The Florida High School Athletic Association has implemented a new rule for the 2017 high school baseball season that aims to reduce the amount of throwing injuries pitchers suffer from overuse.
The FHSAA’s pitch-count policy limits the number of pitches a high school baseball player can throw in a game.
The number of pitches is determined by the player’s age. Based on that and the number of pitches thrown, the player will be required to take up to four days of rest, according to the policy.
The rule is necessary “for the health and safety of our student athletes across the state,” said Robbie Lindeman, director of athletics for the FHSAA.
The goal, Lindeman said, is to make sure that athletes and their arms are taken care of every time they step on the field.
The amount of throwing injuries has significantly increased since the late 1990s, according to Dr. Jason Zaremski, an assistant professor of sports medicine at the University of Florida and a researcher for the university’s physical medicine and rehabilitation department.
Despite the new pitch-count policy, ongoing research by Zaremski shows that during warm-ups and in the bullpen, players may throw an additional 20 to 50 pitches, which are not being taken into consideration in the pitch-count policy.
In two weeks of research thus far, Zaremski has gathered data from 19 high school baseball games.
“What we found so far is that pitchers who are only throwing 50 to 70 pitches in a game are actually throwing 120 or more pitches in a start when we include the bullpen and warm-up pitches,” he said at a Wednesday press conference about his research.
Zaremski said he believes that the cause of many of the overuse injuries is inadequate training in the off season. Pitchers’ arms aren’t ready for the amount of use during the regular season, he said.
The goal of the study is to “prevent overuse injuries from happening before they happen,” Zaremski said.
In response to the data that Zaremski has collected, Lindeman said that Florida will stick with the pitch-count policy that is in place for now, but may consider changing it in the future.