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The Truth Be Told Regarding Pitch Counts

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  • The Truth Be Told Regarding Pitch Counts

    The reason I started the other pitch count thread, was because I am genuinely interested in knowing if ASMI's numbers were found to be correct, as I have always been greatly concerned that they were WAY too high in their pitch count numbers when making recommendations for all age levels.

    In the other thread when I wrote, "the numbers they used for all of the age levels, were basically the same numbers we used as a general "guideline", the word "basically" was maybe a stretch, but within the content of the post, relatively speaking.....but in reality, my "general guideline" numbers were/are much lower.

    Here are the "general guideline" numbers that I've used for the past 14 seasons, coaching 9 year olds through high school JV teams.

    Age..............................Pitches Allowed........................LL/ASMI Pitch Count...........
    9-10.....................................50......... ...............................75................. .............
    11-12...................................60........... ..............................85.................. ............
    13-14 (HS Freshies)...............75........................ .................95...............................
    HS JV....................................90.......... ..............................95 (105 for the 17 y/os)

    In all but the rarest conditions, my pitchers came out when they reached those numbers (were allowed to complete the AB), or much sooner, if ANY sign of fatigue was observed.

    The couple of times that I violated my own numbers, I felt as though I was walking on eggshells, even though the few times I did it, I was still within the ASMI/LL recommendations....all but one time. I once let an early matured, 14 y/o freshman, with excellent (traditional) mechanics, who I'd known since he was nine, throw 104 pitches enroute to CG shutout while playing for me on the HS JV team.

    I'm happy to report that he graduated last year without a single arm problem through all four years, is playing college ball in the area, after being a late round draft consideration for the Red Sox (they talked on draft day, but the round was too late and the money discussed too low for him to skip college, so he was never selected, wasting a pick on someone they knew wouldn't sign. Yes, it's done all the time.).

    He is my example of what I would consider a "goal" for a player......pitch well in HS, throw enough effective innings/pitches to impress the next level scouts/recruiters, and stay injury free all four years. He (and I), was lucky enough to have a dad who bought into what I was saying about youth arms, maturity, and development, when the player was 11, and played for me on one of my TB teams.....his dad became my "pitching" coach for two years.

    To try to make some sense of my rational for these numbers, one has to look no further than the MLB, when over the past 15 years or so, the magic pitch count number for those pitchers has been "100".

    Sure, they'll throw past that, but how often do you hear announcers say that, "That was so-and-so's 100th pitch of the game", and soon after you see guys up in the bullpen, a trip to the mound, and usually the pitcher out the next inning, unless it's a tight game, near the end, or he's accomplishing something "special" (in this era of MLB baseball CG's are now "special", instead of the "expected" in years past )?

    So if these fully grown, completely matured men are being looked with scrutinizing eyes at 100 pitches, and are given four to five days rest afterwards, how is it that a late maturing, open growth plate 11 y/o is allowed, or thought to be able to, throw just 15 pitches less per outing......or a still developing 13 y/o's allowed only 5 less?

    These numbers just don't add up or justify themselves to me, and why I asked about a follow up study. I don't believe that the numbers presented by ASMI are restrictive enough, and why I believe we're not seeing the number of TJ surgeries decrease in young players as they had expected/hoped.....

    I harp on the educating coaches aspect, because unless they are taught to recognized pitcher fatigue, arm problems are still inevitable with the "high" (IMO) PC numbers these kids are allowed to throw. I can't tell you how many times I removed pitchers simply because their arm slot was dropping, and they "seemed" (yes, very subjective) to be having a hard time getting the ball across the plate for whatever reason.....long before they hit their/my pitch count number (much less that of the current LL/ASMI rules).

    Good, bad, indifferent? I don't know, but we won our far share of youth baseball games (enough to be asked to coach at the HS, I never went looking), were forced to develop more pitchers to carry the load, helped convince young pitchers to throw strikes ("every "ball" you throw, is just eating up pitches"), and most importantly, I was able to sleep at night knowing that we erred on the side of caution, and that we weren't hurting/injuring young, developing ball players.

