There are many problems with the way youth baseball tournaments are set up. One of the biggest issues is how pitching limitations are enforced.
Occasionally, you will get a tournament that trusts each coach not to abuse a child just to win a game. But for the most part, tournaments limit the time a kid can spend on the mound one of two ways.
The first way is limiting the number of innings pitched. A kid can pitch “x” amount of innings per day and “y” for the entire tournament. The number of pitches thrown are not taken into consideration. A pitcher can labor through an inning with 30 pitches or come in with two outs and throw one pitch to retire the final batter. Both would count as one inning pitched.
The other way tournaments “protect” pitchers is by limiting the number of outs recorded. This is slightly better than one pitch counting as an inning, but still doesn’t give an accurate account of how much the pitcher is actually working. This method will say a pitcher can record “x” amount of outs in a day and “y” for the tournament. What if your pitcher is a power pitcher that records a lot of strikeouts? He may average five or more pitches per batter. A pitcher that relies on control and changing speeds may pitch to contact and average three pitches per batter. You could also have a pitcher performing mop-up duty who records six outs but faced 18 batters in the process, throwing 50 or 60 pitches.
How do you fix it?
Obviously, not having an idiot coaching a team is the best way. A good coach should know his pitcher and monitor his pitch count. You should also remember that each kid is different. Throwing 40 pitches for one kid may have a completely different effect of another.
I can’t remember the last time I saw a coach using a pencil and paper scorebook. These days, everyone uses some type of program or app to keep score and track statistics. These apps track pitch counts automatically. Have the scorekeepers compare numbers at the end of the game. Take the average if there is a difference.