Little League® Pitch Count and MLB’s Pitch Smart Aim to Protect Young Arms
It is a medical fact that injuries to youth baseball pitchers often are the result of throwing too many pitches. Nearly 10 years ago, Little League® developed its Pitch Count regulations to help curb the risk of overuse injuries to young pitchers, and now Major League Baseball has brought arm safety to the forefront with the development of the Pitch Smart program.
The Little League Coaches Committee was recently asked about how the Little League Pitch Count effort has influenced their local leagues. The responses ranged from increased education to its effectiveness, and the impact it has had on the games. Here is a sampling of their answers.
Steve from California: Education happened when the (Pitch Count) rule was introduced (in 2006). Each year since, our league has educated the managers during the rules clinic, scorekeeper clinic, and manager training clinic. Pitch Count is awesome. It’s so much better than innings pitched because it’s easy to track, easy to manage, and easy to understand how it prevents the wear and tear on young arms.
Larry from Iowa: Pitch counts are kept by a coach for each team, and accuracy is checked each half inning. I recently received a call from a local traveling club parent who wants to play Little League because we keep pitch counts. The traveling club program has no such limits.
Dick from New York: At our parents meeting prior to the season, everyone is advised of the league’s rules, including pitch counts. Still, players throw for their school teams, and some play travel ball, which certainly puts an excessive amount of strain on their arms. Parents must consider these elements when they ask “why isn’t Joey pitching today!”
I believe Little League has done an excellent with trying to protect a player from arm injuries.
Justin from South Carolina: Overuse is a major issue that has been addressed by Little League via pitch counts. I know that my league strictly abides by the rules which are very reasonable and have the safety of players in mind. In youth baseball, there is no need to have kids throwing too much. I have seen too many good baseball players have to give up the game because of an arm injury resulting from overuse. Coaches, players, and most-importantly the parents, need to be educated on the effects of overuse. With all of the travel ball being played today, everyone needs to be equipped with more knowledge about overuse arm injuries.
Richard from Kentucky: Our league uses the home team’s scorekeeper for the official pitch count. The best tool we have is education, so we provide scorekeeper classes to ensure that the scorebook and pitch count are done properly. We post, tell, and preach the pitch count every practice and every game.
Charlie from Florida: We agree with the Pitch Count 100 percent, and support the program to limit injury and promote safety. In our league, we try to make every parent do the pitch count for one or two games per season. Most of our coaches use the Little League Pitch Count sheets that Little League provides. Generally, there are four people counting pitches in each game – a coach and parent for the home team and a coach and parent for the visiting team.
More information on the Little League Pitch Count can be found on the Little League website.