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As a head high school coach, I am continually amazed by the ignorance of some of my coaching peers. Last night I went and scouted a team that I will open with in district next Tuesday. Their pitcher, who we will probably face next Tuesday, threw 129 pitches in a 5 inning non-district game. A parent from that team, who I know very well, told me the same kid threw between 90 and 100 pitches last Thursday in a tournament.

I know every year we have posts about this kind of thing. Now, I will not ever tell another coach how to coach their team, and obviously do not know his players as well as he does. But, in my opinion, it is WAY TOO EARLY in the season to see that kind of pitch count from a kid. I just wonder from a PR standpoint, the well-being of the kid and basic common sense, how does this kind of stuff happen?

I know that as a coach I am breaking some type of code for getting on here and ripping another coach. That may be true, but I have more respect for the game and for kids to let something like this go unsaid.

"Write your own book instead of reading someone else's book about success." - Herb Brooks
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Thank you for your post. As a parent of a pitcher, this is a concern for us as well and I have witnessed this several times over the past couple of days from numerous teams on both the JV and Var. level. High pitch counts early in the season in less than ideal weather. Feel like our hands are tied esp. at a highly competitive school.

How do we handle this/
Last edited by leftisright
Funnelldrill- way to go coach!

I wonder if the parents are aware of the risk he is taking? I wouldn't have been several years ago. Pitch count was not really something I knew anything about until this website educated me.

Fortunately, mine has always had coaches like you. Hope it all works out for him and thanks for caring!
Mr. Funnel,

I appreciate your concern and efforts to monitor pitchers and their pitch counts. It is important for high school coaches to understand what is acceptable in the proper developement of high school aged pitchers.

I do have a few questions for you and the board though. What exactly constitutes a maximum pitch count? When should this number be implemented in relation to time of year? What is that magic number and why?

It is my opinion that these questions are drastically different for each individual pitcher. For example, a pitcher that labors with mechanics should be shut down sooner than a guy who maintains a fluid arm action. Also, I believe you must monitor pitches in bullpen prior to live game situations. Some arms require much less "warming up" than others resulting in a more flexible pitch count for the quick "warm up" guy. Then there are the guys who have recently started pitching this year yet are immediately put on the numerical pitch count that is the norm for starting pitchers. This is no good in my opinion also.

I think there are "magic numbers" put into effect by high school coaches from what they hear on TV from big league guys. Remember folks, these are 16-18 year old arms. Which means they could throw more or less depending on the issues I have listed above.

This topic makes me think of when, where, and why the all important "pitch count" originated. What mad baseball scientist came up with the formula and how was that formula implented?

I think pitch counts are important, but I think what, when, why, who, and how we implement these pitch counts is the real issue to be concerned with. Not just the magic number.
Last edited by Ken Guthrie
Ken, you ask interesting questions. But in the situation described, in an early season game the pitcher has thrown 129 pitches in a 5 inning game. Doesn't that by itself suggest he was laboring and was less than "fluid?" To be frank, there may be other situations germane to the observations you make, I just think this one, accepted at face value, sounds very clear cut.
I agree with Infielddad. This isn't rocket science or brain surgery. A little common sense goes a long way. Anyone can "what if" a situation to death. If coaches, high school or otherwise, can't figure out all of the variables for their players, then that probably speaks to what type of a coach they are. When winning takes precedence over the long term health and possible career of a player, there is something wrong, formula or no formula.
Infield and/or NTX,

I believe you have read my message with a misunderstood context. In no way did I disagree or agree with what a coach may or may not have done with a pitch count on a pitcher recently.

I for one, will never cast judgement on something I have no first hand knowledge of. I have learned not to believe everything I read. Again, not saying what Funnel stated is not true, just simply expressing my beliefs.

I agree in the situation stated, 100+ pitches with such short rest this early is most likely not in the best intrest of a young pitcher.

My comments were simply to state that certain situations may vary what exactly constitutes a maximum pitch count.
I sure am more comfortable with coaches who err on the side of caution instead of wins!

There are numerous studies like the one below available for review on the internet.