    OK, so like Pat Benatar says, "Hit me with your best shot......fire awaaaaaaaaaay!"
    Last edited by mudvnine; 09-25-2012, 10:14 AM. Reason: Grammar/Spelling.....
    In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

  • #2
    Great post. Thanks.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by mudvnine View Post
      The reason I started the other pitch count thread, …
      You’re to be congratulated on having higher standards than the minimum. Had you made this post the 1st post in the other thread, I believe you’d have seen quite different responses overall, and I know you’d have gotten very different responses from me.

      But once again, why not ask your questions in the ASMI forum.
      The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by mudvnine View Post
        Here are the "general guideline" numbers that I've used for the past 14 seasons, coaching 9 year olds through high school JV teams.

        Age..............................Pitches Allowed........................LL/ASMI Pitch Count...........
        9-10.....................................50......... ...............................75................. .............
        11-12...................................60........... ..............................85.................. ............
        13-14 (HS Freshies)...............75........................ .................95...............................
        HS JV....................................90.......... ..............................95 (105 for the 17 y/os)
        Mud -
        For 9yo, is this per game or per week? And how many days in between? And do you limit bullpen sessions?

        Comment


        • #5
          Great post. The pitch limits should be just a guideline. I think because of ignorance or plain ol abuse they created them. If you had asked me 10yrs ago I would have had zero clue on how many pitches a 10yr old should throw. So they are a benefit for newbies maybe. Now I can tell when they need to come out without a number. We could use a few coaches like you in our area.
          My take is that it will create more pitchers also, lets face it many coaches would only use best 1 or 2 pitchers ever if allowed. My kid sucks big time at pitching right now but gets put in on occasion because of the rules and has gotten better.
          I wonder by having the numbers as high as they are baseball will suffer in the future due to lack of number of quality pitchers?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by scorekeeper View Post
            But once again, why not ask your questions in the ASMI forum.
            You mean like in this one? Because I think it has already answered, by Dr. Fleisig, which pretty much supports what I've said, believed, and have used for the past 14 seasons.......

            Originally posted by Glenn Fleisig, Ph.D.
            Re: USA Baseball guidelines Vs. Reality
            « Reply #1 on Jun 15, 2012, 10:33am »

            The question has been raised here and on other threads - what is the optimal pitch count chart? USA Baseball, Little League, and others have posted their own pitch count rules or guidelines.

            ASMI has not established or endorsed one a specific chart. The reason for this is as follows.

            1. In the 1990s and 2000s, the baseball community at large was hungry for facts about how amount of pitching relates to risk of injury.

            2. In response to this, ASMI (with initial funding from USA Baseball) conducted a series of studies. Results from these studies established statistical relationships between amount of pitching and arm injuries. Basically, the more a kid pitched, the greater the risk of injury. However the data showed no magic cut-off numbers (such as beyond "this many" pitches is dangerous). This is because there is huge variation between one kid and another. Because there was no clear cut-off point in the data, ASMI did not state a scientifically proven ideal pitch count.

            3. Results from these studies were shared with USA Baseball, Little League, and all others (through scientific publications, presentations, and mass media).

            4. Individual organizations (Little League, USA Baseball, etc.) absorbed the information, asked questions to ASMI as needed, and then made their own decisions where to "draw a line in the sand." An organization with a lower pitch count rule will have fewer injuries but will be stopping some kids from pitching when they would be able to pitch safely. Conversely, an organization with a higher pitch count will allow some kids to pitch to their full potential but at the risk of more injuries to some other pitchers. Thus this is not a scientific decision, but a practical decision.

