VHSL Pitching Policy for 2014

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July 28, 2013 3:33 PM

VHSL Pitching Policy Just Got Complicated

 

As the Championship Game between Hanover and GreatBridgeHigh Schools approached, the Virginia High School League (VHSL) made a rules interpretation that may be a surprise to many. 

 

The pitcher from Hanover pitched 7 innings on Tuesday, rested Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, pitched 1 inning in a game Saturday, and was allowed to pitch 6 innings (reaching the limit of 14 in 7 days) on Sunday – the championship game.  So what’s the problem?

 

The Hanover pitcher only had 3 days of rest, not the required 4 days, before being allowed to “pitch to the limit of the rule”.  VHSL made the call that pitching 1 inning in competition is a day of rest from competition.

 

The call was made before the Championship Game, neither coach played under protest, so the results stand.  The biggest problem now is the precedent the VHSL decision sets for next season across the State. 

 

In effect a “day of rest” has just been redefined and the restriction that defines when you can pitch to the limit of the rule has just been deleted. 

 

This policy was advertised by VHSL as a safety policy.  Did it just get safer or less safe?  Parents of pitchers will want to watch what happens this fall.

 

For reference, this is the current VHSL rule for pitching 7 innings.

“If a pitcher pitches four to seven innings in one day that pitcher shall have two calendar days of rest from competition pitching … Further restrictions regarding this section include:

 - After two days of rest a pitcher may pitch a maximum of two innings.

 - After three days of rest a pitcher may pitch a maximum of three innings.

 - After four days of rest a pitcher may pitch to the limit of the rule.”

 
 
 
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July 29, 2013 5:41 AM

I invite someone from VHSL to reply (Tom Dolan or Shawn Knight)

Is it official, is pitching 1 inning considered a day of rest?

What if the pitcher throws 1 inning after only two days of rest from competition, can he then pitch the limit the next day, or does that only apply after 3 days of rest?

Does the restriction, "After four days of rest a pitcher may pitch to the limit of the rule", apply anymore?  No other restriction references pitching to the limit.

 

 
 
 
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July 29, 2013 10:31 AM

Is this a new article somewhere?  Because this was discussed to death 4-7 weeks ago.  I don't see anything new here.  Has VHSL done something to suggest this is being reviewed more formally?

 
 
 
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July 29, 2013 11:04 AM

...and to deepen the troubling issue (while admittedly not a VHSL concern regarding the rules, per se), the Hanover pitcher was warming up continuously from the 2nd inning on in the game that he only pitched one inning (the 7th and last).  The game was close throughout and he was brought in when needed when Oakton had made it extremely tight.  Concern is that he basically threw another complete game in the bullpen, on top of 7 innings earlier in the week, and then threw 6 innings in the championship game.

 

Rules?  What rules?

 

Coach?  State championships are important....but?

 
 
 
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July 29, 2013 11:58 PM

The majority of arm injuries that occur in high school athletics are related more to the lack of training and/or improper mechanics rather than over throwing.  The need for a rule regarding pitching limits in High School Baseball in the first place is only because there are WAY TOO MANY high school pitchers out there who do not train nearly enough for the work load they are put through over the course of a season.  

 

The reality is that I'm sure there isn't or at least I sure hope there isn't a single high school coach who would even blatantly put and child they are coaching in harms way intentionally.  The issue though is that most high school coaches are never educated on the importance of training and technique and how this can affect their pitchers in the long run in regards to safety and injury prevention.  Thus they don't realize how training less limits the ability to throw more... instead, regardless of how much training a player does, most coaches only use a rule to gauge how much their pitchers will throw.  This mind set is brutal!!! 

 

If we really wanted to do something to make the sport safer we'd find a way to make education for coaches MANDATORY in regards to training and proper technique.  Unfortunately though, as is with most things in life, rules are made for those who aren't responsible enough to manage themselves, so someone else has to do it for them.  A "pitch limit" or "innings limit" is an easy answer as opposed to further educating and then trusting people to understand and implement what they've learned or been taught.

 

The simple fact is that a player who trains and practices proper throwing technique gives themselves the opportunity to throw a lot more than a player who does not.  Think about it... when do injuries usually occur?  They occur as a player's body starts getting tired and they lose the ability to throw the baseball correctly.  I'll tell you from personal experience, baseball players who throw more have far less arm problems than kids who throw less... especially if that player who throws more is using proper technique.  

 

It's no different than training for a long distance race... Who's going to be able to run further with less chance for injury, the guy who trains and runs more so that their body is ready for the distance, or the guy who runs less and then expects their body to be ready for a long distance???

 

I'm not recommending that rest isn't important, clearly it is.  I'm simply saying that proper training and technique would go WAY further to ensuring less arm injuries in high schol baseball then simply enforcing inning limits.  

 

It's a bit scary... but in today's world of baseball being a year round sport kids do not spend nearly enough time training.  It's such an important aspect of any athletes development, but unfortunately the idea today is that if you don't play on a team in the summer and fall in addition to your high school spring season you'll be left behind.  I'd love to believe that players then take the winter to train, but the fact is that most don't.  The weather outside usually isn't conducive to long tossing and kids like to go into "baseball hibernation" during the cold winter months.  That said, there's no season during the year in which kids simply train.  

 

Hence the overall idea of this message... Players need to TRAIN and TRAIN CORRECT MECHANICS more often.  Doing this will dramatically reduce the number are arm related injuries.  In addition, it's absolutely wrong for coaches to be uneducated in this area.  Every High School Baseball Coach should be educated.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if coaches focused more time and energy on training and technique rather than simply focusing on a pitching rule?

 

To answer your question Midlo Dad... Yes this topic has been beaten to DEATH on this site. Unfortunately though it's a major topic of conversation because most people are waiting to see what's next in the world of pitching rules in High School Baseball.  2013 is in the books... everyone who participated in last years season all played by the same rules and whether you agree or disagree with the interpretation it's irrelevant.  The important thing is evolving and learning what's next and how can we make it better.  Of course, unless I missed something, no one that I've seen comment on this topic is a decision maker in deciding what's next... that decision is left up to other people.  So we'll just have to sit, wait and conversate...

