Coaches Calling Pitches


#1

My son is a 12 year old pitcher. His coach sends a signal to the catcher before every pitch indicating the pitch that he must throw and where. This is not unique to his team - all the teams do it. My feeling on this is it’s putting winning first and robbing young pitchers of learning the mental part of the game. Isn’t 12 years of age a good time to learn this part of the game on the field? I believe the kids should call their own pitches. The coach should let the game be played by the kids. The coaches can teach the kids how to make the best decisions, but actaully having to make them (and making mistakes) is much better than never having to make them at all.

What do you think?

Concerned Dad


#2

usually coaches in little league are just wannabe big league coaches and they want to win instead of actually using their playing time as a school. i’ve seen a couple coaches doing the right thing by teaching their kids the baseball game instead of focusing on the W. usually teams like that aren’t winning teams but who care about that, 70% of the kids will become amazing players just because they learned a lot from their mistakes. maybe you should try to take his job and do something right. you’ll have 15 kids that will thank you in a couple years.


#3

Concerned Dad,

I agree with you 100%.


#4

[quote=“Roger”]Concerned Dad,

I agree with you 100%.[/quote]

I’m in the same camp. As coaches we should be equipping players to think for themselves. And why in the world should a coach steal one of the most fun parts of the game from his players? I think it sends a definitive message that we don’t trust players we train, and this mindset is destructive.


#5

THIS SEEMS TO BE A GROWING TREND AMONG COACHES AT ALL AMATEUR LEVELS. TWO PLAYERS ESSENTIALLY FAIL TO LEARN THIS PART OF THE GAME…THE CATCHER AND PITCHER. SOME LITTLE LEAGUE KIDS HOWEVER NEED THIS KIND OF HELP…THEREFORE COACHES CAN RELAY THE INFORMATION OUT LOUD IE. “DON’T FORGET TO CHANGE SPEEDS”, “LET’S SEE THAT FASTBALL AGAIN”, “REMEMBER NOW, THIS GUY IS A GOOD FASTBALL HITTER, MOVE IT AROUND”. EVEN AT THE H.S. LEVEL OUT LOUD SIGNALS WORK GREAT IE. “IF YOU GET A GOOD JUMP -GO”, “YOU CAN PICK THAT GUY OFF 2ND” ETC. THERE ARE NO SECRETS IN BASEBALL. EVEN SOME TRIPS TO THE MOUND ONLY ALLOW THE PITCHER TO KNOW HIS TIME IS FLEEING. WE HAVE TO GET BACK TO THE GAME BEING FUN AND LET THE KIDS UNDERSTAND THAT AMATEUR BALL IS LIGHT YEARS AWAY FROM THE PRO VERSION. iT MAY BE TIME FOR THE YOUTH PROGRAMS TO EVALUATE VOLUNTEER COACHES OR SEEK QUALIFIED TEACHERS.


#6

If a teacher gives a student a test – and then takes it for him or her, is that a good way to teach (or learn)?

I’m totally against coaches calling pitches. I feel it’s lazy on a coach’s part not to teach his pitcher “what” to throw, “how” to throw it, and “why” – by calling the pitches instead.

If you’re a coach, let you pitchers fail. (Don’t encourage failure, but accept it as a useful teaching tool.) Let them throw the wrong pitch. Who cares if the pitch lands on the other side of the fence at 12 years old. He’s 12. If it was the wrong pitch, teach him “why” it was the wrong pitch – and why another choice may have been better. (You can do this between innings or after the game or at practice.)

Teach your pitchers how to think like a pitcher by letting them pitch on their own. That’s more important to a pitcher’s long-term development than a win on a 12-yo team.


#7

Agree … just had an interesting discussion with my pitchers and catchers this weekend on this topic. I asked the pitchers, when is it that you know what pitch you are going to throw ? most said, when the catcher puts down the signal … which was great, gave me a chance to have a little chat about WHO calls the game , and that the pitcher should know shortly after they’ve thrown the last pitch what they want to throw next. The catcher puts down a suggestion - and if they match, great, but if not they need to shake them off to what THEY want to throw. Now of course, over the years I’ve had more than a few catchers disagree with me … but, I believe the pitcher own this one !


#8

Like anything else you don’t just learn by mistakes. First you are taught the approach, then you go out and try it yourself, get corrected and then eventually learn it.