            (Note that while the early studies did not show a clear optimal pitch count, the 2011 paper, "Risk of Serious Injury for Young Baseball Pitchers: A 10-Year Prospective Study" by Fleisig, Andrews et al. Did show that 100 innings per calendar year is a scientifically proven cut-point.)
            When these organizations chose "regulation" over "education" (even after ASMI's latest recommendations), it becomes obvious to me that it's already been asked and answered, but fell on deaf ears to the organizations' decision-makers.

            I post here in hopes that those new to coaching, that are coming here to "Baseball 101, Coaching & Fundamentals" looking for information regarding coaching youth baseball, will read them, and consider them as a possible alternative within their coaching tenets when it comes to handling youth pitchers.....regardless of the "regulations" that they are, or are not required to play under.
            In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

            Comment


            • #7
              Frankly, most 10 year olds (not TB) could throw 200 'pitches'. They are not really pitching, and the ball is barely moving.

              My 10 year old used to throw a tennis ball against a wall for hours each day.
              efastball.com - hitting and pitching fact checker

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by johnlanza View Post
                Mud -
                For 9yo, is this per game or per week? And how many days in between? And do you limit bullpen sessions?
                Those numbers are "per game". If I knew that I was looking to use a pitcher later in the week (less than four days later), I would simply cut those numbers in half.

                In all honesty, I used a "5 day week".....so if the next game was five days later, I'd allow them to start/pitch in that game, but monitor them even more closely. This boils down to ASMI's latest recommendation.....

                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.
                ....which was/is always part of my pitcher management.


                Hope that helps,
                mud -
                In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by songtitle View Post
                  Frankly, most 10 year olds (not TB) could throw 200 'pitches'. They are not really pitching, and the ball is barely moving.
                  "Result" does not equate to "effort", and it's the effort/stress placed upon the arm is the concerning factor.....IMO.
                  In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The issue I have with prepuberty pitch counts is kids are often not the same age physically as their real age. A ten year old could have the body of a seven year old or a thirteen year old. So would the ASMI pitch count recommendation be the same for both? Or is it possible the pitch count recommendation is low for the early bloomer? Is the pitch count recommendation low for the typical ten year old because they figured in what a kid behind three years physically can handle?

                    I also believe pitch counts were implemented because kids don't grow up anymore throwing, throwing, throwing and throwing some more. Once the pitch count baseline has been established in preteen ball it's carried at some level all the way into professional baseball. In fact, in half season and low A pitchers are often yanked after fifty or sixty pitches. The MLB franchises are protecting their investment.

                    I don't know if there's an alternative in today's world. But I believe a change in society where kids aren't on the field playing baseball or in their backyard playing whiffle ball all day long has created the pampered pitcher all the way to the MLB level.
                    Last edited by tg643; 09-25-2012, 03:49 PM. Reason: Out typed keyboard's memory and letters missing

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      No argument from me on those thoughts "tg".......I agree with all you have written here.

                      Unfortunately, "multimedia" (computers, video games, 200 channels on television) has changed the way kids are now finding "entertainment" compared to years past.
                      In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mudvnine View Post
                        So if these fully grown, completely matured men are being looked with scrutinizing eyes at 100 pitches, and are given four to five days rest afterwards, how is it that a late maturing, open growth plate 11 y/o is allowed, or thought to be able to, throw just 15 pitches less per outing......or a still developing 13 y/o's allowed only 5 less?
                        The big leaguers are playing a different game. They are not throwing 100 or less, necessarily, because that's all they can go, but rather because they have a 10 man pitching staff, specialized matchup relievers, 10 guys in AAA, and money and trades. Also have to factor in it's a 162 game season, spring training, playoffs, winter ball, etc. Hopefully kids ball length of season hasn't reached that point yet-or has it?