 
 
 
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July 30, 2013 10:29 AM

I agree that throwing mechanics are important.  But I hope you're not suggesting that sound mechanics would eliminate the need for pitch count limits and appropriate rest intervals.  Even with the best mechanics, pitching is physically stressful at any level, and the evidence indicates that teenagers (who are still growing/not fully matured) are at greater risk even than the adults in the pros who suffer injuries despite having the very best coaching and conditioning.  This is especially so in our current era, where players may be pitching from March through October, as opposed to back in my day, when maybe you went from March through July.

 

One thing I do believe is that we should be more concerned with overuse as a regular thing, as opposed to it happening only once in an entire season.  To me, the rules could be more lax for state tourney week.  I don't mind pushing a guy a bit beyond the norm just once, especially when he can then rest a few weeks before he might even pitch in a summer game.  And sometimes we forget that for most, the state title game is the most important game they'll ever pitch in. 

 
 
 
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July 30, 2013 8:42 PM

Getting back to an earlier post about what is new on this topic,  As well as " everyone who participated in last years season all played by the same rules and whether you agree or disagree with the interpretation it's irrelevant."  Not everyone played by the same rules because this most recent interpretation is so far from what the rule says, and nothing in the VHSL Rules Clinic slides (see page 116 of that slide deck) comes even close. 

So the point is a precedent was set.  If that precedent stands, and VHSL may let it stand just to save face, then the rule unravels.

If pitching to the limit was allowed after only 3 days rest, why not two?

If pitching 1 inning is considered a days rest, why not pitch 7, next day 1, day after that 1, then pitch 2 per the rule, then pitch to the weekly limit of 14.

I got the ball rolling back in May of 2011 when I briefed VHSL on pitching injuries and the need for a pitch count based policy.  It sure has been derailed.

State Legislation may be the only way to get a pitch count based VHSL Policy.

 

 
 
 
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July 30, 2013 10:52 PM

As Midlo Dad mentioned, we've now beaten the dead horse, allowed it to decay.....

 

....and we're now digging it back up for another beating. I know the summer can be slow on the HS Baseball front, but I think it's time to move on...

 

The VHSL ruled consistently throughout the year from everything I can find. This is the way they had and have always interpreted the rule whenever there was a situation throughout the year. I'm quite positive there were more situations where pitchers pitched one inning in a similar situation before the state tournament. Whether or not the VHSL needs to pull someone in to write legal jargon on their slides and in their rules is a different matter. If we don't like the rule the way it's written for any number of reasons then we're allowed to have our opinion. My opinion would tend to agree with the VHSL. I personally think the VHSL's interpretation is perfect. I DO believe that a pitcher can throw an inning and have it be a rest day in that situation, as it stands. Pitchers throw bullpens in between starts, and if they're training correctly they should be throwing every day during the meat of the season. To AmericasPastime's point, we have been reducing the number of innings and pitches that pitchers have thrown for decades now and arm injuries have at the very least held steady and someone could certainly argue they've risen. It's not working. It's just like if I was to go to the gym tomorrow and squat for the first time in a year. The chances of me hurting myself are MUCH higher than if I was to squat every single day, which in itself would normally be seen as completely against common sense for weight training. Our bodies have AMAZING! abilities to adapt to their environments. People in Kenya are forced to run everyday because they have to. It's life or death sometimes. They have to in order to get water for they're families, or to make a trip to the grocery store. No one is saying, you feel sore today so don't push yourself too hard you might hurt your hamstring. Well, what do you know, they coming over and start training with Americans are they're lapping those who have been "scientifically" trained from a young age.  Tony Romo mentioned last week that he aims to throw a football 345 of 365 days a year. A pitcher may not be able to meet that schedule because the motion is more taxing on the arm, but it's proof that throwing doesn't equal arm injuries. Poor mechanics, lack of strength from lack of conditioning does. If your arm is used to being used mechanically and correctly then it won't be shocked when it's used and will become more resistant to overuse rather than more susceptible. I would stand my ground firm on that to anyone anywhere. Arm injuries are just not from overuse, they are from incorrect use. Now, I can already here the arguments "Well a game is much more stressful, much more taxing." I think that's an excuse and disingenuous for the sake of argument. If you're working at 85% in a bullpen you're not improving and putting yourself at risk of injury. Because think about what happens when we go 85% on the mound. I know from experience that it usually it means we go 85% with our legs, core and body and leave our arm to pick up the rest of the slack. Even an arm that's not using 100% of it's juice on that day is have more strain put on it proportionally than it would otherwise. Not to mention, a guy who does that loses the tempo and feel of his pitches. So, a real pitcher isn't really doing anything out of the ordinary by throwing an inning in place of that bullpen. No matter if it's a state tournament or a sandlot game.

 

But regardless of whether one would agree with all that or not, we CAN'T take our interpretation and tell the VHSL what they should have done (unless of course we want to quit our jobs and get on the board.) Even if what we see doesn't match some of our opinions about how the rule should be read it doesn't make the VHSL wrong for enforcing it the way they intended. Actually, I'd argue it would have been wrong if they bowed to complaints and reversed their intent at the end the year.

 

It's time to drop the issue of last season. If there is a claim to be made to the VHSL to rewrite the rule, then make it. But no one with any ACTUAL knowledge of VHSL decision making has indicated that they ever wavered when contacted directly about the rule. Whether we like the wording or agree that the wording marries with the way it was enforced, the VHSL ruled that way all year and by that measurement every team did in fact play under the same rules and had access to the VHSL to get the same feedback that Great Bridge, Hanover got. It was the same muddy rule for everyone and everyone had the same access to clarifications on VHSL intent. We need to put that debate to rest.

