Dimelo, a Banter regular, pointed out this article on Dr. James Andrews by Dennis Manoloff in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
PD: The best advice you would give parents of a young athlete?
J.A.: The first thing I would tell them is, their kid needs at least two months off each year to recover from a specific sport. Preferably, three to four months. Example: youth baseball. For at least two months, preferably three to four months, they don’t need to do any kind of overhead throwing, any kind of overhead sport, and let the body recover in order to avoid overuse situations. That’s why we’re seeing so many Tommy John procedures, which is an adult operation designed for professionals. In my practice now, 30 to 40 percent of the ones I’m doing are on high-schoolers, even down to ages 12 or 13. They’re already coming in with torn ligaments.
Give them time off to recover. Please. Give them time to recover.
PD: What are your thoughts on youngsters throwing curveballs?
J.A.: Throwing a curveball has a neuromuscular-control dynamic. In other words, it takes a lot of natural ability at a young age to throw that pitch. It’s a complicated pitch. If you throw it with good mechanics, it doesn’t have any greater force on your shoulder than throwing other pitches, but you’ve got to throw it correctly. It’s misleading to say it’s OK to throw the curveball with good mechanics because the rub is, most kids don’t throw it with good mechanics. My rule of thumb is, don’t throw the curveball until you can shave, until your bone structure has matured and you have the neuromuscular control to be able to throw the pitch properly.
PD: What advice would you give pitchers, in general?
J.A.: 1. Use proper mechanics. The No. 1 problem in any specific sport is improper mechanics.
2. Don’t play year-round.
3. Avoid the radar gun at a young age. Don’t try to overthrow. A lot of kids are 13 years old and checking the radar gun. That’s going to get you in trouble. The radar gun makes you want to throw harder than you are capable of throwing.
4. Be very careful with showcases. I call them “show-off” cases because kids go there Saturday after throwing the football on Friday. They jump on a mound and overthrow because scouts are there. The next thing you know, the shoulder or elbow gets injured.
Andrew’s new book, Any Given Monday, is out now.