should help you out.
“Warm up throws” are going to depend on the pitcher. Some guys get loose quicker than others. If you try to put concrete numbers on a pitcher getting loose he may not get there.
As far as bullpens go, IMO, at 10 years old they should throw with two days off before a start. Now if they are limited to 50 pitches and won’t be pitching back to back days, you could probably go with one day off.
When throwing bullpens, I believe 25 pitches is adequate for younger guys.
In my opinion, the guidelines from ASMI on pitch counts per game, week, season and year are a great foundation to start with. As you alluded to, they don’t address all the issues facing coaching youth pitchers. So you have to start there with the general recommendations and build a philosophy of delivering pitchers from one level to the next uninjured and improved. A tall order.
Of course, parents of pitchers who follow their son through the various age groups as coaches are naturally more attune to their own child’s needs but it should be as important to create a solid relationship of information sharing with the other kids that you coach. Somehow you have to get the kids to provide accurate information to you on their current health, rest, and arm condition. Establishing a scale of from 1 -10 can be helpful as long as you get across the point that when you ask for a number associated with an arm condition you are expecting an honest response regardless of the consequences. Coupled with a serious effort to observe the first signs of fatigue, this can be an effective plan.
From ASMI’s position statement - Signs of fatigue being:
I would add, releasing the ball prematurely and consistently placing balls high in the strikezone, making eye contact with coaches, rubbing the arm and between innings lack of focus on what is currently happening on the field. It takes a dedicated coach to actively look for the negative. You might want an effective pitcher to remain on the mound and looking for reasons to take him out is against all your competitive juices. Look anyway.
No practice or mound appearance is the same even though they might both be 50 pitches. That is why it is essential to monitor what is going on in the bullpen. It is much better to have him throw 20 focused pitches than to let him go to the bullpen with the instruction not to throw more than 50 pitches. And to the same point in a game, a coach should have as his priority, the monitoring of pitch type, pitch location and speed with the purpose of detecting fatigue at the earliest possible time. Don’t forget that other players might also be able to tell when that time is coming.
What I am getting at, and I often tend to write in circles, is a system I will call the “totality of circumstances.” It is a legal and law enforcement term that is often used for developing probable cause for arrest or a warrant. What I am saying is that no simple rule or guideline can be applied to the development of a youth pitching staff without the taking into account the total circumstances of each pitcher. The more you know about the pitcher, the more progress you will make with his development and ultimately protection of his health. When you take in all that can be known about the current health and status of each pitcher, you can apply the general rules and recommendations, feel comfortable exceeding these recommendations sometimes and often impose more limiting plans to protect your players.
Getting them to the next level, uninjured and improved is the litmus test. As a coach, you have to be willing to be an investigator with your eyes and ears. Communicate frequently with kids and parents and study the newest information on research from places like ASMI.
So true Dino.
Too many times I’ve seen youth coaches and HS coaches just send guys to get their bullpen sessions in without monitoring what they were throwing and how much they were throwing. I’ve seen too many cases where pitchers without close monitoring in the pen will goof off and end up trying to outdo each other with eephus pitches or knuckle balls.