Coaches/Pitchers/Parent Feedback - Part 2

Two items of importance first need be addressed:

  1. If youth baseball (specifically Little League/Independent League/Ripken League) is no longer an area of interest to you, stop reading and continue on to another post.
  2. This post is long, probably the longest you’ll read. Since the subject is of vital importance, it needs to be read entirely.

If you’re still with me, please continue…

I’m a little mystified by the lack of response by some coaches (who are in many cases parents) to an issue raised within the content of the sticky by Chris O’Leary. While MANY have looked, FEW have spoken. Could the reason for the collective “silence” be found within any the following questions?

As coaches, is “youth baseball” so much in our personal pasts (as we have advanced in our coaching levels) that it no longer concerns us? Has it become a “non-issue” because it is not directly relevant to where we presently are in our coaching lives? Are we so “tradition-based” (particularly in light of what science-based technology has been doing to “belief-based” teaching) that we are afraid to look at or think about the fact that we may be wrong in what we have been doing or allowing to exist? As parents/coaches, because our kids made it through “unscathed” (or at least, to us, it appears that way), it is not a “front-burner” issue? Are we so content/complacent that we don’t see the need for a possible change in the system that presently exists for youth baseball?

Dr. Marshall offers a number of statements in his book that many, as Chris O’Leary pointed out, would believe extreme (go to Dr. Marshall’s web site if you wish detail.)

If we were to incorporate Dr. Marshall’s recommendations, we would kiss Little League baseball (and Independent League baseball) goodbye as it presently exists. As intimidating a thought as that is, IS that what we should consider doing? Are we starting the kids too early and expecting too much? Are we so content with the “system” as it is – even though we are now being made aware through science that much of what we have been doing is wrong, is injurious, and/or has no validity – that we, instead, choose to turn our individual backs? Are we just so happy to watch our kids play within the existing system (particularly if they are doing well) that we are willing to make them expendable? Are we so intimidated by the thought that new findings may require radical change to the programs we’re presently involved with that we don’t even want to THINK about it, much less offer comments on it?

If today’s research validates the need for radical change, shouldn’t we make it? If these findings aren’t just words, but, in fact, the legitimate conclusions drawn by scientific analysis, how can we NOT discuss it? How is it NOT a vitally important issue?

I believe my responsibility as a pitching instructor goes beyond teaching an athlete how to properly throw a ball. It should also include educating the society around that athlete on how to create an environment that will encourage and permit the best use of the talents he/she possesses; one that minimizes the potential for temporary or permanent injury by providing a system that at least reduces the opportunity for abuse.

Dr. Marshall’s scientifically supported statement -
“Youth pitchers destroy their pitching arms before their growth plates mature. They pull the ossification center for their medial epicondyle off the shaft of the humerus. The rebound collisions of their radial head against the capitular end of the humerus deforms the radial head into uselessness. They pre-maturely close the growth plates of their pitching arm, which reduces the adult length of their humerus. All for what? Adolescent glory?” (Chapter 29 – Section VII – paragraph one)

  • would cause any responsible pitching coach/parent concern.

While I DO NOT advocate the ultimate destruction of what many consider to be a valuable, responsible organization – Little League baseball – because of the conclusions drawn by one man, even if his findings have validity, they at least deserve our attention.

Realizing that some of you may consider this “much ado about nothing” and in the interest of offering more credible input, I contacted several people who have spent their lives teaching pitching, men whose opinions I (and many coaches) have come to respect, whose teaching methods I (and, again, many coaches) have incorporated into my own – Tom House, Dick Mills, Joe “Spanky” McFarland, and Bill Thurston.

I have great faith (NOT blind faith) in what they have to say because they have done the research to find the evidence to support their conclusions.

I asked each the following two questions:

  1. With science-based technology now causing a re-writing/altering of “belief-based” education have any of your “findings” led you to believe that the present structure of Little League baseball needs to be amended/changed with reference to pitching?

  2. What are your thoughts on the findings of fellow pitching authority, Dr. Mike Marshall’s statement? (see above)

These were their comments:
Tom House:
“Today’s youth pitchers pitch too much and don’t throw enough. We are flat ground throwers by species (think rocks at rabbits to eat). Our kids today specialize in baseball and only throw during a practice or a game, not enough for the immature arm to accommodate the throwing motion. Every youngster should play different sports (train the athlete) and play catch year-round to “train the arm.” Pitching is an in-season only activity.”

Dick Mills:
“Little League could rewrite it’s ideas of when games are played based on how kids recover after pitching…too many games played on successive days and why that adversely effects injury. Also supporting better ideas on how pitching should be taught along with emphasizing mechanical skills over winning with a focus on fault recognition and correction through video analysis. Winning could be de-emphasized…but not completely. Coaches need education from evidence based information rather than belief.

I have not seen Mike Marshall’s evidence based information. Although he has a Ph.D. I have not seen any studies to support his use of “iron ball” throwing or on his mechanics. He wants you to believe because his is saying it. Where is his evidence to support how much youth pitchers should throw or not throw. Where is his research that has been “peer reviewed” by other scientists? We all must be accountable.”

Joe “Spanky” McFarland:
“i think i agree with mike marshall. i’m not smart enough to know exactly what he said. i just recently went through the whole little process with my son and i was amazed at what goes on. all the pitching rules are predicated on innings pitched and not on # of pitches. you can throw 10 pitches over 2 innings and have to sit for a day, but you can throw 50 pitches in one inning and pitch 6 innings the next day. most of what i believe is just common sense. although my son went through the allstar season, his coaches knew that if he was chosen that he would be on a pitch count and that he didn’t throw breaking balls. i also required him to throw long toss, at least every other day. as a college coach, i find it amazing that over 50% of my pitchers either did not pitch in little league or pitched very little. i agree that most little league parents and coaches are caught up in the moment and don’t think long term. i don’t know all the answers but i know as a parent you have to think long term and put your foot down from time to time and just say no.”

I’m still waiting for a reply from Bill Thurston.

If these “authorities” on pitching are concerned, shouldn’t we be?

The extreme popularity of THIS WEB SITE is due to the fact that coaches/players want/need answers, want to discuss/exchange info about pitching. The number of hits on a thread while covering subjects like “change-ups” (483 views), “dissecting pitching mechanics” (330 views), “mechanics problem” (268 views), and “improving arm speed” (266 views), demonstrates that this forum is valuable, that this forum is interested in providing the best info it can to/for its participants.

Coach DeLunas, coach Dixon, coach Kreber, coach ric, CADad, 3rdgeneration, Jon’s_dad, Coach DaD, centerfield2150, even you, Steve - you’ve all been there. I’ve read many of your posts and they reveal that you’ve all spent a great deal of time educating yourselves to be able to properly teach your players – particularly your sons.

With the awareness that you’ve been in the “baseball business” for years, if at the end of one of your teaching sessions, a parent (or better yet – a “youth” coach) asked you if Little League - as we presently know it – should be altered or even scrapped, what would your answer be? I know I’m putting you guys on the spot (sorry), but since my “teaching” days are not over, and believing that a wise man is one who listens to (and profits from) the wisdom, education and experience of others, your comments would certainly be valued and appreciated.

We need to move away from the innings pitched criteria and depend on pitch count and recovery time … no 12 year old should be allowed to throw more than 65 pitches in an outing ( per ASMI guidelines ) , and we also need to prohibit curve balls for the 12U leagues ( zero tolerance ) . It is inevitable that LL & Babe Ruth will eventually follow down this path, there are just too many young arms getting ruined every year … when you start hearing about 9,10 & 11 yr olds in rehab following Tommy John surgery , it becomes obvious that something must be done. I would throw away fall baseball ( along with year round AAU Teams and radar guns ) for the youngsters and encourage other sports, giving them a few months to rejuvenate their arms, bodies and spirits . At the end of the day, I really dont care that an 11 pitched 75 innings last year and won 10 games, I am more concerned that he’ll be physically able ( and not burned out ) to play baseball when he reaches high school. It’s time all parent / coaches at this level step up to the plate and force these changes on the local level … we have done that locally, email me if you would like details .

