PITCH COUNT GUIDELINES

Washington FCA baseball adheres to pitch count guidelines established by the American Sports Medicine Institute with our ultimate goal being player health and safety.  We also recognize that pitch count is only one factor to consider when determining whether a player is ready to throw.  Please also review Coach C's comments following the ASMI position paper.

From the ASMI website:

Position Statement for Youth Baseball Pitchers

Updated April 2013

With the rise in elbow and shoulder injuries in youth baseball pitchers, the adult community needs to take steps to prevent these injuries. Research points to overuse as the principle risk factor. Poor pitching mechanics also contribute to injury risk. Another suggested risk factor is poor physical fitness.

Throwing curveballs has been suggested as a risk factor, but the existing research does not support this concern. However, a youth pitcher may not have enough physical development, neuromuscular control, and proper coaching instruction to throw a curveball with good mechanics. Throwing curveballs too early may be counter-productive, leading to arm fatigue as well as limiting the youth's ability to master fastball mechanics.

Thus, the recommendations for preventing injuries in youth baseball pitchers are:

  1. Watch and respond to signs of fatigue (such as decreased ball velocity, decreased accuracy, upright trunk during pitching, dropped elbow during pitching, or increased time between pitches). If a youth pitcher complains of fatigue or looks fatigued, let him rest from pitching and other throwing.
  2. No overhead throwing of any kind for at least 2-3 months per year (4 months is preferred). No competitive baseball pitching for at least 4 months per year.
  3. Do not pitch more than 100 innings in games in any calendar year.
  4. Follow limits for pitch counts and days rest.
  5. Avoid pitching on multiple teams with overlapping seasons.
  6. Learn good throwing mechanics as soon as possible. The first steps should be to learn, in order: 1) basic throwing, 2) fastball pitching, 3) change-up pitching.
  7. Avoid using radar guns.
  8. A pitcher should not also be a catcher for his team. The pitcher-catcher combination results in many throws and may increase the risk of injury.
  9. If a pitcher complains of pain in his elbow or shoulder, discontinue pitching until evaluated by a sports medicine physician. Inspire youth pitchers to have fun playing baseball and other sports. Participation and enjoyment of various physical activities will increase the youth's athleticism and interest in sports.

Additional commentary from FCA Coach C.:

It is also important to take into account the number of pitches per inning.  As an added precaution, count pitches:

  • 1 for 1 until 20
  • 2 for 1 from 20-30
  • 3 for 1 from 30 on

So if a player throws 24 pitches in an inning his pitch count is 28.  If he pitches 35 actual pitches in an inning his pitch count is 55.  This takes into account the exponential wear and tear that occurs as the tendons, muscles and ligaments heat up over use.

A day of rest should be counted as follows:

  • 18 year old throws 80 pitches on Monday; he now requires 4 days rest
  • Tuesday = day 1 of rest
  • Wednesday = day 2 of rest
  • Thursday = day 3 of rest
  • Friday = day 4 of rest
  • Saturday pitcher is eligible to throw again

And a day of rest doesn’t mean “do nothing.”  A recommended routine could include (for pitcher only players – additional caution is required for pitchers who play a position):

  • Tuesday (day 1 of rest): run, stretch, light toss 20-30 throws at 50% intensity
  • Wednesday (day 2 of rest): run, stretch, throw 20-30 at 60-70% intensity
  • Thursday (day 3 of rest): run, stretch, throw 20 at 50% intensity
  • Friday (day 4 of rest): run, stretch, bull pen at light intensity, low reps

Ambient temperature also plays an important role – the fact is, the colder it is, the more conservative coaches should be.

A total body warm-up prior to pitching is important.  Additionally, start your pre-game bullpen so that you will complete shortly before walking onto the mound.  And in between innings, avoid being inactive for long periods, rather band, take a quick jog, etc.

Age

Daily Limits

Weekly Limits & Rest

17-18 105 31-45 Pitches = 1 day rest
46-60 Pitches = 2 days rest
61-75 Pitches = 3 days rest
76+ Pitches = 4 days rest
15-16 95
13-14 95 21-35 Pitches = 1 day rest
36-50 Pitches = 2 days rest
51-65 Pitches = 3 days rest
66+ Pitches = 4 days rest
11-12 85
9-10 75
7-8 50