Excessive pitching is one of the main risk factors for elbow and shoulder injuries among high school baseball players.
While limits have been placed on high school pitchers in-game, pitches thrown during warm-ups and
in the bullpen are often going uncounted, according to findings by University of Florida Health researchers.
Excessive pitching is one of the main risk factors for elbow and shoulder injuries among high school players. The FHSAA currently limits 17- and 18-year-old players to 105 pitches per day. The study found that 42.4% of players’ throws went unaccounted for in teams’ pitch counts.
To break it down: The typical player threw about 69 pitches per game, but when warm-ups and bullpen throws were added, the mean number of pitches per game jumped to more than 119. The findings were published recently in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.
“It’s not just the effect of one game,” said Dr. Jason Zaremski, an assistant professor of orthopaedics in the UF College of Medicine, who was cited in the study. “Overuse has a cumulative effect over the course of a month, a season or a career.”
Flagler Palm Coast coach Jordan Butler said it’s an issue he’s passionate about. He tells his players to take four to five weeks off throwing in between seasons and also implements a throwing program in the off-season that uses bands and weighted balls. During games, Butler has his players use bands and decelerators. And after games, his players run and use a rowing machine to increase blood flow to help speed up healing and reduce soreness. The Bulldogs also monitor the bullpen and pregame warmups.
As far as pitch counts: 40-50 pitches in the fall, 45-55 in their first spring outing, 55-70 their second and third outings, and 75-90 for the rest of the season.
The Bulldogs have eclipsed the 100-pitch mark 10 times in Butler’s six years as coach — each after a lengthy discussion between player and coaches.
“I wish I had the answer to cure all this,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we can only provide a system for kids for when they are here and hope that they listen to what we teach them.”