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Orthop J Sports Med. 2018 Apr 6;6(4):2325967118765255. doi: 10.1177/2325967118765255. eCollection 2018 Apr.

Unaccounted Workload Factor: Game-Day Pitch Counts in High School Baseball Pitchers-An Observational Study.

Author information

1
Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA.
2
University of Florida Health Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Institute Rehabilitation, Gainesville, Florida, USA.
3
Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, College of Health and Human Performance, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA.
4
University of Florida Sports Performance Center, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA.

Abstract

Background:

Throwing injuries are common in high school baseball. Known risk factors include excessive pitch counts, year-round pitching, and pitching with arm pain and fatigue. Despite the evidence, the prevalence of pitching injuries among high school players has not decreased. One possibility to explain this pattern is that players accumulate unaccounted pitch volume during warm-up and bullpen activity, but this has not yet been examined.

Hypotheses:

Our primary hypothesis was that approximately 30% to 40% of pitches thrown off a mound by high school pitchers during a game-day outing are unaccounted for in current data but will be revealed when bullpen sessions and warm-up pitches are included. Our secondary hypothesis was that there is wide variability among players in the number of bullpen pitches thrown per outing.

Study Design:

Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods:

Researchers counted all pitches thrown off a mound during varsity high school baseball games played by 34 high schools in North Central Florida during the 2017 season.

Results:

We recorded 13,769 total pitches during 115 varsity high school baseball starting pitcher outings. The mean ± SD pitch numbers per game were calculated for bullpen activity (27.2 ± 9.4), warm-up (23.6 ±8.0), live games (68.9 ±19.7), and total pitches per game (119.7 ± 27.8). Thus, 42.4% of the pitches performed were not accounted for in the pitch count monitoring of these players. The number of bullpen pitches thrown varied widely among players, with 25% of participants in our data set throwing fewer than 22 pitches and 25% throwing more than 33 pitches per outing.

Conclusion:

In high school baseball players, pitch count monitoring does not account for the substantial volume of pitching that occurs during warm-up and bullpen activity during the playing season. These extra pitches should be closely monitored to help mitigate the risk of overuse injury.

KEYWORDS:

baseball; high school; overuse injury; pitch count

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declared that they have no conflicts of interest in the authorship and publication of this contribution.

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