In part 2 of this throwing injury prevention blog series, I would like to discuss throwing volume and its effect on injury risk. Research has consistently shown a correlation between increased pitching volume and increased injury risk. Despite this information, the rate of throwing injuries continues to rise. Due to player showcases, year round baseball, and athletes playing for multiple teams, individual throwing volume also continues to rise. The reality for modern youth athletes is in order to play on the best teams you have to participate in player showcases. These elite teams play or practice year round and the best pitchers pitch the most for their team and are asked to play for multiple leagues during the same season. These expectations of high level athletes must be weighed against the risk of injury. With this post I want to educate athletes and their parents on the risk of increased throwing volume and increased injury so that together they can best make decisions that fit each athlete’s specific situation.

Mike Reinold, former physical therapist for the Boston Red Sox, recently published the following statistics in an article on his website mikereinold.com:

  • Pitching > 100 innings in one year = 3x greater risk of injury
  • Averaging > 80 pitches per game = 4x greater risk of injury
  • Pitching > 8 months per year = 5x greater risk of injury
  • Regularly pitching with arm fatigue = 36x greater risk of injury

Little League has also been trying to reduce injuries to pitchers by creating pitch count rules. Not all youth baseball leagues are part of Little League and therefore do not follow the same rules, but it is important information for athletes and parents to have in creating a program that works best for each player. 

Little League pitch count rules include:

  • League Age 1 7-18: 105 pitches per day
  • League Age 13 -16: 95 pitches per day
  • League Age 11 -12: 85 pitches per day
  • League Age 9-10: 75 pitches per day
  • League Age 7-8: 50 pitches per day

League age 14 and under:

  • If a player pitches 66 or more pitches in a day, four (4) calendar days of rest must be observed.
  • If a player pitches 51 – 65 pitches in a day, three (3) calendar days of rest must be observed.
  • If a player pitches 36 – 50 pitches in a day, two (2) calendar days of rest must be observed.
  • If a player pitches 21 – 35 pitches in a day, one (1) calendar day of rest must be observed.
  • If a player pitches 1-20 pitches in a day, no (0) calendar day of rest is required.

League age 15-18:

  • If a player pitches 76 or more pitches in a day, four (4) calendar days of rest must be observed.
  • If a player pitches 61 – 75 pitches in a day, three (3) calendar days of rest must be observed.
  • If a player pitches 46 – 60 pitches in a day, two (2) calendar days of rest must be observed.
  • If a player pitches 31 -45 pitches in a day, one (1) calendar day of rest must be observed.
  • If a player pitches 1-30 pitches in a day, no (0) calendar day of rest is required

Every player faces unique situations in regards to their teams, personal demands, and goals. Specific throwing limits are more complicated than a one size fits all program. But it is important to remember that research has proven that increase in throwing volume increases risk of injury. The more educated athletes and parents can be in regards to these risks, the better prepared they will be to reduce the risk of injury and maximize the athlete’s success and enjoyment in baseball.

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