Knowledge of and Compliance With Pitch Count Recommendations: A Survey of Youth Baseball Coaches.

Fazarale JJ, Magnussen RA, Pedroza AD, and Kaeding CC. Sports Health. 2012; [Epub Ahead of Print].
Baseball is a popular youth sport with all age groups. One of the major concerns about youth pitching is the risk of pain and injuries, therefore, a number of rules and recommendations about controlling pitch counts and types of pitches thrown have been established. Therefore, Fazarale and colleagues sought to conduct a survey-based study to assess if coaches of youth baseball pitchers (9 to 15 years old) were aware and knowledgeable about the recommended guidelines as well as if they followed those guidelines. Initially, 228 Little League baseball coaches were contacted to participate in an 18-item, web-based survey to assess their knowledge of the USA Baseball Medical and Safety Advisory Committee pitching guidelines. A total of 95 coaches (41.4%) completed the survey. Results indicated that overall, coaches correctly answered 43% of questions.  More specifically, coaches of the 9 to 10 year-old players, answered 62% correctly; which was significantly better than coaches for the 11 to 12 and 13 to 14 year olds (scored 35% and 42%, respectively). 73% of coaches reported “that they followed the pitching rules.” A total of 29% of coaches reported that their players threw breaking pitches, which is against USA Baseball Medical and Safety Advisory Committee recommendations. Furthermore, 19% of coaches reported that at least one of their pitchers “pitches a game with a sore or fatigued arm during the season.” When asked about the behavior of the other coaches in their league, only 53% of coaches felt that the other coaches followed the recommended guidelines. Conversely, 91% of coaches reported that their pitchers attended some kind of camps to receive instructional training on technique.

Overall, this particular study highlights a drastic lack of knowledge of current youth baseball pitching recommendations among coaches. An important next step may be to study the actual on-field performance of youth baseball coaches and pitchers to determine what is actually being done; this will help confirm whether the coaches and pitchers are following the pitching guidelines. In the meantime, the results of this study present a strong case for better education of coaches with regards to pitching recommendations. Also beneficial would be a more stringent system for observing behavior and enforcing USA Baseball Medical and Safety Advisory Committee guidelines. Future research should also assess possible methods of Little League coach education and their efficacy. What have you seen in your experience? Do you have any experience with youth sports? How do you feel about the current level of education of youth coaches?

Written by: Kyle P. Harris
Reviewed by: Jeffrey B Driban

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