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Safe Softball Tips for Kids

Summit sports medicine specialist Sarah Lehnert, M.D., C.A.Q., shares some safe softball tips to help you and your kids enjoy the game.

There’s nothing like a softball game on a beautiful summer day. At the same time, the sport can be challenging and physically taxing, especially for kids. What can you do to keep your young player safe on the softball field? Summit sports medicine specialist Sarah Lehnert, M.D., C.A.Q., shares her best safe softball tips for kids.

Safe softball tip 1: watch out for overuse

Overuse injuries are the biggest softball injuries young players face. The games can be long, and sometimes, pitchers are throwing more than they should, and catchers are squatting for long periods of time. “For throwing, rotate positions if you can, and don’t use a single pitcher for a whole game,” Dr. Lehnert said.

Softball coaches and parents alike should establish and keep to strict pitch count guidelines for their players’ benefit. “Seven innings in a game is the maximum you want a pitcher throwing, or 12 innings total over a couple of games. Pitchers should have 48 hours of rest between games to prevent overuse injuries,” Dr. Lehnert said.

Safe softball tip 2: concentrate on form

Young players can get overly focused on strength and power in softball throws, but it’s more important to get the correct form ingrained into the player’s muscle memory to prevent injuries.

“When your muscles are fatigued, your form breaks down, and that’s what leads to injuries,” Dr. Lehnert said. “It’s important to concentrate on using proper form in practice. The speed will come with time, strength, and experience.”

Safe softball tip 3: take breaks

When children find a sport they love, it’s tempting to go “all in” and play year-round. But doing so can lead to a higher chance of injury, according to Dr. Lehnert. “Cross-training with other sports, and not playing year-round, is a smart practice,” she said.

Make sure to take a break if doing softball-related activities, like throwing or squatting, start to hurt. “Don’t play if you have pain — get it checked out, figure out what’s wrong, and fix it,” Dr. Lehnert said. If you’re resting to recover from an injury, make sure you understand what activities you need to avoid. For example, if you’re resting your shoulder, is it okay to do cartwheels in the backyard?

Safe softball tip 4: maintain summer safety

While not specific to softball, it’s important to remember to protect your young player in the summer heat. Prioritize hydration throughout practices and games, and make sure to apply (and reapply) sunscreen often.

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