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Baseball | Healthy Sport Index | Aspen Institute Sports and Society Program

8th

out of 10

Baseball

Boys

Baseball is a sport that requires balance, reactionary capabilities, hand-eye coordination and many basic movement skills, though these movements tend to occur sporadically over lengthy periods of time. Recommended complementary/alternate sports for baseball players include tennis and swimming.

Rankings in orange circles compare this sport with nine other sports offered for this gender before customization – meaning each of the three health categories is given an equal one-third weighting. The ranking is comprised of data collected or developed from various sources (75% of score) and expert opinion (25% of score). The healthiest sports in each of the three categories – physical activity, safety and psychosocial benefits – and in each data measurement are ranked No. 1. Note: Some sports did not have significant differences between each other in the data. Learn more about our methodology.

10th

out of 10

Physical Activity

Expert Opinion Rank: 10th Out of 10

Key Characteristics: Baseball’s long stretches of inaction cause the sport to have the least amount of physical activity at practices among the 10 boys sports studied by North Carolina State University. Baseball has just 29.2 percent vigorous activity; the 10 boys sports average 48.5 percent. Forty-one percent of baseball practice time focuses on skills compared to 17 percent on fitness.

1North Carolina State University research observing high school athletes in North Carolina, 2017-18.

5th

out of 10

Safety

9.3

Injury Rate2

(5th out of 10)

13.6%

Injury Time/Loss3

(8th out of 10)

0.17

Catastrophic Rate4

(6th out of 10)

7.3%

Injuries Requiring Surgery5

(8th out of 10)

1

Concussion Rate6

(5th out of 10)

Expert Opinion Rank: 5th Out of 10

Key Characteristics: Baseball is in the middle of the pack for injury rates among boys sports, according to the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study. The most common injuries are to the head/face, hip/thigh/upper leg, and arm/elbow. Baseball has a high volume of surgeries and time lost due to injury in relation to other evaluated boys sports.

Injury rate per 10,000 exposures, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.

Percentage of all injuries resulting in greater than three weeks of time loss from the sport, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.

Non-fatal catastrophic injury/illness rate per 100,000 exposures, National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, 1982-2016.

5 Percentage of all injuries requiring surgery, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.

6 Concussion rate per 10,000 exposures, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.

5th

out of 10

Psychosocial

Aspen Psychosocial Survey7

3.515

Personal Social Skills

(5th out of 10)

2.681

Cognitive Skills

(6th out of 10)

3.471

Goal-Setting

(9th out of 10)

3.732

Initiative

(7th out of 10)

3.616

Health

(6th out of 10)

1.449

Negative Experiences

(6th out of 10)

Substance Abuse

Cigarette Use8
16.4%

(7th out of 10)

Binge Drinking9
30.3%

(7th out of 10)

Marijuana Use10
23.4%

(3rd out of 10)

Academic Achievement

Cut Class11
28.7%

(6th out of 10)

A/A- Student12
37.6%

(4th out of 10)

Graduate From College13
60.5%

(6th out of 10)

Psychological health14

4.33

Self-Esteem

(1st out of 10)

2.27

Fatalism

(T-6th out of 10)

3.78

Self-Efficacy

(T-3rd out of 10)

2.35

Loneliness

(1st out of 10)

1.86

Self-Derogation

(1st out of 10)

4.22

Social Support

(3rd out of 10)

Expert Opinion Rank: T-5th Out of 10

Key Characteristics: Baseball rates sixth among the 10 boys sports in the Aspen Institute/University of Texas psychosocial survey, though the gap isn’t large compared to No. 1 football. Setting goals isn’t a strength for baseball, which ranks ninth in the category. Baseball has the highest self-esteem and least amount of loneliness, according to Women’s Sports Foundation data.

7 Aspen Institute/University of Texas psychosocial benefits survey of high school athletes nationally, 2018. Scoring ranges from 1-4, with 4 being the best except for the Negative Experiences category.

