Background: There is a scarcity of literature evaluating injuries in youth fast-pitch softball players.
Purpose: To perform a descriptive analysis of player-reported injuries in youth fast-pitch softball position players and pitchers during a single select-level season.
Study design: Prospective observation cohort study.
Level of evidence: Level 3.
Methods: Ninety-eight athletes (48 pitchers, 50 position players) were followed for a single select fast-pitch softball season. Study participants completed web-based surveys every 3 weeks reporting injuries related to participation in fast-pitch softball. Injury was defined as pain causing cessation of participation in the current game or practice that prevents the player's return to that session or any pain that causes cessation of a player's customary participation on the day after the day of onset.
Results: The median age of the study participants was 14 years (range, 9-18 years). There were 49 reported injuries in 98 athletes. The average age was 13 years for those not injured and 14 years for those who were injured (P < 0.02). There were 31 injuries that were not related to pitching: 19 occurred in position players and 12 occurred in pitchers; 70% of these injuries were to the lower extremity. The proportion of injuries not related to pitching was significantly greater than the proportion of injuries related to pitching (P < 0.02). Eighteen injuries among the 48 pitchers (38%) were directly attributed to pitching. Among the 18 pitching injuries, 11 (61%) involved the shoulder. The majority (78%) of injuries related to pitching occurred in the first 6 weeks of the season.
Conclusion: There was a high incidence of injury in this prospective cohort of youth select-level fast-pitch softball players. Better off-season and preseason conditioning may be a key factor for reducing pitching injuries.
Clinical relevance: Recognition of injury patterns in fast-pitch softball players is critical to developing strategies to keep these athletes competing safely.
Keywords: female athlete; injury; pitching; softball.
© 2015 The Author(s).