By Courtney Zieller
HARRISBURG, SD - Whether they're a gymnast, basketball player, or even play tennis, it turns out young athletes are over doing it. In fact, it is what's behind nearly half of all sports injuries to middle and high school athletes. But a newly-formed group says they can be prevented.
Practice makes perfect for the Harrisburg baseball team. But for the next three weeks, one player will be sitting on the bench.
"I went to the doctor the other day and he said I got some inflammation around the membranes in my shoulder and possibly a tear," Travis Walz said.
High school pitcher Travis Walz's injuries are likely from doing too much too fast.
"I think I was a little too strong off the bat, throwing too hard, not stretching," Walz said.
That injury is one too many for coach Greg Ford.
"We know you got to get those arms ready and that's the thing about baseball. It's unique in the fact that everyone uses their throwing arm," Ford said.
To prevent these injures and others, there's a program designed for their athletes.
"We spend the winter preparing them. We have weight programs, position-specific programs. The pitchers work really hard protecting their rotator cuff, lifting and stretching," Ford said.
The "Stop Sports Injuries Campaign" is a nationwide effort to raise awareness about the growing problem among athletes.
According to the campaign, baseball is one sport that has the highest risk for injuries. And that's something some coaches and doctors agree with.
"Whether it's break away bases, the bat or the ball itself, there's injuries related to that but if you play long enough and hard enough in any sport, you're vulnerable to injuries," Dr. Michael Bergeron said.
"You have to keep kids smart and paying attention on the field and it can be serious, so that's the approach we have to take," Ford said.
For Walz, it also means working to prevent other injuries.
"I'm just going to work out a lot during the summer and strengthen up my arms so it doesn't happen again," Walz said.
Because for this school, safety comes first.
"That's my priority. We want to have fun but safety is a top priority for us," Ford said.
Other high risk sports are basketball, football, gymnastics, tennis and volleyball.
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