How to Prevent ‘Little League Elbow’

As a Coach of 9 and 10 year olds, my husband has always monitored the pitch count of our pitchers in a game.  He never lets them go too long.  He is always trying to prevent injury and keep those young arms healthy.

In October, our son, a 10 year old pitcher, was pitching in a game.  He said there was that “one pitch” that “hurt his elbow”.  Hmmm

Of course, we took this seriously, iced it, and kept an eye on it.  After a few days, the pain was still there.  Not good.

After my husband did some research on the internet, we knew something was up, and took him to a pediatric orthopedist.

He had ‘Little League Elbow’.

‘Little League’ What?  What in the world???

‘Little League Elbow’ is something that most commonly occurs between the ages of 8-15 in children that do a lot of OVERHAND THROWING.  It is an injury caused by OVERUSE of REPETITIVE THROWING motion.  The overuse puts too much pressure on the growth plate of inner side of elbow, where the ligament attaches to the growth plate.

HealthyChildren.org says, “Growing Bones are easily injured because the growth plate is much weaker than the ligaments and muscles that attach to it.”

We explained to the doctor that we were NOT crazy aggressive coaches but that we always kept a count of his pitches, etc. etc.

He was happy to hear that but explained to us that it’s not only PITCHING in a game but can include playing CATCHER in a game and all of the warm-up before the game and in between innings.  If a kid throws 50 pitches in a game, then plays catcher in the next few innings, this quickly adds up to 100 THROWS in a day…or more!

He also explained to us that it is not only pitching and catching in a day/game but the OTHER THROWING that we don’t think about.

How many times does he throw in PE?  How about the Fitness Program before school?  What about Recess?  How many throws happen when he’s throwing a ball up against the house in the driveway?

It all adds up.  This is why I wanted to spread the word…

It’s not all about pitching, or catching, or outfield throwing, or just baseball…it is the accumulation of it all and being young, active boys.

The doctor said to rest the arm for 3-4 weeks.  For our son, it took a little bit longer.  We were fortunate that our Fall season was getting ready wrap up so he would have a long off season to heal.  He had to wear a sling for a couple of weeks to remind him not to use his arm.  He was not very happy.  After the pain stopped, he had to do some strengthening exercises that the doctor sent us.  The doctor also said that it was ok to play basketball, or something else that uses other muscles besides the “throwing muscles”.   But, also no Frisbee, or push-ups for a while… it would put too much stress on the elbow.

It is essential to have “normal rest” after pitching which includes NO THROWING during days off and during normal play activities.  Our son has learned to use his non-dominant left arm for throwing in PE at school, etc.

Every league has different rules on resting between days they pitch but “common sense” rules for 9/10 year olds include:

Throws more than 25 pitches, good idea to rest 1 day

Throws more than 50 pitches, 2 days rest between appearances

Throws more than 70 pitches, 3-4 days rest between appearances

Do NOT throw more than 70 pitches in a day!

My husband is extra careful not to let pitchers-catch and catchers-pitch in the same day if at all possible.  Recently, we had a double header and were quickly running out of pitchers so some had to double up for some quick innings.  Again, the total THROW count was low.

So, please keep an eye on the number of throws your boys do in a day.  Add in PE, Fitness Club, Recess, outside play at home.

My son used to throw a ball against the wall in the basement before this happened.  It’s hard being such an active boy.   Again, he has learned to throw with his non-dominant left arm and has actually gotten pretty good at it.  In every challenge, you can find success….

For more information, please check out these important links about ‘Little League Elbow’

healthychildren.org

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Let’s keep those arms healthy!!

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Team Mom: End of Season Gifts for Coaches and Players

As our baseball and softball season is wrapping up, it’s time to start thinking about the End of Season Coaches’ Gifts.  Our Coaches put so much time, effort, energy, and hard work into our seasons, we want them to know how MUCH they are APPRECIATED!

My husband and I are on our 12th season of coaching/managing a team.  We usually work with 1 or 2 assistant coaches.  We never forget any kid that has been on one of our teams.  Once you play a game together, there is a bond that never goes away.  We’ve seen these players struggle and have seen them succeed.  We have lost games together and won games together.  Some kids stay with us for several seasons, some age out or try other sports.  Either way.  They will always be special to us.

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I find these spiral notebooks for around $.05 at Target after school starts and all their school supplies go on sale…. 70% off!!  I stock up.