I called pitches through LL, then started letting catchers and pitchers call at times during PONY league and by the time they were playing freshman winter ball I let the catchers call the pitches exclusively. Funny thing was that their regular season freshman coach who had never pitched and was just out of HS called their pitches during the season.

My experience was that they called a few too many breaking pitches and gave up a few too many walks but that they were also far more unpredictable than I was.

As far as pitcher vs. catcher the catcher should be calling the game but the pitcher is ultimately responsible and should always have the final say.


#9

this is a regular occurence in high school and college…

just a interesting note, my coaches never called my pitches…BUT, the LL where I played the same coach has been dominant forever, he recently retired when his youngest son aged out. Normally for all teams theres a good season when u build around your 12 year olds and then you start over, it kinda cycles. This guy was in the championship every year. He got the best out of his players, and they were always prepared better than any other team…he called the pitches every year.


#10

My God, what universe do you guys live in? lol

When I was coaching Little League, we got 1 2-hour practice a week and I had to divide my attention between 12 or 13 kids, many of whom were 11, or immature 12’s. A lot…and I mean A LOT of the kids were there because mom and/or dad wanted a babysitter and figured I would do it for free…and I ended up pretty much doing just that for many of them. My assistant coaches were generally well-meaning parents who knew next to nothing about baseball. I tried to teach the coaches so they could teach the kids, but I rarely got that kind of buy in.

It was all that I could do to fit in a little BP, a little fielding, and a little baserunning while teaching most of the kids how to throw and catch. It was amazing how so many kids could get through 6 or 7 years of baseball and not know how to throw, or catch, or move through the ball, or swing the bat properly. Again, that babysitter mentality I think.

I finally had enough and built a cage in my back yard for BP, and we got in some pitching instruction along the way. If one of those kids had come to me and asked for more tactical instructions I would have thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Unfortunately, it never happened.

In my mind, there really aren’t that many kids who are cut out to be pitchers in the first place. It takes a certain strength of mind and will to stand 46 feet from a batter and sling away, with nothing to protect you but your reflexes and your heater. And I would rather call the pitches, using my long experience in baseball, than have my kid throw a candy-apple change belt high to a kid with 3 balls and 1 strike, and watch it rifle back to the pitcher
I don’t know, guys. In a perfect world, every kid who plays for you in little league is a gamer, a kid who wants to learn and play and be the best he can be. But I’ve never seen it. All-stars, yes. But regular season teams? No.

Do I just live in a horrible corner of the baseball galaxy, or what?


#11

To play devil’s advocate, the kids who are able to pitch at the youth level are usually the better athletes whose dads were a bit more knowledgeable than the typical dad. These kids are often already more knoweldgeable than the other kids and are capable of being taught how to call pitches.


#12

"It takes a certain strength of mind and will to… "

Very true. It has been interesting to watch the kid with a strong arm who just never had the right mindset to be a pitcher all through Little League. We all recognized his potential and every year someone would draft him with the idea of having him anchor their staff. Every year it just wouldn’t happen.

Now he’s pitching in HS and has developed a nasty curve to go along with the strong arm. He still is off and on and can’t be relied on. Nothing changes. The freshman coach thought he would be the best pitcher on the staff. By midseason he was relegated to mop up. This season the JV coach thought he’d be one of the main starters. He hasn’t quite reached mop up status but he should be there soon.

It is kind of funny to watch HS coaches talk about how much more they know about kids and then watch them make the same mistakes the poorer LL coaches made when judging talent.


#13

One of the things I’ve done…And I’m kinda with Hose on this…is I would stop the pitcher on the way into the dugout each inning and address why I had him pitch certain batters a certain way and to where I wanted it. It really helped the bell ring…It wasn’t my genius that precipitated such brilliance…It was hearing a college coach speak on it. He pointed out that he , early in his career called everything, until one day he got into a discussion with one of his pitchers and asked him why he (The pitcher) thought he called the pitches he did (The coach), he got a shoulder shug and an idonno…because you’re the coach. He started educating from that moment on…and once I heard that so did I.


#14

hoseman18 speaks of a typical situation being repeated in many areas. baseball may be the toughest sport to play and teach. many of the necessary volunteers become babysitters and later experience the humility during games. the action in soccer and lacrosse is gaining in appeal. to those ll coaches who make the game the best it is to only one kid on the team our respect goes out to you.


