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Daily Pitch Limits: USA Baseball, Little League Rules Differ

Little League rules are mandatory, USA Baseball limits are voluntary

Little League Baseball and USA Baseball have different rules on pitch limits and mandatory rest periods. Girl pitcher on baseball mound

The Little League pitch limits are mandatory and must be strictly followed, with each league now required to designate a scorekeeper or official to track the pitch counts and to notify umpires when pitchers reach mandatory limits.  A  violation of the Little League pitch limit and mandatory rest rules may result in a protest of the game and, ultimately, a forfeit.

By contrast, the USA Baseball pitch limits are recommendations.  Because they are voluntary, a team does not incur a penalty if the guidelines are not followed.

 Age (years)

2006 USA Baseball Recommendations

Daily/Weekly Pitch Limit (Approx.)

2014 Little League Baseball

Mandatory Daily Pitch Limit

 17-18  No recommended limit
 105*
 15-16  No recommended limit
 95*
 13-14  75 pitches (125 pitches per week)
 95*
 11-12  75 pitches (100 pitches per week)
 85*
 9-10  50 pitches (75 pitches per week)
 75*
 7-8  No recommended limit  50*

 

* While Little League Baseball, unlike USA Baseball, does not set limits on the number of pitches per week, it does require mandatory rest between pitching appearances, which effectively limit the number of pitches which can be thrown over the course of a week.  For a chart setting out Little League mandatory rest periods, click here.

Independent travel baseball

A note of extreme caution to parents of youth baseball pitchers on independent travel and all-star teams competing in independently-operated tournaments: they may have NO rules at all on pitch limits and rest.

Parents also need to understand that if their child plays on mutiple teams, there may be little or no communication between coaches, and it may be up to them to keep track of their child's pitch counts and days off.  Otherwise, their child may be at significant risk of an overuse injury to their elbow or shoulder that may require surgery.

Limit pitches per season and year 

Little League Baseball does not set limits on the number of pitches a player can throw over the course of a season or a year. USA Baseball recommends the following limits*:

 Age   Pitches per game
 Pitches per week
 Pitches per season
  Pitches per year
 13-14  75  125  1000  3000
 11-12  75  100  1000  3000
 9 - 10
 50  75  1000  2000

* Pitch count limits include only pitches thrown during games and don't include:

  • Throws from other positions (Note: Little League bans pitchers from going behind the plate as catchers because of the amount of throwing involved in that position).  A new study from the American Sports Medicine Institute seems to provide some preliminary support for that ban, finding, based on limited data, that playing catcher appeared to double or triple a pitcher's risk of injury, although the small number of injured players studied prevented a finding that the risk was significantly significant).
  • Instructional pitching during practice pitching; and
  • Throwing drills, which are important for developing proper mechanics - since poor throwing mechanics have been linked to increased risk of injury - and strength - since poor conditioning also increases the risk of arm injuries.
A recent study, however, found that knowledge of and compliance with the USA Baseball guidelines was poor.1

NATA recommended limits

In its 2011 position statement on overuse injuries,2 the National Athletic Trainers' Association recommends the following limits to reduce the number of pitching injuries in youth baseball:
  • Pitchers 9- to 14-years-old: 75 pitches per game, 600 pitches per season, and 2000-3000 per year.
  • Pitchers between 15 and 18 years of age: no more than 90 pitches per game, and no more than 2 games per week.


1. Fazalare J, Magnussen R, Pedroza A, Kaeding C.  Knowledge of and Compliance With Pitch Count Recommendations: A Survey of Youth Baseball Coaches.  Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach. published online February 6, 2012. DOI:10.1177/1941738111435632 (accessed February 7, 2012).

 

2. Valovich McLeod TC, Decoster LC, Loud KJ, Micheli LJ, Parker JT, Sandrey MA, White C.  National Athletic Trainers' Association Position Statement: Prevention of Pediatric Overuse Injuries. J Ath. Tr. 2011;46(2):206-220.

Updated March 17, 2014

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