The Ole Ball Game

What is the safe limit for a junior to pitch without over using his arm in a single game?

by Lynn

Lynn asked: The question I have is, my son is 17 and a junior in school and he pitched his first game of the season the other night and threw 112 pitches. He pitched the entire game.

He is a all purpose player, they put him where he needs to be on the field, he has played every position.

They had two games and he played short stop/ right field/ third base the second game. It was cold and his arm kinda froze up and then he said it felt like a noodle after that.

So, did he over use his arm or is this natural for the first game of the season for his arm to feel this way?

Rick answered: Lynn, thank you for your question.

The question you have asked is a very current topic in youth baseball.

My personal opinion is that 112 pitches is far above where a high school pitcher should be at this point in the season.

We just completed a tournament where one of the teams had a pitcher who threw 126 pitches in his first outing.

The 2 links below are to pages on the site, which provide some information on pitch count recommendations and other information on the topic.

Pitch Count Restrictions Recommended

Pitch Counts or Innings Pitched

If your son had pitched the second game of the double header, instead of the first, it would have made it somewhat easier on his arm. All the positions he played in that second game have the possibility of longer, harder throws, on an arm which has already been extended, then had time to cool down between games, as well as time in between innings, on a cold day.

If it was essential he throw the first game, might have been better to use him as a DH in the second game, so he has no throws to make.

In this tournament,our pitching coach kept pitchers under 70 on their pitch counts. That is no magic number, it was just the limit he wasn't comfortable going over, at this point in the season.

Generally speaking, the injuries associated with overuse show up down the road, sometimes years later.

While there are a lot of factors involved such as pitching mechanics, maturity of the individual, weather, types of pitches thrown, triple digit pitch counts the first week of the season are pushing the envelope on young arms.

If you go on the internet and google Dr. James Andrews, there is much information on this topic.

One thing pitchers can do to personally help alleviate the situation is "pitch to contact". It involves going after hitters and attempting to get them out in 5 pitches or less. Less pitches thrown, less strain on the arm, lower pitch counts and the ability to pitch more innings.

Good luck as you move forward.

Yours in baseball,


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