#15

I think the coaches should still be calling the pitches at this level. Players calling the pitches should start 13U or 14U. 12 YO’s have knack to throw too many of the WRONG pitches, I mean this as in you can;t throw strikes so you throw your change up, on our team its you throw strikes with your fastball before the pitching coach even thinks about calling a change. Now, on the other hand, if you get your pitcher thinking. “Ok, I;m gonna get the batter 0-2 and then pitch him out side with my change up to see if he bites.” But most YOUNG piters I repeat young pitchers don’t have and don’t want to have that kind of thinking.


#16

Are you saying you can’t teach kids at this level to call pitches effectively? ‘Cause if you are, then I gotta’ disagree. It’s all a matter of how well you can teach them. Once young pitchers/catchers get a taste of how effective the change-up can be, they really get into calling their own pitches.


#17

This is a problem I’ve experienced first hand with my coaches! :x Due to some injuries this past summer, my time spent on the mound was limited, but once I healed, and fall ball came around, my goals were to continue to develop my change up… Anyone who has read some of my posts before undertands my mindset on pitching: I emphasize the mental game to a great degree in everything I do, and even with an onslaught of injuries during the summer, I did not negate the mental game, and it showed in my last start of the summer… I pitched well…

Throughout most of my career, none of my coaches had called my pitches, as they emphasized the catcher/pitcher relationship, and the bond that grows between them… During my earlier years, I had the same catcher for about 4 years straight, so obviously he understood my mindset-we were both on the same page- - well, most of the time; I’d throw a pitch, and the minute I got the ball back, it’s like he knew exactly what I wanted to throw next, and where… Anyways, to make a long story short, we had great success together… Turn the clock ahead a few more years, I’m playing under a new system where I can’t necessarily throw what I want to throw… Varsity ball, it’s definitely competitive, but at the same time, during my previous year in which the varsity coach had been scouting my progress, I didn’t have a coach telling me what to throw, and I had success, yet again…

What happens next, I get promoted up to varsity ball the following year, granted, it’s not when I would have liked it to happen, but due to some injuries, and the fact that I couldn’t play for a while, and also, in part, I felt I was screwed, but that’s a different story… Anyways, to wrap this up real quick, I don’t believe a coach should call pitches… I think they should teach the pitchers/catchers about the different batting styles-weak points to look out for, etc… But as far what to throw, no… Never, not in little league, not in juniors, hs, legion-never…

A pitcher needs to learn from their mistakes; they need to be able to go out there, and do their own thing w/out the obstruction from the coaching staff… If he makes a mistake, two-one, he’ll learn from it… But if a coach is always telling them what to throw in what situation, they’ll never learn how to pitch effectively on their own; I think a a pitcher/catcher relationship should develop-they need to both be on the same page with each other, but this doesn’t happen if someone else is telling them what to do…

I could go on and on about this due to the bad experiences I’ve had with coaches calling pitches, but I’m not, lol… Teach them what to look for when facing batters, and let them develop on their own…


#18

back to the original question.----At 12—how many pitches do you have?Shouldn’t you throw all fastballs until somebody proves they are dangerous?I am coaching my kids to throw fastballs unless told diff.The catcher is responsible for location(target) of the pitch and should be able to use this better than confusing the issue with a new pitch.Of course it depends on the league’s skill level(all-star?).Rec league or All-star?There’s your answer,really.All-stars require a change-up of some sort,because these kids get cage time and bat well as a team.3-1 fastball is kind of a joke at this level.I would possibly suggest to coach that he wean the boys when you’re winning or losing big,or when an especially bad hitter is up.Otherwise,how will they do when coaches’ family prob. make him miss?Good Luck.


#19

Kids that age should not be throwing anything but a fastball and a change up hands down…kids should make the choice on which one hes throwing…and the coach should be there to give advice or give goals to the kid before he goes up there to throw like get ahead with the fast ball then work the change…or start better hitters off with change ups and go at hitters with the fast ball to weaker hitters and dont fool around


#20

A 12 year old should have a fastball and a change-up.

Why rob them of developing the change-up and developing as a pitcher? Too many young pitchers go through the lower levels surviving on velocity alone. But the older they get, the less effective that becomes.