I couldn’t agree with you more!

While it’s good to know that you (and your organization have chosen to do more to effect a change locally than what the national organization (i.e. Litlle League Baseball) has been willing to do on the grand scale, those local groups that haven’t yet amended their rules either because they don’t realize the need for change (haven’t seen the results provided through scientific research) or because it would be too large a task, shouldn’t be left to continue following what has always been.

Eliminating year-round AAU teams and fall baseball programs would be a great start. I, too, believe that an athlete as a youth should experience several sports before any “specialization” begins. However, I’m sure you’ll hear the argument from those AAU and/or fall baseball coaches that soccer, basketball, and hockey provide year-round involvement so baseball, to compete equally, to keep the kids interested in BASEBALL, should do the same.

In your closing you said that it’s time all parent / coaches at this level step up to the plate and force these changes on the local level and that you had done that locally. Additionally you offered to email me if I would like details.

Yes, I certainly would, but in the absence of any changes presently on the national level, perhaps it would be better if you posted what you and your organization has done to deal with the shortcomings (referent to youth pitching) right here. That way, until the national group sees the errors of its ways, it at least provides us the opportunity to make a good start.

My thoughts…

I think 12U baseball (little league, cal ripken, pony) will all eventually move to pitch count. The problem is how many years will it be. Each year more young arms are destroyed, how many more will it take for them to realize more guidance is needed when people get competative.
If pitch count is added they need to have something like you can’t begin an inning after X amount of pitches, if they just do a number you will constantly be switching in the middle of innings and that might just be a mess.

As far as curveballs go, I’m highly against them at a young age; I have multiple friends that had surgery before 8th grade do to throwing curveballs, worst part was I told them not to way back :frowning: ) The problem with banning curveballs is the fact kids mature far differently. If anyone watched LLWS that Kalen Pimentel kid looked more mature than a large number of 15’s. The only thought would be that if the organization banned curves then everyone would have a safe and equal playing field, not tempted to throw a curve because the other teams pitcher is.

With all respect to the travel teams out there I think AAU and USAAA are destroying more arms than anything (stereotypically, I know there are plenty of good coaches out there that carefully watch pitchcount). In a tournament you often play 5, 6 or even more games in a couple of days. Most teams have 4, maybe 5 pitchers, with the first two being the main ones coaches like to rely on. Thus kids are often throwing 10+innings in one day, let alone a full weekend. They are heating there arms up several times and just stressing there arms to the max.

As far as fall baseball goes, this last season of fall ball was the first I have played that was truly competative, even then kids never threw more than 2 innings.

I think fallball for youth organizations is overall positive. I would probably be in favor of dropping it if it weren’t for the following point: Players coming up to kid pitch or coming up to babe ruth need a slower paced less competative time to learn the new parts of the game. For instance I played fall ball before 13 year old spring and so I learned how to lead off and throw pickoffs fairly well. Friends of mine that did not play fall struggled with concepts the first few weeks of spring ball. Same goes with moving to kid pitch, the child needs time to get more used to the idea in a less competative environment.

As far what Dr Marshall says, I think his idea of waiting has good reason behind it but far to unrealistic. Most kids are not getting hurt, while some are most are not wrecking their arms. If a player were to wait as long as Marshall says he wouldn’t have pitched much at all going into HS. I think that’s just unrealistic if one wants to go to the next level. Physical experience aside, even if the kid that waited throws as hard and well as the kid that has pitched since 8; the kid that has waited mental edge will be nearly abscent. I think being a JR or SR in HS is far to late to learn how to pitch through a tight ball game. Or what decisions to make, and how to keep calm and focused.

Below are the guidelines we are establishing this Spring .

