Advantage of private coaches prior to the big field

How much advantage at say 18YO, is it to have gone to a private hitting or pitching coach prior to waiting until the child gets to the 60/90 field? Does that extra 5 years from 8 to 12 give such an advantage, that the years form 13-18 can’t make up for it?

I think it is huge, the more an athlete does something that needs adjusting later on the harder it is to modify those actions. Also instructors can modify their teaching over time to not only include basic mechanical items but then also focus on speed, holding runners, pitch counts, leadership and anything else that the player can handle. So I think, start them young and develop a strong relationship with pitching instructors, hitting instructors and don’t forget defensive instructors.

This is such an outstanding question. A question that should be asked by every single partent and legal guardian who enlists the services of a coach, any coach.

With respect to pitching - professional pitching coaches are “level” people. In other words"
>basic youth pitching coach
>advanced and competitvie youth pitching coach
>highly competitive youth pitching coach
>varsity pitching coach
>college pitching coach
>semi-professional pitching coach
>professional level pitching coach

The above classification is mine and mine alone. But I do so to drive home a point with respect to acquiring and retaining a person to train and develop a youngster - regardless of age.

The higher level coaching skills necessary to belong to and function at the professional level have very little in common with the very first level of play, the basic youth game. Hence, the expectations and perceptions necessary to bring a youngster along with a full understanding of the tolerances and limitations of youth would be a real challenge for the coach coming from the professional ranks. Now I know this is not impossible for some - but a stretch for many.

Like wise, if I were just out of the youth leagues, say fourteen (14) and under, I’d be hard pressed to hold my head above water with the semi-pros.

The communications gap is a major shortcoming for a lot of coaches that are either too high on the talent scales or too low. Also, growth issues for the young are not a matter of contention for the upper ranks in college and the pros. On that last note - I can’t stress that one enough.

Case in point - a personal experience.
I was asked to help out with a short “clinic” like afternoon for a group of youngsters who were just about nine(9) years old. I had to respectfully decline, stating that I had no experience with such a young age group. For the rest of the two hours that I was at this field, for another reason, I had the hardest time trying to explain my limitations with dealing with all the issues that orbited those youngsters. Bottom line - I wasn’t qualified, period. However, the bottom line as far as everyone else was concerned, was that I was just too good to bother myself. To this day, I’ll see one of those adults and I still get a cold look.

Final words - be carefull with matching any youngster with an adult. Sensitivity, age knowlege, a keen eye for observations, and a personality that supports instead of one that challenges should top the list.

Outstanding question scorekeeper, outstanding.

Coach B.

Good evening, Coach B.
Yes, it’s true that a lot of coaches are more comfortable working with kids in a certain age group and may have difficulty connecting with others outside that group—and, on the other hand, there are coaches who are effective no matter whom they are dealing with, what age group. I remember two instances involving my own pitching coach, Ed Lopat. The first one was one weekend morning when I arrived at Yankee Stadium to find that he had beaten me to it; he had a couple of 9-year-old Little Leaguers in tow and was working with them on some basic mechanics. I watched and was thoroughly impressed by his calmness and patience with those youngsters; one of them was a little ahead of the other, and he worked accordingly.
The second such instance was when I attended a workshop he was conducting for some high school seniors—and even there, at this more advanced level, there were variations. Lopat took a good deal of time which each individual and addressed each one’s problem, and there was one kid—probably about sixteen, a junior who was having some serious issues with his pitching. It turned out that the kid had a high-school coach who was a real pain in the gluteus maximus and who insisted it was “my way or the highway”; Steady Eddie worked with the kid and helped him get through this crisis. It all just blew me away.
It would seem that a number of coaches who played professionally, perhaps even in the major leagues, can shift gears, make those adjustments, and do very well indeed at working with disparate age groups, Ed Lopat was one such; his work with me was at the major league level, he taught me a lot of advanced stuff he felt I needed to know, and he helped me become a better pitcher than I had been. And at the same time he was able to work with youngsters and get them off to a good start.
It takes all kinds. :slight_smile: 8)

If I understand your answer correctly, you’re saying its easier to do something right in the beginning than to allow them to develop things that need to be changed later on.

There’s definitely some truth in that, but I wonder how much. Now if you’re talking about teaching a fully grown adult to pitch the “right” way as opposed to some other way, I’d agree 100%. But when talking about an 8YO, I have some reservations. As Coach B noted, there are a lot of different levels, and its very likely a coach who does well teaching at one level may well not excel at another. IOW, great care should be taken before putting a child in the hands of a private coach.

