.

In 2009, Pediatrics Magazine published a study that showed safety equipment has helped decrease baseball injuries, although more work can still be done. According to Live Science, researchers from Ohio State University studied injuries to youth baseball players from 1994 through 2006 and found that the annual rate of these injuries decreased by about 25 percent during that time period.

As better training practices and safer baseball sporting goods are integrated into youth baseball, players should be able to play the game without being hampered by injuries.

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