Arm Strength and Peers

I haven’t been coaching for long enough to see a young cohort of kids progress through high school. What piques my curiosity is how the relative skills of the cohort progress as they get older.

Do the kids who throw hard at 8 remain the harder/est throwers at 10, 12, 15? Do the ones who pitch the “best” continue to do so?

My suspsicion is “No” with the caveat that at the very top, the child remains one of the better ones but is joined by others

Really curious about this as summer travel begins and kids of differing throwing levels get sorted into what appear to be, in the heat of the moment, permanent positions.

My position is similiar to yours actually. We did a “Where are they now” with some of the great LL/AAU kids from 8-9 years ago and what happened to them in HS. There was only 1 kid out of the dozens of good LL pitchers that we could recall that is a HS pitcher. And he is not the ace of the staff. There were so many kids who quit, got injured, didnt develop, or were out gained by the lesser talented kids. Puberty and physical development was a game changer for a lot of kids. And the kids who pitched at a young age generally got hurt or burnt out with the demands of year round baseball.

Here’s my noob $0.02; I think it’s logical:

Supposition: throwing hard requires two things: effective mechanics and physical strength/size.

At the very young age, some kids have far more effective mechanics than others, and will throw hard for that reason alone. Other kids really haven’t even played much catch and can hardly throw at all. As kids age, though, everybody learns more or less “how to throw a baseball” and the mechanics advantage of the early bloomer is lost, or partially lost.

Physical strength/size is the other factor and the big question is puberty. A kid who hits puberty early will get a quick advantage in size and strength over his peers, but that advantage will be lost as the other kids mature. Late bloomers may fade out a bit during this period, but come into their own later.

My final thought is that injury and burnout take a toll on pitchers that start too early and throw too much. My son’s ortho doc (yes, my son is one of the statistics of those who pitched early and got injured) really encouraged us to wait to pitch until later. I think he is working on a study of major leaguers and when they started pitching…

BBRAGES,

Great points! My son didn’t start until 14 (now 17), but is now starting to catchup. The velocity is there, but the control is an issue. The good thing about pitching is that with a ball, glove, mound, and net you can catch up pretty quickly practicing on your own. And I think there is way too much pitching pre High School than during HS…

Good point. There are too many kids who start pitching before they even know how to throw a ball and are thus underprepared. No wonder so many drop out or get injured or what have you. And much of the blame has to rest on the shoulders of those overambitious “coaches” who push them before they are ready.

Maybe this should be a new thread, but I can’t help asking what constitutes pushing the kids before they are ready.

By all means, start a new thread on this subject. You would want to hear from not only coaches who do—or don’t—know what they’re doing, but also parents. There are some dads who are intent on living vicariously through their kids, for example—as well as the ones who proceed with caution and who probably know enough about anatomy to know that starting too soon can only lead to disaster. It should make for interesting discussions. 8)