There’s another concept hiding in there that I have my own reservations about. That’s staying with one coach or one program for a long time. Personally, I refused to invest time and hard earned $$$ in private instructors until my boy made the decision to pitch seriously. Once he made that commitment and understood how it would be affecting the family, we went shopping for a private coach. That was the summer before he was a HS Fr at 13, with a late Aug birthday.

He continued with that fellow for 4 years, and learned a great deal. But the learning really dropped off when he was 15. To be sure that coach was wonderful for him to go to keep ‘on track” because he knew him so well, but the truth is, those last two years were more about maintenance than learning.

Understand that that fellow was and is one of the, if not the best developer of pitchers in the entire area, with a track record of enormous success. But, if I’d have sent my boy to him at 9, when he 1st decided he wanted to be a pitcher, I’m not so sure I’d have been doing a lot more than making car payments for him after a couple years. :wink:

What I’m saying is, I’m not so sure working only with one coach or playing under only one philosophy for several years is really the best way to develop players. It would be different if baseball wasn’t a team sport, but it is. That means a player’s performance is very much tied to the coaches and team around him. If those people change very little, what might be missed?

At this point in my baseball journey, I can honestly say I’ve seen some really great coaches and some really lousy ones. But the thing is, I’ve seen the great ones fail miserably with some fantastic talent, and the lousy one succeed with some real pig’s ears. IOW, I honestly don’t think every good coach is necessarily the best coach for every player, nor do I think every bad one can’t help anyone.

I have taught lessons in another industry to the tune of 40,000 private lessons over the term of 25 years and I have seen that it is so much easier to teach kids/adults slowly but efficiency over many visits, reinforcing good habits and helping modify traits that are not as good. Learning how to pitch can develop into many futures with include pitching, if pitching isn’t the result then there are some other good results, 1) the ability to throw properly 2) the knowledge of what a pitcher is trying to do to you at the plate 3) being exposed to the what is possible in baseball, and others.

I don’t deny that 8 is very young but I don’t think it is too young to start in a limited way into the realm of pitching and proper mechanics of throwing a baseball. Maybe at 8, a player might only see an instructor 2 or 3 times in a year but it starts to answer the question of who can pitch, who wants to pitch and what is the potential of each athlete. If nothing else, the athlete will start to develop a proper throwing techniques.

If everyone approached it the way you describe it, I’d be all for it myself. But sadly, I’d say that in general the people who would send an 8YO to a private instructors, aren’t doing it to help that child slowly progress. In fact, I’m guessing quite the contrary, where they want to jump start the child in order to get him to a higher level much sooner. And BTE, the folks I’m aware of who send their 8YO to a private coach, more often than not send them 2-3 times a month.

Tom Glavine played baseball three months a year in his youth, and never had a private pitching lesson as a youth … Mariano Rivera was a shortstop and didn’t pitch until he was 20, when he volunteered to replace his Panamanian team’s poorly performing pitcher … So I don’t know how necessary it really is to have private pitching lessons at 8-12.

That said, I take my just-turned-9-year-old to a 30-minute pitching lesson maybe once a month during season. However, I do it more to get another point of view to help me, this former high school pitcher, be a better pitching coach for my son. In fact, I’ve taken my son to three different pitching coaches just to get their three different perspectives (I take a little from each). But still, the vast majority of my son’s bullpens and lessons are with me.

I do agree, though, that some of the other kids I know who are taking private pitching lessons do so on a weekly basis, and pretty much year round with little to no break. I think that’s insane. I know two 8-year-olds who didn’t get to “play up” with their friend last season and so the parents of the two, thinking their kids had been “left behind”, have had these two kids take weekly private pitching, batting, and fielding lessons. At 8. Week in and week out. Year round. Unbelievable.

An advantage of being gifted.

Ditto. My son (10 last year) sees a pitching coach several times a year for the same reason . . . so I can get another’s perspective . . . Each time I learn something and impart their knowledge into my son.

That’s the story here as well. Most of the younger kids who have private pitching lessons do so on a weekly basis year round, and for the most part, I do not see improvements in these kids.

We do have piano lessons on a weekly basis. HIs teacher imparts within him more than just playing notes and reading music. She instills within him love of music, rhythm, voice, tone, composure, and many other elements to become a great musician. How to play the piano (i.e. fingers on the keys), similar to how to pitch (mechanics), is only a small part of his lessons. IMHO, mental composure, strategy, timing, etc. and the love for the game should also be taught as well as mechanics.

They’re probably fatigued … gassed … worn out … physically and mentally.

I know this: I gave my son this past summer off from all throwing activities (late May to early September), as he had been playing baseball and pitching for many months running. When we started up again after that 3 1/2 month summer break, his velocity had increased markedly. I don’t gun him, but the increase in his velocity was very noticeable. And all he did during the summer was grow, swim in the pool, and play chess. In other words, he had what my doctor friend says is a vital “period of non-stressed growth.”

[quote=“shoshonte”]
That’s the story here as well. Most of the younger kids who have private pitching lessons do so on a weekly basis year round, and for the most part, I do not see improvements in these kids.[/quote]

It’s been my experience that the kids that take the lessons, but still don’t improve are a direct result of their work ethic. Sure, you can take junior to lessons every week, but if he doesn’t put in the work in between those lessons it is all for naught. To continue with the piano theme, you can learn to play piano just by taking lessons, but if you want to be good at playing the piano you have to practice your scales, arpeggios, etc daily. Same with anything you want to be good at. Consistent practice and fine tuning of your skills is what it takes to be good. A little bit of aptitude doesn’t hurt either. :slight_smile:

Exactly. One doesn’t learn by osmosis. It’s essential to work at what one learns in order for it to stick. I think of one pitcher we faced repeatedly in the course of the season—this guy had a beautiful slow curve, but he was telegraphing it all the time, and apparently nobody ever worked with him on how to avoid this particular mistake! So we kept knocking him out of the box game after bame after game. :roll:

Fantastic thread. Maybe I can give a view from a strength and conditioning coach. We see kids from junior high age and up at our facility and it is so much easier to work with kids who have not developed bad habits/form with their movements. In other words, the 7th, 8th, and 9th graders typically progress more rapidly compared to the sophomores, juniors, and definitely seniors. I’m not saying these kids are stronger or faster. Instead, they are able to adapt to the simpler movements sooner, and thus, we can progress them to the more complicated movements sooner as well which allows them to become stronger and faster as they physically mature. With the older high school kids who have been lifting at school and just mimicking what their teammates are doing, we really have to spend some time “fixing” movement issues that have developed as a result of poor form, poor or lack of coaching, or both.

In conclusion, there is definitely an advantage to starting a kid while he is still “raw.” It is much easier to teach/instill good habits than it is to break bad ones.

Makes perfect sense, Full Windup. There are many, many good analogies to this principle from all branches of learning: motor skills, language, ear training for music, etc, etc.

Tom House has been saying for years that the 9 - 12 yo gang are the easiest ones to help: They simply haven’t had enough time to reinforce any poor mechanical habits with years and years of repetition.

[quote=“laflippin”]Makes perfect sense, Full Windup. There are many, many good analogies to this principle from all branches of learning: motor skills, language, ear training for music, etc, etc.

Tom House has been saying for years that the 9 - 12 yo gang are the easiest ones to help: They simply haven’t had enough time to reinforce any poor mechanical habits with years and years of repetition.[/quote]

The KEY to what you said is “reinforce any poor mechanical habits”. When House was here last year, he said with all the bad things being taught baseball would honestly be better off if we just left kids alone.

My advice, more important than the age of the child, is to look closely at ANY instructor’s background and training. Don’t hesitate to ask “why?”. Too many people go to instructors and take their “word” for it because they were a college or professional pitcher.

[quote=“Full Windup”]Fantastic thread. Maybe I can give a view from a strength and conditioning coach. We see kids from junior high age and up at our facility and it is so much easier to work with kids who have not developed bad habits/form with their movements. In other words, the 7th, 8th, and 9th graders typically progress more rapidly compared to the sophomores, juniors, and definitely seniors. I’m not saying these kids are stronger or faster. Instead, they are able to adapt to the simpler movements sooner, and thus, we can progress them to the more complicated movements sooner as well which allows them to become stronger and faster as they physically mature. With the older high school kids who have been lifting at school and just mimicking what their teammates are doing, we really have to spend some time “fixing” movement issues that have developed as a result of poor form, poor or lack of coaching, or both.

In conclusion, there is definitely an advantage to starting a kid while he is still “raw.” It is much easier to teach/instill good habits than it is to break bad ones.[/quote]

Do you not think part of the reason for slower progress for older players is because they have less to learn in a sense? FI, if a kid has been training with you in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades, doesn’t it jut make sense he’s already made most of that “easy” early progress?