 

If someone can bring me one VHSL official source that says anything to the extent of "we originally didn't want a pitcher to be able to do that" then we'll have something to talk about. It's not just about saving face for the VHSL even if their opinion is contradictory to yours or mine. Truth is, we have absolutely no reason to think it isn't the truth. Any claim otherwise just isn't based in factual evidence. Any claim that they did this to save face just doesn't make sense. They had all year to clarify if they didn't want a situation like this to occur (as there were situations where they stepped in and did enforce the rule.) The truth of the matter is... this is how they intended it to be enforced. Agree or disagree, but for what it's worth let's quit trying to rewrite history or waste time and emotion worrying about it. It would be better spent on the future.

 
 
 
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July 31, 2013 4:00 AM

I would be happy to send you the VHSL Rules Clinic slides that contradict the interpretation.  Where can one find the interpretations made through out the season?  I think the rules need to be more specific as to days rest after the early returns.

 

This is the rule for pitching 4-7.  "

“If a pitcher pitches four to seven innings in one day that pitcher shall have two calendar days of rest from competition pitching … Further restrictions regarding this section include:

 - After two days of rest a pitcher may pitch a maximum of two innings.

 - After three days of rest a pitcher may pitch a maximum of three innings.

 - After four days of rest a pitcher may pitch to the limit of the rule.”

 

- All three restrictions apply, there is no "or" between the restricitions.  The only clause that permits pitching to the limit of the rule is the third restriction.  Only after meeting that restriction is pitching to the limit of the rule actually permitted by the rule.

In every example provided in the VHSL Rules Clinic package, the pitcher eventualy received the full 4 days of rest.  Coming in early was treated as a neutral day.

- Going back to the Pennsylvania rule, which VHSL copied, you can see the original intent

- If you can show me any other time an interpretation was provided I'd love to see it.

 

Maybe you can tell me since you've been tracking the VHSL interpretations of this rule, if that same pitcher pitched 1 inning after two days of rest instead of three, could he then pitch 6 innings the next day?  If not, why not?   

 

As to bullpens between games.  If done right, the pitcher in a practice bull pen is not throwing full velocity except for 8-10 of his pitches.  Bullpen practice and warmup is very different than game time.   

 

I have no dog in the fight between the two teams, could care less which one one or lost.  What I care about is the safety of the pitcher. 

 
 
 
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July 31, 2013 8:57 AM

RickF, don't doubt your point of view, or that you're just looking out for the safety of the pitchers. None of this is about having a dog in the race. 

 

As I stated pretty clearly before though, we've already established that the way the VHSL ruled during year (directly from Tom Dolan himself) never synced up with what you're contending is in this slide. I haven't seen the slide, but even if I take you on your word then what it does is prove what we've already said here a million times. The VHSL did a very poor job writing the rule and describing it on paper. We agree. There is no argument there. 

 

However, where we don't agree is that the VHSL ever enforced it inconsistently or contrary to their intent. For that, I'm sorry, I don't have the burden of proof in that matter and I'm also sorry, because their intent can't be measured on our own interpretation of a rule or a slide. The most direct way to measure it is in how they ruled and reacted when confronted with real life scenarios. To that point, we already saw a clear statement made from the VHSL on the highest profile stage there could be this year. What WE think of the rule is irrelevant. It doesn't matter what I think about whether a pitcher should be able to pitch 6 innings after that second day (Both of our opinions standing and, realize, I'm not advocating just saying that our opinions are irrelevant because we are not involved in the decision.) At this point, the VHSL precedent for last year was/has been set. Agree or disagree with it at will, but that's just the truth of the matter according to the coaches who spoke with Tom Dolan himself. Regardless of a poorly written rule or a poorly written Powerpoint Deck that no coaches likely saw after January, when it came down to it, as best any of US will ever be able to tell, the VHSL consistently ruled. 

 

The best one could say at this point is that the VHSL consistently enforced the rule in a way that doesn't agree with his/her opinions and interpretations in reading the rule. But, we've already agreed one could be of that opinion. That's a fair point of view. There just isn't anything new here though, and if our concentration is really on the safety of the pitchers let's move towards next year. Because in truth, there is 0 action we can take that would have any affect on last year.

 

And what if we somehow miraculously manifested evidence to prove the VHSL made contradicting decisions? Would that somehow invalidate the whole 2013 high school season and cause asterisks to be put in the "non-existent" record books?? Would we get a story on the front of the New York Times splashing the pictures of 16 year old kids and high school coaches? It's comical. What's the point? Are we going to re-award district, regional and state championships to other teams or replay these games on the basis of an argument they were "wronged" by the VHSL? I shutter to joke about it, because I'm sure there are some folks who would. (I'm in no way referring to you RickF.) I'd argue BBCOR bats have been a bigger issue and that the realignment certainly has a bigger contention for some "game-changing" asterisk than this pitching rule. 

 

So what is our real goal here? Talking about whether or not the rule is effective as it is or whether it should have wording changed or be changed entirely to a pitch count rule is, at least, the beginning of a constructive conversation. When we go back and try to create controversy it just starts to make me twitch. It's like I'm reading a page out of the National Enquirer. I come here to escape the media! Not be a part of made for T.V. "scandals." If I want to watch endless rehashing, speculation and criticism, I'll go watch Catching up with the Kardashians or, really, even ESPN at this point. 

 

The future is ours to affect. The past is just there to distract.

 
 
 
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July 31, 2013 5:45 PM

I have already said that this is about 2014.  The call was made, neither coach played under protest.  In my best Italian accent "basta" (it's over).  What concerns me are the statements in the paper, attributed to Tom, that the rule doesn't need to be edited.  I don't know if Tom actually said that, or if he still believes that.  The need for an interpretation indicates a need for editing if nothing else.

I have edits that I'm working up the chain thru the local board.

