Sunday, December 4, 2016

Pitch Count in Adolescents

It seems the commonplace nowadays is to put young children in a single sport year around, because it is believed that it will make them better, and give them greater chances to make it to the professional level. Not only does this create greater likelihood of injury and burnout, it was found that extreme sport specialization at such a young age did not increase chances of reaching a higher level of sports performance. In a retrospective ten year study that was reviewed by Jayanthi et al., it was found that gymnasts from the ages of 4-16 felt they had lower health and experienced less fun.2 Nonetheless, specialization in sports seems to still occur.
As previously discussed in a prior blog, it was found in research done that elbow and shoulder injuries were seemingly increasing not only at the major league level, but all the way down to little league baseball in players as young as eight years old. Even though it was not possible to blame a specific cause to the increased injuries, the biggest risk factors were large workloads at a young level, and pitching with incorrect biomechanics. Thus, restrictions and pitch counts have been placed on athletes through the UIL at the high school and junior high level. For example, at the high school level, pitchers are limited to 110 pitches per game, as well as 110 pitches total in a postseason series.1 Junior high pitches have also been limited to a total of 85 pitches per game.1 It has also been put in effect that a certain number of days rested following pitching is required.

Pitch count and days off recommendations have also been made for little league pitchers by Pitch Smart, an organization within the MLB. They go on to say that even though it isn’t required it is the responsibility of the coach, parents, and young athlete to follow the recommendations to avoid injury3. They make recommendations for athletes as young as 8, such as not exceeding 60 combined innings pitched in a year, and stress the importance of keeping it fun.3
There is no doubt that an extent of sport specialization is necessary to fine tune the movements required to efficiently play. However, instead of doing it at such a young age when burnout and likelihood of injury are huge risks, it is recommended that athletes have fun playing sports, and not focus on specialization until later into their playing career.

1Florek, M. (2016, October 16). UIL officially passes pitch count limit; Here are the full rules. Retrieved November 17, 2016, from

2Jayanthi, N., Pinkham, C., Dugas, L., Patrick, B., & Labella, C. (2012). Sports Specialization in Young Athletes: Evidence-Based Recommendations. Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach, 5(3), 251-257. doi:10.1177/1941738112464626

3Pitch Smart. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2016, from

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad there is research out there that proves sport specilization does not increase the likelyhood of reaching the professional level of sports. I am a strong believer in the concept that all student-athletes should play multiple sports. Everyone is only guaranteed a limited amount of time to be an athlete. There is also a limited amount of time to play multiple sports before specialization is forced because the high school has too many kids or because an athlete only gets signed to the collegiate or professional level for one sport. I also agree that specialization should only take place, if it does, later in their playing career.