I coach a 9U travel team. I’m not a big fan of having to teach kids at this age how to pick off, pitching from the wind up and stretch, what a balk is. When I was growing up we didn’t learn this until we were 12-13 years old. I have not seen the first catcher throw anybody out. Some of the kids have understand it and some look at you like you are talking a different language. I have not even seen a team be able to get a force out on a ground ball. Does anybody else feel this way?
9U is the first year of player pitch around here as well. Most often a walk or base hit becomes a triple within two pitches - many times even one! This is the year that it is very important to have your best three players at P, C and SS, but even then your in for 20-15 games lasting all of 3 innings. If I had to go back and do it again, I would probably just teach my pitchers to step off every few pitches to make sure no one is just running at will and most likely you will catch someone jumping early and get him in a run down. They are still probably going to get the base when your run down goes south, but it will be entertaining for the crowd!
9U pitchers here don’t have to worry about pick-off moves. They don’t even have to pitch from the set position because runners can’t take leads, and can’t steal until the ball is swung at or is over the plate. Runners may advance only as far as 3rd base on past balls or wild pitches. There is a two inning maximum per pitcher provided he doesn’t exhaust his 30 pitch per inning and 50 total pitch limit first. Overall, I’m happy with our 9U rules.
I like that concept.
I have them pitch from the stretch all the time anyway. Foot on the rubber to get signal and pitch. Off the rubber for everything else. Fairly easy not to balk under those parameters.
To answer your question, I feel the same way you do.
Set position is very important and often overlooked. Most pitchers spend between 40 and 60 percent of their time in the set position.
In 9U its more like 75-95%.
At every level of the game, all of a pitcher’s “biggest” pitches will be from the stretch – runners on base in scoring position. You’ll be making your biggest pitches from the stretch where you’ll need to execute or give up runs!