The Problem with Pitch Counts
As a population dedicated to keeping athletes thriving and healthy, it’s hard not to notice the trend of increasing injury rates among pitchers in recent years. Many teams have responded to this issue by implementing strict pitch counts, limiting the number of pitches a pitcher can throw in a game or over a period of time. The idea behind this approach is to prevent overuse injuries, such as torn rotator cuffs and elbow ligament tears, by limiting the amount of stress placed on a pitcher’s arm. However, as we’ll explore in this article, the problem with using pitch counts to keep pitchers healthy is that it may not be as effective as we once thought.
The Pitch Count Problem
Pitch counts were first introduced in the 1990s as a way to prevent injuries and prolong the careers of pitchers. The theory was that if a pitcher threw too many pitches, too frequently, or with too much intensity, it could lead to overuse injuries that could shorten their career. In response, teams started using pitch counts to manage their pitchers’ workload, with the goal of limiting the number of pitches thrown in a game or over a period of time.
While the intentions behind pitch counts were good, there is growing evidence that they may not be the best solution for preventing injuries among pitchers. In fact, some experts argue that pitch counts may be contributing to the problem of rising injury rates.
The Problems with Pitch Counts
One of the biggest issues with pitch counts is that they don’t take into account the individual needs of each pitcher. Every pitcher is different, with different physical capabilities and strengths. Some pitchers may be able to handle a higher workload than others, while others may need more rest between starts. Pitch counts may limit the number of pitches a pitcher can throw, but they don’t address the underlying issue of individual differences in pitchers’ abilities and needs.
Another problem with pitch counts is that they can create a false sense of security. Teams may feel like they are doing everything they can to prevent injuries by implementing pitch counts, but the reality is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to preventing injuries among pitchers. Pitch counts may limit the number of pitches thrown, but they don’t address other factors that can contribute to injuries, such as mechanics, strength training, and recovery time.
Finally, pitch counts may actually be contributing to the problem of rising injury rates. By limiting the number of pitches a pitcher can throw, teams may be preventing pitchers from developing the endurance and resilience needed to handle the demands of pitching at a high level. As a result, pitchers may be more susceptible to injuries when they do throw, because their bodies aren’t prepared for the stress.
A New Approach to Preventing Injuries
So, what’s the solution to the problem of rising injury rates among pitchers? Instead of relying solely on pitch counts, teams should take a more holistic approach to preventing injuries. This approach should include:
– Individualized training programs that take into account each pitcher’s unique needs and abilities.
– Emphasis on proper mechanics and strength training, to build endurance and resilience.
– Adequate recovery time between starts, to allow pitchers to rest and recover.
– Monitoring workload and fatigue levels, to ensure that pitchers aren’t overworked or fatigued.
– Flexibility in pitching rotations, to allow for adjustments based on individual needs and workload.
By taking this approach, teams can help prevent injuries among their pitchers, while also maximizing their performance and longevity. Pitch counts can still be a part of this approach, but they should be viewed as just one tool in a larger toolbox of strategies for preventing injuries and promoting long-term health.
The problem with using pitch counts to keep baseball pitchers healthy is that it may not be as effective as we once thought. While pitch counts can limit the number of pitches a pitcher can throw, the approach does not factor in what pitcher’s ultimately need to stay healthy… a comprehensive and an individualized approach guided by data-driven systems and experts managing high level arms.