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Report blames young pitchers' injuries on breaking pitches

All News 16:08 January 17, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korean high school pitchers suffer injuries often because they start throwing breaking pitches too soon, a report claimed Tuesday.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) released a report on the status of amateur baseball in the country. It surveyed 316 pitchers from 39 high schools, including those recently selected in the professional draft, on their injuries and practice patterns.

The league said the research was done to develop a better understanding on arm injuries to young athletes and prepare measures to prevent such ailments while improving their performance.

The survey results were evaluated and analyzed based on materials by the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) and Major League Baseball's "Pitch Smart" guidelines.

The Korean report said local high school pitchers begin throwing curves, sliders and sinkers at too early of an age, and overuse from practices and games puts them at risk for arm injuries.

The ASMI recommends against throwing curveballs until 14 and sliders until 16.

Yet 52.3 percent of the South Korean pitchers didn't follow the recommendation on curves, and 63.3 percent failed to do so with their sliders.

The report said South Korean started throwing curves at 13.8 years old on average; the average starting ages for sliders and sinkers were 14.8 and 16.2, respectively.

Pitch Smart, devised to help players and coaches avoid overuse injuries, says young pitchers throwing curves early are 1.6 times more likely to experience arm pain, and those who throw sliders are 86 percent more likely to deal with elbow pain.

And according to the KBO report, pitchers who didn't abide by the ASMI's recommendation on curves were injured 1.2 times more often last year than those who did.

More than 63 percent of the surveyed pitchers said they pitched on consecutive days at least once in 2016. Of them, 22.6 percent said they did so five times last year.

And 91.7 percent said they have pitched through arm fatigue.

The report also said 70.4 percent of the high school pitchers experienced shoulder or elbow pains or injuries before 2016. Nearly 58 percent sat out more than two weeks with those problems.

The KBO recommended designating rest days for young pitchers and pushing back the start of the amateur season from March to April. It also called for further education on players, parents and coaches to help change the prevailing, win-at-all-costs culture.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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