This piece is part of our coverage of National Youth Sports Safety Month. All month long we will be providing more content related to athlete safety and wellness.
New recommendations for pitch counts could have a profound effect for youth baseball players all across the country this summer.
Last July, the National Federation of High Schools adopted a mandate for pitch counts that came about through data compiled by the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) that is on the website www.pitchsmart.org.
Pitchers are asked to be capped at 105 pitches in one day and will be required to rest four days if they throw more than 75 pitches in a game. If throwing 51-75 pitches, pitchers must rest two days and if they throw between 26-50 pitches, one day of rest is mandated.
Pitchers that throw 25 or fewer pitches in a day won’t be required to have rest days.
The advisory panel for Pitch Smart, which included reknown surgeon and ASMI founder Dr. James Andrews, also came up with guidelines of how many pitches players should throw in a day by age group.
Ages 7-8 should be capped at 50 pitches, 9-10 year-olds at 75, 11-12 year-olds at 85, ages 13-16 at 95, 17-18 year-olds at 105 and 19-22 year-olds at 120 pitches.
State high school athletic associations have adopted the new regulations for this spring.
While the new pitch count mandates might not directly affect youth players not yet in high school, they will give them a new blueprint to follow this summer playing games and also in the future when they get to high school.
“Keeping kids safe is important,” said Mark Uyl, an assistant director for the Michigan High School Athletic Association. “It can’t just be the high school coaches this spring. It has to be the summer coaches and the fall coaches as well.”
Some of the data collected by the ASMI is as follows:
- Pitchers who underwent elbow surgery are 36 times more likely to have routinely pitched with arm fatigue.
- Players who pitched more than 100 innings a year where 3.5 times more likely to be injured than those who did not exceed 100 innings pitched.
- Pitch-count programs (without identifying optimal pitch counts) were shown to reduce the risk of shoulder injury in Little League baseball by as much as 50 percent.
- Pitchers who pitched on consecutive days had 2.5 times greater risk of experiencing arm pain.
Matt Petry, the son of former Detroit Tigers pitcher Dan Petry who is a high school and travel ball coach, said he thinks the new rules will be a good addition to the season based on dealing with them last summer.
“I was exposed to it last summer and was a little skeptical at first,” Petry said. “It ended up working out really well. In my opinion, most coaches, it is not going to affect them. It will affect those who have a propensity to overuse guys. But a majority of the coaches, it won’t affect.”
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