Are Pitch Counts Effective?

Pitch counts are a good step towards attempting to keep athletes healthy. But let’s be real for a second, they’re not effective enough. Pitch counts assume that all pitchers put the same amount of stress on their elbow/shoulder with each throw.

This assumption is wrong. 

Not all throwers stress their arm equally on each pitch. Two pitchers that throw the same velocity could have very different stress profiles.  What if you knew how much stress the elbow took on with every throw? You could then use that information to know how many throws were safe on that specific day. 

Pulse allows us to do just that.

But more than that, it also allows us to evaluate how well someone moves when they throw because we can determine the thrower’s efficiency score. Which is the stress the elbow takes on (a metric that pulse gives us on every throw) divided by the velocity of the throw.

The lower the number the more efficient the thrower. The higher the number the more inefficient the thrower. 

When someone has a poor efficiency score, (meaning a decimal that approaches 1) they are increasing the risk of injury if they don’t become more efficient or decrease their throwing workload. 

As you see below, throwers that throw the same speed don’t always have the same stress. 

The way we train athletes is designed to drive that efficiency score as close to zero as possible. Creating as much velocity as possible with a minimal amount of stress pays huge dividends in the long term so it’s the thing we care about the most. Once we can drive someone’s efficiency score down to a lower decimal, that tells us that the athlete is moving in a way that is more healthy on the elbow. In the first 8 weeks of our Arm care + Strength  program, this is something that more than 70% have accomplished.

We often tell athletes that they don’t have a throwing problem, they have a moving problem. This could not be more true. When athletes move in a more fluid and connected way their efficiency improves.

Once efficiency improves, then we can worry about throwing harder.

Thanks for Reading,

By Alex Preston and Kurt Hewes

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