Coach calling pitches

Why do HS coaches call pitches?

Coaches calling pitches are doing nothing to help their pitchers and catchers become a “Battery”. They are creating “lazy” thinkers of the pitching game. Unless of course we are talking about the perennial nationally ranked high school teams’ coaches! There are exceptions to this opinion.

Besides, the coach that never called pitches ever in his baseball career is not really experienced at the calling game. The pitcher and catcher should call their own game. yes, I am here to tell you that coaches need to allow their catchers and pitchers to call their own game. This is how they learn the game, their opponents, their own abilities, etc… They have a better feel for the “holes” of each hitter in the batters box. They have a better memory of each hitters history, they see the flaws in the stance, the movement of the hitter’s hands, the plate approach, etc… It also creates a comfort zone for most pitchers to beleive in their pitch. Also, it creates ownership of the outcome of the game. Well maybe not, just an opinion.

Setting up a hitter is a very individual thing for the pitcher and catcher because first of all the pitcher needs to believe in the pitch he is going to go at the hitter with depending on the count. Most of the time coaches over coach anyway.

example: We have a good fastball pitcher on the hill and the 3 hitter at 0-2. Coach calls for a change down and away, ok…but the pitcher better keep it down and out of the hitters wheel house or out of the strike zone which most often becomes ball 1 then another off speed for ball 2 and then another for full count…what is happening to the pitch count? What good was it to get ahead in the first place? Why speed up the hitter’s bat when the hitter could not put his bat on the heater? Why not step up the heater by climbing the ladder?

Why even show the off speed stuff in the early innings??? Especially if you don’t need it until later in the game after you have seen the lineup come through?

Coaches should not call pitches unless of course they have called many games before in their baseball past or learned from a coach then spent time teaching how to call a game. But coaches should allow their pitchers and catchers to call their own game so they learn how to set up hitters among other reasons…

Wow, whatta rant! I hope you feel better that you got that one out. :smiley:

We all don’t know the variables of your situation hitit, generally speaking, the JV level is there for learning and developing. Do all HS coaches have great pitch calling skills? Hardly, but what they do have is the team…it’s theirs, crazy as it may be, parents and players have little input as to how things happen. It is a huge frustration and hill to climb for many, you’ve got choices, do what he says, don’t do what he says, transfer…join the debate team…but the plain fact is that if you or your kid wants to play at the HS level, doing as your told is what you have to do. Can this be overcome? Yes, but being antagonistic or decideing you know better isn’t likely to bring success. Attempt to work within the program, honestly, with a great attitude, if it becomes apparent that the program will not allow the development of you or your kid (Or worse injurious), then consider transfering. The truth is, whether we all like it or not, coaches will be calling pitches…no amount of peer or parent pressure will change that…so …when life presents a hurdle, it is up to the individual to adjust and overcome.
I suggest you calm down (I know it’s hard…I’ve got a son who is just now finished with his Sr. year and I assure you I am not in total concert with his head coach). Observe, make decisions based on where you/your son want to be…seldom…no never, will you win having an adversarial relationship with a coach on HIS HS team…If it’s intolerable get gone…just remember, the coach will be called by the next school you transfer to and what is said between them you can’t control.
Life can sure be frustrating can’t it?

And upon reflection, a change away after 2 heaters isn’t really a bad call…I’d call it later in the game, but changing speeds and location on a guy who hasn’t seen the change can be really effective, I mean particularly if the pitch starts in the zone and falls out…not a bad waste pitch if you think about it (His bat is jinked up on heaters…hard to adjust down if you don’t know it’s coming). :wink:

I agree whole heartedly. Thank you for your keen insight.

Down and away is a good call… Just don’t waste pitches.