Let me put it another way. When a kid first starts in some athletic activity, let’s use golf as an example, he’s like a great dry sponge thrown into a bathtub. At first he soaks in everything and makes tremendous progress. To demonstrate, let’s say his 1st round of golf is 72 over par and a month later he’s able to easily shoot 36 over. Is it likely he’ll be able to make the same amount of progress in the 2nd month, to shooting even par?

But let’s really go nuts here and say he can and does. How long is it going to take him to shoot 36 under? Of course he can’t because although it is possible, it sure isn’t very probable. What’s happened is, the law of diminishing returns has come into play. The tendency for a continuing application of effort or skill toward a particular project or goal to decline in effectiveness after a certain level of result has been achieved.

So, if that is at all true, I’d say it was more than expected that a more experienced athlete not advance at the same rate as an experienced one. In fact, I don’t really understand in your case, why you would be teaching the same thing to a Sr that you taught him when he was in 7th grade?

Sounds familiar, scorekeeper.
There is a reason why a teacher or a coach or whatever might have to teach a senior the same things that were taught in seventh grade: they didn’t listen the first time. I had an incredible pitching coach who once told me that when he was working with some pitchers he had to tell them more than once about one thing or another, because the first time everything had gone in one ear and out the other. They hadn’t listened the first time.
The Cincinnati Reds once had a pitcher named Jay Hook, whose middle name ought to have been “Inconsistency”. He reminded one of the little girl with the curl in the old nursery rhyme; when he was good, he was very, very good, but when he was bad he just plain stank on hot ice. On one occasion he started a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he stank on hot ice and then some. The Pirates were eating him alive; they turned everything he threw into line-drive extra-base hits, a few of which went over the fence. Finally manager Fred Hutchinson couldn’t take it any more and he had to go out to the mound and give Hook the hook (no pun intended). Hook returned to the dugout, where he sat in a corner and bemoaned the loss of his fast ball; it had up and deserted him.
Jim Brosnan, a very good relief pitcher for Cincinnati who might have made a fine pitching coach had he been so inclined, tried to explain something to Hook. He said, and I quote: “Nobody has all his good stuff every time out. That’s when you learn this game. You have other pitches to throw; use them when your fast ball isn’t there.” But Hook appeared not to hear him; he just moaned, over and over and over, “Without my fast ball I can’t pitch.” Brosnan finally gave up trying to talk to him; it was as if he had been talking to the wall.
Hook didn’t last very long in the majors after that.
Q.E.D. 8)

Hey guys, I have been away from the forum for about a month, and I apologize for not replying sooner.

The reason we may be teaching a senior in HS and a 7th grader the same things is because the senior has had no background in what is being taught. He may think he knows how to perform a squat or deadlift or any other movement, but more often than not, he has no previous instruction and has only mimicked what he saw in the high school weight room.

We may not always have to start from scratch, but small fixes can really help the older athlete, and breaking it down to the basics (what we teach the 7th grader) is how we make those fixes. We have to remember, just cause he is older does not make him more experienced.

I’m not trying to give you a hard time here, but I am trying to reconcile everything and its difficult. Are you saying that its easier to teach as 7th grader with no training in something than a Sr?

I’m sure your experience is much more vast than mine, but in my limited experience, teaching older kids something physical is generally much easier because they generally have more life experience about them and are easier to break down the steps of problems, plus their physical ability to actually do the task is higher because of size, strength, etc…

And that’s exactly what I was talking about. So why then do people say its so difficult to get older players to change?

I’m not trying to give you a hard time here, but I am trying to reconcile everything and its difficult. Are you saying that its easier to teach as 7th grader with no training in something than a Sr?

I’m sure your experience is much more vast than mine, but in my limited experience, teaching older kids something physical is generally much easier because they generally have more life experience about them and are easier to break down the steps of problems, plus their physical ability to actually do the task is higher because of size, strength, etc…

And that’s exactly what I was talking about. So why then do people say its so difficult to get older players to change?[/quote]
I think SK, that there are equalities in each of these.

A 7th grader may have to learn the basics and physically it may be more difficult as well as to grasp the concept of the act itself.
Now a Sr. in high school may understand the movement better and how it is supposed to properly be done. However, just because you know how to do it, doesn’t mean that you will do it right.

One of the guys on the team, his squat is rarely even down to parallel. He knows he needs to go down further, needs to keep the weight more towards the heels, etc. His physical ability to do so is much higher than someone even a few years younger. However, he has done the motion so long improperly, after 4 months of us telling him to go farther down, he still has a big issue with it.

Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent. If you do something incorrectly, especially for a long time, it will become ingrained in your nervous system and muscle memory.