Are total pitch counts helpful?

Had an interesting discussion with the Freshman coach yesterday at practice…We were talking about setting his kids up on pitch count limits of 60-75 for the first few weeks of the season while we continue to safely bring along these kids’ arms. The point he made was that monitoring pitches is one thing, but what if 40% or 50% are curveballs? Or sliders? Is that same 75 total pitch limit the most effective way to monitor arms, or should it be adjusted downward or upward depending on the individual pitches each different pitcher throws?

In other words, is 75 pitches, all fastballs more or less taxing on the arm than a pitcher like a lefty who throws 35 curveballs and 40 fastballs which still add up to 75 total pitches?

I didn’t have an answer, other than to say we will not allow these kids to throw more than 20% breaking pitches. My goal for the freshman pitchers is to have them develop their fastballs and changeups first! Something we were both completely in agreement with. But it’s something to consider as coaches nonetheless! What do you think? How much of a factor, if any, should the types of pitches a pitcher throws come into play when deciding his pitch count limit (if you set one for your pitchers).

I always felt curveballs are more likely to hurt arms and shoulders because of the extra stress that is placed on them, recently however the AMA has adjusted their position on curve balls and the age that kids should throw them. Their position now is that a “Properly thrown” curveball doesn’t place any additional stress on the arm, shoulder and elbow vs a fastball…as long as it’s thrown properly. I think that the number of curveballs that are thrown, the more the possibility that the curveball won’t be thrown correctly. The more that are thrown, the bigger the opportunity and my thoughts are, “it only takes one poorly throw”. Also fatigue and other factors could impact throwing so many curve balls.

Your thoughts of maybe 20% curveballs is spot on for a good pitcher that is really working on his game. My belief is that if a pitcher can possibly make it to the next level then he has to be able to get outs with his fastball, with location and use changes of speed (ie curveballs and changeups) to keep batters off balance.

Steven, I hope your coach wasn’t asking about 40-50% curveballs because he calls that many. :shock:

I agree with 20-25% curves, 20-25% changes, and the rest fastballs.

I also agree that with fatigue comes sloppy mechanics and inappropriately-thrown curves.