I personally think the so called waste pitch should be an attempted enlargement of the zone…I’d never ask a kid to throw a change…up (The young coach will learn that little lesson really fast :lol: )…but think about that third pitch he called…some logic behind it…number three is gonna be aggressive and looking to protect in the zone AND he’s already all jinked up on the heat…ok by me to use that against him, a great oppo for a flinch swing…make the kid look bad thing…it could be a really great purpose pitch for the rest of the line-up and I would expect it to be a better pitch economy pitch vs trying to go faster…he can throw the breaking ball here, but it’s kind of cliche…2 fb, 1 breaking ball=predictable.
I could talk pitch strategy all day :wink:

It’s not unusual for freshman, JV and even some varsity coaches to be from the ranks of the inexperienced. And as would be expected, the learning curve for both player and coach alike can be steep.

From my experience, these teams would have been a hard sell if it weren’t for someone stepping forward and saying… “I’ll coach the kids this year.” And what these men and women lack in baseball experience and savvy, they more than makeup in a willingness to give a lot of youngsters a chance to play ball.

Now I’m not saying this is the broad brush reason for everybody – just the
one’s that I’ve had the privilege to meet.

Also I might add, these coaches rarely have help from parents and relatives of the kids their coaching – BUT, an over-abundance of willing and ready lawn chair critics and want-ta-be coaches whose opinions and judgment always seems to find a receptive ear among bar-fly’s and similar species of their own kind.

Anybody wanting a “straight from the hip” response on this subject can look no further then JD’s comments, right here.


Coach B.

My comments here are not directed to you, nor should you consider my
comments “personal” in any respect.


You’re forgetting a simple fact among young pitchers. Many do not consistently hit their spots. People get too hung up on the pitch being called by the coach, pitcher, or catcher. Location is more crucial.

I’ve tried calling pitches for both HS and college pitchers but usually became extremely frustrated when I often would see pitches miss off the plate on the opposite side of the plate that the location was called.

It’s understandable that the command of all pitches is not there for young pitchers.

It’s very difficult for any pitching coach to call pitches if a pitcher doesn’t have command of his pitches. Also, unless you have a scouting report on your hitters, does a coach really know how to pitch a hitter?

The bottom line is that the young catcher and pitcher plus the JV coach is probably not suitable to call the game, but someone needs to. So if your coach wants to call the pitches, then I would go along with it and make sure you are locating.

Coach Baker your points are well taken and I do not consider any of it personal. JD the approach should always be “here hit this fastball that has the arm side run” and until you prove to me you can hit it I’m not calling on my pitcher to show you anything else. I am saving the arsenal for later in the game. I ride the fastball with movement until they prove they can hit it square. I don’t beleive in speeding up their bats with offspeed stuff until they are indeed catching up to my guy with the gun. Then I use the offspeed stuff to catch them off balance. That is the key to pitching keep them off balance. The key to hitting is staying balanced. Now as far as young pitchers that can not hit their spots well… If he is allowed to control his own destiny he will perform much better. Ok if the coach calls the pitches but what is he teaching his catcher and pitcher? This is a domino effect because his coaches called his game and he never learned to think the game. All over America coaches are calling pitches and no one knows how to set up hitters…the many different type of hitters that come to the plate. When was the last time you heard the kid ask “hey score keeper what did he do last time up?”

Really, the kids know what the hitters are doing and what they did. I give them more credit than most coaches because my players are given the reins to call the game and we talk about it between innings and after the games. There are always many ways to skin a cat in this game but isn’t it about teaching the kids to know the game better than he did before he got to this point?

Just think about it…coaching would be so much better if we allowed our players to call the game and have ownership of the outcome. They would become coaches after their playing days and they will be better coaches for it because they were given the trust and opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. When the coach makes a mistake who learns from it?? Hmmm just my perspective of the whole idea. What are we doing in this game any way? Isn’t it for the kids? Just let them call their own game and see what happens… You will be surprised…or maybe not if you think like I do. The kids know more than coaches give them credit for.

So a kid on the bump has trouble hitting his spots that still is no reason to take the game out of their hands. Let them OWN the game by being decision makers not order takers.

No offense guys…Please do not take this wrong either this in no way is meant to be pointed at any one coach or staff anywhere. This is just a thought provoking topic for the forum. I could be wrong about all of this.

