Pitch Count Education

Dear LBSC Coaches & Parents:

English philosopher Herbert Spencer said “the great aim of education is not knowledge, but action.” Today, we want to first educate the members of our community, but then more importantly, create action steps towards the implementation of baseball only pitch count regulations. The first national youth baseball organization to adopt pitch counts, instead of innings pitched, as the basis for pitching rules was Little League in 2006. They developed their regulations based on years of research by expert physicians in the field of sports medicine in conjunction with Major League Baseball. The initial program, titled the “MLB Pitch Smart Program” was built on the foundation of trying to promote safety for youth baseball pitchers.

In their research, the number one injury risk factor for youth baseball pitchers was fatigue. The primary research on the youth baseball injury epidemic was done by expert orthopedic sports medicine doctors at ASMI (Alabama) and AREI (Florida). They concluded that if a young baseball player plays/pitches with fatigue, there is a 36 to 1 increased incidence that they can injure their throwing shoulder and/or elbow. The question then becomes is if a youth baseball player is fatigued, how do we define that?

There are 3 ways to define baseball pitcher fatigue:

  • Event/Game Fatigue: too many pitches in a game
  • Seasonal Fatigue: too many pitches and/or innings pitched in a season
  • Year-Round Fatigue: all youth players should take 10-12 continuous weeks off pitching per year

We can greatly reduce our injury risks by monitoring the fatigue levels of our players. Little League was the first to adopt pitch counts in their effort to reduce injury risks. Since Little League implemented their MLB Pitch Smart Program, USA Baseball has adopted it. Other national bodies such as Cal Ripken Baseball and Babe Ruth Baseball have followed. Most recently, in 2017, the IESA that Old Quarry belongs to, and the IHSA that Lemont HS belongs to, have implemented pitch counts as the basis for deciding how much student-athletes can pitch and how much rest they need after they pitch. As we consider and observe what the 7th through 12th graders in our town are required to follow, it is time LBSC moves in the same direction. The reason that pitch counts are a more accurate metric to use than innings is simply based on definitions. An inning could be defined as 3 pitches or 50 pitches or anywhere in between, but 1 pitch is always 1 pitch.

In an effort to do our part to promote the safety of our youth baseball players in the Lemont community, the LBSC Board of Directors will publish a Pitching Rules & Guidelines document for all coaches and parents to use as a resource for the 2024 season. Step one is education and step two is action. At this point, we hope to educate our community on this topic, but our future goal is to require adherence to these guidelines in the same way the IESA and IHSA require Old Quarry & LHS to adhere to their rules. We kindly ask that our coaches and parents monitor our player’s safety as we begin the 2024 season on April 20th. There is no way we can prevent all injuries from occurring, but as a board, as coaches, as parents, we can all do our part to follow best practices and put our children into the best possible situations to have fun and succeed.

Thank you for your time and attention. If you would like to follow up with the LBSC Board of Directors, or if you have any questions about pitch counts, innings, days of rest, or best practices, please reach out to us.


Eric Brauer, LBSC Safety Officer

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