Stephen Keener, Little League Baseball president and chief executive, has been faced with a lot of pressure to protect the arms of young baseball pitchers. The main complaint that he hears is that breaking pitches should be banned from youth baseball, according to The New York Times.
While this has been a hot topic of discussion for years now, new evidence shows that curveballs cannot be directly correlated with arm injuries at all. Dr. James Andrews, who is perhaps the most well known sports surgeon in the country, told the news source that based on his own research on the topic, the force of throwing breaking pitches and fastballs were no different, so long as the athlete was using proper mechanics.
The reality is that young arms simply haven't developed enough to throw a large volume of pitches, curveballs or otherwise. When these athletes get fatigued, their mechanics break down and that's how injuries occur, Andrews explained.
Keener said to the Times that while Little League doesn't encourage the use of breaking pitches, it wouldn't be practical to ban it across the more than 7,000 leagues in the organization.
"I applaud people for trying to [ban curveballs]," Keener told the source. "But we often have volunteer umpires in a Little League trying to make balls-and-strikes calls and basepath calls, and it would be a very hard thing to ask them to also decide if a pitcher intentionally tried to throw a breaking pitch. What if that pitcher just has natural movement on his fastball?"
One of the most important pieces of baseball equipment that coaches of youth teams need to have is a pitch counter. There should be a comprehensive chart of how many innings and pitches each player has thrown so that he doesn't get overworked.