Thanks for pitching in.

oh boy :smiley:
Who could take offense 8)

Let me play Coach here;
1st, a number 3 JV hitter has seen 81 and can likely crush it
2nd it’s axiomatic that you don’t show a good (Top 4) hitter the same pitch 3 times in a row (Josh Beckett and his 14 fbs that won the ws last year 1st game excluded).
3rd, I’ve got a hotshot freshman on the mound with an advantage in the count and a so so change…why not see if he can execute a pitch located where it’s least likely to get crushed…and if IF the kid executes…Lets see…hummmm I’ve k’d #3 making him look baaaaaddd changed the way the entire rest of the order has to approach their ab’s and I’ve given a kid potential confidence…no exuberance in a pitch he was previously marginal on…could be a seminal moment, no kidding.
If I throw yet another fastball (Which has been timed and measured twice already) and make a mistake…hummmmmwhat does that do to the confidence of my freshman when his best rides out as quick as it came in?
Just a little different perspective…
I could talk this all day!

Just think about it…coaching would be so much better if we allowed our players to call the game and have ownership of the outcome. They would become coaches after their playing days and they will be better coaches for it because they were given the trust and opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. When the coach makes a mistake who learns from it?? Hmmm just my perspective of the whole idea. What are we doing in this game any way? Isn’t it for the kids? Just let them call their own game and see what happens… You will be surprised…or maybe not if you think like I do. The kids know more than coaches give them credit for.

…and then…

[color=blue]It’s very difficult for any pitching coach to call pitches if a pitcher doesn’t have command of his pitches. Also, unless you have a scouting report on your hitters, does a coach really know how to pitch a hitter?

The bottom line is that the young catcher and pitcher plus the JV coach is probably not suitable to call the game, but someone needs to. So if your coach wants to call the pitches, then I would go along with it and make sure you are locating.[/color]

These two quotes should be on the introduction page of every youth coaching guide book. VERY WELL SAID!!

Coach B.

only in a few situations should the coach call the pitches. i.e your main catcher just got injured and had to leave the game, leaving the inexperience one behind the plate. he knows abs nothing about the pitchers stuff. if the injured catcher is on the bench, he can call them, but if he had to leave the field the coach should do the calling

I think all coaches should read this little paragraph…

During tryouts of this year I was talkin to my varsity coach about pitching and whatnot and how I worked with this older gentlemen over the winter. That older gentlemen happened to be the Varsity Baseball coach at my school just before the current one. He had 9 players go to a D1 College in the last year he coached but the team was not very successful. One of his pitchers had been pitching a no-hitter through 5 innings, he called time, and went out to the mound. He told his pitcher his foot was landing a few inches away from the right spot. The pitcher went on to let up 10 hits and six runs and got the loss. The rest of the game the pitcher kept looking down to see if his foot was landing correct and could not locate his fastball anymore.

So, I was talking to my varsity coach and he said when he applied for the job the older gentlemen asked how he would coach during a game. My varsity coach replied with: “During a game you don’t coach, you manage.”

What he means by that is during the game your not telling the kids how to play, thats what practice is for. During the game you are putting out your best possible lineup both defensivley and offensivley making changes accordingly.

I don’t think coaches should be calling pitches especially at the JV level. JV pitchers just need to worry about locating his pitches and experimenting with others. He will make mistakes and no matter who calls the game, its going to have a similar outcome. The game is more likely to be a good one for the pitcher if you let him call the pitches himself. Sometimes a pitcher doesnt have a good feel for his curve for example and just needs to use it here and there to get the feel. If the coach is calling the pitch then he might be calling it every 0-2 for example and the kid is most likely going to mess up a few times.

Sorry this is so long but i think you can get the “jist” of what I am trying to say.

