Just wanted to see what you all thought about a total pitch count for the year. My 2015 is at 95 innings since april 1, and as close as i can count about 1450 pitches. He threw 105 innings last year and about the same amout of pitches. Does anyone else track total pitches?
Thanks to an obsessive scorekeeper dad (not me) my 2015 is at 83 innings and 1285 pitches for the year. This is HS varsity, travel and a little showcase ball. There have probably been 5-10 additional innings in scrimmages, side games etc. He’ll probably throw 10-15 in fall ball. Based on performance, recovery etc. this seemed pretty good for him. He was used each time he was ready but not overused. He may have had a little fatigue at the end of July which seemed to shorten his outings. Other than that no issues.
Let me start by giving you a big pat on the back for even thinking about it! That being said, I’m gonna give you a slightly different answer now than I would have a year ago because of some things I’ve been working on.
To keep it simple, while the number of pitches is important, that number has to be looked at relative to something other than the gross number of pitches. What I’ve been doing for several years now, is look at the number of pitched in an appearance as well as how much rest there was since the last time he pitched.
For a simple example. Go to http://www.infosports.com/scorekeeper/images/pitching13.pdf and do a find on PAPSTRESS. That’s every appearance for every pitcher on our last’s year’s HSV team. If you look closely, you’ll see there were several outings where a pitcher threw more than 100 pitches, but it was very seldom there wasn’t at least 5 days or more of rest until the next appearance in a game. Yes there was some other pitching during the season, but pens are kept to a minimum because our coach is very careful about arms.
But the main thing to look at is that rest. I’d venture most people would say its “easier” on a pitcher to throw 100 pitches every 6th day than it is to throw 50 pitches every 3rd day. If you look closely at that metric, you’ll see I also take into account when pitches are thrown with runners on, and count them as being more “stressful” than pitches with no runners on. You don’t need to get into the math of it, but just understand that most people will feel its easier on a pitcher to throw 100 pitches with no runners on than say 75 with runners on.
What I’m trying to get across is this. There’s simply more to it than the gross number of pitches, so its really difficult to give an absolute good/bad number.
How many bullpen pitches? How many pre-game pitches?
I could not agree more with this statement. He hit the nail on the head.
And I know he would say it so I might as well…It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your best to keep the pitch counts reasonable.
When monitoring my kid’s pitches, ultimately it’s only about what I see from him and how he feels.
We try to get at least two sessions in per week in addition to the game he pitches in. Once he’s loose and starts to throw with game intensity, I count every pitch, whether it occurs on the side, between innings from the mound, or in the game. It may seem like a lot but it racks up fast when you count them all. A league may have an 85 pitch limit and pat itself on the back for taking care of kids, but if the kid throws 40 before the game, 5 between each inning and goes at least 4 or 5 innings he’s looking at 125-150 game intensity throws per outing (even if he doesn’t throw hard with his between inning warm-ups). If he throws two bullpens over the course of the week and throws 15-20 to get loose and another 50-60 per session, now we’re talking another 130 pitches on top of his 150 for a whopping 280 where the league reports only the 85.
I only allow my son to throw in one game per week, no matter how many games the team plays. I think the bullpens are far more important than the games for his development. At his age, whether or not the team wins is secondary because these teams are built for parity or as I say (parody).
In the bullpen, if I don’t like something I see and he can’t get it corrected in the next 2-3 pitches, we will cut it short. If he’s throwing a lot of pitches in an inning and the defense isn’t supporting him, I take him out early an rotate through other pitchers to keep fresh arms in there rather than wear anyone down.
So when I say he throws 250 pitches per week, it’s total pitches and not 250 in a game in addition to the uncounted number that most coaches allow their kids to throw in warm up or on the side without any consideration.
My son has only had arm soreness twice in the 5 years he has been pitching, he was shut down on that pitch and the soreness did not linger beyond a few hours and certainly not overnight.
He has never thrown sore or in pain, yet he throws a ton of pitches.
After summer ball, he takes about 45 days off (mid July until sept 1) Then fall ball starts up and runs another 6-8 weeks. Then he doesn’t pick up a ball again until February because he swims competitively during the winter.
During breaks from throwing, he’s only taking batting practice and fields grounders and underhand or wrist-flipping the balls into a pile behind him (infield practice does not need to involve throws all the time by the way coaches). The hard part is fielding the ball. The throwing is easy, so why waste a kids arm throwing every grounder across the diamond to first? I never understood that.
All together he takes over 5 months off from pitching each year. He’s the hardest throwing 13 year old there is in our eight town league, so I think it’s working nicely and he throws about 5000-6000 total game intensity pitches a year. The league sees only 1800 of them.
Conversely, some kids throw only in games and are sore after 3 innings yet pitch in two games per week. They don’t throw enough to keep their arms in shape. If they don’t do the work on the side, they will never improve their game or their endurance. Guess what happens when a league gets too many sore arms? They reduce the pitch counts because that’s the only thing they can control.
