Pro scouts check pitch speeds at a Georgia high school game. (AJC file photo)

Smoltz: Radar guns not good for youth sports

Former Braves pitcher John Smoltz is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, so he knows a good bit about pitching. He also underwent several elbow and shoulder surguries during his career too so he also knows a lot about protecting a pitcher's health as well.

On Tuesday, he spoke at the Youth Sports Health Symposium in Windermere, Fla., and called for a ban on radar guns being used in youth sports to gauge the speed of pitches. He believes the radar guns are causing youngsters to frequently throw the ball as hard as they can, potentially causing long-term damage to their arms.

“I would call for every organization, maybe not high school and definitely probably not scouts are going to do this, but I would eliminate the radar gun. Let the pro scouts use it, no one else," said Smoltz, who is the only pitcher in baseball history with 200 wins (he had 213) and 150 saves (154).

"I would ask every organization to put it away, quit using it for social media, quit using it for guidelines for kids to see how hard they throw. To me, if you abolish the radar gun and only let the true scouts dictate what that is, I think you do the sport a service for the young kids who are trying to throw as hard as they can. I think that would help."

The purpose of the symposium was to share information on injuries and health issues that impact young athletes. 

A celebrity golf tournament, The Diamond Resorts Invitational, is Thursday and Friday at the Golden Bear Golf Club. Smoltz will participate, along with former Braves teammates Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Brian McCann.

Other current and former pro athletes in the field include Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Justin Verlander, Jerry Rice, Marcus Allen, Reggie Jackson, Roger Clemens, Eric Dickerson, Sterling Sharpe, Joe Theismann and Brian Urlacher.

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