how to manage pitch counts in baseball

In this article I’ll share how I manage pitch counts for my youth baseball team and youth baseball organization. Adhering to strict pitch counts is key not only for preventing injuries in baseball pitchers, but also in enhancing performance. By balancing pitching and position playing workload, you’ll help keep pitchers’ arm as fresh as they can be, which improves velocity, strike-throwing and offspeed action. 

Pitch Count Strategies for Youth Baseball Coaches

Pitch Count Guidelines For Youth Pitchers

In general, here are the follow guidelines I adhere to when organizing my pitching staff:

  1. Full-time catchers are not full-time pitchers
    1. This means that a starting catcher who will catch 60% or more of my teams games will not also be a starting pitcher.
    2. Ideal scenario (often unrealistic since youth players want to play multiple position) is that catchers never pitch.
  2. If a catcher catches a game, he will not pitch that same day
  3. If a pitcher starts a game in weekend tournament, and pitches 3 innings or more he is DONE for that weekend and will not pitch again.
  4. If a pitcher throws 1 inning, he can throw one inning the next day, but not three days in a row.
  5. If a pitcher throws 1 inning and has a day rest, he can throw 2 innings, maybe 3 if they’re quick and not stressful.
  6. If a pitcher throws 2 innings and has a day rest, he can throw 1 inning, maybe 2 if they’re quick and not stressful.
  7. If a pitcher throws 35+ pitches in an inning, his day is over.
    1. When a pitcher has a VERY long inning (35+ pitches) he should not go back out for both health and performance reasons.
  8. All innings are not the same. Short, non-stressful innings are very different than long, rough innings.
  9. Try to give pitchers – especially starting pitchers – rest from playing the field before they pitch. This is difficult but should be attempted as best one can.
  10. A team that plays tournaments should always have 10 pitchers, which usually means a roster of at least 13 players.
  11. MLB Pitch Smart Guidelines should be adhered to and coaches should be conservative.
  12. NEVER base a pitcher’s pitch count based on how his arm feels if you ask
  13. NEVER take how a pitcher’s arm feels into account when determining if it’s good for him to pitch again

Manage Your Team, Keep Your Pitchers Healthy

Follow these guides and plan out your weekend tournaments to have a better chance of keeping your pitching staff healthy now and in the future.

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