Pitches per season?

Just got back from Cary, NC. Met a lot of great players and parents. As with most tournaments and tryouts, parents get to share their experiences and thoughts. We got on the topic of overuse of pitchers. Most organizations use a single game max, weekend max, or some variation to protect a youth pitching arm. I got to thinking what would be a good max for a season. According to GC, my son threw 758 last spring/summer. Not sure if that’s good or bad. What are y’alls thoughts on a cumulative pitch count?
Ps. My boy is 12

I struggle to answer this question as there are several takes on it. I think the stat alone is somewhat meaningless without more information.

What is his build, is he a thick muscular 12 year old with lots of beef supporting his shoulder or a skinny kid?

How hard does he throw?

Was this spread out from January to August or cramed into March to June?

How many games? Pitches per game? Pitches per inning pitched? Pitch types? How many high stress innings, more than 20 pitches in an inning.

Did he pitch back to back days a lot? Did he pitch multiple games in one day?

Some of these factors weight more than others but they all fit into a complete picture of the workload he endured.

On its face, that seems like a lot of pitches for a 12 year old. And to what end? I know 12U baseball can seem super important, especially at the higher levels, but when he is in high school you will begin to recognize just how meaningless those youth games were.

My older son, now a sophomore in high school had the following pitch counts:

12U 211
13U 298
14U 270
Freshman plus Summer Ball 1087

He did play fall ball in those youth seasons probably adding 100 or so pitches each fall. With the workload he had spring and summer this year he will be shut down this fall and working or getting bigger, stronger and more athletic. I feel like he pitched enough in youth, probably on the low end, to learn to pitch without stressing his arm in any way.

My younger son has averages mid 400’s in 11U and 12U Spring/Summer (late February through early June) but probably adds another 200 in the fall (mid September through early November).

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This season on my grandson’s 11U select team I was keeping the scorebook. Got late in the game and the starter had 75 pitches. The coach asks the parents permission to let him continue pitching. He ended up throwing 125 pitches. By the end you tell he was done by 100 pitches. I was more upset than the parent. Kid shows up for the next game with a sore shoulder. The coaches start talking. This is where I walked away. I didn’t want to be party to what they were going to do. Let him play first base in the next game. You could tell he was sore and could barely throw the ball. No select game is worth risking serious injury. That’s my 2 cents. I quit keeping the scorebook after that in protest.


TXJIM, that is a good point. The jump from youth to HS ball can be large jump in pitch counts. Strength and conditioning is a crucial element.

It is far more important how a child throws a ball than how many times he/she throws the ball. As a physics professor and former pro pitcher of yesteryear, I’ve been researching new ways to throw. One of my new methods is called Power-Pronation. You may read about the method via this link: https://takeoutyourscorecards.wordpress.com/2019/07/19/power-pronation-an-alternative-way-for-pitchers-to-throw

I am a big believer in keeping pitch counts reasonable but big huge jumps from one year to the next do worry me.

The best advice I have seen or been given is around 60 pitches a week on a kid who worked a reasonable load the previous year among those 10–13 years old. So if you start in March-September/October you get to about 1,700 pitches. But I like to give a kid a week off every month at minimum and a very light load in fall if they pitched spring and summer. So that knocks off 360 from that number. Then in a September or October if still playing I would throw anyone more than 30-35 pitches.

So where does that end up? The strong kids maybe throw 1,000 pitches across all competitions provided they have no arm pain. That works out to about 30 pitches a week when you factor in all the breaks.

That said I am personally a believer it letting the kids with the capability extend themselves slowly over time to outings of 50-60 pitches if they stay strong, mechanically sounds and pound the zone. So a kid who goes say 4 innings on Monday on 60 pitches is just done for the week. Might hurt us when we need two clutch innings later that week but for the player learning to be efficient and eat innings does have value.

Where I think things get wonky is with tournaments. Kids may play one ever other weekend and only average 60 pitches a week, but 120 pitches in two days is a different animal. Within a league we can space our innings in a way that makes sense and fits into an overall throwing program. You would never run two full effort bullpens on back to back days or in the same day. Those are the numbers that really worry me.

The other key to me is the parent understanding that pitching is a routine and how to get ready for it. Your bullpen and lessons need to adapt to the game workload.

So to answer the original question I have no issue with 700 some pitches, provided they weren’t clustered into 5 weekends of work.