Little League Baseball isn't so little any longer.
What started in 1939 as a way for young boys to play baseball has evolved to include all genders (girls have been included since 1974) and up to age 18, depending on where you live.
While Little League can be a great experience for children, it also has its dangers. As a parent or coach, you should be aware of possible injuries to your child or players and take appropriate precautions. Remember, even if you're working on your child's swing casually in the park, you still need to be aware of safety rules and measures.
Don't work with old equipment or equipment that doesn't seem like it is in working condition. Sure, it's nice to use your old Little League equipment with your child, but that doesn't mean it is up to par with today's standards.
Equipment should be replaced often and always in a condition to protect players.
Batters should wear a helmet that meets National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) specifications when on the pitch and running the bases. That probably means that if you have an old one hanging out in your garage that's 30 years old, it's probably not going to cut it.
It is also recommended that your child wear a face mask with the helmet to reduce the occurrence of facial injures or concussions. A helmet and mask should be worn, even if you're playing for fun. While casual games are not as intense, there's nothing casual about a concussion or broken nose.
If the helmet has a chin strap, make sure it is on securely. Coaches and parents should ensure the helmet is being worn properly before allowing a child to go to bat.
Most youth clubs don't allow metal cleats any longer, and molded plastic cleats are much safer. When two players collide and get kicked, metal cleats versus plastic cleats mean the difference between a tiny scratch and a more serious cut.
It can be a bit embarrassing to talk to your child about it, but most male players should have protective cups. These cups will protect the child from being hit in the crotch. Male players should also wear athletic supporters.
A catcher should be in their full gear, whether they're practicing or playing. As they're at a higher risk of being hit with the ball or a bat, you cannot take a chance and allow a child to practice catching without it.
They should always wear a face mask, a throat guard, a helmet, a chest protector, shin guards, and an athletic supporter. To catch the ball, they should always be using a catcher's mitt.
We recommend using a wide aluminum bat that complies with Little League regulations whether playing a game or practicing. When practicing batting at home, we recommend you do not use a metal bat, as it can be more dangerous. While wooden and plastic bats break more easily and are not as effective, they are much safer.
Sliding head-first is banned in Little League because it often results in injuries to the hands and arms. Do not allow head-first sliding in practices, and encourage learning how to slide safely. In fact, a 2003 study found that while it may feel like sliding head-first is faster, in actuality, it isn't. Add the risk factors that come with it, and there's no reason even to attempt it. If you're a coach, you should also make sure that your players know how to slide properly.
In New York City, defibrillators are required at all practices and games, but they aren't required universally. They can literally be lifesavers, especially if a player gets hit over the heart and passes out. It can not only save players but also spectators and family members should they have a cardiac event.
This goes without saying, as any time you're caring for kids doing physical activity, a first aid kit is necessary. You should be able to do a minimal amount of first aid to major injuries to keep the player comfortable until help arrives. You should also be able to care for injured and scraped legs, knees, elbows, etc., with ease.
Pitchers, even younger ones, can suffer from overuse injuries. That's why you should limit pitches as much as possible and now allow a child to pitch and pitch and pitch. A child under the age of 14 should not pitch more than 1,000 pitches per season and 3,000 per year. This should be adhered to, even in practice, to prevent overuse injuries.
USA Little League has limits per age range, so you will need to adhere to this.
Little League Baseball is a fun learning experience and can be a great way for children to build skills. Even if your child isn't the next Babe Ruth, they can still have fun developing their hand-eye coordination, working as a team, and learning valuable social skills.
Baseball trading pins can help enhance the feeling of camaraderie between players and a fun hobby to go alongside their playing.
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