                        I agree though that the ASMI pitch count is a little high. There are so many factors involved- individual traits and other positions being played not the least among them. With pitching, better to be on the safe side. In hs, I've seen guys throw 140 pitches and the next day they are gunning balls from shortstop in an extended infield practice. A lot of times these pitchers don't even condition or do bullpens. When it's their turn to pitch they just zing it in there. There is no overall plan. You have to factor in the intensity as well. 30 pitches for a younger type pitcher against good competition in a big game isn't the same as an older type pitcher throwing 30 pitches facing weaker competition. Ultimately, figuring these things out just takes a tremendous amount of experience, not just rigid rules.
                        Major Figure

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mudvnine View Post
                          You mean like in this one? Because I think it has already answered, by Dr. Fleisig, which pretty much supports what I've said, believed, and have used for the past 14 seasons.......
                          I don’t know why you chose that particular thread, unless you were one of the participants.

                          When these organizations chose "regulation" over "education" (even after ASMI's latest recommendations), it becomes obvious to me that it's already been asked and answered, but fell on deaf ears to the organizations' decision-makers.
                          Could be deaf ears, but its more likely the ignorance you’re so PO’d about. That’s the problem with education in a situation like this. It takes a great deal of time and expense, while instituting something like PCs is relatively simple, even though it may not be as effective overall. So what should be done while the education was going on? Nothing? Or maybe we should depend on coaches to just do the right thing, even though they may be ignorant.

                          I post here in hopes that those new to coaching, that are coming here to "Baseball 101, Coaching & Fundamentals" looking for information regarding coaching youth baseball, will read them, and consider them as a possible alternative within their coaching tenets when it comes to handling youth pitchers.....regardless of the "regulations" that they are, or are not required to play under.
                          That’s what this and all other such forums are for. But I’d like to know why your approach is so right and mine is so wrong. You’re saying “Here’s the right way”, offering nothing in the form of tracking the numbers for future consideration and perhaps adjustment. I’ve never said this many for this age or whatever, but rather keep track of what’s going on so what’s done isn’t based on little more than anecdotal proof.

                          The way it works out, I’m just happy for some kind of regulation because I know there are some real nutcases out there who shouldn’t be coaching, and I want the kids who fall into their clutches to at least have a minimum of protection. Then with those regulations in place, the data could be studied to see if adjustments to the regulations could be made to improve them, based on scientific evidence, not what someone thinks based on only his experience.

                          Trouble is, there’s little or no data available, not that it wouldn’t work. And I haven’t got a clue as to why people like yourself who go on about how poor a job ASMI has done, aren’t hopping up and down with reams of their own data in their hand and demanding more.
                          The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by omg View Post
                            …I agree though that the ASMI pitch count is a little high. There are so many factors involved- individual traits and other positions being played not the least among them. With pitching, better to be on the safe side. In hs, I've seen guys throw 140 pitches and the next day they are gunning balls from shortstop in an extended infield practice. A lot of times these pitchers don't even condition or do bullpens. When it's their turn to pitch they just zing it in there. There is no overall plan. You have to factor in the intensity as well. 30 pitches for a younger type pitcher against good competition in a big game isn't the same as an older type pitcher throwing 30 pitches facing weaker competition. Ultimately, figuring these things out just takes a tremendous amount of experience, not just rigid rules.
                            There’s a couple things lost in the signal to noise ratio of argument. In this one it’s the original thought that there was a problem with pitchers getting injured. Back in the olden days it wasn’t as much of a concern for a lot of reasons, but today it is, again for a lot of reasons. Somewhere, sometime, and somehow, it was determined that the level of injuries was too high, and regulations were put in place in an attempt to mitigate the injuries.

                            There many have been other limitations, but as far as I know, by far and away the standard was innings relative to some amount of rest. Like today, there was no national standard, so every organization imposed what they believed were limits that would protect as many arms as possible without curtailing a players ability to “grow”.

                            Again, as far as I know, there weren’t any considerations of other factors, but rather a chronological age was used, or in the case of HSB, just becoming a HS player subjected the players to the limitations. The end result was the same thing many people rant and rail about with PCs. IOW, the numbers picked were arbitrary, but at least there was a bandaid put on the boo-boo, and it shut up the loudest of the critics.

