Guidelines regarding how many pitches young athletes should throw have been developed to prevent overuse injuries, but a new study shows coaches are not consistently following the recommendations. Sara Fraley, a fourth-year medical student, and Allison Gilmore, MD, surveyed 61 youth baseball coaches in Cincinnati and northeast Ohio to learn about their attitudes toward pitch counts, knowledge of injury risk factors and athlete demographics, and how they tracked and limited pitches.

The results of the analysis showed that all of the coaches were familiar with pitch counts and were limiting pitches in some manner, and 92% of those surveyed knew throwing with a fatigued arm put athletes at risk for injury. However, 44% admitted they do not use pitch counts all of the time, and less than one in 10 coaches monitor and sets safe limits on how much athletes are pitching throughout the season or year, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Also, 41% of respondents coach athletes who are at an increased risk for overuse injury because they play on multiple baseball teams in the season, according to an AAP news release. More than one-third of coaches had at least one athlete benched with an overuse injury. Coaches reported several reasons for not following pitch-count recommendations, including lack of knowledge and not having enough staff to keep track of pitches.

Fraley explains, “Our results show that youth baseball coaches are familiar with pitch counting but may not be using pitch counts all the time.” Fraley adds, “It is important for athletes, parents, coaches and pediatricians to pay close attention to how much youth pitchers are throwing and to work together to keep youth baseball a healthy and fun activity.”

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics