Adjusting the pitch count to the pitch cycle
Ron Wolforth Coach Ron Wolforth of PITCHING CENTRAL & THE TEXAS BASEBALL RANCH is referred to as "The Pitching Coaches Pitching Coach" He has become synonymous with velocity creation and the development of arm speed while increasing pitchers' arm health and durability allowing them to throw harder, longer. He has assisted over 30 high school and college pitchers gain 7-15 mph in just weeks and months instead of years. He has been instrumental in supporting 27 athletes in his facility to be drafted and over 40 obtain college scholarships in the past 5 years! Coach Wolforth also hosts the monthly "Elite Pitchers Boot Camps" in Houston as well as the annual December "Ultimate Pitching Coaches Boot Camp" also held in Houston. (Events are listed on the WebBall calendar.) (Click to close.)
This is the final part of this series which has appeared in installments over the past weeks. In part 1 Ron looked at why conventional pitch-count thinking is flawed. In part 2, he covered a new way to think about pitch limits. Now, part 3 wraps up with a structured training program based on the pitcher, his cycle and the count.
General measure of workload
One Size Barely Fits One… Let Alone… One Size Fits All
In my opinion, a pitch count is simply a general measure of workload and for it to be useful, it must be continually shaped and modified to match the part of the season we are in as well as events unfolding in the competitions themselves and unfolding in his personal life. For example, even the exact same pitcher should have a different pitch count in April than he will in July. Not only is that number affected by how each individual pitcher actually arrived at the total number… i.e. pitch per inning, but it is affected by the following influences.
- ...the pitcher has had previous arm issues...
- ...the pitcher has been sick or ill or under great pressure or duress such as a death or illness in the family...
- ...it’s early in the season…
- ...he is a younger or inexperienced pitcher at this particular level of competition…
- ...he was over-extended in his previous outing or last 2 outings…
- ...his last outing was particularly stressful emotionally or physically…
- ...his mechanical efficiently is questionable…
- ...his core strength is questionable…
- ...the pitcher has alignment asymmetries or an underdeveloped scapula…
…his pitch count begins lower.
As a general rule:
Have a pitcher begin to build up his throwing foundation at least one month prior to competition in controlled bullpens. We begin by setting the date of our first game and count back 4 weeks.
- First bull pen should be 3 sets of 15. Throw fifteen pitches and sit down and rest for 5 minutes. Repeat 3 times (45 total- Heavy Day)
- Second bull pen 4 days later should be 2 sets of 20. Throw twenty pitches and sit down and rest for 5 minutes. Repeat 2 times (40 total- Medium Day)
- Third bull pen 3 days later should be 4 sets of 15 (60 total- Heavy Day)
- Fourth bull pen 4 days later should be 2 sets of 25 ( 50 total- Medium Day)
After throwing 4 pens his throwing foundation is then ready for scrimmages against live hitters.
In a first scrimmage or mock outing against live hitters, I recommend no more than 25 total pitches (goal is 15 pitches or less per inning) or 6 total outs for any pitcher regardless of age. Week 4
In a second scrimmage or mock outing against live hitters, I recommend no more than 40 total pitches (goal is 15 pitches or less per inning) or 9 outs. Week 5 - Game Time
In his first game competition, I recommend no more than 60 total pitches (goal is 15 pitches or less per inning) or 12 total outs (which EVER comes first) for pitchers ages 15 and up and 45 pitches or 9 outs for pitchers 9-14. If all goes well we move to Phase II. If it didn’t go well, the pitcher will repeat Phase I until he has a successful Phase I. Phase II
In his second game, I recommend no more than 75 total pitches (goal is 15 pitches or less per inning) or 15 total outs for pitchers ages 15 and up and 60 pitches or 12 outs for pitchers 9-14. If all goes well we move to Phase III. If it didn’t go well, the pitcher will repeat Phase II until he has a successful Phase II. Phase III
In his third game, I recommend no more than 90 total pitches (goal is 15 pitches or less per inning) or 18 total outs for pitchers ages 15 and up and 70 pitches or 15 outs for pitchers 9-14. If all goes well we move to Phase IV. If it didn’t go well, the pitcher will repeat Phase III until he has a successful Phase III. Phase IV
In his fourth game, I recommend no more than 100 total pitches (goal is 15 pitches or less per inning) or 21 total outs for pitchers ages 15 and up and 80 pitches or 18 outs for pitchers 9-14. If all goes well, we move to primarily concentrating on pitch count per inning instead of total pitch count. Total pitch count would only be a general guide line.
At the very least, I hope after ready this, you have a gained a new perspective on how you view and utilize pitch counts.
Until next time, stay open and curious.
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