Bullpens throughout the year

Pretty basic question Im hoping someone can help me out with. Im coaching a little league team with kids from 7 (leage age 8) to 11 (league age 10). I really have no idea how frequently to run bullpens the season. anyone have suggestions on how frequently to throw? Right now Im trying to get 3 pens a week with 20-30 pitches per session. once the season starts we should have 2 games per week and I have no idea how to keep their arms active between starts. we have 50 pitch max per game and follow little league rules of
If a player pitches 36-50 pitches in a day, two (2) calendar days of rest must be observed.
If a player pitches 21-35 pitches in a day, one (1) calendar days of rest must be observed.
If a player pitches 1-20 pitches in a day, no (0) calendar day of rest is required.

I suggest sticking to the LL rules and counting bullpens as if they were games. This keeps it simple for you. Keep in mind that game pitches may be split across innings with breaks in between while your team bats whereas bullpen pitches are often thrown in a single session so fewer pitches per pen than per game is often appropriate.

Throwing off of flat ground instead of a mound is a way to reduce the workload of those bullpen pitches.

Thanks for the reply. do you think flat ground pitching is appropriate for kids that young? seems like it would confuse mechanics.

I would echo Roger’s advice, and here’s why.

Roger has extensive experience with youth baseball - especially pitching. He’s been involved with youth baseball and is pro active in the right way to experience this game, and for all the right reasons.

Ok, now for my take on your question - please don’t take this personally, nor are my remarks in any way negative to your ambitions of bringing a quality game to your youngsters on the club.

So… here’s my take. The age group that your coaching is very young and very multidirectional at times. I say this because I’ve sat with the lawn chair crowd - not in the coaching ranks of youth baseball, and I’ve watched a lot of men like yourself trying to do the best they could. Now here’s the rub - these youngsters will never meet your expectations, nor will they meet the expectations of their parents. They’re young, full of energy, uncontrollable before and after your time with them, and the club’s makeup is not of your choosing - but that of others. So you’re probably working with what you have, the best you can, and right out of the starting gate.

I admire your wanting to conduct a bullpen session - and asking that question is really forward thinking. Now for all the planning and wanting… your league may have limits and time framings that might conflict with your ambitions. Hence, the advice from Roger.

There for, a FORMAL bullpen session may be construed as PITCHING, whereas playing catch MAY NO. Do you see where I’m going with this? Simply tossing the ball around, WITH THE ENTIRE TEAM, not a stand alone pitching practice, can be just a team practice. However, blend your pitcher’s in that session, showing them how to hit general locations - at ONE HALF GAME SPEED, is just as good as having a formal bullpen session. (wink wink.) So, have everyone show up out of uniform, not even a ball cap on, just sneakers, and have at it.

I had a guy who sustained a shoulder sprain. Under the Player’s Union agreement, he couldn’t be forced into any exercise program that put strain to his shoulder sprain. Ok… ok… no problem. I rented a row boat, got some fishing gear from my neighbor, and we both went out in the middle of good size lake in Upper State New York. I had a deep sea fishing pole with a four inch hook, no bait, and dropped my line. He, on the other hand, rowed me all around Lake George for two hours… taking a break now and then as I reeled in my line, had a bit to eat, then back at it again. Oh, by the way … my guy pitched the next day for the win. So, gotta think out of the box Skipper.,

I know there are those who think all practice must be exactly the same as game-time performance but I don’t buy into that - especially not for 8u kids with such coarse/rough motor skills. Drills can be cross-specific to multiple sports, skills, etc. During the recent Winter Olympics, I heard that snowboarders often surf or ride skateboards in the off-season.

I’d go with two work outs per week. Two game appearances, or one game and one pen. Try to keep them spaced out as much as reasonable. It will never be perfect. Always have a coach supervise the pen work. Have a purpose with the bullpen beyond getting throws in.