As to original intent, if you look at the VHSL Sports Medicine Advisory Council minutes from the Fall of 2011 - they voted to copy the Pensylvania policy, and in the case of 7 innings it said 4 days rest.  There was no early return after 2 or 3 days.  That wasn't added until around Sept of 2012 and voted on in December.  I told Tom at that time that there would be confusion about the early return, provided suggested edits, but it was too late given the VHSL process.  

 

 
 
 
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August 1, 2013 5:39 AM

Proposed change to VHSL Policy - example not all edits.  This makes it clear that you need all 4 days of rest to pitch to the limit AND updates definitions.  What it doesn't do is clairfy whether, for example, pitching 2-3 innings after 3 days of rest earns you an additional day of rest (earn 1 but still have 1 left from pitching 7 = total of 2).  From all examples provided by VHSL, it doesn't.  Maybe it should.  It does in one part of the rile but not here.

 

56-4-2 Pitching Regulations-For the purposes of this rule, delivery of one pitch constitutes having pitched in one inning and having pitched in competition. In addition, days of rest are days in which the pitcher does not pitch in competition. The following provisions apply to regular season as well as post season play.

...

(4) If a pitcher pitches four to seven innings in one day that pitcher shall have two calendar days of rest from competition pitching beginning with the day following the first day a pitch is thrown. Further restrictions regarding this section include:

 

(a) After two days of rest a pitcher may pitch a maximum of two innings,

(b) After three days of rest a pitcher may pitch a maximum of three innings,

(c) Only aAfter four days of rest may a pitcher may pitch to the limit of the rule.

 

 

 

 
 
 
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August 1, 2013 8:12 AM

I'm not a lawyer, but those changes seem to reduce the level of interpretation in the rule. 

 

I wouldn't agree with the rule, but I'd agree that, for the purposes of example, those edits make the rule clearer, even though it would change how the VHSL have showed they want to enforce it.

 
 
 
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September 29, 2013 9:32 AM

Wouldn't it just be easier, better, and actually rooted in science to use pitch count and the ASMI recommended pitches & days rest chart???

 

The VHSL Policy and Programs Committee reviewed a proposal from the VHSL Staff, submitted by Shawn Knight, that read as follows:

 

56-4-2 (6)If a pitcher returns to competition pitching prior to receiving the amount of rest required to pitch to the limit of the rule, that pitcher shall have one calendar day of rest beginning with the day following the early return to competition pitching.

Rationale:  As presently worded, the rule permits a coach to return a pitcher to competition pitching for one inning prior to receiving the number of days rest required to pitch to the limit of the rule.  Because the rule does not prescribe any rest following one inning pitched, the pitcher could pitch to the limit of the rule the day after returning to competition pitching for one inning, despite a lack of the required rest.  This amendment would require one day of rest following any “early return” to competition pitching.

 

The policy committee and VHSL staff agreed that the pitching committee should reconvene and consider this before adoption by EC as emergency legislation.  This also allows us to discuss it at the group boards in October.  It will be "resubmitted" for emergency legislation in December if the baseball committee agrees with it.  So, in order to make the above happen, the legislation was killed 0-28 so that discussion/meeting could take place.

 

 
 
 
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September 30, 2013 1:40 PM

Originally Posted by AmericasPastTime:

The majority of arm injuries that occur in high school athletics are related more to the lack of training and/or improper mechanics rather than over throwing...

This is simply your opinion, correct?

 
 
 
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September 30, 2013 6:38 PM

This is the e-mail I sent to the Chair of the VHSL Programs and Policy Committee with proposed edits for 2014.  I would be very surprised if they use it since it did not originate internal to VHSL.  In the VHSL, the idea is far less important than the source.

 

All,
 
Last edits...
 
I hate to do this, but every time I look at this rule I see more questions or ways to get around it (see the end of this e-mail for more detail).  A couple of things would help tighten it down.
-  In the main body of the rule, instead of saying the pitcher "shall have two calendar days rest from competition pitching", just say up front that the pitcher "shall have four calendar days rest from competition pitching".
-  Then list the early return options as exceptions.  This establishes the requirement for four days up front.
-  Then to reinforce, specify how many days of rest are required following each early return option
-  Add an "or" between the options so someone doesn't try to exercise both options back to back.
-  Define what a day of rest is since there have been issues with that this last year
 
At the end of this e-mail are some of the questions someone could come up with, I'm sure there are more, and I'm sure I will think of more as soon as I hit send on this e-mail.
 
Recommend the following edits, disregard earlier recommended edits:
 
56-4-2 Pitching Regulations-For the purposes of this rule, delivery of one pitch in a game constitutes having pitched in one inning and having pitched in competition. In addition, days of rest are days in which the pitcher does not pitch in competition. The following provisions apply to regular season as well as post season play.
 
(1) - (3) no change
 
(4) If a pitcher pitches four to seven innings in one day that pitcher shall have four two calendar days of rest from competition pitching beginning with the day following the first day a pitch is thrown. Options for limited early return to pitching include: Further restrictions regarding this section include:
 
(a) After two days of rest a pitcher may pitch a maximum of one to two innings followed by two days of rest before pitching in competition; or,
(b) After three days of rest a pitcher may pitch a maximum of one to three innings followed by one day of rest before pitching in competition.
(c) Only aAfter four days of rest may a pitcher may pitch to the limit of the rule.
 
[Edit note:  if you want to give the pitcher credit for earning an additional day of rest for the early return, add an additional day of rest following the early return.  For example, 4 days for pitching the 4-7 innings, plus another day for pitching 1-3 as part of the early return.  It makes sense to me since the early return interrupts the recovery process, and probably sets it back a day or two in my opinion.]
 
