8 y/o first time pitching in game, scared to throw as hard as practice


#1

My son is 8 y/o and pitched in his first game today in our 10U Rec league. In practice, he has been solid and one of the most accurate pitchers on the team. He has also tended to throw the ball with more velocity. In the game today, he did not do horribly, but he was lofting the ball a lot more than we had ever seen and definitely was not throwing with the velocity he normally has in practice. I spoke with him afterwards and he told me that he was scared that if he threw the ball hard, he wouldn’t be accurate. What ended up happening is he did get the strikes (1 K, 1 Strike out looking) , but he walked two batters as well. When he threw called balls, they were over the plate but high. It seemed apparent that it was because he was lofting the ball. I’ve uploaded video so you can see his mechanics - is there anything I can do to help him get the ball on a straight trajectory, or is it something that will come with time and confidence?

Video:

Any input provided would be appreciated.

Thanks!


#2

Personally I think when they “take something off the ball” to throw strikes its counterproductive. I’ve got a 16 year old that I’ve seen dominate a game and get to later innings & slack off with a big lead. Results in reduced velocity and less control. Might want to make him feel comfortable with the idea of throwing hard to the target & not emphisize throwing strikes.


#3

I would like to see some of his normal mechanics for comparison if that is possible.

Sometimes kids have a fear of hitting the batter. Rightfully, he doesn’t want to hurt someone, so he doesn’t throw as hard. Also, coaches may have informed him of rules that call for a pitcher to be removed from the game if he hits too many batters. He wants to play, so he doesn’t want to risk not being able to pitch.

It’s possible that, in the process of thinking this through, he’s subconsciously changing his natural mechanics and may struggle a bit to find the zone. He has never thrown that way in practice–it’s new!

Most kids will improve with more experience as they realize the batter will survive being hit with the ball and that batters have the ability to evade most inside pitches–if they choose to. There is nothing you can do about kids that don’t have the coordination or reflexes to avoid being hit. You just have to feel sorry for them, hope they take to training and improve, or let them get Darwin’d out of playing the game.

To help him get over this, he can pitch BP to a few batters in practices, he can pitch his bullpens with a coach standing in the batter’s box, he can throw bullpens with an infield screen in front of the batter’s box while a kid stands protected behind it like he’s going to swing. Any wild pitches will harmlessly hit the screen. (This is also a good way to train kids how to move to avoid being hit by a pitch.)

Eventually his confidence will grow and he will understand that every once in a while kids are going to get hit with pitches and most survive the experience.

I understand this completely. When I have to throw BP to a kid who can’t protect himself at the plate, I change my delivery, slow down the pitches, and it takes me a few pitches to find the strike zone again. 90% of this game is half mental. The same percentage applies to the people as well. We can’t get out of our own heads sometimes.


#4

Thanks for the advice everyone - I’ll try these ideas with him this week and also take some more video of him in practice. Thanks again!


#5

My son threw a few pitches this afternoon after his travel team practice. I took video of most of them and uploaded it to youtube. He was anxious to work on his pitching after watching the video of his game.

His league pitches from 42 feet. The rubber had already been removed after practice, but he is throwing from its location to a catcher and an adult in the batters box. From what I initially saw reviewing yesterday’s video, it appeared his release point was a little early during the game. It looks like he addressed this a bit today and definitely looked better. Please let me know if you see anything else that I can work with him on.

Thanks!


#6

For an 8 year old I think he looks fundamentally sound. Just tell him to have fun and try not to put a lot of pressure on him, he’ll do fine.