This article is a defensive game plan for lowering the chance of injury to the 4.8 million young people between the ages of 5-14, who play baseball. About 90,000 of these young people require visits to hospitals each year.
Objective: keep a lot more players on the field and out of the emergency rooms.
Coaches and parents can not eliminate injuries, but an awareness of the risks of the game will keep a lot more players on the field and out of the emergency rooms.
These guidelines could help lower the possibility of minor and major injuries. They will also lower the chance of coaches and organizations becoming involved in what seems to be developing into another national pastime - the lawsuit.
First, understand that the game is a high-risk activity. Baseballs are projectiles. Bats can be weapons. Bases that do not give when sliding bodies hit them can be dangerous. Multiple drills and therefore multiple balls and additional players on the field can increase the potential of problems.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission states that between 1973 -1995 there were 88 deaths and 68 of them were from ball impact.
Years ago I served as a consultant in a case concerning a batting practice drill. Two pitchers alternated throwing the ball. One threw from the right of the mound. The other from the left. The batters lined themselves up with a pitcher. This set up was to get in more batting practice. As pitcher two was throwing to batter two, the ball from the bat of batter one struck pitcher two in the eye. Safety was compromised. The case was settled quickly.
Second, understand that risks in baseball come from improper equipment, fields, facilities, instruction, supervision, conditioning and failure to warn about potential problems.
Dr. Frederick Mueller, the well-respected collector and analysis of catastrophic athletic injuries suggests that serious injuries happen in one of three ways:
- A player being hit with a ball. A properly fitted helmet as well as screens during practice appreciably decrease the chance of this problem.
- Players colliding with one another. Clear instruction regarding responsibilities, while in the field will limit this problem.
- Sliding head first. Dr. Gil Fried reports that 75% of the 1.7 million base running injuries occur during sliding. The need to teach how to slide and the use of 'giving' bases will help lower these statistics.