(5) If a pitcher pitches in eight or nine innings in one day that pitcher shall have five three calendar days of rest from competition pitching beginning with the day following the first day a pitch is thrown.  Options for limited early return to pitching include:
 
(a) After three days of rest a pitcher may pitch a maximum of one to two innings followed by two days of rest before pitching in competition; or,
(b) After four days of rest a pitcher may pitch a maximum of one to three innings followed by one day of rest before pitching in competition.
(c) Only aAfter five days of rest may a pitcher may pitch to the limit of the rule.
 
Questions that the 2013 Rule raises, especially if you're trying to get around it.
 
2013 Policy: 
 
“If a pitcher pitches four to seven innings in one day that pitcher shall have two calendar days of rest from competition pitching beginning with the day following the first day a pitch is thrown. Further restrictions regarding this section include:
 - After two days of rest a pitcher may pitch a maximum of two innings.
 - After three days of rest a pitcher may pitch a maximum of three innings.
 - After four days of rest a pitcher may pitch to the limit of the rule.”
 
Questions that would require a VHSL interpretation, and therefore, should be addressed by edits to the rule:
 
a.  The two early return restrictions that say "maximum of two innings", or, "maximum of three innings", does that include pitching just one inning?
I think the intent was 1-2 innings and 1-3 innings, but this question came up last year. 
 
b.  After returning to pitching early (after two days rest or after three days rest) how many days rest do I need in order to pitch again?
I believe the intent is that a total of 4 days rest is required before pitching again.  So after executing the early return option after two days rest, you can't pitch again for two more days.  After executing the early return option after three days rest, you can't pitch again for one more day. 
 
c.  If I'm not pitching to the limit do I still need four days of rest?
Yes, I believe the intent was not specific to pitching to the limit, but simply that a total of four days of rest are required.
 
d.  Can I execute both early return options since the rule doesn't specifically say one or the other?  For example, can I pitch 7, return early after two days rest and pitch 2, then rest one day more (total of three) and pitch 3? 
I think the intent was that one option or the other be available, but not both.
 
 
 
 
 
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October 1, 2013 10:22 AM

Frankly I do not find any fault with the drafting of the rule.

 

The problem was that someone failed to read it and implement it properly, and apparently that mistake was repeated up the food chain.  Since such questions should have been anticipated and addressed ahead of time, that is a leadership failure.

 

The problem is compounded by the stubborn unwillingness to admit a mistake, even though everyone else involved can see it.  They think that this goes away.  Really they are just making themselves look foolish. 

 

But when you have a monopoly, you can do as you please and leave everyone else scrambling to anticipate your next move.

 

My guess is that they will indeed issue some sort of rules change, so that they can lecture us about how WE had confusion and how THEY are going to be so wonderful in working to dispel OUR confusion.  You know, the condescending, self-excusing approach that is so common to arrogant organizations.

 
 
 
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October 1, 2013 5:05 PM

Originally Posted by redbird5:
Originally Posted by AmericasPastTime:

The majority of arm injuries that occur in high school athletics are related more to the lack of training and/or improper mechanics rather than over throwing...

This is simply your opinion, correct?

The thought that a lack of training and improper mechanics is a bigger issue than over-use seems to be inconsistent with the general facts.  There is greater training today than 15 years ago; there is definitely more pitching instructors than 15 years ago; and yet there are more injuries.  The major negative change in the last 15 years is over-use.  Throwing a ball from the MOUND at maximum velocity causes major stress on the arm.  Obviously it's worse if you're out of shape and you're throwing with poor mechanics.  But even the best conditioned pitcher with the best technique needs 4-5 days in-between outings.  If not, MLB pitchers would pitch more games throughout the season.  I understand pitchers need to throw in-between outings but not from the MOUND.

 

With all of this said, I think the overall issue is a LEADERSHIP issue.  If athletic-directors would fire coaches for abusing pitchers than much of this is unnecessary.  If parents were to say "my son has reached his limit" to youth, travel ball, and HS coaches this would all be unnecessary.  Instead we need rules and guidelines because a general lack of LEADERSHIP and ACCOUNTABILITY.  

 
 
 
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October 1, 2013 5:53 PM

So, too many pitches from the mound?  Was Nolan Ryan on a pitch count?  Don Drysdale?  Bob Feller?  Christy Mathewson?  Again, it's your opinion.

MY opinion is that the specialization of one sport is more likely the culprit. But, again, it's my opinion...not stated as a fact.
 
 
 
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October 1, 2013 10:44 PM

Originally Posted by redbird5:
So, too many pitches from the mound?  Was Nolan Ryan on a pitch count?  Don Drysdale?  Bob Feller?  Christy Mathewson?  Again, it's your opinion.

MY opinion is that the specialization of one sport is more likely the culprit. But, again, it's my opinion...not stated as a fact.

I guess I could write before every sentence "in my opinion" but that seems a bit much.  My comment about the mound was not the number of pitches during one game but the cumulative number of pitches from the mound over period of time. A kid pitches a 100 pitches one day and two days later he's throwing for a different team from the mound (practice or game) would concern me as a parent.  Nolan Ryan is a great example, during the season, the only time he pitched from the mound was during a game...in-between starts he only threw on flat ground. Sources for these comments:  my opinion and an article on Nolan Ryan's workout routine. 

 
 
 
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October 1, 2013 11:08 PM

Originally Posted by redbird5:
So, too many pitches from the mound?  Was Nolan Ryan on a pitch count?  Don Drysdale?  Bob Feller?  Christy Mathewson?  Again, it's your opinion.

MY opinion is that the specialization of one sport is more likely the culprit. But, again, it's my opinion...not stated as a fact.

One last comment.  I have heard the same about specialization in one sport being a contributing factor injuries but it seems like the only injuries they refer to are pitcher  injuries (I admit it may be selective memory which happens at my age).  I don't recall hearing that quarterbacks who throw year round are susceptible to more injuries; or swimmers who swim year round have more injuries; or shortstops who play year round have more injuries.  It's primarily pitchers.  I'm not a clearing house for reporting injuries so my perception may not be reality. But IF it is, the primary difference between these other athletes is that the pitcher starts from 10 1/2 inches above sea level.

