Consider Lighter Baseballs for Young Pitchers: A Study | STACK Coaches and Trainers

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Consider Lighter Baseballs for Young Pitchers: A Study

May 15, 2013 | Genevra Pittman

Must See Baseball Videos

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Practicing with lighter baseballs may help teen pitchers improve their throwing speeds while also reducing the risk of overuse injuries, a small study from Taiwan suggests.

After 10 weeks of training, young players who had worked with a lighter-than-average ball were pitching regulation-weight balls a couple of miles per hour faster than their peers, researchers found.

That's consistent with past trials showing the benefits of practicing with lighter balls in that age group, said Glenn Fleisig, research director at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, and a pitching safety consultant for Little League Baseball & Softball.

"It seems to be a reasonable training exercise for baseball pitchers, for 13-year-olds and up," he told Reuters Health.

For little kids - who already play on a smaller field and use lighter bats - the lighter balls could be an option for both practices and games, he said, as they may encourage children to learn correct throwing mechanics early on.

For their new study, Chiang Liu from Taipei Physical Education College and colleagues worked with a team of 24 junior high baseball players aged 13 to 15.

The researchers assigned half of the players to practice pitching three times per week for 10 weeks with a regulation baseball weighing 5 ounces. The other half trained with a lighter, 4.4-ounce ball. Players threw a total of 42 to 66 pitches per week in practice.
During the study, mean pitching speed in the regulation group held steady at 67 miles per hour. Among players who trained with the lighter ball, however, velocity - which was tested with a normal-weight ball - increased from 67 to 69 miles per hour after 10 weeks.
Young players' arm speed also increased after training with the lighter baseball, the researchers reported April 18th online in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. There was no change in throwing accuracy or shoulder rotation among either group.
The American Academy of Pediatrics considers baseball one of the safest sports for kids. But recently, concern that young, developing players are throwing too many pitches and stressing their arms too often has been growing (see Reuters Health story of February 28, 2012).

Fleisig's own research has shown there's less torque on the arm when young pitchers use a lighter ball. And that would imply fewer injuries over the long run for players training with those balls, he noted, even if they continue to compete with the regulation baseballs.
Although the new study did not record any injuries, Liu agreed that practicing with a lighter ball can decrease loading on the shoulder and elbow joints, potentially reducing a teenage player's risk.

And for younger kids, both practicing and competing with the lighter balls makes the most sense from a safety and development standpoint, the researchers said.

"For youth players who have poor throwing mechanics or lower muscle strength, lighter balls not only decrease the risk of injury by reducing the torque on joints, but also develop arm velocity while maintaining proper pitching mechanics," Liu told Reuters Health in an email.

"We strongly recommend that the youth leagues should be using lighter balls both for games and pitching practice."

Source: Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2013

Copyright © 2013 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.


Must See
Why You Should Never Doubt Colin Kaepernick
Views: 16,189,942
Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive
Views: 4,455,028
Why NFL Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson Counts His Blessings
Views: 1,919,699

Featured Videos

Quest for the Ring: Duke University Views: 217,694
Eastbay: It Begins Now Views: 70,986
Path to the Pros 2015: Training Days Views: 118,412
Load More


STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Go Harder With MIPS Helmet Technology

BBCOR-Certified Bat Reviews

Basketball Equipment: SKLZ D-Man

The Bat of Your Dreams: Inside Demarini's New Custom Bat Line

The Technology That Gives Brad Marchand a Competitive Edge

Robert Griffin III Wears EvoShield Protective Gear

How Your Underwear Can Save You From A Hockey Injury

A Purchase All Baseball Players Need to Make

Babolat's Smart Tennis Racquet Set for 2013 Release

Recover on the Go With Dr. Cool Sports Wrap

The Athlete's Guide to Choosing a Helmet

Improve Your Golf Game on the Range

Protect Yourself With Battle Sports Science Gear

Lengthen Your Drives With a Golf Launch Monitor

Find Your New Football Gear With Eastbay Edge

Gain a Competitive Edge With Women's Soccer Training Equipment

Training Equipment Every Baseball Athlete Needs

How to Choose the Right Golf Club for Every Shot

Heavy Hitters: The 2014 Baseball Gear Guide

2 Game-Changing Protective Football Gear Products

How to Customize Your Goalie Equipment

Consider Lighter Baseballs for Young Pitchers: A Study

Rawlings' NRG Quantum Plus Football Helmet Gets Five Stars

adidas to Launch In-Game MLS miCoach Technology

New Glove From Nike Doesn't Need to be Broken In, Looks Awesome

Training Equipment Needed to Run an Efficient Soccer Practice

How to Purchase and Maintain Your Hockey Goalie Skates

Wilson's New "Spin" On Racquet Technology

TaylorMade & adidas to Launch New Golf Gear This Year

Putting Top Tennis Gear to the Test

Louisville Slugger Debuts New Logo

Review: The Fixcraft Bike Polo Mallet, Battle Tested

Riddell Introduces the New SpeedFlex Helmet

The Most Protected Players in Major League Baseball

The 5 Most Painful Spots to Be Hit by a Pitch

Golf Training Equipment: Technology is Changing the Game

How Joe Haden Is Gearing Up for Big Hits

Find the Right Bat for You

Is This the Future of Baseball Helmets?