Baseball and softball are among the most popular sports for young people. Not only are they good exercise but they help children develop hand-eye coordination, learn to play as a team, and help with concentration skills. Though these sports are among the safest kids can play, doctors say to take precautions while on the field.
Pitchers are often the most injury prone because of overuse injuries. Pitching too often or too long can lead to shoulder and elbow injuries. To combat this, the American Academy of Pediatrics has guidelines that suggest limiting pitch counts and innings pitched. It's also recommended that kids wait until they are 14 or older to throw curve balls and at least 16 to throw sliders.
Compared to other sports, baseball players have the highest sports-related eye injuries in children. Players should wear protective gear like batting helmets, padding and eye protection to reduce the risk of injury. Youth leagues generally use softer baseballs than in years past, breakaway bases to reduce sliding injuries, and rubber instead of metal spikes -- safety improvements that help keep kids in the game.