Seeking Advice for 11 Year Old Pitcher

My son is an 11 year old pitcher. He is allowed to throw up to 85 pitches per game per Little League rules. I know Little League rules has a rest requirement, but since my son is also on a travel baseball team, I was wondering what would one recommend to be the least amount of rest he should pitch on? Also, he is not allowed to throw any breaking pitches. Essentially, he throws a 2 and 4 seam fastball; cut fastball; and splitter and change -up occassionally, but no curveballs or any other pitches that require snapping of the wrist.

Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.


At his age I wouldn’t recommend more than that 85 in a week, it isn’t necessarily the type of pitch it is the frequency and periods of rest. At 11 pushing his pitch total far beyond that imo isn’t healthy, figure most mlb types get 5 days to 6 in between starts and they are conditioned and mature men who are closely watched, you might…might could get away with a start on a Monday and then let him start again on Saturday, but really is it worth the risk? Whats the upside if it doesn’t work out? He could go on and do it for a while, but you just don’t know the future ramifications…my old addage is “why be a little league hero and lose the ability to perform in high school?” I’d say if he travel’s and you have the investment there, then let him pitch there, let some other kid pitch in the LL…
I’m an old Bell Head too…just on the wireless side of the street. :wink:

He throws a splitter? 11? Jeez a splitter is a heck of an advanced pitch and It can also be a source of arm injury. I would really develop the changeup, it’s one of the most useful pitches he’ll ever need.

Good point, dont want to be the “Jack of all trades, master of none” … find a fastball grip you trust, throw the straight change off of it, and work to perfect those 2 pitches . Come 14 or so, depending on how your son matures physically … you can introduce uncle charlie.


What is your real evidence that the split-finger FB is a source of arm injury?

Pitch count recommendations for youth can be correlated to actual research that was done at the ASMI by Flesig, Andrews, and others. They found a quantitative relationship between youth pitcher over-use and arm/shoulder injury rates, but they failed to find any relationship between any specific types of pitches thrown and increased injury rates. They actually looked for specific evidence that the curveball was injurious at youth levels in their study–but their results didn’t reveal any such correlation and they were honest enough to publish the data as it was, not as they wanted to see it.

The ASMI group did speculate, however, that youth pitchers with outstanding FB velocity would automatically get used more by the coaches of their teams–thus, they seemed to conclude that it is likely that early success with the fastball may lead to a higher chance of injury.

IMO, the “splitter is injurious” advice is no better supported by any real evidence than, “you should never throw a curveball until you’re 16”. Or 14. Or whatever.

Perhaps more to the point: Pitchers’ mechanics should be carefully looked after by knowledgeable adults, youth pitchers should condition themselves properly for their sport, and pitchers should learn how throw each of their pitches correctly. Furthermore (and this seems the hardest thing for coaches to resist) as youth pitchers become really good by optimizing mechanics, conditioning, and control of each of their pitch types–coaches (and pitchers, and their dads) should learn to avoid the temptations of 9-13 yo glory. Pitcher over-use at youth levels is not a pretty sight.

What’s going on here? People throwing their arms up in the air and yelling “Eeek!” on hearing about an eleven-year-old throwing a split-finger pitch? The way I see it, if the kid has a large hand and/or long fingers, I don’t see why he shouldn’t work on that pitch.
Actually, the splitter is somewhat easier on the arm than the forkball—the grips are different. With a forkball, you spread the index and middle fingers so wide apart that you’re actually gripping the ball between them, and if your hand isn’t large enough that could lead to trouble. Whereas, the splitter—you don’t have to do that. You just spread those two fingers enough so they’re off the seams, and you don’t have to go any farther than that. And you throw it with the same motion as for a fast ball.
Oh yeah—if he wants to work on something that doesn’t call for snapping the wrist, there’s the palm ball. You just throw that one with a fastball motion too.

Hes 11 and he throws a splitter?

My son has been throwing a split-finger FB since he was 10 yo. It’s his “change-up” pitch, because it is actually easier for some (perhaps many?) kids to throw a high-quality splitter than it is to throw a high-quality change-up. Over the 4+ years, it has developed into a reliable “kill” pitch with an x-2 count on hitters, but it has apparently not hurt his arm. In fact, the boy has never experienced any arm problems from pitching.

I know that I’ll get lots of push-back from folks that think a change-up is just like a fastball, but thrown with a special change-up grip. Perhaps we can agree to disagree on that point…some photographic evidence suggests that high-quality change-ups, especially circle-changes, are thrown with considerable preset pronation in the forearm, wrist, and hand. It is not as simple, IMO, as just making a cool-looking grip and throwing the ball palm-forward with FB arm-speed. Doing that takes off just enough speed to make your change-up into a mediocre fastball, IMO.

I think a pitch count limit of 85 pitches is too high for 11yo kids. I limit my 13yo’s to around 75. You really have to be careful these days because kids do play on multiple teams and they play year round (in the warmer climates).

Also, as JD pointed out, proper rest is critical and I think that if your son is going to be pitching 85 pitches per game, then he should have at least 4 days rest.

You need to understand that the soft growth plates in young kids arms really take a beating. And it’s cumulative. You also need to shut your kid down for at least a couple months each year.


Pffttt. I am 13.

a splitter is known to not have an effect of injury but will reduce your velocity. the muscles in the elbow get stretched from throwing it and over time you will lose velocity.