The main problem I have with coaches calling pitches at the youth league - HS level is that it stunts player development. When coaches call the pitches, it often causes both the pitcher & catcher to stop thinking a pitch (or more) ahead…used to coaches saying “just throw what I call” . I can’t imagine pitching like that…once the last pitch left my hands, and I saw how the batter reacted, I already knew from that feedback what my next pitch needed to be. Imagine, get to the rubber, stare in for the sign…and not know what you were throwing until the sign was given? Unless the coach is positioning his defense consistant with the pitch called I think it serves very little value…other than to make the coach feel like he’s more a part of the game.

Great stuff here, keep on bringin’ it!

Sometimes the young coach at the HS level and below just coach for the sake of coaching. Messing with a kid’s mechanics while he has a “no-no” going is just over coaching. Calling the cookie cutter pitch on 0-2 counts is just not for that pitcher that really thinks the game. Trust your players and they will surprise you with what they know about the other team and it’s players.

No coach has any business addressing any mechanics, unless the pitcher is about to injure himself, during a game. At all, ever. Period.

I’m in understanding of the feelings that are being let flow here.
I do however find them somewhat self serving and with little regard for several issues.
1st, this isn’t Little League, Travel Ball or some other non-school type activity, you don’t get these back, they are done when that last out is recorded your senior year…
So all you folks that think a freshman should call his own game…Let me ask, where is he going to develop in a meaningful way? By my experience they will go with what worked…in LL or Jr. High (By the way who called those pitches? Was he miraculously endowed with the ability to understand what is presented at the plate?) How will they ever expand their capabilities as far as arsenal and get confident? Who will be responsible if they aren’t successful and completely lose confidence…what of the rest of the team? Will they have to bare the burden as lil Jr. learns he can’t overpower kids as he used to?
How will the coach ever discern whether or not the kid is coachable? Coachable in a pinch, with the game on the line…nope this isn’t just playing…If you want to be able to call your own pitches, I say you have to earn that right by the school of hard knocks…ya’ll act like the coach just needs to take the kids word that he’s got it (Why have a coach all these kids know everything about the game don’t they?)…come on…that just can’t make sense to you guys. The coach has a responsibility to the kids under his charge, no individual has an inherited right to jeapardize the team by automatically calling the pitches just because he stands on the bump…he may know a little, heck he may know a lot…but he sure enough doesn’t know it all. So this kid takes the whole team on his shoulders…and fails, what does that do to team mates…he is responsible for them losing, how will that effect their relationship as a team? How will he feel when they hang the blame on him? Hate his guts cause he caused them to lose?
Part of the pupose of a coach is to take the blame.
My son earned the right to call his own pitches his Sr. year, he rewarded the confidence his coach showed by having the first sub-one ERA in school history…but he earned it by showing he had what it took…even when he thought he knew better…he did as asked, he executed and had success…then his coach rewarded him. I believe this is how a pitcher should get the privledge to carry his team.

I was interruped in my thought so I’ll share with you some wisdom I received, actually Andy, my son recieved from the pitching and asst. Head Coach of UNF, Bob Shepherd…He was throwing a session at UNF and we were just talking back and forth with Bob, he asked, is there any HS level guy you can’t get out? Before Andy could answer Bob jumped in…No there isn’t, Andy there ain’t a High School kid in this country you couldn’t get out, now how bout the pro’s can you get pro’s out? And y started to respond, Bob cut him off…No, you might have good enough stuff, but you don’t know how to pitch them yet because I haven’t taught you how.
Learning and taking charge is the end goal we should all as pitchers shoot for. We (With very rare…Maddux type exceptions) have to learn and aquire the skills of our trade, from ages eternal, these skills have to be taught…learning as you burn will ruin a good young pitcher…screw up his confidence and the confidence his mates have in him. A coaches job at this level is to develop a kid, not just let him go with what he learned in the leagues.
I have great differences with my sons head coach (As I told him I’ve coached way too many years to agree with him on everything…or even most things)…but what I’ve learned and hope to inpart on you folks is that he is there and doing a job, it might not be the way I do it,Likely isn’t but I’m not the one doing it…he is…I HAVE to respect his authority or his team starts breaking down and it’s my fault…and I’m in no position to put me into where I have no right or business to be.
As I said in my first post on this thread…It’s his team, not mine. If my kid is being harmed by him, well I have the right to haul him off (I could complain, but unless this guy has really been a complete failure, his administration is going to back him and I will lose and be painted a moron…no thanks).
Bet on the fact that coaches will call pitches…hope they have the goal of, at some point, when they have confidence, that they will (In horse terms) give him his head and let him run…Work to earn the right.
My rant is done… :wink:

