The spring baseball season in NYC came and went for youth baseball players as quickly as Christian Yelich’s home run total has piled up. Hopefully, your season ended in a more satisfying fashion than Game of Thrones.
Now it’s time to prepare for youth travel baseball as the dog days of summer race toward us like an Aroldis Chapman fastball. Travel baseball is a great opportunity for young athletes to forge lasting friendships, hone their skills and experience new parts of the country if you have the opportunity to travel outside of NYC.
Here are three tips from Dr. James Sinodinos, our Sports Performance Specialist at Clutch PT, to help make this summer a success for your kids.
Take time to play other sports. This recommendation is critical. Athletes who specialize in one sport have nearly TWO TIMES the risk of sustaining an injury compared with multi-sport athletes.* With your kids facing many demands for their limited time and attention spans, this one can be tough for a parent to hear. But don’t overcomplicate it. We’re not suggesting joining another organized team. Simply let them take the time to play a game of pick-up basketball with their friends, go for a swim, or engage in any other sport that interests them and switches up their movement patterns.
School is out, so get some sleep. The school year schedule can be stressful for the whole family. But now that your kids have the time, let them sleep 8-10 hours a night. A 2017 study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine** shows that after five nights of sleep extension, professional baseball players from an MLB organization increased reaction times by 122 milliseconds. That’s a tremendous amount since a fastball takes about 400 milliseconds to reach home plate! Rest really does make a difference.
Check shoulder range of motion and emphasize recovery. A recent study*** found that range of motion is significantly decreased immediately after baseball pitching, which can, in turn, lead to increased risk for injury. It’s important to encourage your kids to perform their best and expect good sportsmanship, but it’s equally important to emphasize proper recovery. Foam rolling and static stretching can be powerful tools after pitching in order to prevent reductions in range of motion. If you’re an athlete/runner/weekend warrior, model proper post-activity recovery by hopping on that foam roller and taking the time to stretch yourself!
Have questions about the travel season ahead for your family? We’re here to help anytime.
* Bell DR, Post EG, Biese K, Bay RC, Valovich McLeod TC. Sport specialization and risk of overuse injuries: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 2018;142(3):e20180657.
** American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "Sleep extension improves response time, reduces fatigue in professional baseball players: Short-term sleep loading can improve sports performance." ScienceDaily, 5 June 2017.
*** Reinold MM, Wilk KE, Macrina LC, et al. Changes in shoulder and elbow passive range of motion after pitching in professional baseball players. Am J Sports Med. 2008;36(3):523–527.