The 2007 Little League rules state that kids 10 and under can throw up to 75 pitches in a game, but then cannot pitch for 1, 2, or 3 days if he/she threw more than 20, 40, or 60 pitches.
I don't know what the pitching distance should be.
Obviously 8 is very young, so at that age you want to emphasize basic skills (throwing, fielding, running, hitting) and concepts of the game (don't run on a pop up with less than 2 outs, etc.). The children who do best at that age, and continue on are not necessarily the ones with good mechanics or stats. The ones who continue on are the ones who: (1) are having a good time playing, and (2) feel like they are learning and improving. It is also beneficial to learn good mechanics when the child is ready.
Also, keep in mind that injuries are directly related to amount of pitching. Thus, you could have a young (8, 9, etc.) player learn to pitch, but he/she should not specialize too early. Don't just pitch; play other positions as well.
Dr. Fleisig, just wanted to get your comments on the litte league world series. It seems the pitch counts are now enforced in the series, but don't you think that kids throwing almost half of their pitches as curve balls or sliders is worse on thier arm than a high number of pitches?
Post by Glenn Fleisig, Ph.D. on Aug 29, 2007 9:47:06 GMT -6
That's a reasonable thought, but the current research is not pointing in that direction. The research implies that amount of pitching is much more important than types of pitches. If you have the time, you might want to click here to watch the presentation Dr. Andrews and I gave to Little League.
I have published a new scorebook based on larger squares and pitch count, as well as, a pitch count score book that focuses on pitch count, location, and pitch type. If anyone wants to get a look at either, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Post by drarobb, DC, sports resident on Feb 7, 2008 14:40:50 GMT -6
interesting to note the recommended number of pitches for each age bracket and its breakdown. Of importance, number of warm-up pitches are not included in the finally tally the authors, evaluating risk parameters for injury among pitchers, concluded that those with arm issues (pain, tenderness, injury, etc...) threw more warm-up pitches than those that did not (34 and 26 respectively).
much of the warm up, among the latter pitches tend to be of maximal efforts to prepare for the game. This would contribute to the volume of throwing for the game, week, month, etc...
should warm-up pitches be included? or do the recommendations reflect this?
Below is an article from a recent USA Today. Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, now president of the Texas Rangers, does not like pitch counts. This is one of the first that's opposed them. I've never liked the idea of stringent pitch counts. Many major leaguers can't throw more than 6 innings because they can't throw more than 110 pitches. They've been on pitch counts their entire life and have not built up any stamina. Hopefully, this will begin to change that mindset.
Still, Ryan is determined to change the pitching philosophy in Texas. He would love to confiscate every pitch counter used by coaches. It drives him batty when he watches pitchers being pulled from games because their pitch count hits 110 or 120.
"We have to change this mindset," says Ryan. "Some of the guys have been on a pitch count since Little League. It should be tailored to the individual.
"These pitchers have to realize what their capabilities are, and build up their stamina. I remember it used to be that 300 innings was the benchmark for an ace. If you were a starter, you were expected to pitch at least 250 innings. Now, you may have one guy go 200 innings on your whole staff.
"That's why you see 12, 13 pitchers on every team.."
Ryan expressed these sentiments to the Rangers front office and coaching staff. He may be a softy at heart and always a gentleman, but when the boss talks, you better listen.
"He made suggestions along those lines about pitch counts," Rangers manager Ron Washington says. "So we're trying to keep them out there as long as they can. We have to be smart monitoring what they're doing, but if you got the horses, you can let them go a bit."
There was a moderate difference in the first three weeks. The Rangers' rotation averaged 96.3 pitches per game and lasted 5.93 innings per start. A year ago, they averaged 81.2 pitches and 5.44 innings.
Rangers ace Kevin Millwood became the first Ranger in nearly two years to throw a complete game. It was April 5 vs. the Los Angeles Angels, albeit an eight-inning effort in a 2-1 loss. The starters have thrown at least 100 pitches in eight games.
"I love it," Millwood says. "It seems like they've let me go a little longer than I did in the past. I'm not going to jeopardize the game just to be a tough guy, but I can tell you when I'm tired and when I'm not.
"But what (Ryan) did, I don't see anyone doing anything like that again."
