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 > Little League Online > Learn More > Newsletters > Coach's Box Newsletter > 2006 > Coach's Box - October 2006 > Protecting the Throwing Arm

Protecting the Throwing Arm


Volume I, No. 7  

October 2006


Protecting the throwing arms of your players – should be an absolute top priority!

The top three reasons Al and I partnered with Little League over 12 years are: Little League’s commitment to safety, the education and training of volunteers, the careful all-around development of the players that sign up to play baseball and softball.

This season Little League has stepped up to implement a program to protect the throwing arms of young pitchers right across the organization. Little League worked with experts in the field, piloted the program in hundreds of leagues and now has included a Pitch-Count regulation for each level of play.

Over the years Al and I have watched thousands of games in local leagues, in tournament play and at the Little League Baseball World Series and have seen pitchers hurt their arms by being allowed to throw far too many pitches. At times the player’s pitch-count went well beyond what highly-trained Major League Baseball players throw in a game.

We believe this new regulation will help protect and develop young arms right across the organization and whole-heartedly support this initiative. Way to go Little League!

Coaches, Al and I would like to offer a little more advice on this front. The pitch-count “limits” in the regulation are just that, “limits”. Several of the pitchers on your team are not strong enough to pitch to the maximum and early in your season none of the pitchers on your team should be expected to pitch to the limit.

Here is the development approach I used when I was coaching in Little League:

First, I taught all players how to pitch and made sure everyone got the chance to work on the pitching technique in almost every practice. At every level of play coaches are always looking for more pitchers. I always felt if I had 12 players on my team I needed 13 pitchers, so why not develop them all.

Second, I implemented my own team pitch-count guideline:

- In a pitchers first outing of the year I kept the pitch count between 35-45 pitches.

- In the pitchers second outing of the year, usually in the second week of the season 45-55 pitches.

- The third outing the pitcher could throw 55-65 pitches in the game.

- In the pitchers fourth outing, usually a month into the season, I allowed 65-75 pitches.

Coaches, by using this approach, I was able to develop the strength and technique of everyone on the team without any setbacks due to injury or soreness. And surprisingly we won our fair share of the ball games early on and later in the season competed with everyone.

Coaches, never leave a pitcher on the mound, when you recognize they are getting a little tired or showing any signs of soreness, regardless of the number of pitches they have thrown. A good coach does not ask a pitcher if they would like to continue, he/she recognizes when a pitcher is getting tired or sore and immediately brings the player off the mound.

The player’s arm, of course, is far more important than winning any ball game. Coaches, if you handle your players properly, the pitcher should be able to do their work on the mound and then move to another defensive position on the field and make the plays without any soreness. Another heads-up for you, if your player has a sore arm the day after pitching, you left him on the mound too long!

Here are some of the other benefits of this new Little League  regulation:

- More players get a chance at this key position and develop the courage that comes along with experiencing it.

- More balls will be in play so players in the field will have more fun.

- Your pitchers will quickly figure out that if they want to pitch a complete game they will need to throw strikes, put the ball in play, and have innings where their team gets three outs with 4-5 pitches.

Coaches and Managers, protecting and carefully developing the throwing arms of all of your players should be a top priority. We know you are going to like this new regulation, have a great season!

Al Herback and Al Price, Authors and Instructors of the Little League Education Program authored this coaching tip. The training materials they have put together include hundreds of drills, competitions and fun activities. They also include progressions to help you teach the fundamental skills and guidance on how to plan practices for all levels of play. Please go to www.alandalbaseball.com for more information on the complete program library and to order your own set of training materials. To date, thousands of leagues and over one million coaches, managers, players and parents have taken advantage of the training materials.

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