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Fast Pitch Softball Injuries

Abstract

The popularity of fast pitch softball in the US and throughout the world is well documented. Along with this popularity, there has been a concomitant increase in the number of injuries. Nearly 52% of cases qualify as major disabling injuries requiring 3 weeks or more of treatment and 2% require surgery. Interestingly, 75% of injuries occur during away games and ≈31% of traumas occur during nonpositional and conditioning drills. Injuries range from contusions and tendinitis to ligamentous disorders and fractures. Although head and neck traumas account for 4 to 12% of cases, upper extremity traumas account for 23 to 47% of all injuries and up to 19% of cases involve the knee.

Approximately 34 to 42% of injuries occur when the athlete collides with another individual or object. Other factors involved include the quality of playing surface, athlete’s age and experience level, and the excessive physical demands associated with the sport. Nearly 24% of injuries involve base running and are due to poor judgement, sliding technique, current stationary base design, unorthodox joint and extremity position during ground impact and catching of cleats. The increasing prevalence of overtraining syndrome among athletes has been attributed to an unclear definition of an optimal training zone, poor communication between player and coach, and the limited ability of bone and connective tissue to quickly respond to match the demands of the sport. This has led routinely to arm, shoulder and lumbar instability, chronic nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use and time loss injuries in 45% of pitching staff during a single season.

Specific attention to a safer playing environment, coaching and player education, and sport-specific training and conditioning would reduce the risk, rate and severity of fast pitch traumas. Padding of walls, backstops, rails and dugout areas, as well as minimising use of indoor facilities, is suggested to decrease the number of collision injuries. Coaches should be cognisant of overtraining, vary day-today training routines to decrease repetitive musculoskeletal stress, focus on motor skills with equal emphasis on speed and efficiency of movement, and use drills that reinforce sport-specific, decision making processes to minimise mental mistakes. Conditioning programs that emphasise a combination of power, acceleration, flexibility, technical skill, functional capacity and injury prevention are recommended. Due to the limited body of knowledge presently available on this sport, a greater focus on injury surveillance would provide a clearer picture of injury causation and effective management procedures, leading toward safer participation and successful player development.

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Table I

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Acknowledgements

Conclusions drawn from or recommendations based on the data provided by the National Collegiate Athletic Association are those of the authors based on analyses and evaluations of the authors and do not represent the views of the officers, staff or membership of the NCAA.

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Meyers, M.C., Brown, B.R. & Bloom, J.A. Fast Pitch Softball Injuries. Sports Med 31, 61–73 (2001). https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200131010-00005

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Keywords

  • Rotator Cuff
  • Injury Rate
  • Tendinitis
  • Pitching Motion
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association