[/QUOTE]The American Sports Medicine Institute recommends a maximum pitch count of 52 for 8-to-10-year-olds, 68 for 11- and 12-year-olds, 76 for 13- and 14-year-olds, 91 for 15- and 16-year-olds and 106 for 17- to 18-year-olds. Whenever players approach those age-based maximum pitch counts, the institute suggests, they should get at least four days rest between appearances.

Moreover, the kind of iron-man performances that college and pro pitchers sometimes turn in should never be expected out of players high-school aged and younger, said Dr. Kirk Hutton.

"For young pitchers, the rule is simple: If your arm hurts, you shouldn't throw," said Hutton, an orthopedic surgeon at Omaha's OrthoWest and a former football player at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. "Unfortunately, that's how a lot of these young kids get hurt, because they're the top athletes on the team. People think, 'We have to get Billy in and keep using him so we can win.' That's how you screw up an arm and ruin a career."

The entire article can be found
200 pitches in 2 days isn't always arm abuse
Last edited by TT53
Mr. Guthrie,

I'm not sure if you read the article, but it actually talks to some of the points I think you tried to make; it's more than just a pitch count.

Fleisig did say, based on past studies conducted by the institute, there are four interrelated factors that contribute to the risk of pitching injuries: Pitch count and type, a pitcher's genetic makeup, his quality of mechanics and his quality of physical conditioning.

My point is that the medical community does recommend pitch count limits and readily admits that they may not be hard and fast.

I repeat, I wish coaches would err on the side of caution......or at least treat their pitchers as if they were their own sons.
With a son that has recently been released by Dr. to start pitching again I would rather a coach err on the side of caution. I was talking to the coach the other day and all I asked him was to first use him in relief then work him into rotation.

I agree that many factors help to make the determination on how many pitches a young man should do. However 129 pitches in the 5th is very extreme.
When the kid is hitting 80-82 on the gun the first 3-4 innings and is hitting 76-78 in the 5th, that tells me his tiring.

I think we can agree that when a pitcher tires, that is when the risk for injury is greater.

His 5th inning was a 26 pitch inning.

If the game was for the district title in late April, I might be a little more understanding.

This is why we have a radar gun on our own pitcher. I expect my pitchers to tell me they are OK when I visit them late in the game even when they are not. The radar gun don't lie though and is a valuable piece of data.
Last edited by funneldrill
It happened to my son as a freshman. Pitched one game, threw 120 pitches and next game is 5 days later. Coach tells son the day before that he is pitching and son says I don't want to pitch since I just threw last game and others can pitch. Coach says OK, we show up to game and son is pitching. Dad gives coach an earful, not appropriate but having been an ex pitcher who was overused and then hurt, got caught up in the moment. Son is cringing on the bench saying dad please don't say anything. Coach lets son pitch 4 innings, 46 pitches, dad calls varsity coach and he agrees, it shouldn't have happened. Maybe some guys just don't get it, no excuse, but sometimes you don't always get a coaching staff that has played baseball.
Originally posted by TT53:
Mr. Guthrie,

Just curious. What would your limit(s) on pitch count be for the hypothetical strong, mechanical correct, physically conditioned 16-17 year-old pitcher in March?

If different, how about in May or June.

There are too many missing variables to attach a number to your question.

1. When did the kid pitch last?
2. What formal routine has the pitcher been on?
3. When do I expect to throw him next?

Hypothetically, if it was a pitcher who is pitching early in the spring with a formal throwing program I would look for at 70-75 pitch max. This number would increase if there was an out left in the inning to where the pitcher could throw 5 or so more pitches and be done. Also, I would hope to progress the pitcher to where he had something left in the tank towards the end of the season gradually increasing the pitch count each outing.

The summer has a whole different set of circumstances....

1. How many pitches did the kid throw in the spring.
2. Is the kid a legitimate starting type arm.
3. At what point in the schedule are you?

This, once again, also depends on the type of pitcher we are dealing with. There is a big difference in a power thrower and a thumber.

For example, would Tim Wakefield and Roger Clemens have the same pitch count the first game of spring?

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