8 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport smoking cigarettes in the past 30 days. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

8 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport smoking cigarettes in the past 30 days. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

9 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport binge drinking alcohol in the past two weeks. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

10 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport using marijuana in the past 30 days. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

11 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport who cut class for a full day in the past month. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

12 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport who have an average grade of an A or A-. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

13 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport who expect to graduate from a four-year college. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

14 Average scores of high school seniors in the sport in psychological health report card. Data for these six categories came from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters. Scoring ranges from 1-5, with 5 being the best for self-esteem, self-efficacy and social support.

Compare Tool

Select Other Boys Sports to Compare and Scroll Down

Baseball (Boys)
Basketball (Boys)
Cross Country (Boys)
Football (Boys)
Lacrosse (Boys)
Soccer (Boys)
Swimming (Boys)
Tennis (Boys)
Track and Field (Boys)
Wrestling (Boys)

Complementary Sports

Healthy Sport Index recognizes the benefits of youth engaging in more than one sport during the year, through organized or casual play. Some youth also may want or need to find alternate sports, due to interest or roster-size limitations. There are two types of benefits to sport sampling: athletic/skill development in their primary sport, and overall health. First, let’s take a look at sports that can help develop athletic/skill development.

Athletic/Skill Development

For youth whose primary sport is baseball, USA Baseball recommends the following complementary sports.

Other Recommended Sports/Activities for Skills

Ice Hockey, Martial Arts

Rationale: Tennis is most closely suited to baseball due to its 1-on-1 nature, simulating pitcher vs. hitter. Like baseball, tennis requires explosiveness, balance, reactionary capabilities, hand-eye coordination and timing. Lacrosse possesses similar qualities. Basketball and football build athleticism and skill development. Swimming can build endurance and leg strength.

Not chasing an athletic scholarship or elite performance? Let’s now explore complementary sports that are less tailored to develop skills in this particular sport but can help build a well-rounded athlete for life.

Overall Health

For youth focused on this sport, the following are activities worth considering to build overall health and fitness. They are recommended by the Healthy Sport Index Advisory Group in consultation with the American College of Sports Medicine. Considerations include whether the primary sport is a team or individual sport, the amount of time the primary sport spends at practice on fitness, and options for sports that carry low-injury risks.

Other Recommended Sports/Activities for Health

Aerobic Classes, Cycling, Golf, Gymnastics, Hiking, Judo/Karate, Jump Rope, Pilates, Yoga

Rationale: Baseball is a team sport that would benefit from a companion individual sport. Since it is primarily skill-based, sports with more emphasis on fitness would be helpful. The most common baseball injuries are to the head/face, hip/thigh/upper leg and arm/elbow.

Best Practices

Tips on how to make baseball active and safer

  1. Make practices productive. The primary goal of practice is to provide an efficient, productive, and purposeful training session that gives every player the opportunity to improve daily; mentally, emotionally, and physically.
  2. Coaches should plan practices with pace and intent to improve every day by being detailed and having sessions planned down to the minute. This pace and intent starts with the coaches and is hopefully followed by the players. Players have control over their personal approach to practice, so a coach should demand and command their attention. The best practice plans include all players and coaches at all times and enable maximum engagement, movement and physical activity.
  3. The more ownership a team is given in establishing the approach to practice, the better effort that they will give. A coach should ask the players if they feel practice prepares them for the game. Allow them to have input into what helps them prepare better for the adversity and challenges the game has for them. When a coach allows the team to have input, the players become more focused in their approach to practice.
  4. Coaches in all sports need to communicate with each other and learn to share athletes because this creates a win-win situation for all. Players observing coaches from different sports cooperating together for the benefit of the athlete is a great life lesson and delivers a more well-rounded and healthy experience for the student-athlete.
  5. Communication is the most important part of working with pitchers and their role in the pitching rotation. Every pitcher is different, so the coach must get to know the pitchers as well as possible. It is critical for the coach to ask questions about the state of their arm daily. Have a rest and recovery plan for all players, especially pitchers.  Guidelines and best practices for pitcher use can be found at www.pitchsmart.org.

Learn More About Best Practices
High School Baseball Manual (USA Baseball)

Long-Term Athlete Development Plan (USA Baseball)

Sport Development Resources (USA Baseball)

Pitch Smart (Major League Baseball/USA Baseball)

Little League University (Little League Baseball)

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)