My own son plays in a Dixie Youth baseball league that follows the optional rule of allowing kid pitch at the "Shirt & Cap" level - in other words, instead of facing pitching machines, our seven and eight year olds pitch to one another. In many ways, I think this is a boost to their overall skills; by the time they reach the 9-10 year old league, where most leagues being pitching these days, our kids seem to have a leg up in regards to both pitching and plate discipline. Of course, we do endure a lot of walks from young pitchers to get there... But I digress. This article is about arm care, and making sure that you do all you can to prevent injury and maximize recovery. One of the very best players - and consequently, one of the very best pitchers - in our league last year began complaining of arm pain halfway through the season. Now, I understand that pitching is stressful on the arm, and youth pitchers are certainly using muscles which are probably not used to such exertion, but still, I worry about the fact that if a seven year old has already hurt himself, and little was done to remedy the situation, how long of a pitching career can he really hope to have? How many kids are there across the country who injure - or even permenantly damage - their arms due to lack of arm care? Pitch count First and foremost, keep an eye on the pitch count. Most youth leagues only allow pitchers to go for a certain number of innings per week, but we all know that innings are a poor mesurement of a pitcher's exertion; pitch count tells the true story. A pitcher can conceivably get out of an inning with only three pitches (three ground ball outs in a row), or can labor for 25-30 pitches. Last year in our league, a typical inning for a pitcher would easily be fifteen to twenty pitches. Following are pitch count recommendations from the American Sports Medicine Institute. It would be an excellent idea to keep a close eye on your pitchr's pitch count, and follow these guidelines pretty closely. Note that tha ASMI reccomends no more than two games per week for any of these age groups.