10 YO lefty pitching advice

Hello All!

I am new to the forums and looking for some advice. I think it is a great service you are all doing by helping players/coaches/parents to develop. I have a son who has a very natural 3/4 throw with nice velocity. During practice, sometimes it still amazes me how much zip he can put on the ball and how accurate he can be. He also has natural movement on the ball which is unintentional. The probably is, during game time, he looks like a totally different pitcher. People have told me for years that he has a great arm, but he never throws as well in game time as he does in the back yard. I know this is mental, but how can I fix it?

All advice is appreciated!!!

Aaron

oops

Welcome to youth coaching.

Almost all youth pitchers will look better in the bullpen than on the mound in a game; just like all youth batters will look better in a batting cage than at the plate in a game.

I would recommend: (1) When he does throw a bullpen, have a batter stand in with helmet and bat, but not swinging; and (2) Try to have as many “live scrimmages” as possible, with the pitcher throwing from the mound to a live batter who is swinging.

There is no substitute for “live game” situations, whether you’re talking batting or pitching. Think of golf. On the driving range, one can hit the ball like Jack Nicklaus. But then on the course, it’s 90s. You gotta practice playing the course.

LL,

Good advice on both. I have done a little of each but will try to do more. With the non swinging batter, he still throws the same, but in games…

A

I see a lot of the same thing. it really comes down to stress in my opinion. The stress of letting down the team or coach or mom and dad if they don’t do well - so they try to be careful and not mess up. This inadvertently backfires because they are not throwing “their game”. In the backyard there is no stress of losing the game.

During bullpens, play a live game (figuratively of course). Track batters, ball, strikes. Put him in some pressure situations and see how he reacts. I’ve been doing this a lot with my son and I can tell a big difference when we do this and when we just go out and throw with no perceived agenda. Almost always he tightens up and has trouble hitting the zone when I say we are tracking batters. But the more you do it at home, the better it will get and the better he will be come game time.

It also seems that his mechanics suffer during a game. His follow through is not as pronounced, his release point is different, etc. I think he may be afraid of hitting batters. Any advice for this?

Aaron

OK so we had a game last night that I had my son close instead of start, and we had our first win! Although he was throwing pretty accurately, I could tell he was slowing his pitches down. Since he was successful, I didnt pay him a mound visit. After the game I spoke with him about it. He said that he was under a lot of pressure (close game) and that he didnt want to screw up, which is the reason why he was “aiming the ball” instead of just throwing. I discussed with him the difference in mentality between playing to win and playing not to lose. Although we did win, does anyone have any advice they could give me on getting him to throw like he does in the bull pin during a game?

Aaron

As long as your son is effective and throwing strikes I see no reason to worry. I’ve had the same issue with my son and one thing I did/do on flat ground bullpen sessions is to move the distance back to the next age group. He tends to throw harder without knowing he is. Over the last month or so doing this his velocity during games has increases without him trying to. I think having hidden velocity, by that I mean normal rhythm but increase speed from just getting stronger and better mechanics is better than some kids who generate their extra velocity on fast delivery and momentum. Batters see the faster delivery speed and prepare for it. When batters face a pitcher who’s rhythm is normal then the ball is on them before they expect it, tougher to judge, IMHO.

As for the mechanical breakdowns during stressful situations that is normal with young pitchers, experience will help relieve this. I coach a team full of 10 yr old pitchers and some are incredible before the game, put them on the mound and strikes are few and far between so their game time is short.

The kid has to have the “I want to pitch” mentality. Many want to pitch but can’t do it in games. Those I try and simplify their mechanics so they don’t breakdown in games with good success, even keeping some in the stretch.

Kevin,

I thought about having him pitch from the stretch but havent made the move yet. I would sure like him to develop his mechanics on his wind up. I have no doubt in the kids abilities, I just have to find a way to help him get in that pitchers mind set. Again, he is only 10, but feels like the weight of the world is on his shoulders when he is on the mound. Maybe I just expect too much because I see during bull pens how well he really can throw.