                            But what eventually happened is the same thing happening now with pitch counts. While the numbers are based on a bit more science, they’re still undoubtedly arbitrary, and that rubs many people the wrong way. The result is, there’s a push for an “adjustment”, but unfortunately no matter what side one’s on, there’s no way to get an “adjustment” based on fact, at least at this point in time.

                            I’d say your description of what sometimes takes place in HS is generally pretty accurate, which should scare the bejeezus out of any parent with a kid playing at a lower level. Why? Because if its that bad when the kids are far more mature and the general level of knowledge and experience is much higher, what’s it like for the “little” guys?

                            And that’s why it takes so much experience to figure out how deal with what’s going on. But even with the experience, life has beating into most of us old geezers that with some rigid rules, too many people will push the envelope beyond what they should. So, there has to be some rules in place. The quest then becomes, what will those rules be?

                            It could be like Vt where they had the most restrictive HS limitations when they were based on innings. Not long ago it was 7 innings a week, period. 3 less than Ca.’s 30 outs per week. As you can see, now a HSV pitcher in Vt could throw 120 pitches on Monday and another 120 on Friday, which IMHO is ridiculous, but what the folks who made the rule decided they wanted.

                            However, they did make a great leap forward in that they totally ignore the week”. IOW, here in Ca the 30 out restriction is based on a calendar week. So a player could throw 10 innings on Sat, then another 10 on Mon. Personally I’d like to see the rest increased by a day all the way down the line, but that’s not likely to happen any time soon.

                            Vt also goes a bit further in that they force the data to be at least presented. That’s not as good as requiring it to be put in a common database, but at least its better than nothing, which is what is the common state of affairs.

                            And that’s how progress is made. Are Vt’s new limitations perfect? HECK NO! But they are an improvement, and that’s what everyone everywhere should be striving for.

                            b. VPA Pitching Limitation Rule (6-1-6) regular season and tournament) is based on the number of pitches thrown in a game. The pitch count is based on pitches thrown for strikes; balls; foul balls; and outs. Not warm up pitches allowed before each inning or those warm ups allowed by the umpire in case of injury or game delay. The number of pitches is based on the level of pitching. Specific rest periods are in place when a pitcher reaches a high threshold of pitches delivered in a day.

                            LEVEL PITCHES ALLOWED PER DAY
                            Varsity 120
                            JV 110
                            Freshmen 110
                            Middle Level 85
                            The rest periods required during the 2012 regular and tournament season are listed below:
                            VARSITY:
                            If a pitcher throws 76 or more pitches in a day, three (3) calendar days of rest must be observed.
                            If a pitcher throws 51-75 pitches in a day, two (2) calendar days of rest must be observed.
                            If a pitcher throws 26-50 pitches in a day one (1) calendar day of rest must be observed.
                            If a pitcher throws 1-25 pitches in a day no calendar day of rest is required before pitching again.
                            A calendar day means that if a pitcher throws 76 pitches on Tuesday that player may not pitch again until Saturday. If they throw 76 pitches on Saturday that player may not pitch again until Wednesday. The starting time of the game NO longer matters in the calculation of when a pitcher is eligible to pitch again.

                            JV/FRESHMEN:
                            If a pitcher throws 66 or more pitches in a day, three (3) calendar days or rest must be observed.
                            If a pitcher throws 41-65 pitches in a day, two (2) calendar days of rest must be observed.
                            If a pitcher throws 26-40 pitches in a day one (1) calendar day of rest must be observed.
                            If a pitcher throws 1-25 pitches in a day no calendar day of rest is required before pitching again.