 
 
 
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October 1, 2013 11:42 PM

Originally Posted by AmericasPastTime:

The majority of arm injuries that occur in high school athletics are related more to the lack of training and/or improper mechanics rather than over throwing.  The need for a rule regarding pitching limits in High School Baseball in the first place is only because there are WAY TOO MANY high school pitchers out there who do not train nearly enough for the work load they are put through over the course of a season.  

 

The reality is that I'm sure there isn't or at least I sure hope there isn't a single high school coach who would even blatantly put and child they are coaching in harms way intentionally.  The issue though is that most high school coaches are never educated on the importance of training and technique and how this can affect their pitchers in the long run in regards to safety and injury prevention.  Thus they don't realize how training less limits the ability to throw more... instead, regardless of how much training a player does, most coaches only use a rule to gauge how much their pitchers will throw.  This mind set is brutal!!! 

 

If we really wanted to do something to make the sport safer we'd find a way to make education for coaches MANDATORY in regards to training and proper technique.  Unfortunately though, as is with most things in life, rules are made for those who aren't responsible enough to manage themselves, so someone else has to do it for them.  A "pitch limit" or "innings limit" is an easy answer as opposed to further educating and then trusting people to understand and implement what they've learned or been taught.

 

The simple fact is that a player who trains and practices proper throwing technique gives themselves the opportunity to throw a lot more than a player who does not.  Think about it... when do injuries usually occur?  They occur as a player's body starts getting tired and they lose the ability to throw the baseball correctly.  I'll tell you from personal experience, baseball players who throw more have far less arm problems than kids who throw less... especially if that player who throws more is using proper technique.  

 

It's no different than training for a long distance race... Who's going to be able to run further with less chance for injury, the guy who trains and runs more so that their body is ready for the distance, or the guy who runs less and then expects their body to be ready for a long distance???

 

I'm not recommending that rest isn't important, clearly it is.  I'm simply saying that proper training and technique would go WAY further to ensuring less arm injuries in high schol baseball then simply enforcing inning limits.  

 

It's a bit scary... but in today's world of baseball being a year round sport kids do not spend nearly enough time training.  It's such an important aspect of any athletes development, but unfortunately the idea today is that if you don't play on a team in the summer and fall in addition to your high school spring season you'll be left behind.  I'd love to believe that players then take the winter to train, but the fact is that most don't.  The weather outside usually isn't conducive to long tossing and kids like to go into "baseball hibernation" during the cold winter months.  That said, there's no season during the year in which kids simply train.  

 

Hence the overall idea of this message... Players need to TRAIN and TRAIN CORRECT MECHANICS more often.  Doing this will dramatically reduce the number are arm related injuries.  In addition, it's absolutely wrong for coaches to be uneducated in this area.  Every High School Baseball Coach should be educated.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if coaches focused more time and energy on training and technique rather than simply focusing on a pitching rule?

 

To answer your question Midlo Dad... Yes this topic has been beaten to DEATH on this site. Unfortunately though it's a major topic of conversation because most people are waiting to see what's next in the world of pitching rules in High School Baseball.  2013 is in the books... everyone who participated in last years season all played by the same rules and whether you agree or disagree with the interpretation it's irrelevant.  The important thing is evolving and learning what's next and how can we make it better.  Of course, unless I missed something, no one that I've seen comment on this topic is a decision maker in deciding what's next... that decision is left up to other people.  So we'll just have to sit, wait and conversate...f

I don't know if the coaches are as focused on the pitch count rule as we are on this message board.  I feel very fortunate that my sons play(ed) for HS coaches who are dedicated to understanding the game of baseball and the proper mechanics with pitching, hitting and fielding.  And, they have a keen eye to detect improper techniques.  This is not a gift given to all.  In addition, they know their pitchers well enough to apply an approach that one size does not fit all (one kid is done at 60 and another can go 100).  Obviously, more training is better than less but I don't think it's the "silver bullet" to resolve this issue. BTW, why do you believe coaches are not seeking training?  It seems to me the Baseball Bash held in Richmond is well attended by HS coaches.

 
 
 
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October 2, 2013 6:48 AM

There are a couple of comments amongst posters that I wholeheartedly agree with.  They would be the following:

a) kids who throw MORE have fewer injuries

b) specializing in one sport could be a meaningful factor

 

I think as parents, with all the talk about pitch counts, they restrict their kids from throwing often enough.  I emphasize the word "throwing".  Not pitching per se.  A common parent of a 9 year old, hears all of the chatter about arm injuries, and they naturally want to protect their kids, and therefore advise their children to take rest too often.  I also have witnessed too few kids who stretch their arms out properly when warming up.  In this instance, I am referring to long tossing.  Throwing regularly, year round, with the implementation of long tossing can cure a lot of ills.

 

I also believe that kids playing only sport can be a detriment.  When one plays multiple sports, they are forcing themselves to work muscle groups that they otherwise would not.  This strengthens and trains the entire body, rather than isolating one group.  Every day, we see infielders who do not have the strength in their legs to utilize their lower half properly when receiving ground balls. (they don't move their feet properly, and don't get the butt down.)   Basketball, for example, is a great crossover sport to help train that muscle group. 

 

JMO

 
 
 
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October 2, 2013 11:18 AM

IN MY OPINION, baseball is a stressful sport.  Some frequency of injuries is unavoidable.  Certain stupid actions increase the risk.  Avoiding those actions helps, but you will never eliminate all injuries. 

 

We drive cars all the time, knowing that there will be accidents, injuries and even deaths.  We do what we can to limit the number, but we know we won't prevent them all.  Yet we continue because of the benefits of driving.

 

Similarly, we play the game for the love of it.  We know bad things can happen.  We do what we can to limit their frequency, but anyone who thinks they know how to stop all injuries is deluding themselves.