Ryan, who threw the fifth-most innings in baseball history, told the Rangers' executives and coaches how critical conditioning was to his career. He would not only routinely throw batting practice to his teammates, but would do wind sprints after each 10-minute interval, lasting about 30 minutes.
"Obviously, he's got strong feelings about pitching," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels says, "and we were able to incorporate some of the things Nolan did into our farm system. We've encouraged a lot of our (minor league) managers and pitching coaches that they have the flexibility to let their pitchers go past 100 pitches. We're not going to call down there (and complain) as long as they're not putting the pitchers at risk. We're having our young pitchers throw live batting practice, too."
So they're running wind sprints between BP sessions, too?
"Uh, baby steps," Daniels says. "We don't want to shock these guys too much."
Another question. I know that the pitch counts (other than LL) are a guideline. On our 14 yr old team we have some pitchers who we would never let reach that limit because they obviously begin to tire prior to that so we take them out. We do however have a couple of pitchers who can go beyond that limit with no signs of fatigue. For instance we took a pitcher out this weekend after 80 pitches due to pitch count. He started the game throwing between 76-78 mph. In the last inning he threw, he was still at 76-78 consistently. He said he was not tired and could have gone more.
Question is, is it more the fatigue factor that brings the pitch count into question, or is it just the number of pitches. This is a kid who will throw 80-90 pitches in a weekend game, but will not take the mound again (even a bullpen) until the next weekend. He will throw at practice, warm-ups, infield throws to first, etc., but we definetely make sure he gets his rest between mound time. I guess the question is, can a kid like this go more than the recommended amount of pitches and still be OK? He does work with an instructor in the off season and his mechanics are pretty sound. Never had shoulder or arm pain other than some soreness once in a while. In the above mentioned scenario, he wasn't even sore, even the next day.
I think this is a prime example of a kid who can and should push those limits. He's obviously strong enough and fatigue isn't in the picture. However, because we have the pitch and inning counts, he never gets to push to the next level. Each kid's different, some can't throw more than 50 pitches without their arm hurting. Others can throw all day. In the majors, we have a bunch of guys who can only throw 5-6 innings anymore? No stamina, no arm buildup.
Yeah, he's gone beyond that point several times, but with all the pitch count discussions, sometimes you hold back. He takes lessons in the off season from an ex-MLB and current AA pitching coach. During the lessons, coach would have him go till he started to get a little sore and tired. He talked about the need to build up strength as well. I really think that the envelope needs to be pushed from time to time. Like I said, one thing we work on very hard is making sure our guys get plenty of rest between outings.
As a team, we have had very few arm problems over the last few years. In fact, the only arm problems we have had are from kids who are not pitchers. Our pitchers have all been pretty healthy because once they get tired, they are out and we make sure about the rest period. We'll keep plugging along. More stuff to think about and try to find a balance with.
It sounds like he's ready to continue. As long as there isn't any major fatigue or soreness, push him out another 10-20 pitches. Pitching is very legs oriented, make sure your guys are in good running condition, it helps so much with pitching.
Post by Glenn Fleisig, Ph.D. on May 20, 2008 19:39:14 GMT -6
I agree with the sentiment of what jdee and uspatriot are saying. At ASMI, we've studied the relationship between pitch counts and arm problems. It's hard to pinpoint the exact number of pitches a kid can throw safely, mainly because an injury at a later age is due to accumulated microscopic damage over months or years. In an ideal world, kids could play a good amount of baseball and pitch a good amount, but stop when their bodies tell them they are tired. Of course, different kids would get tired after different amounts. (If you think about it, this "ideal" scenario is similar to what kids of previous generations did. They played in a limited number of league games and then add more unstructured playing until they were tired.)
Bottom line is that fatigue is a better indicator of how much a young pitcher can pitch than pitch counts. However, due to competitiveness and ambition, some adults keep pitchers in past fatigue and thus need pitch count limits to help protect the young arms.
And that's exaclty my point! Fatigue is the best indicator of how long a kid can pitch. Yet because of this one-size-fits-all pitch count mentality, kids never develop any stamina. They throw 60 pitches and that's it. It's like telling a young runner you can only run one mile and no further. You never find out what they can do.