This story from the Associated Press:
RICHMOND, Va. — The National Federation of State High School
Associations has directed its members to regulate the number of
pitches a high school player can throw in a game amid growing
concerns about overworking young arms.
The federation did not proscribe a specific number, but a limit
must be established by next season, said Elliot Hopkins, the NFHS
director of sports and student services. The limits will go into
effect in the spring of 2017.
Every state plus the District of Columbia are federation
members, Hopkins said Tuesday. Each state except Michigan has its
own sports medicine advisory committee that will likely be involved
in settling on a specific number.
“I think they’re better suited to determine what the number is,”
Hopkins said, noting the number in warmer climates, where baseball
season starts earlier, might be higher.
States like Texas have already established their limit at 125
pitches, and Alabama, Colorado and Kentucky have said that will be
their number, too, Hopkins said. Minnesota will use 105 during the
season and 115 or 120 in playoffs.
Anecdotal evidence suggested it was time to make the change. As
a member of the USA Baseball sports medicine advisory committee,
Hopkins said he sits between well-known sports surgeon Dr. James
Andrews and former major league pitcher Tommy John at meetings.
Andrews in 1974 pioneered a surgery, first performed on and then
named for Tommy John, that reconstructs the ulnar collateral
ligament in a pitcher’s elbow, allowing them to resume their
careers after rehabilitation.
“During those meetings, Dr. Andrews always expressed how more
and more of his service, and his surgeries, revolved around younger
kids,” Hopkins said.
USA Baseball, the national governing body for amateur baseball,
in 2014 launched the program “Pitch Smart,” which sets
age-appropriate guidelines for the number of pitches a pitcher as
young as 7 can throw and the amount of rest they should get between
pitching appearances. Most amateur baseball leagues have adopted
the guidelines, which set 120 pitches as the maximum recommended
for pitchers ages 19-22. It then also requires they receives four
days of rest.
One impact Hopkins hopes will come from the rule change will be
the involvement of more players.
“You have maybe three or four pitchers in your bullpen
typically,” he said. “Now, we’ll get some kids who really can’t
throw five innings, can’t give you five innings, but they can give
you a solid two, and now you’ve got a bullpen and you get more kids
The federation will no longer require its member associations to
require a certain amount of rest between appearances by a
Virginia coach Brian O’Connor, whose team won the national
championship in 2015, called the changes “a step in the right
direction” but was not sure a single pitch count number will have
the desired effect.
“Somebody could throw 75 pitches three different times in a
week,” he said.
“It’s not a be all, end all,” said Sean Ryan, a high school
coach in Richmond whose team at Benedictine plays in the Virginia
Independent Schools Athletic Association and will not be subjected
to the federation rules. He noted that a young pitcher often moves
to another position during a game, or in the team’s next game,
where he continues throwing in between innings and in the game.
Like other sports, youth baseball has a cottage industry
offering year-round, specialized instruction. O’Connor said he is a
big believer in athletes playing several sports, not just
“It has everything to do with, I think, other sports creating
better athleticism in players and I think it’s important that they
stay competitive year round,” he said. “I would rather see them on
a basketball court working together as a team and staying
physically active and competing to win.”