Baseball Pitch Counts - Safety Guidelines For Youth Pitchers And Coaches

From the American Sports Medicine Institute

There are a number of baseball pitching count strategies that can be implemented to reduce pitch counts or the number of pitches thrown by young pitchers in games.

Here are some recommendations from ASMI, one of the leading authorities on preventing pitching arm injuries caused by high pitch counts in baseball, particularly in youth baseball.

Pitches per game/games per week

  • Pitcher ages 8-10: 52 pitches/game max, 2 games/week max.
  • Pitcher ages 11-12: 68 pitches/game max, 2 games/week max.
  • Pitcher ages 13-14: 76 pitches/game max, 2 games/week max.
  • Pitcher ages 15-16: 91 pitches/game max, 2 games/week max.
  • Pitcher ages 17-18: 106 pitches/game max, 2 games/week max.

Recovery times

Ages 8-10

  • 21 pitches: 1 day rest
  • 34 pitches: 2 days rest
  • 43 pitches: 3 days rest
  • 51 pitches: 4 days rest

Ages 11-12

  • 27 pitches: 1 day rest
  • 35 pitches: 2 days rest
  • 55 pitches: 3 days rest
  • 58 pitches: 4 days rest

Ages 13-14

  • 30 pitches: 1 day rest
  • 36 pitches: 2 days rest
  • 56 pitches: 3 days rest
  • 70 pitches: 4 days rest

Ages 15-16

  • 25 pitches: 1 day rest
  • 38 pitches: 2 days rest
  • 62 pitches: 3 days rest
  • 77 pitches: 4 days rest

Ages 17-18

  • 27 pitches: 1 day rest
  • 45 pitches: 2 days rest
  • 62 pitches: 3 days rest
  • 89 pitches: 4 days rest

Age recommendations for learning various pitches

The survey also presented recommendations for the age at which a player could learn different types of pitches. These are listed below.

  • Fastball: age 8-10 years old
  • Change-up: age 10-13 years old
  • Curve ball: age 14-16 years old
  • Knuckle ball: age 15-18 years old
  • Slider: age 16-18 years old
  • Forkball: age 16-18 years old
  • Screw ball: age 17-19 years old

Final thoughts about pitch counts in baseball

  • A pitcher should be limited to two appearances per week.
  • Participation in multiple leagues, playing other positions, and practice should be considered when defining and regulating rest.
  • Improper technique is a major factor in injury potential.
  • Conditioning of the throwing arm and entire body can reduce a young pitcher's risk of injury.
  • While the number of pitches should be limited, the young athlete should be encouraged to throw. This includes playing catch, playing other positions besides pitcher, and practicing pitching.
  • When symptoms of arm discomfort or fatigue arise, longer periods of rest are recommended.

 

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