I am the one with the camera.  I take A TON of pictures throughout our seasons.  I present these pictures AT THE END of our seasons for our boys and the coaches.  For the boys, I will choose 4 or 5 of the BEST pictures of them in action on the field…catching a ball, throwing, hitting, sliding into base…and put them on a spiral notebook (with scrapbook adhesive) and laminate the cover so they will have a keepsake of our season.  They can use this spiral notebook as a journal over the summer or as a notebook in school.  Some boys like to show it to their friends.  Others like to display it in their room.  Either way, I feel it is a proper way to “give back” to these boys and parents for playing on our team and want them to remember a great baseball or softball experience.

 

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Read the package instructions to laminate the front cover of the spiral notebook and cut the excess off around the sides.  Smooth with a ruler as air bubbles will try to creep in.

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For the coaches’ gift, I will take a team picture and put it in a frame and have the players from our team sign it.  We have a wall in our basement (a room in which we occupy often) and it shows every season that we have coached.  It has every kid that has ever played on our team.  I think this gift means a lot to my husband and our coaches because of the investment, memories, and energy involved in a season.  Every season has a story.  Every season has great memories.

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Our Basement Wall of Players.  Yes, it is blurry on purpose to protect the identity of our players.  Our first season is displayed in the brown frame and will be put in a white frame soon.  One season we coached baseball and softball simultaneously.

I found these frames at Michael’s and I buy the same one every time.  Recently, they were selling these for 70% off (I could not believe my eyes!) so I bought all of them.  They are normally $8.99ish but I got them for $2!!!!!  T w o dollars!

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Since this is a gift from the boys and me to the coaches, the parents will usually collect money on their own and present gift cards to the coaches.  This is not something that I as the team mom usually do since I am usually coaching, too (and doing the picture gifts) and I feel weird collecting money for my husband.  🙂  We love what we do.

I will upload the pictures that I have taken to Walgreens and send out the link so the parents can order any extra pictures that they like.  Also, it gives them an opportunity to forward on to family members.

I hope you all have a great end to your Spring Season.

And again, a special Thank You to our coaches for EVERYTHING!

 

 

 

Playing Baseball in the HEAT-Spring Edition

As the weather gets warmer, it’s time to start thinking a little differently in terms of playing baseball in the HEAT.  In Georgia, it is not uncommon for it to get to 80 degrees in April.  Then, put a team of 9/10 year olds on the field in the direct sun during long innings, and you can have a little situation on your hands.

The players get extremely hot and sometimes overheated during times like these, so here are some tricks to keep your players healthy and cool:

*Make sure they hydrate 2 days before, as well as the day of your game.  If you wait until the day of your game, by then it is too late.  I heard this from Tom Glavine of the Atlanta Braves when he was asked, “How do you survive playing in 100 degree heat?”  That was his answer. You have to hydrate 2 days before your game…If the body is well hydrated, your player will have a better chance of feeling better during the game, playing better, have less cramping, and a better chance of not getting overheated.

*NO DAIRY in the morning if they have a game before noon.  I have seen a few players have some stomach issues because they had yogurt or other dairy products for breakfast before a 9:00am game in the hot weather.  Not a good idea.  Did you guys hear about the time that Justin Bieber threw up on stage during his concert because he drank milk right before he went on?  Yuck!  You get the idea….

*Have your child drink plenty of water, Powerade, Gatorade, etc. DURING the game….make sure your player has a full thermos of ice water and drink it every chance they get.  Please remind them that it’s important to stay on top of it and drink BEFORE they get too hot or thirsty.

On really hot days, I will take ice packs or a sandwich bags filled with ice, put them in a cooler and let the boys put them on the back of their necks and wrists to cool them down between innings.  They are so grateful that someone recognizes that they need this.  I also have the little fans that can hang around their necks so they can feel some cool air blowing on their face.  It’s not a bad idea to ask the parents to purchase a FrogTog towel for their player since it stays cool, it can go around the neck, and they can cool down in between innings.

Afterwards, I’ve seen my son play a hot game but not seem to be able to get his energy back in the hours following the game.  His pediatrician had already told me to give him on Carnation Instant Breakfast to help him catch up with his weight… but… this drink also gives great energy since it is filled with vitamins and nutrients, so I decided to use it as a post-game recovery drink.

It works wonders.