Your last paragraph hit it on the nose. One key reason so many kids end up with sore arms, or worse, is that they don’t throw nearly enough—and I’m talking throwing, not pitching. Most major league pitching coaches—and many at lesser levels of the game—say you have to throw every day, and I agree 100% with that. Just throwing—and I mean throwing with intent, throwing the crap out of the ball—builds up and maintains arm strength and flexibility. That was what I did in my playing days, and between that and two bullpen sessions a week (during which time I had a chance to work on my pitches and sharpen my control and command) I was all set to go; I pitched regularly, usually starting but sometimes relieving between starts, and I am happy to say that I never lost a game! And nary a sore arm or a sore elbow or a sore shoulder or a sore anything else.
So I tend to look at this whole business of pitch counts with a jaundiced eye. :baseballpitcher:
Coaches like you aren’t the problem! The problem is, there aren’t enough coaches like you. That’s why there has to be these generic limitations that piss so many people off. But what those people don’t seem to realize is, if there are 5 million amateur ball players and only 1% of all the head coaches aren’t reaching your level, that’s still 50,000 players who are playing for a coach that puts them in more jeopardy than a “good” coach would.
I have no problem with counting any “full speed” pitches toward the total pitch count, but what’s a parent who can’t/won’t/doesn’t attend practices do? Do you keep pitch totals for all the pitcher s on your team or just for your boy?
I do differ just a bit that ANY practice pitch is equal to ANY game pitch. The reason is, there are other factors in games that affect the pitcher that aren’t present in any practice or scrimmage because there’s nothing on the line. But in GENERAL throwing a pitch is throwing a pitch, whether its in practice in a mound or in the back yard on flat ground, so in the end its better to count them. I definitely would differentiate between them though, but that’s me.
I keep counts on all pitchers when they throw in my presence. I ask parents to let me know of other teams or side work. Mostly I’m responded to with either “I don’t know” or “I think it was around X.”
In early spring, when we have multiple practices each week, I keep a tight regulation on each pitcher based on his current limits and what his established goal is and we work from that.
One the season begins, organized practices yield to making up rain outs.
I can’t help asking this, and I hope you don’t take it as a personal “shot”.
Knowing how important you see the issue, I’m curious about how much time you took to try to communicate that to parents in an attempt to educate them? From what I can tell, that’s pretty much what normally happens when coaches have their sons on the team. They are very careful with their kids, but don’t really do much to make sure all their players are equally cared for.
I do what I can, but if the parents don’t buy into the importance, I really don’t have time to chase down or ask multiple times. I control everything in my circle of influence.
I know this will sound like a crazy control freaky thing to even suggest, but I’m not saying to do it, just asking about the benefits or consequences of doing it.
What if you gave every player/parent some kind of tally sheet that had a date, number of pitches thrown, and whether it was in a game or practice, then told them if it wasn’t kept up to date and given to you say every Monday, they couldn’t pitch in a game or in practice for you until it was updated?
Will there be those who will treat it cavalierly and just throw fake numbers on it to keep you off their back? Sure. But I think most will just take the little time it would to do it correctly because it would send a very powerful message about how seriously you take every pitcher’s wellbeing.
All this stuff is nothing more than a mindset. Your mindset has already been set to do it because you’ve gained the knowledge that tells you how important it is. But there a lot of folks who have no idea about it or think it’s a lot of bunk, and therefore will allow themselves or their child to be put at risk for no good reason.
I have such a sheet for each pitcher. I handed it out with mutual commitments that all parties would make good faith efforts to comply with. I got the anticipated luke-warm responses. I believe I posted somewhere a link to my form. Other coaches can get it from my cloud.
When you’ve handed out that sheet, did you do it with the caveat that a player’s pitching was dependent on its being kept up to date correctly? I don’t mean to pick on you because you’ve done more than 99% of all coaches in this area, but if it were me I’d take an additional step. I’d make spot checks to see if the sheets were being done correctly. Can’t do much about the kids in the back yard or on the local sandlot field, but its not very difficult to find out if a kid is playing on other teams, and finding out somehow when they pitch.
To me, the “best” solution is the most simple one. A national database that has every game pitching performance of every amateur player. That way any coach could find out the game workload of any of his pitchers. The problem is, it would take a national amateur baseball authority to set the rules and requirements, but most of all had the will to make it happen. Right now there is no such authority.
I let the kids know who is starting and who is planned relief for that weeks’ games and to let me know if there is any conflicts with other teams.
I wonder if what I’ve been working on with stress/pressure isn’t more pertinent than pitch counts standing by themselves. What I’m talking about is trying to show that 1,000 pitches for Joe definitely isn’t the same as 1,000 pitches for Bill.
