The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of softer baseballs for youth players under the age of 12 in a 2012 Policy Statement.
Based on studies finding that balls meeting the National Operating Committee on Standard for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) specifications for softer baseballs (levels 1, 2, and 3) are less likely to cause injury, specifically serious head injury and commotio cordis, the AAP recommends use of the balls as follows:
- Level 1: children with the lowest skill level (in general, those younger than 10 years) should use the lowest-impact NOCSAE-approved [RIF] balls (level 1).
- Level 2: children 10 to 12 years of age with moderate skill levels. Children younger than 10 years of age with moderate skill levels may use either level 1 or level 2 balls.
- Level 3 balls: youths older than 12 years and those 10 to 12 years of age withi advanced skills.
In endorsing the use of softer baseballs, the AAP noted that the ball was the cause of most baseball injuries, through being hit by a pitched ball, being struck while attempting to field a batted ball, trying to catch a thrown ball, or being hit by a thrown or batted ball while running the bases.
For statistics on baseball injuries from the AAP Policy Statement, click here.
For AAP's position on reducing the risk of commotio cordis in youth baseball, click here.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, Policy Statement: Baseball and Softball. Pediatrics 2012;129(3):842-856. (doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-3593)(accessed February 26, 2012)
Posted February 27, 2012