Injuries that were once only seen at the college and professional levels of baseball are now trickling down to the high school and junior high levels.

Most of these injuries revolve around the throwing arm. In fact, a recent study reported by the American Journal of Sports Medicine shows that these days, 60% of the Tommy John surgeries were performed on athletes ranging in age from 15-19 years old.

But why the rise in injuries? Many attribute the increase in injuries to the more competitive nature of the game – which often includes playing baseball year round.

Severe arm injuries – such as Tommy John Syndrome – can end a baseball career before it ever begins. Follow these tips from the American Sports Medicine Institute and D-BAT Sports on how to keep your baseball player healthy: 

  • Take Time Off: It’s tempting to play baseball year round, but make sure you give your throwing arm time to rest. It is recommended that you take 2-3 months off from throwing overhand if at all possible – 4 is really ideal.

  • Know the Mechanics: As with any sport, if you’re doing it wrong – you’re likely to get injured. Prevent Little League injuries by learning the proper mechanics.

  • Follow Pitching Guidelines: Even during the baseball season, a baseball pitcher needs to be mindful of how many pitches he’s throwing. Limit the number of pitches thrown, and pitch no more than 100 innings in a calendar year. Rest the arm between games.

  • Don’t Overthrow: Want to know one of the best ways to create injury? Trying to throw the ball too hard. There is a time and a place for a strong, fast throw, but make it count.

  • A Player Should Not be a Catcher: Both pitchers and catchers make a lot of throws. Doing double duty as a pitcher and catcher just increases your chance of injury.

  • Have Fun: Remember that ever aspect of the game should be about fun. Pushing a baseball player too hard can result in injury – and a loss of the spirit of the game.