Its really just an extension of what I’ve always said, that depending on the situation, some pitches can be harder or easier on the pitcher. FI, if a pitcher is constantly pitching behind in the count, its tougher than pitching ahead, or pitching with no runners on is a lot less stressful than throwing a lot of pitches with runners on. Of course rest comes into that too, but I haven’t yet figgered out how to put a value on rest.
The end result is, let’s say its September and two dads who’s kids both threw 2,000 pitches are debating whether or not to allow their kid to throw fall ball and pitch in off-season tournaments, or to take some time off. If the 1st kid had played on a team that gave him tons of run support and a great defense, and he was almost always ahead by at least 3 runs, and the other had played in front of a weak defense and average offense so he was either behind or in very close games, which would you think needed more time off?
Ron Wolforth talks about this concept of not all pitches being created equal for purposes of pitch counts (and pitches per inning being very important):
That’s fine as far as it goes, and it does make more sense than pure pitch counts alone, but I’m saying there is much more to it that can and should be considered as well.
The major difficulty with going much further, is the lack of scoring detail. FI, any schmuck can and should count pitches, and its really simple to count pitches relative to innings. Heck, I’ve been doing that since I’ve been keeping score, and that’s well over a half-century. But to take the step to get to the next level is a bit more cumbersome.
FI, the program I use to keep score, besides counting the pitches relative to the game, the inning, and the batter, also takes into account the number of outs on each pitch, the count on the umpire’s counter on each pitch, the runners and what bases they’re on on each pitch, and the difference in the score along with the inning. Its not that its difficult to do, after all, that information is right in front of the scorer. Unfortunately though, there’s no place to mark it on a standard score sheet, and no way to go back and get the information after the game. The new scoring APPs have that information, but I don’t know of any that store it other than the one I use.
Let’s take the examples in the article where she says one pitcher throws 60 in 2 innings and the other 90 in 6 innings. She says the 2nd pitcher’s load is more “strenuous”. How about if I change things just a smidge and we look at it again.
Like in the example, the 1st pitcher throws 60 in 2 innings, 2nd throws 90 in 6 innings. But, the 1st pitcher throws a lot of balls and fouls, even though he only allows a few runners in the 2 innings. The 2nd pitcher is throwing the ball over the plate almost all the time, and its getting hit hard all over the place, and there are runners on all the time, they’re stealing bases, and the pitcher’s is behind from the 1st inning on.
Is the 1st pitcher going to be more physically fatigued after 2 innings? Prolly so, but which pitcher is going to be the most physically and mentally exhausted after 2 innings?
What I’m saying is, neither one should be sent back out for that 3rd inning.
I remember how Yankees pitching coach Jim Turner kept a little black book in which he kept careful count of each starting pitcher’s total pitches for each game—balls, strikes, foul balls hit, etc.—and he had every pitcher who was scheduled to start the next day keep a similar pitch count of his predecessor’s output. If it looked as if a pitcher was throwing too many pitches, Turner—or his extra pitching coach, Ed Lopat—would corner the guy and discuss the situation in detail. Sometimes the problem was one of mechanics, or the pitcher suddenly lost his command and was getting rocked; either way, there was a problem to be dealt with, a solution to be found.
Whitey Ford was pitching one day, and the opposition was eating him for breakfast, lunch and dinner, turning every pitch he threw into extra-base hits. In the fifth inning Tommy Henrich went out to the mound and told him “Hey Whitey, that first-base coach is calling every pitch you’ve been throwing”, and for the first time in the game Ford was aware that he might be telegraphing his pitches. He was taken out of the game. The next day Turner and Lopat took him into the bullpen and had him throw from the stretch, because that was when the problem seemed to be occurring. Lopat, ever observant, spotted the problem immediately. Ford had been positioning his hand one way when he was going to throw a fastball and another way when he was going to throw a curve, and because he was a southpaw it was no trouble for the opposition’s first-base coach to pick up on that and relay the information to the batter! Lopat then took Ford aside and told him quietly what he had been doing wrong, and the problem was corrected in short order.
Lopat worked with me on how not to telegraph pitches—an absolute necessity because I had quite an arsenal—and I never had any problems in that department. Nor did I have to throw a lot of pitches in the course of a nine-inning game; about 80 was my maximum, and often it was less than that because I would mix in a few ground-ball outs with my usual strikeout total. And when I would relieve between starts it was no more than twelve per inning.
I was asked several times if Steady Eddie had ever seen me in action. I had no answer to that, and I will never know, but I can imagine that once in a while he would sneak into a ballpark on a day when I was pitching and watch me for three or four innings, just to keep tabs on me. My guess is, he liked what he saw, and he probably got a good chuckle out of the times when I used the crossfire. (I was one of those exasperating, infuriating creatures called a sidearmer, and I used the crossfire almost all the time, and the opposing batters did not like it at all.)
The whole point is, keeping track of what pitches and how many can save a lot of time and trouble.