Overuse of pitchers jeopardizes team, future health of players

The 2005 MLB World Series Championship won the Chicago White Sox did not come without significant long-term costs – its overworked starting rotation never truly recovered.

"It wasn't necessarily that obvious the next year, but it certainly was over the next two," team pitching coach Don Cooper recently told FOX Sports. "I would have to say Freddy [Garcia] and [Mark] Buehrle probably took the biggest hits. Not that they were bad the next year, but I thought their stuff from then on took a gradual turn. It wasn't quite as strong."

While professional pitchers have logged hundreds of innings throughout their adult lives, and therefore may be more prone to wear and tear, youth pitchers are not immune to the problem of overuse.

In fact, coaches who allow certain pitchers to throw too often or for too deep into games could pay the price down the road as injuries mount and games are missed. Some pitchers could even experience long-term injury problems due to overuse during critical developmental stages of their lives.

As such, coaches should develop a consistent throwing program for pitchers that allows them to keep their arms fresh without pushing them too far. In addition to developing a throwing program, coaches must observe league rules regarding weekly inning requirements. Even then, some "high-stress innings," in which a pitcher throws a lot of pitches in order to get out of a jam, should be looked at differently than normal innings by coaches.

The American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) recommends different limits for the number of pitches that can be thrown by youth baseball players:

♦ 9-10 years old: 50 pitches per game or 75 pitches per week

♦ 11-12 years old: 75 pitches per game or 100 pitches per week

♦ 13-14 year old pitchers: 75 pitches per game or 125 pitches per week.

By following these requirements, providing high-quality baseball equipment and checking YouthBaseballPlans.com for additional tips, coaches can keep their pitchers healthy and able to contribute to their teams.