 
 
 
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October 2, 2013 7:58 PM

Originally Posted by GoHeels:

There are a couple of comments amongst posters that I wholeheartedly agree with.  They would be the following:

a) kids who throw MORE have fewer injuries

b) specializing in one sport could be a meaningful factor

 

I think as parents, with all the talk about pitch counts, they restrict their kids from throwing often enough.  I emphasize the word "throwing".  Not pitching per se.  A common parent of a 9 year old, hears all of the chatter about arm injuries, and they naturally want to protect their kids, and therefore advise their children to take rest too often.  I also have witnessed too few kids who stretch their arms out properly when warming up.  In this instance, I am referring to long tossing.  Throwing regularly, year round, with the implementation of long tossing can cure a lot of ills.

 

I also believe that kids playing only sport can be a detriment.  When one plays multiple sports, they are forcing themselves to work muscle groups that they otherwise would not.  This strengthens and trains the entire body, rather than isolating one group.  Every day, we see infielders who do not have the strength in their legs to utilize their lower half properly when receiving ground balls. (they don't move their feet properly, and don't get the butt down.)   Basketball, for example, is a great crossover sport to help train that muscle group. 

 

JMO

JMO,
 

I agree that playing multiple sports helps an athlete but not from the standpoint of the crossover training.  I found as a 3-sport HS athlete (football, basketball and baseball) there was not enough time to train properly for the other two sports especially once the games started.  With the overlap in sports, I missed the basketball and baseball conditioning that was conducted in the first two weeks of practice which I agree provides overall good conditioning for any athlete.  Once the games started, there was no lifting or meaningful running/conditioning.  I do think it is very beneficial that playing multiple sports provides more opportunities to compete at a high level which I believe can carryover from one sport to another.  In addition, this is not an option for many HS  athletes. Even in my day ('80) we only had a handful of baseball players who played football or could make the basketball team.  Lastly I agree that throwing year round using a sound throwing program helps prevent injuries but I think it is challenging to play multiple sports AND maintain a year round throwing program.

 
 
 
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October 3, 2013 6:11 AM

Originally Posted by springer80:
Originally Posted by GoHeels:

There are a couple of comments amongst posters that I wholeheartedly agree with.  They would be the following:

a) kids who throw MORE have fewer injuries

b) specializing in one sport could be a meaningful factor

 

I think as parents, with all the talk about pitch counts, they restrict their kids from throwing often enough.  I emphasize the word "throwing".  Not pitching per se.  A common parent of a 9 year old, hears all of the chatter about arm injuries, and they naturally want to protect their kids, and therefore advise their children to take rest too often.  I also have witnessed too few kids who stretch their arms out properly when warming up.  In this instance, I am referring to long tossing.  Throwing regularly, year round, with the implementation of long tossing can cure a lot of ills.

 

I also believe that kids playing only sport can be a detriment.  When one plays multiple sports, they are forcing themselves to work muscle groups that they otherwise would not.  This strengthens and trains the entire body, rather than isolating one group.  Every day, we see infielders who do not have the strength in their legs to utilize their lower half properly when receiving ground balls. (they don't move their feet properly, and don't get the butt down.)   Basketball, for example, is a great crossover sport to help train that muscle group. 

 

JMO

JMO,
 

I agree that playing multiple sports helps an athlete but not from the standpoint of the crossover training.  I found as a 3-sport HS athlete (football, basketball and baseball) there was not enough time to train properly for the other two sports especially once the games started.  With the overlap in sports, I missed the basketball and baseball conditioning that was conducted in the first two weeks of practice which I agree provides overall good conditioning for any athlete.  Once the games started, there was no lifting or meaningful running/conditioning.  I do think it is very beneficial that playing multiple sports provides more opportunities to compete at a high level which I believe can carryover from one sport to another.  In addition, this is not an option for many HS  athletes. Even in my day ('80) we only had a handful of baseball players who played football or could make the basketball team.  Lastly I agree that throwing year round using a sound throwing program helps prevent injuries but I think it is challenging to play multiple sports AND maintain a year round throwing program.


I generally agree.  I played both basketball and baseball at the varsity level, and football up to the high school level.  Obviously, to your point, I had to let one of them go!  I also let basketball go after my sophomore year.  In my case, the only real detriment was the fact that basketball ran into baseball season, to the extent that we went deep into the playoffs (which we did).  Otherwise, training wasn't an issue regarding the summer and fall seasons.  Nonetheless, my point regarding "crossover training" is not directed at three-sport varsity players.  It is to say that too many young KIDS specialize in one sport from beginning at age 5, and when they arrive at the varsity level, they could have benefited from playing multiple sports, and the related skill sets, and training that they would have gained having played multiple sports for 8-10 years prior to varsity level.

 
 
 
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October 3, 2013 6:49 AM

Originally Posted by GoHeels:
Originally Posted by springer80:
Originally Posted by GoHeels:

There are a couple of comments amongst posters that I wholeheartedly agree with.  They would be the following:

a) kids who throw MORE have fewer injuries

b) specializing in one sport could be a meaningful factor

 

I think as parents, with all the talk about pitch counts, they restrict their kids from throwing often enough.  I emphasize the word "throwing".  Not pitching per se.  A common parent of a 9 year old, hears all of the chatter about arm injuries, and they naturally want to protect their kids, and therefore advise their children to take rest too often.  I also have witnessed too few kids who stretch their arms out properly when warming up.  In this instance, I am referring to long tossing.  Throwing regularly, year round, with the implementation of long tossing can cure a lot of ills.

 

I also believe that kids playing only sport can be a detriment.  When one plays multiple sports, they are forcing themselves to work muscle groups that they otherwise would not.  This strengthens and trains the entire body, rather than isolating one group.  Every day, we see infielders who do not have the strength in their legs to utilize their lower half properly when receiving ground balls. (they don't move their feet properly, and don't get the butt down.)   Basketball, for example, is a great crossover sport to help train that muscle group. 

 

JMO

JMO,
 

I agree that playing multiple sports helps an athlete but not from the standpoint of the crossover training.  I found as a 3-sport HS athlete (football, basketball and baseball) there was not enough time to train properly for the other two sports especially once the games started.  With the overlap in sports, I missed the basketball and baseball conditioning that was conducted in the first two weeks of practice which I agree provides overall good conditioning for any athlete.  Once the games started, there was no lifting or meaningful running/conditioning.  I do think it is very beneficial that playing multiple sports provides more opportunities to compete at a high level which I believe can carryover from one sport to another.  In addition, this is not an option for many HS  athletes. Even in my day ('80) we only had a handful of baseball players who played football or could make the basketball team.  Lastly I agree that throwing year round using a sound throwing program helps prevent injuries but I think it is challenging to play multiple sports AND maintain a year round throwing program.


I generally agree.  I played both basketball and baseball at the varsity level, and football up to the high school level.  Obviously, to your point, I had to let one of them go!  I also let basketball go after my sophomore year.  In my case, the only real detriment was the fact that basketball ran into baseball season, to the extent that we went deep into the playoffs (which we did).  Otherwise, training wasn't an issue regarding the summer and fall seasons.  Nonetheless, my point regarding "crossover training" is not directed at three-sport varsity players.  It is to say that too many young KIDS specialize in one sport from beginning at age 5, and when they arrive at the varsity level, they could have benefited from playing multiple sports, and the related skill sets, and training that they would have gained having played multiple sports for 8-10 years prior to varsity level.

 Go Heels,

 

I agree wholeheartedly about pre-HS kids not pursuing multiple sports.

 
 
 
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October 7, 2013 4:32 AM

VHSL May Change Pitching Policy

 

Due to what VHSL describes as a “loop hole” and others describe as an error in interpretation by the VHSL this last season, the VHSL Pitching Policy (new for 2013) is being sent to committee for review and possible revision.

 

The VHSL Staff proposed revisions this September, but the Executive Committee and Policy Committee decided more work was needed.

 

Elements that need to be addressed include clearly defining what a day of rest from competition means, clearly stating how many days of rest are required after each early return to pitching option, stipulating how many total days of rest are required before pitching to the limit of the rule, as well as other edits.

 

This delay will give VHSL members and regional boards an opportunity to review before it is re-submitted to the Executive Committee later this year. 

 

If you are a parent of a pitcher, let your school athletic director know the concerns you may have with this policy.  Many believe a pitch-count based policy following USA Baseball and American Sports Medicine Institute guidelines might be better.

 

 
 
 
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October 7, 2013 4:13 PM

I hope the committee will also consider taking appropriate action against the employees who bollixed the implementation of the rule and then pretended it was all due to lack of clarity in the rule.

 

In a business environment, when you (a) mess up, (b) refuse to acknowledge your errors or take corrective action and then (c) blame others for mistakes that were yours and yours alone, you get fired.

 

Indulging those people with a rewrite of the rule only gives them cover to continue claiming it wasn't their fault, and that there was a lack of clarity that has since been acknowledged.  Worse, by not replacing people who have demonstrated this sort of behavior, you increase the likelihood of a recurrence, either because the same people are there to do it again, or because new people see no consequence from providing sloppy work.

 

This is how organizations behave when the leadership is poor.

 
 
 
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October 7, 2013 8:33 PM

Originally Posted by Midlo Dad:

I hope the committee will also consider taking appropriate action against the employees who bollixed the implementation of the rule and then pretended it was all due to lack of clarity in the rule.

Midlo Dad

I share your frustration.  But you and I were not there.  We don't know whether Tom or Shawn or someone else was called late at night, what was going on at the time, etc. etc.  I'm trying to give VHSL some slack on this.

What makes it difficult is when I have a conversation with Shawn and talk over his proposed edit.  He refused to see, not just couldn't see but refused to see that what he was proposing didn't take care of the potential problems with the way the rule was written.  I have to say that the least confusing thing was what they managed to mis-interpret last season.  They continue to claim that returning early to pitch, and pitching just one inning, was not covered.  The rule said a max of 3 innings after 3 days rest (this was after pitching 7).  To me a max of 3 means 1-3.  Just like a max speed of 30 means I can drive 10 if I want or need to (no min speed posted) then a max of 3 innings means 1-3.  Yet, they claim not to see it. 

VHSL caved to  a coach's pressure rather than support a safety rule intended to provide some degree of protection to the pitcher.  That worries me.  It also worries me that they can't articulate the intentions behind the rule, or that there's no scientific basis to support an innings based policy instead of a pitch-count based policy.

I drafted a re-write for them trying to support their intentions.  So I'd compare this to taking an open book test with the answer sheet in front of you.  What will they do?  I wish I could say it was a slam dunk. I can't. 

On the positive side if they blow this, it provides just that much more support to going to a pitch-count policy instead.   

 
 
 
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October 8, 2013 10:34 AM

I could appreciate someone making a mistake, owning up to it and taking steps to prevent recurrences.

 

I do not appreciate someone making a mistake, not owning up to it, not taking corrective actions, and instead shuffling around in a lot of other areas so as to add to the confusion and perhaps thereby provide cover for themselves.

 

A common tactic these days is to do something like this and then wait for someone to point it out, then you blame them for being "negative" or "personal" or whatever.  (We all take our cues from the current vogue in politics, since that is ever in the news and therefore in our consciousness.)  The only solution is when your supervisory board has at least one person with the stuff to call BS on that and tell it like it is.  Because nothing will ever get fixed until you are dealing with reality.  That one board member has to be someone who is more dedicated to the good of the organization than he is to his own popularity.  Unfortunately those people are more and more rare these days, because they find themselves appreciated less and less and attacked more and more.

 
 
 
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October 24, 2013 7:31 PM

I couldn't find that board member. 

 
 
 
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