A private pitching coach should first of all be a pitching coach. Not a generalist or some one who’s “been around”
Try and compare this itinerary to the coaches/people that you review for your son.
Ask what is a common thread (baseball experience) among youngsters of your son’s age. And then ask “how do you know that?” Listen carefully at the choice of words that makes up the answer(s). If your confused or don’t understand the response; just think how your son is going to respond to such questions and answers.
Ask how he/she introduces himself/herself to a youngster of your son’s age. Is there an age limit for this person’s instruction – both lower and upper? There should be. Youth coaching 14, 15 and some times 16 .. and under requires a heck of lot more simple “basics” then say 17 and over. Pitching coaches especially – are tuned to the frequency of certain levels of competition. What fits for a … say … 12 year old … will be like night and day for a say 17 year old. It does make a big difference.
Don’t be impressed with wins and losses, coaching titles, or similar accolades. These things don’t mean squat if the human chemistry isn’t there. For example, a perennial league champion from your local high school or even college can have a threshold of expectation that can be a rough fit for your son’s temperament, and attention span. Trust your son’s intuition here .. after all it’s all about him, not you … not the coach…. not the awards…
Of all the things that a youth pitching coach MUST understand is the (1) limitations of youth, (2) the limited tolerances for athletic duration(s), (3) the pressures that come from dear ole dad is paying for this so darn it, pay attention!, (4) and finally, today I want to pitch, but two weeks from now, .. I want to captain a steam freighter sailing the Mediterranean. (it happens)
Private instruction deals with the semi-perfect world. Actual game time does not. The pitching surface that your son will practice off of will be somewhat solid and smooth. Actual game quality surfaces will be far less forgiving. DON’T discount this when watching your son perform during live fire. Also, this part of his training experience can leave some negative reinforces that may take years to overcome … not to mention .. to rationalize under the game review phase of his training.
The start of his coaching experience should begin with a meeting between all parties concerned – including other interested family members. Get as much feedback as you can by others of their “take” on this guy. (coach). Also, you’d be amazed at how sensitive and intuitive mothers, aunts, grandmothers, etc., can be during such an initial meeting. Any coach that patronizes this gender should be shown the door – pronto.
A pitching coach should have a detail training itinerary formalized in writing for your son’s age group. It should spell out what – when – and how much of, each session will cover and what the expected results should be. Nothing vague or generalizations here. What is the youngster going to benefit from … session after session. Also, ask how your son will be reviewed by this coach so the next training session can build upon the last. And if your son needs a couple of sessions on the
same topic… what are the most prevalent topics that normally give a the kids of your son’s age the most time consuming. Don’t accept the answer… “well, every kid is different.” Well, that’s correct to a point… but your son shouldn’t be an unknown for a seasoned pitching coach after a few sessions. Experience means just that… this coach has the experience to “read” your son as he progresses.
There’s a lot more into this process then time and space here allows, but I hope some of my suggestions are helpful.
A final note though… if and when your son says ENOUGH… then it’s enough. Learning this craft can be a rough ride with other things in orbit for kid. Growing up is tough enough without pressures from something that’s suppose to be fun.
It’s lonely out there in the middle of the infield. The kids out there all by himself, nobody to help him, nobody cares. Do the job or you’re gone. Tough stuff for a kid. Tough stuff for a kid to hear the criticisms made by other parents under their breath … just out of ear shot… blaming your son for a loss…
Dad, your about to start something that will really bring out the good-guy in you, the things that make dad a dad. Being there for your boy … not him for you… is the stuff of true courage and sense of sharing the father and son relationship that knows no boundaries. I wish you all the best in your baseball experience.