Post by Glenn Fleisig, Ph.D. on May 13, 2005 9:44:59 GMT -6
ASMI is working on this issue right now. Here is a recent newspaper article on this subject:Newsday, May 10, 2005.
As you can see in this article, our upcoming research might suggest that high school limits should be about 80 pitches per outing. However, until their is enough scientific data, ASMI and USA Baseball will not give a formal recommendation.
I'm a reporter for a paper in North Dakota. Today we had a high school baseball pitcher throw 183 pitches in a state tournament game. I'm curious as to how much of a risk that kind of an outing poses? Anecdotal evidence (and common sense) indicates that the danger level increases more rapidly with each pitch once a player reaches a certain point of fatigue, but are there any studies that quantify it?
Post by Glenn Fleisig, Ph.D. on Jun 6, 2005 14:33:41 GMT -6
LouB, It is hard for me to comment on the specific pitcher in your local area since I do not know all of specifics, but we certainly have enough knowledge of the pitching injuries to share with you some generalities about situations like these.
Research shows that risk of pitching injury is related to several factors - overuse, types of pitches, quality of mechanics, physical conditioning, and physical anatomy. Overuse is a broad term that includes overuse per game, overuse per season, overuse per year, and overuse per career. Furthermore, an equal number of pitches thrown by two pitchers might be more dangerous for one of them based upon the other factors (quality of mechanics, physical attributes, etc.).
Think about each muscle, tendon, and ligament in the elbow or shoulder as a rope made of many strands. Each time a pitch is thrown, the rope is yanked on. When a pitcher pitches to the point of being tired, threads in the rope begin to break. The longer the tired pitcher pitches in a game, the more threads begin to break. However unlike a real rope, muscles, tendons, and ligaments repair themselves to as a strong or stronger than original when given proper rest and nutrition. Also, proper exercise increases the thickness of the rope. So avoiding injury comes down to a balance between exercise (throwing and other activities) and rest.
That being said, 183 pitches thrown by one high school pitcher in a game is a dangerous situation that increases the chance of serious injury. Because of the number of factors involved and the differences between individuals, it is impossible to say exactly what the increased risk is.
My son is a 12 year old (13U level starting in Sept.) boy pitcher and I have a question regarding pitch count numbers and in particular pitches "per season" and "per year"
For background we have been following the per game and per week guidelines as well as working out with a professional pitching instructor to develop proper mechanics. We have also implemented Alan Jaeger's (Los Angeles, Ca) long toss and stretching program and "jobe exercises" with rubber tubing prior to and during the season. He also throws only fastballs and utilizes a knuckle ball as his off speed ball.
I have not gone back and added up all of his pitches during the regular season, but I estimate them to be slightly under 1,000 game pitches. He is currently in the LL "All-Star" tournament and he will probably pitch another 200-300 pitches ending sometime in July. So ending in July he will have pitched around 1,250 pitches.
We are considering joining a travel team that will start up in September and play for a few months and I am concerned about his total pitch count numbers.
What is meant by the per season and per year figures? How much rest period was taken into account between the "season" and year figures. He will be going into his high growth period of his life soon and does this raise the risk factor for pitching during this time frame.
Post by Glenn Fleisig, Ph.D. on Jul 8, 2005 8:36:35 GMT -6
It sounds like you are doing a good job of giving your son the opportunity to develop while trying to avoid overuse injury.
To answer your question, ASMI's latest research indicates that youth and high school players should avoid pitching for at least four months each year. In fact, high school pitchers who needed elbow or shoulder surgery are [glow=red,2,300]FIVE TIMES[/glow] more likely to have pitched more than 8 months per year as pitchers who stay healthy.
Post by Glenn Fleisig, Ph.D. on Jul 14, 2005 14:24:09 GMT -6
Breaking pitches should not be used in competition until the bones in the arm have almost finished growing. Medically speaking, the growth plates in the elbow area of the humerus and ulna should be closed. This is usually near the time of puberty.
We have a saying... "Don't use breaking balls in competition until you are old enough to shave." ;D
Post by Glenn Fleisig, Ph.D. on Jan 10, 2006 8:42:20 GMT -6
I am the safety officer for Ranchoniguel L.L. I am adding over 75 pages to our old manual I inherited. Oneof the issues is pitch count..... and the other issue at present is adding a safety mask to our minor leaguers helmets. Last year we performed a pilot test on pitch count, successfully. Do you have "numbers" I can compare and possibly mandate? Any other suggetions regarding safety for my 600 players is most appreciated.. I have been in girls fast pitch for 14 years and am now with my grandson in L.L. baseball.. a learning experience..thank you for your time Ken Wohlford Safety Officer RNLL Laguna Niguel,Ca
How soon should my 13yr old start throwing breaking pitches?
Sparky. This depends on whether you want him to pitch professionally or not. One major league team conducted survey of their elite (AA, AAA, and MLB) pitchers and found that the average age at learning breaking pitches was in their late teens. These kids were successful by focusing on velocity, change of speed, and pitch location, all of which gave them a competitive advantage over the junk ball pitchers who had nice gaudy stats, but little foundation to build on at the professional level.
If and when my son pitches, he'll work on his fastball, his changeup, and his location. If he's fortunate enough to reach college or pro ball, he can develop breaking pitches while being taught by great coaches.
For those who might not be a fan of pitch counts. I thought I'd mention this for consideration. I've coached my sons in Little League for ten years and have counted pitches. I've taken some flack by my own son for taking him out of games he was pitching well in after he reached our predetermined pitch count. This has kept him from some complete games. It always amazes me how easy it is to leave a pitcher in past his pitch count based on the fear of losing the game. Our Junior League Coach kept his own son in an All Star game until he reached 119 pitches. As an assistant coach, I told him the pitch count at the end of each inning. The next day our Legion Coach asked the Junior League Coach why he allowed his son to pitch so long. I was stunned when he replied,"I didn't know his pitch count was that high." I think a pitch count can make the pitcher more efficient if he knows you'll stick to your guns. The result is a better pitcher, one who throws more strikes and walks fewer batters.
In the post dated May 10, 2005, you stated "upcoming research might suggest that high school limits should be about 80 pitches per outing. "
Are there any recommendations for length of rest (# of days rest) between 80 pitch outings?
Our high school frosh/soph team plays 2-3 games per week for the next several weeks and uses 2-3 pitchers per outing. If pitchers are throwing 40-50 pitches per outing, do you have any recommendations on rest between outings? Thanks