I mix the Chocolate Carnation powder with 12 ounces of whole milk and he has a nice, cool, refreshing drink that helps him feel full, cooled down, and revitalized. I had already heard that Chocolate Milk is good for muscle recovery, and with Carnation being a Nutritional Drink, it got my wheels turning and I decided to make it into a smoothie.

It just hits the spot.  I use it myself after a workout and it is perfect.

I use:

  • 12 ounces of milk… for kids I use whole milk since my son is a little underweight, for myself I use skim milk.
  • 1 Carnation Instant Breakfast Powder Packet – Chocolate or Vanilla Flavor–or Protein Powder for Adults
  • Frozen Blueberries (a handful) if desired—acts as the ice cubes in your smoothie
  • Banana
  • 1 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter
  • For Fun: I just MIGHT put a scoop of chocolate or vanilla ice cream– just for my son, not for me. 🙂
  • For Adults:  I will put in 1 Tablespoon of Chia Seeds and/or Flax Seed

Also, with smoothies it is suggested that you put them in your blender in this order:

  1. Liquid first—this will help your blades move easily when you turn on your blender
  2. Powders next—protein powder, cocoa powder, Carnation Instant Breakfast.
  3. Soft Foods—Bananas, etc.
  4. Hard Foods—frozen fruits, raw veggies
  5. Ice Cubes—LAST! They will help the blades pull all the other ingredients down.

I found a pack of Smoothie Straws that help drinking these a lot easier.

We play a month of summer baseball and it is an entire different “ballgame” in terms of staying cool.   The heat index can easily get up to 100 degrees.  I will post about “survival tips” in ‘Playing Baseball in the Heat-Summer Edition’ very soon.

In the meantime, Stay cool, friends, and have a great Spring!

 

 

 

 

 

Thank a Coach!

Thank you to our coaches who give so much

of their energy and time to helping our kids

learn the game of baseball and softball.

They are VOLUNTEERS, which means that they CHOOSE to be there!

Thank you for teaching good sportsmanship,

not to give up,

and how to be part of a team.

We thank you all so much for everything you do!

Team Mom: How to Accommodate Multiple Food Allergies on your Team

With coaching baseball for a long time and managing several teams, there comes the issue of post-game snack and food allergies.  We want everyone to be safe, yet be able to enjoy the snack after the game with everyone else.

I always ask the parents at the beginning of the season if there are any food allergies.  I’ve had those parents that don’t want to tell me because they don’t want their child to be embarrassed, and then some don’t want to say because they don’t want the other parents to have to worry about accommodating their child.

On the other hand, I’ve had some that WOULD like for their child not be left out of post-game snack.

I agree.

Personally, I want everyone to be able to enjoy the snack/drink/party food so we try to accommodate as much as possible.  Usually the parents on our team want the same thing.

Last season, we had 3 different food allergies on the same team.  Peanut, Egg, and Tree Nut.  This was the first time we had had multiple food allergies on one team in the same season.  I had asked the parents of the kids with the allergies to give me some snack suggestions but I didn’t hear back from them.  I think they were afraid to suggest something that could possibly be harmful for the other food allergy?  I’m not sure.

At first thought, you would think it would be extremely hard to find a variety of common safe foods for all…. but, this is NOT true. It was actually VERY EASY.

I googled “snacks free of peanut/egg/tree nuts” and found http://snacksafely.com/snacklist.pdf.  There is a long list of safe snack foods for these food allergies.  It was incredibly simple and took 2 minutes!

So, every week leading up to our games, I sent a snack/drink reminder 2 days prior to our scheduled game and telling the parents what allergies we had (but not who had them), and the link with the long list of foods that they can choose from.

It was a great resource to have and it made it easy finding safe foods that could accommodate everyone.  I had a great group of parents that were very happy to help.

So, if your child has a food allergy, don’t be afraid to speak up.  There are several different websites that I found that have GREAT IDEAS of foods to enjoy that accommodate several different allergies.

http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2012/10/18/25-allergy-friendly-snacks-for-your-child-with-special-needs/

http://jazzyallergyrecipes.blogspot.com/p/egg-free-dairy-free-nut-free-snack-list.html

http://islandpicnic.com/recipes/snacks-desserts/20-allergy-friendly-after-school-snacks-milk-egg-nut-free/

http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/page/recipes-diet.aspx

If you are a team mom and trying to find safe foods for your team, or have a child with food allergies, I hope these links will help you.  In the end, the parents on your team will ultimately decide if they feel comfortable with their child eating was has been brought.  I have found it is better to have a pre-packaged snack instead of a homemade snack, so the label can be read carefully, and possible cross contamination from a kitchen can be avoided.