i think it should be up to the pitcher and catcher to call the game once you hit the highschool level. If between the 2 of them, they cant figure out what needs to be done, than i think you have more to worry about than whos calling the pitches.

Personally, all through high school it was up to the catcher and myself to call the game and we did a pretty solid job. The coach didnt have a clue. I didnt have a competent coach in highschool 'till senior year.

pitchking…your case is the majority around these parts too…Dad’s all over my state call me to complain about this same issue and many of their kids playball for the best baseball schools and still all have this issue at the Freshman and JV team level. Coaches that really know how to call pitches are rare these days but why not teach the batteries to call their own game because coach calling pitches creates lazy thinkers on the field. Always looking to the coach not understanding the ryhme or reason is detrimental to little jr and all his peers. If the coach knows how to set up hitters then teach your players how. Respect the game, teach the game and pass it on so the kids get to the next level what ever level that may be but coach by teaching what you know.

Has it ever occured to you that this may be in fact what he’s doing (Teaching)?
I don’t believe that when a pitcher comes off after an inning, the coach doesn’t talk through what happened in the inning. Md. has good baseball and saying “Very few Varsity Coaches really KNOW how to call pitches”, with all due respect is absolutely unsupportable (And I’m sorry to say arrogent) and again with respect…What makes you the expert? How many years have you coached at this level, college or pros…I’ll tell you plainly that the professionals that I know, steer clear from open criticism of other folks teams…what good would it do them?.
You say creating “lazy thinkers”, is also imo unsupportable…If a coach calls a play for a batter, does that make him lazy…Again, why even have a coach? Why have a fielding shift, Why have base coaches…? Is the coach just a baby sitter…based on the things you say he shouldn’t even do the batting order because all the kids know better than his dumb a$$ anyway? Why would pro managers and coaches call pitches? Are pro’s “lazy thinkers”? Why are people calling you…from all over the state to complain…do they think that you of all people can go on the quest to stop this terrible thing?
Hitit your frustration is apparent, I fear your rants may effect good pitchers with good, open minded, team oriented attitudes, I find the logic behind what you are saying…flawed by your emotions, I’m sorry if this is in anyway offensive to you but I just cannot let it go unchallenged…I never envisioned myself taking this side.

This is my first time on the forum, I’ll try to not be too lengthy in words. This is a delicate question on the u-16 team that I am now the pitching coach. The owner of the team was the previous pitching coach, he asked me to take over after seeing me help his son get to the next level of success by my personal traiining his son. Refining his delivery, increasing his velocity, moving him more towards being a thinking pitcher, becoming much stronger on the mental side. He made his high school varsity team this season right from the beginning. Only sophomore to do so this year. He is the Ace on the u-16 team. I personally don’t want anyone to dictate from the bench what any pitcher must throw. I prescribe to the theory that the pitcher has the distinct view from the mound to see how hitters are reacting to pitches, setting up, back or up in the box, over close to the plate, or open and back from the plate. Also seeing if the umpire is giving the inside or outside plate to the pitcher. The pitcher also knows what pitches are really working for him at the current moment. None of these things can be better judged from the bench. Sometimes the occasional change-up at the right time that a hitter is being overly agressive should be strongly suggested, but never insisted upon…
One of the other coaches that has been with these boys since they were 10 yr olds doesn’t want to be questioned about him calling pitches from the bench. His positioning of infielders in certain situations is one of his reasons I believe the infielders should always be aware of the location that is being called for by the catcher. I know that there is a way to come to a solution here, but the other coach has not been very easy to talk to on this subject. RPinSeattle