Pitch count for travel ball

Hello my grandson just started travel ball this July (2019). He pitched all of Little League season within Little League rules. My son talks to him regarding and arm issues that may arise.

His first TB tournament (July) pitched back to back days. He pitched 3 innings each day Had real good outings but for I believe his 2 day pitch count was a little over 120.

His second tournament about a month later he pitched all 3 days (Labor Day weekend). They are allowed 3 innings per day and a total of 8 innings for the 3 days. He did very good first day 3 innings 62 pitches, 5K’s, 0 runs. Second day not so good 3 innings probably over 80 pitches. 3rd day, 1 inning about 50 pitches. My so asked the coach to pull him from pitching. It looked like he was getting tired. 3 days 90 degree heat on astro turff.

What is a recommended pitch count. He is 9 now and turning 10 in November. My son as told me he is going to take time off from baseball to rest the arm. Thank you.

To be frank about it, those pitch counts are abuse. Sorry if that sounds harsh or shocking but that is absolutely ridiculous for any pitcher at any age, much less a 9 year old child.

I suggest you Google “Pitch Smart”, these are age range guidelines promoted by USA baseball and they are a general starting point. As a parent it’s an obligation to protect the child and that starts with educating oneself.

For my boys when they were 9 to 12 years old I would not let him pitch more than 25 pitches on day 1 if he was to pitch day 2. Never pitch more than one game per day and never pitch 3 days in a row. Single game pitch counts were generally limited to 75 but occasionally allowed to go over by a few pitches to finish a batter, an inning or a game. These guidelines were made very clear to the coach up front before the season started. If they balked or argued I would simply offer to have my kid be a position player only or find a new team.

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Thank you for you input. I have passed the guidelines on to my son. We agree with your assessment with one exception and that is OK. He has been made the workhorse of their pitching staff. My son will talk to the coach and tell him to get more pitchers. My grandson is a good pitcher but at 9/10 who knows really in the long run. It is in his best interest to protect his arm.

To clarify my original point, the abuse in this case is being perpetrated by the coach either willfully or through ignorance. In either case, it falls to the parents and guardians of the child to protect them. In your grandson’s case, that is exactly what you and your son seem to be doing. His instinct was to tell the coach to pull your grandson off the mound. You are here seeking knowledge to further protect the kids arm. Good on you both, the kid clearly has two great advocates looking out for him.

I would add, the words workhorse and pitcher should never go together. A coach who rides their best pitcher is trying to cover the weaknesses of his team at the expense of that pitcher. Being the Ace should mean getting the important innings. Pitching when the game or tourney is on the line. It should never mean carrying too much of the workload because there is no next best option.


Excellent comments from TXJIM. I agree 100%.

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Great comment by TXJIM

Here is an easy formula to follow that I had posted in the past.
As you know, rest and recovery is probably the most important part of the pitching equation most coaches don’t get. The rest and recovery time it takes to recovery from a pitching outing is key. The arm especially the young arm needs time to recover from pitching before it is ready to pitch again. Youth pitchers are going through a growth period and may be at larger risk for injury. Ask yourself this, would a major league pitcher who threw “first day 3 innings 62 pitches, 5K’s, 0 runs. Second day not so good 3 innings probably over 80 pitches. 3rd day, 1 inning about 50 pitches” come in and pitch the next day? No.

Until the rules of tournaments change these are some of the guidelines I used when coaching youth baseball:
1 inning pitched - 0 days rest if the inning was less than 20 pitches
2 inning pitched - minimum of 1 day rest. If he had a high pitch count inning, up to 25 pitches, add 1 day of rest.
3 inning pitched - minimum of 2 days rest. If pitch count went up to 25 pitches per inning, add one more day of rest
If a pitcher threw 25 pitches twice in an inning he was removed.
If a pitcher would ever exceed 30 pitches in one inning, the pitcher would be done for the day.

Hope this helps
Steve C

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Thank you all very much, we will take care of him and his arm. God bless you all…

This same scenario is what drove me to this forum a year ago. My son, during his 9/10 seasons fall 2017 ( We’re in FL where fall ball is also very prevalent) and spring 2018 was the “ace” on his travel team. A travel team that really only had my son and 1 other boy that could really pitch. The pitch counts and innings pitched that you mentioned resemble a lot of my son’s former workload, especially spring 2018. There were multiple instances the team would be up by 10 or more runs when he was pulled from the mound with 1 out or 1 inning left in the game, only for the team to then lose the game after they pulled him. Frustrating to say the least. I was a naïve baseball mom back then who was just proud of my son and his performances. Believe me, I have learned a lot since then. You and your son are doing the right thing by taking action now. It took my son having an arm injury late last summer to open my eyes. After several visits to the pediatric orthopedic and LOTS of research on the topic, we are now much better advocates for our son. As an athlete, my son plays many sports and was also a year-round competitive swimmer for 3 years until his injury . Research has determined that was too much additional wear and tear on his shoulder and arm as well and he has since given that up and now only swims in a summer swim league. Turns out 1 1/2 hrs of swim practice 6 days a week, followed immediately by baseball practice on 3 of them wasn’t such a hot idea either. We had already decided to leave that travel team and notified his coach before that injury. The injury occurred right after joining his new team ( the better team he had always aspired to play on and was at risk of losing his spot on), after only a couple practices. He missed most of fall ball and only pitched in 2 tournaments- 1 in November and 1 in December. After a long rest and healing for his arm, and armed with proper knowledge of arm exercises and stretches from his doctor, he had a successful spring season with no issues with his new team. We were thankful his new coaches were patient and didn’t give up on him since he was injured right after coming to the team. He is in a much better place now, on a team where ALL the boys pitch. On a travel team, all the boys need to pitch a share of the innings. That’s the only way to preserve al the boys’ arms when there are so many games in 2-3 days. Very grateful that we learned, made adjustments and switched teams as early as we did, before a more serious injury could occur. This year, he took the whole summer off with no throwing-- a first for him as his dad would always have him out at the fields practicing all summer in past years. He is now back at it, as his team just started up fall practices. While fall baseball is VERY common and can also be quite competitive in FL, our team plays a very relaxed schedule in the fall, usually only about 3 tournaments between Sept-Dec., allowing him to also play basketball and flag football too. Knowledge is power. You are doing the right thing to make the right changes now, BEFORE an injury. So glad that we did when we did, just sorry it took an injury to open our eyes.

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Thank you for your thought and your story. My grandson is off doing flag football now and not throwing. They also plan on doing basketball when that season starts. Again, thank you all very much.

Sounds to me like the coach cares more about winning than taking care of young arms. I was expecting you to say he was 13 or 14 but when I read he was 9 that is crazy. The growth plate for that age is so weak for young kids in the shoulder and elbow. That is borderline abuse by the coach. At the age he is at you are better off paying a pro to teach him mechanics and game management than wasting big bucks to send your grandson down the path to surgery from overuse.

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