When I was playing youth baseball in the early/mid 70s, our league had a minor league comprised of 9 and 10 year olds. Major league were the stronger 10 year olds and 11 and 12 year olds. The 9 year old pitchers threw from a portable rubber that was moved in from the standard 46 feet. Today I see all 8-12 year olds throwing from 46 feet. It is my observation that 8 and most 9 year olds are not able to throw from that distance w/out compromising their mechanics. Could the rise in youth baseball arm injuries be partially the result of making them throw at 46 feet? The reason I was given for moving the rubber back was to avoid batted balls from hitting the pitcher, which is a valid concern. I'm afraid we have traded one injury for another with the distance. Thanks!!
Post by Glenn Fleisig, Ph.D. on Jun 29, 2005 12:35:25 GMT -6
I asked David Osinski of the American Baseball Foundation about this, and this is what he said:
I suppose that in the 1950's Little League came up with the pitching distance of 46'. The evolution is that now the older youngsters 11-12 now pitch from at least 50 feet. The only group that now have their pitchers pitch from the 46 feet is Little League. All pitchers 9 and up might start pitching from 46 feet, they then gradually increase the distance until at 14 or 15 they reach the official distance. I have never seen any scientific information regarding mound distance. Also note that at 50 feet pitching distance the bases are placed at 70 feet distance. Thus the whole field is adjusted for the size of the players.
I also know of no scientific data comparing youth pitching mechanics at various distances. However, our study on youth pitching biomechanics concludes that pitchers should learn proper mechanics as early as possible. Therefore, I would recommend to be sure that the 8-12 years olds are pitching at a distance that they can reach home plate with reasonably good pitching mechanics.