Thanks for the reply!

Aaron

[quote=“isaacsdad2001”]Kevin,

I thought about having him pitch from the stretch [/quote]

A local pitching coach was at one of our recent games where my son, who is also 10, pitched. It was a fairly typical game for him, meaning he threw with good velocity and control, throwing 70% strikes. He has a 6:1 SO:BB ratio for the year. His comment was my son’s delivery, which is always from the stretch, was simple with few moving parts. And the fewer moving parts meant fewer chances of something going wrong.

If I knew solution for this I could bottle it and make millions. :think: In the same game, within his 1st four pitches there was an E-5, a very well hit double, and several pass balls on called strikes that allowed both runners to score. Four pitches, two unearned runs, and the potential for chaos to break out. Instead of letting the game get away, he barreled down and struck out the next three on 11 pitches, then came back and struck out the sides in the next inning on 12 pitches. I asked him after the game what was going through his mind when the second runner scored, and his reply was that he determined that nobody would hit the ball from then on. He never mentioned the errors or the bad play around him, never bad-mouthed his team mates just focused on what he needed to do. His strikes were on, and nobody came close to hitting the ball. He has a pitchers mind set, but it wasn’t taught.

My boy is much more emotional (sometimes too much). He is my oldest and acts like the first born :wink:

I wish you could bottle it up and sell it too, because I would be in the market. I am just going to hope that with experience comes a tougher mind set and hope he has fun to match the stress that he feels.

Aaron

Shoshonte,

Also, what kind of velocity do you think your son is throwing right now? I wonder what is normal for a 10 year old. I think mine is about mid fifties, but sometimes higher (when not duressed!)

A

[quote=“isaacsdad2001”]Shoshonte,

Also, what kind of velocity do you think your son is throwing right now? I wonder what is normal for a 10 year old. I think mine is about mid fifties, but sometimes higher (when not duressed!)

A[/quote]

I would guess his pitches are around mid 50s to low 60s. After a hit or an error, the next batter will see his better stuff. The two pass balls on called strikes were this kind of pitch, which would be somewhere in the mid 60s. He has a faster fastball which he throws to me during practice in the back yard but he doesn’t show it in public. His ball also rises in on RH hitters. This movement plus throwing strikes is more important than velocity and makes it nearly impossible for 11 and 12 YO in our league to get good contact. His velocity is off the charts for a 10 YO, but not for a boy who is 5’-4" and 130lbs. He’s right there in velocity with the better older kids in the league. I think he could throw it in the low 70s if asked to.

My origingal question in this post was to address my son’s loss of velocity when on the mound versus during practice. As the manager, I made the simple adjustment of using him as my closer vice starting pitcher. He had mentioned that he prefered coming in later in the game last year, but I kept starting him because of the lack of other pitchers. Last night we played arguably the best team in our league and I put him in to close out the last 1 2/3 innings. He faced 7 batters, walked one, gave up a single and struck out five. I was impressed. He had his game face on during a high intensity game and came through in the clutch.

Maybe just adjusting his role was the answer to my question. Time will tell.

Aaron

My son’s pitching coach uses a gun during lessons. He’ll have the kids throw a few balls at 80%, 90%, and then “everything you got”, “blow flames out your butt if you have to” he’ll tell them. He does this to make a point. Almost every kid I’ve seen do this loses speed from 90% to 100%, and no small amount will lose speed when compared 100% to 80. And even the kids who pick up speed do so to the tune of 2-4 mph, which the coach points out, is almost undetectable to the batter.

Around here the better pitchers last year as 10s were hitting 55-60. We have a kid in this area that has everyone talking, and as a 11/12 was throwing 68-70. My experience is that people who try to guess speed, without seeing pitches gunned for reference, are usually off, and the closer the kid is related to them the more off they are, LOL. (on the high side of course)