                            MIDDLE LEVEL:
                            If a pitcher throws 56 or more pitches in a day, three (3) calendar days or rest must be observed.
                            If a pitcher throws 36-55 pitches in a day, two (2) calendar days of rest must be observed.
                            If a pitcher throws 20-35 pitches in a day one (1) calendar day of rest must be observed.
                            If a pitcher throws 1-19 pitches in a day no calendar day of rest is required before pitching again.
                            A pitcher at any level who reaches the pitch count limit in the middle of an at bat will be allowed to finish that hitter. This only applies to maximum limitations. i.e. varsity 120, JV/Freshman 110, middle level 85.

                            c. VPA Pitching Limitation Procedure (6-1-6) applies to varsity, jayvee and freshman games:
                            1) The pitch count chart is to be presented to the opposing coach BEFORE the game. During the game pitch counts will be confirmed at the end of every half inning. Any discrepancy will be reported to the umpire.
                            2) At game's conclusion, the VPA pitching form will be signed by the coaches or designated representative.
                            3) Schools (Coaches/A.D.) have the responsibility to maintain this pitching chart form. A hard copy must be available upon VPA request.
                            The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by scorekeeper View Post
                              I don’t know why you chose that particular thread, unless you were one of the participants.
                              I can read a book and understand what the author is saying, without having to participate in its writing.

                              Could be deaf ears, but its more likely the ignorance you’re so PO’d about. That’s the problem with education in a situation like this. It takes a great deal of time and expense, while instituting something like PCs is relatively simple, even though it may not be as effective overall. So what should be done while the education was going on? Nothing? Or maybe we should depend on coaches to just do the right thing, even though they may be ignorant.
                              The only cure for "ignorance" is education.

                              Show me once where I've ever stated that pitch counts should be thrown out, and I'll comment on your "what should be done while the education was going on....Nothing?" statement. Since I know for a fact that you won't find that, I'm not going to waste bandwidth responding to that silly question, and unfounded statement.

                              That’s what this and all other such forums are for. But I’d like to know why your approach is so right and mine is so wrong. You’re saying “Here’s the right way”, offering nothing in the form of tracking the numbers for future consideration and perhaps adjustment. I’ve never said this many for this age or whatever, but rather keep track of what’s going on so what’s done isn’t based on little more than anecdotal proof.
                              Gosh, you want to "keep track of what’s going on", so that future pitch counts can be based on, "more than anecdotal proof"......sounds like a formula/request for a "follow up study", and all I was asking about in my OP. Can we say, "full circle"?

                              The way it works out, I’m just happy for some kind of regulation because I know there are some real nutcases out there who shouldn’t be coaching, and I want the kids who fall into their clutches to at least have a minimum of protection. Then with those regulations in place, the data could be studied to see if adjustments to the regulations could be made to improve them, based on scientific evidence, not what someone thinks based on only his experience.
                              Well Hallelujah....I think he's got it!!

                              Trouble is, there’s little or no data available, not that it wouldn’t work. And I haven’t got a clue as to why people like yourself who go on about how poor a job ASMI has done, aren’t hopping up and down with reams of their own data in their hand and demanding more.
                              Has ASMI done a "good" job, or just a "job"? How about LLI? Are the number of TJ surgeries coming down? Are they happen at an older or younger age?

                              Why am I not "hopping up and down with reams of [my] own data in [my] hand"? I have no interest to....just like I don't have the interest to run for president or congress, but still feel I have the right to open someone else's eyes to what I perceive as a possibly flawed system or legislation, to allow them formulate their own ideas/opinions on it, and who knows, maybe pass the same thoughts along to others.

                              I think that call that something like starting at the "grassroots" of a process. Heck, before I go off and spend all my time collecting data, I thought I'd ask if something had been done so I or "we" weren't wasting time duplicating someone else's efforts.

                              Apparently, from the looks of things at how it's only you and I participating in this tread any longer......no one else really gives a **** anymore. Oh well, that's youth baseball for you....invent a crisis, toss a "remedy" at it, and call it "good". Yeehaw.
                              In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

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