In the end, we want everyone to be safe and have a great baseball/softball experience!

Do you have any snack ideas to help with the different food allergies?  Helpful links or recipes?

Please share them with me… I would love to know more and can pass them on.

 

Ballpark Shoes can look NEW again

Do you have any shoes that have gotten super dirty and think they can’t be saved?  Do you dread having to buy your kids more shoes because they are so muddy and hate cleaning them?

Being a mom and coach of baseball, it never fails that my tennis shoes get dirty.  Really dirty… with Red Georgia Clay from the field, or mud, or grass.  Every year I try to have an extra pair of shoes just for the field.

Sometimes it is just not possible to have an extra pair of shoes.  Years ago, my arch collapsed and planters fasciitis set in, so it became imperative to have good shoes, especially when I am on my feet in the dugout or running drills with the boys on the field.  These shoes are so expensive, I was forced to find a way to clean them.

My favorite cleaning trick is whitening toothpaste and an old toothbrush!  It works wonders on solid leather tennis shoes.

If your shoes are solid leather, when you rinse them, the inside of the shoes will not get wet.  Look at the difference when I scrubbed one side of my shoe with the whitening toothpaste and an old toothbrush.  These were my “baseball shoes” from a year ago, so this is not fresh dirt…it still came off and looks like NEW.

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Recently, due to new problems in my feet, I was forced to get a different kind of tennis shoe.  They have mesh on the sides and top, so when I tried to wash the soles using the toothbrush and toothpaste, the inside of the shoe got wet.  Not good.  I had to find a new way to clean them….

Perfect Example:  Yesterday, the family and I went to the ballfield to practice hitting and fielding.  I love to get out there with them and run around.  We have had so much rain here, the outfield was like a marsh pit.  The soles of my shoes got so packed with mud (since they are my only athletic shoes now) I had to do something.

20160222_082541I scraped off as much dirt outside as I could, but still my shoes were a mess.  I found 2 Foil Lasagna pans in my kitchen that I had never used, and put them to work.  Don’t worry, I won’t be using them now for Lasagna!  I put some hot water (just enough to cover the bottom) and a squirt of Dawn Dishwashing Detergent.  I swished around the detergent until it produced some bubbles and put a shoe in each pan.  I was careful not to get the water too high in the pan so the inside of my shoes would get wet.

I soaked them for about 20 minutes and was pleased to find that most of the dirt had come off and out of those pesky little grooves on the sole of the shoe.  I still used my toothbrush to scrub out the dirt in those tiny places.  My shoes were so dirty and packed with field dirt (mud really) that my shoes required a second soak.  Overall, I am pleased with the results.  I was able to remove about 99% of it.  Not bad since my shoes were really bad off.

 

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I wish I had taken a “before” picture.  The bottom of my shoes were packed with wet field dirt.

What you will need:

  • An old tshirt to wear because if you are using any brush to scrub, there is a good chance it’s going to splatter
  • For good solid Leather shoes, you will need a spare tube of Whitening Toothpaste and an old toothbrush: Please don’t use the same tube of toothpaste to brush your teeth with.  This tube of toothpaste will be declared, “For Cleaning Only” as will the toothbrush.  Eek! Lol!
  • Two Foil Lasagna pans that you can find in any grocery store. I like them because they are bendable and you can bend the pan to get to the parts of the shoe that need it most.
  • Paper Towels
  • HOT water. Fill it with just enough to cover the bottom of the pan and to the desired height to surround the sole of the shoe.
  • Dawn dishwashing detergent. I added a squirt in each pan and stirred with my fingers to produce the bubbles.  This solution will break up the dirt in the little grooves of the bottom of the shoe.
  • A toothbrush. A great tool to use for those tiny, hard to reach places.
  • After scraping as much dirt off outside that you can, let the sole of the shoes soak for about 10-15 minutes, check and see what dirt has been loosened or falling off. My shoes were so bad, I needed a second soak.  I would not recommend leaving your nice shoes in for a super long period of time as it is not good for the rubber soles.

My kids have always appreciated when I can work on their dirty, yucky, shoes and give them new life.  As they get older, it is something they can work on, too.  With a lot of desire, and a little bit of effort, it is always rewarding to make something feel and look new again.