I hope this section has given you some good information on developing a plan for how you are going to handle your pitchers this coming season. If you noticed when reading the results of both surveys, the pitch count averages by age were very close in both surveys. I think these numbers can give you a good idea of a pitch count limit to use with the age group that you coach. With that said, I believe you have to use those numbers as guidelines only and evaluate each pitcher separately each time you are going to send him out to the mound.
The group of coaches who filled out the QC Survey are very experienced with almost 70% having 5 or more years of coaching experience. I hope you noticed that most coaches don't teach young players how to throw a breaking pitch. Now I haven't found any evidence that if a breaking pitch is taught properly it will cause damage to the arm, but many believe that a developing arm can not take the strain that is placed on the arm when throwing breaking balls. No matter what you believe in that regards, teaching breaking pitches to young players does have other negative effects. Most kids who start throwing breaking pitches spend much of their time working on that pitch. It's much more fun to throw than a fastball and hard to get good at. A combination of challenging, fun, and cool is hard to resist for a young player. When this happens young players spend less time throwing a fastball and developing arm strength. Arm strength is critical to avoiding arm problems and is essential to a good fastball. Developing strong pitching mechanics takes time and effort. Often young players will drastically alter their delivery when trying to throw a breaking pitch. By doing this they are more than likely developing bad habits that will continue when throwing a fastball.
Finally, even if you feel your pitcher is ready to learn a breaking pitch, make sure you have a good understanding of how to teach the pitch. In my opinion you shouldn't have any pitcher throw any other pitch than a fastball or change-up unless given proper instruction on how to throw the pitch. If you don't know how to teach a curve ball, don't teach it, no matter how old the player is. If you fall in that category then try and find some training to learn more about pitching. Local colleges often put on clinics for players and coaches.
Many coaches teach players how to throw a change-up and I think it's important to know that a change-up can also be damaging to the arm. One problem is many players will slow their arm down as they throw and don't follow through properly. Not following through puts added strain on the arm as the pitcher is trying to slow down his natural motion. Emphasize that a change-up should be thrown with the same arm speed as a fastball. The goal is to modify the grip so a pitcher can't give it that little extra he does when he throws his fastball.
Greg Maddux and Jamie Moyer prove year after year that they can get professional hitters out consistently by throwing primarily fastballs and change-ups. The key to their success is their arm action on each pitch is almost identical and they can locate both pitches. It's your job to convince your players to work hard on those to aspects of pitching in addition to building arm strength. I believe you have an obligation to teach your pitchers how to improve themselves while reducing their possible risk of injury. It's easy to get caught up in the moment and send out a star pitcher for one more inning. Come up with a plan before each game, hopefully in regards to pitch count, then stick to it! For a player, the most important game is always going to be the one he's playing in right now. That's the competitive spirit we like and have experienced ourselves. Now it's time to make sure we have the proper perspective as a coach to know when a pitcher should be taken out of the game.