Pitching Guides for 18U Travel Team


For a 18U Travel Baseball Team how many innings and how many pitches should the pitchers throw?
From Sept to March the kids are off doing nothing. March to late April is practices. Season runs from late April to end of August.

thoughts and suggestions?


See MLB’s “Pitch Smart” Guidelines for 18U



I’ve been under the assumption that travel ball was a cut above park-n-rec. I was also under the impression that travel ball was highly competitive and in the league of Legion ball and such. Am I correct with your travel team’s concept and purpose?


My sons travel team set limits at 70 pitches at the beginning of the summer.
Then moved to 80 pitches by mid summer. They played about 60 games n just over two months, so, a very busy schedule. Actually had some rain outs, the original schedule was for about 65 games. To do this they had to carry a lot of pitchers. This was a 19U team. My son got the second most innings over the summer with 37 1/3. So, they were very good at managing both pitch count and innings.
The 18U team follows the same pitch count rule but because they carry fewer pitchers they don’t play as much.
I think their approach is very conservative. My son has trained to throw way more pitches…he threw 112 a week or so after the summer season in a mens league game and experienced no real soreness the next day…so, remember, pitch counts are half of the equation.


baseball23 are you a player or a coach?

As an observation, this travel team has one major weakness - "from Sept to March the kids are off doing nothing."
Address that first and you then will have a foundation for planning and monitoring your pitching staff.

Competitive baseball has no start and no finish. It is a continuous thing that requires a lot of dedication and effort. I use amateur hockey as an example. Those people think nothing of year round attention to their sport, up at 5 am or earlier for ice time, serious money for equipment and so on. So a year round program to ensure you travel club is up to snuff is just basic - of and to it self. I’m not going into detail here because that would required a lot more space than your original question asked for.

Pitch counts & innings pitch has to consider the overall makeup of your pitching staff. Your pitching staff is always going to include an array of know and unknowns.

The known are those pitchers with an experience rate that tells you how many pitches and innings they can go before they start to get into trouble. Also in there is their pitch inventory, control of their pitches, their maturity and self confidence, and stuff like that. With these guys its more of “when this guy gets into trouble” that a better barometer of “how much” rather than numbers. I’ve always use this method for pulling a guy - or not. These types of pitchers are better material to work with because of one simple fact - you know what your working with. I’ve had pitchers with tons of experience and dependability run into trouble in the first inning after only four batters. A walk out to see - what’s what, usually had me knowing when I got through with my dugout walk - he’s gone.

The unknown is a totally different story. These guys are usually the youngest, weak on experience, or even the guy that’s temperamental and explosive. These guys won’t pitch smart, they pitch harder. Pitching harder to get out of jam usually find these pitchers bearing down with nothing but fastballs, trying to hit dead-on with the strike zone, and getting hammered in the process. These guys should be watched carefully for early trouble and early injury.

Here’s the bench marks that I use to use to temper my guys. I’d give a pitcher who depended on fastballs a lot, 4 batters per inning and 4 pitches per batter for a total of 16 pitches total per inning. If he got out of an inning with three batters and a total of 6 to 10 pitches, then he was well within the margins. Also, going into the next inning, he would be ahead of my limits by 1 batter and 6 pitches as a safety margin. Now this gets a lot more involved if he had an in inventory of fastball, slider, curve, and off-speed. Also, fielding errors would add a dimension that gets rather complex. To many this simple set of margins is rather tight and leaves little room for a pitcher to adjust, inning per inning, and you’d be right - it is tight and designed that way for a reason. That reason being a graphic line that has upper and lower limits to not only be a game rotation planer, but also a historical chart for all future appearances.

Pitchers that depend on nothing but fastballs have to be watched carefully. Pitchers that work with a combo in their inventory can have a little flexibility - but again, watch for trouble signs. Some guys can sail into the fifth and sixth inning with high pitch count - say 90 pitches and still be within the margins. But again, signs of fatigue and taking more time than usual between pitches, not going with the signs with increasing regularity, walking around the mound after every batter should indicate - he’s due for a rest.


I am a coach. I don’t want to hurt a kids arm. The age group is 15 to 19 year olds.


From 15 to 19 is such a massive difference, they usually don’t clump kids together with that sort of an age difference. How you would monitor a 15 year old that hasn’t shaved yet may be totally different than a physically mature 19 year old.
What Coach B said is true. You need to know what you are getting in April…both skill level and how prepared they are. Asking this far ahead of next season is great because it can allow you to implement something to help prepare the pitchers…that is another discussion.
There are other things to consider. How often is the team playing, how many pitchers are being carried ect. A team playing 3 times a week can have a lot more flexibility in terms of pitchers and rest…assuming they are carrying enough pitchers. A team like my sons that was playing 8 or more games several weeks needed to carry enough pitchers to safely cover the innings with pitch counts in place.
Being organized as coaches is key too. Letting guys know several days ahead of time, hey you are starting two days from now, and pitcher B you are starting Saturday. Scheduling guys out of the pen…so and so is our first RHP out of the pen and so and so is our first LHP out of the pen today and making sure those guys have a good warm up plan and time to implement it.
Nothing makes me crazier than a kid playing in the field or sitting on the bench and being called into pitch. Not giving pitchers time to warm up is on coach and no one else.
There are a lot of variable and pitch counts are but one part of that puzzle.