So far this baseball season I have gotten at least 10 phone calls and had another dozen or so conversations with parents regarding pitch counts and abuses on the mound. At this point, there is so much information out there medically and scientifically that it would be considered malpractice by a coach to allow a pitcher to throw an extreme amount of pitches all for the sake of a meaningless win at 10u through HS baseball. So far this year I have gotten reports of a 13 year old throwing 167 pitches in a 2 day time period, a 14 year old throw 119 pitch complete game last week , a 16 year old throw 145 pitches and another 18 year old throw over 200 pitches in a 3 day span. This is stupidity at the highest level.
If I were a parent of one of these boys this would enrage me. The reason for this is simple. This is NOT the Major Leagues. These boys are not under multi-million dollar contracts and have insurance on their arms. When you hear big league managers/pitching coaches allow a MLB pitcher to go 135+pitches it is not comparable to youth baseball in any way, shape or form. The reason for this is the MLB pitchers for the most part have a very good understanding of their body, their mechanics and how to throw to take stress off of their arms and transfer that to the rest of the larger muscles and have been training properly for the entire off season and by the way are full grown men who are much stronger and their bodies able to handle that type of stress much better. They also have been through a building up process in spring training to get their arms ready.
The other side of this is development. At younger ages, you usually have two "pitchers" on a team who just happen to have good arms and throw harder than the rest of their teammates so they get most of the time on the mound. This means that a guy who may have huge upside on the mound but has control problems never gets a real chance to work through some of his issues because a coach is "scared" to put him on the mound because they might lose if he pitches...call the therapist, the kids will never recover emotionally or mentally if they lose a game! Actually, it's the coach who is finding his self worth through winning a 12U or HS game that needs the help. The kids will be fine, they just want to play the game and be taught well!
Amount of pitching:
Age Max pitches/game Max games/week
8-10 52 +or- 10 2 +or- 0.6
11-12 68 +/- 10 same
13-14 76 +/- 10 same
15-16 91 +/- 5 same
17-18 106 +/- 5 same
These are the pitch counts from Dr. James Andrews group and ASMI in Birmingham, AL. He was my surgeon on my Tommy John surgery. The part to understand in these numbers is that these are not a starting point. They are a MAXIMUM, meaning if it is March, these kids should not be at their maximum number of pitches but they should be much lower than this and giving some of the other guys on the team a chance to develop as well and not just worrying about a win. Also keep in mind it is not the number of innings a kid throws but the number of pitches and you combine high pitch counts with poor physical conditioning and a lack of good throwing mechanics(there is a right and wrong way to throw a baseball) and you are just asking for your kid to end up on the sidelines or on the operating table.
If it were my son, there is no way I allow these abuses to go on. Say something to the "coach" or pull him off the team. It's that simple. For what it's worth, my 13u team went 29-15 last year and not one pitcher threw over 75 pitches, we are 8-3 to start out this year and we have not had one throw over 60 pitches so far. Could we win a few more games by keeping a guy in there longer...probably. Do I care? No. Do you?