MLB, USA Baseball Supplement Pitch Smart Guidelines for 2021 Season

Additional guidelines emphasize systematic build up following reduced workloads in 2020

CARY, N.C. – Major League Baseball (MLB) and USA Baseball announced today supplemental guidelines to the Pitch Smart program for the 2021 season. Additions to the program for the upcoming season emphasize the need for pitchers of all ages to systematically build up their preparation for game competition following a reduced workload in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Launched in 2014, Pitch Smart is a joint initiative between MLB and USA Baseball that provides a series of practical, age-appropriate guidelines to help parents, players, and coaches avoid overuse injuries and foster long, healthy careers for amateur players. The Pitch Smart guidelines include age-specific pitching limits and required rest recommendations to limit the likelihood of injuries caused by pitching with fatigue.

Added to the Pitch Smart guidelines for 2021 are suggested daily maximum pitch counts with progression benchmarks for early season, mid-season, and late season, as well as an annual inning limit for players with reduced workloads in 2020. Additionally, tips on how young athletes can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 are in this update.

MLB and USA Baseball have also created a sample throwing program to assist athletes preparing for the upcoming season. The program progresses over four weeks and includes daily throwing routines and mandatory rest days. The sample is modeled for a 12-year-old youth league player but may easily be modified based on player age and field size. 

“The supplemental Pitch Smart guidelines are really important for the long-term arm health and development of young baseball players across the country as they continue through their spring and summer seasons,” said Tony Reagins, Chief Baseball Development Officer, Major League Baseball. “The pandemic robbed many of these young athletes of a normal season in 2020.  This steady, gradual plan includes a throwing program and progression benchmarks that will give players, coaches and parents the tools they need to have a fun and, most importantly, safe baseball season.” 

The standard Pitch Smart pitch counts and required rest recommendations continue to be the staple of the program for youth athletes across the globe. These guidelines remain unchanged since the latest update in 2017 and athletes aged seven to 22 who did not have a reduced workload in 2020 should continue to adhere to these standards to begin the season. The new supplemental recommendations for daily maximum pitch counts allow pitchers with reduced workloads last year to reach these standard guidelines by late season 2021.

“USA Baseball continues to champion Pitch Smart as a priority initiative for amateur baseball in the United States,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler. “All USA Baseball events and national teams continue to adhere to these standards and we cannot recommend highly enough that players, parents, and organizations adopt and implement these guidelines. The long-term health and safety of our athletes are paramount to continued growth and development of baseball worldwide.” 

Pitch Smart hosts a growing number of resources that can be found at, including a series of answers to frequently asked questions regarding Tommy John surgery and the complete pitching guidelines and recommended rest periods for all age groups. The program is further supported by a free online educational course hosted by Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz at

Thirty-three international, national, and regional organizations are fully Pitch Smart compliant in 2021. Additionally, USA Baseball and Major League Baseball have recognized seven organizations as Select Compliant and three as Educational Supporters. One-hundred and twenty-four additional state and local organizations were also Full Compliant, Select Compliant, or Educational Supporter organizations for 2020. USA Baseball will continue to collaborate with all organizations on their Pitch Smart progress throughout the season.

Most recently, USA Baseball and MLB updated the Pitch Smart website to include special research sections, including one to “Maximize Performance,” such as the following:

  • Proper Pitching Mechanics
  • Relationship Between Pitch Velocity, Performance and Injury
  • Weighted Ball Throwing Programs
  • Long Toss and Interval Throwing Programs
  • Strength & Conditioning for Baseball Pitchers
  • Nutrition to Maximize Performance