Pitching Rules Changes / Spring 2006

A baseball sub-committee met recently to discuss new pitching guideline for the upcoming Spring 2006 youth baseball season. We would like the baseball committee to consider pitching changes based on the USA Baseball Medical Advisory and Safety committees recently commissioned study on pitch count, type, and recovery related issues. This study was conducted by the American Sports Medical Institute (AMSI).

It should be noted that the intent here is not to put rigid policies in place – but to protect and look after the well being our youth athletes by properly educating coaches and parents of the latest medical knowledge surrounding youth baseball. We should expect that the proposed rules/guidelines may not be perfect – and we should be flexible to make changes during the season if deemed necessary. Education of coaches and parents will accomplish 95% of the intended goals – not rules.

We should consider proper communications of these recommendations to parents prior to the start of the Spring 2006 season.

The following changes will be effective Spring 2006:

  1. Curve balls will not be allowed for the 12U Leagues. We do not expect umpires to “monitor” this rule – we expect our coaches to demonstrate good sportsmanship and concern for the well being of their youth players. In other words – self-enforced. This will include Post Season All-Star / Tournament Competition .

  2. Pitchers must pitch in consecutive innings. A pitcher may not re-enter the game under any circumstance as a pitcher once he/she is removed from the pitching position. This includes games which may go into extra innings.

  3. The number of innings pitched (current guidelines) by any pitcher for a given week shall remain in effect for Spring. In addition, coaches will be required to count the number of pitches thrown by each pitcher during the game. If desired, coaches should track pitches thrown by the opposing team as well. The following will be the maximum allowable pitches to be thrown by a pitcher in a single game:

a. 9-10 50 pitches
b. 10-12 65 pitches
c 13-15 75 pitches

We will issue pitch counters to head coaches during the coaches meetings.

  1. A pitcher may not start a new inning if he is within 10 pitches of the maximum allowable limit. The reason for this is so we do not introduce any more unnecessary time delays in the game due to pitcher substitution. The best place to do a pitcher change is in between innings.

  2. If a player reaches his max pitch count in the middle of a batter’s at bat – he may finish pitching to that batter even though they will exceed slightly the pitch count limit.

  3. Pitchers will also be subject to the following recovery times before being able to return to the mound:

                          1 day		2 days		3 days

a. 9-10 25 40 50
b. 10-12 35 50 65
c. 13-14 40 55 75

  1. Beginning this Spring, we will place a pitching affidavit notebook in the concession stand. Each coach must enter (and sign) the following information in the pitching affidavit: player name, date pitched, innings pitched, number of pitches thrown, date of next availability. This pitching notebook/affidavit will be made available to any head coach to view. It is the responsibility of the League Commissioner to periodically review the pitching affidavits for completeness and intent.

Failure to properly sign the pitching affidavit or adhere to pitching guidelines may result in game forfeit or player(s) not being eligible to pitch the following game.

Note: pitching affidavits are already in use in the Junior League and have been for some time. Note, that we have not had any issues of “pitching violations” – these are guidelines that are set and we expect the usual good sportsmanship will be demonstrated.

Well thought out - well stated!

WOW!!! You (and your committee) are to be congratulated for your efforts.

Thank you both for sharing.

I am in agreement with the thought and gist of this thread, it is of much concern to me when I see 12u Little League World Series contestants depend on the breaking pitch while listening to the announcers (Harold Reynolds for sure) act horrified to see them doing it. If you ask me, that is the paradox we face. Did anyone not pick up on the statement by Dante Bishette that he didn’t want his kid pitching “after” the LL w/s? And yet here was Dante Jr. throwing currve after curve.
The first person to tell me about kids and curves was Bo Mullins, former Milwalkee Brewer, current BB coach at Nease H.S. here in Florida (Think Tim Tibo’s school). He told my son and I that the curve would destroy the arm of a kid, then he showed us the Tommy John scar that he has (He was a Dr. Jim Andrews patient).
I guess the thing that makes me wonder is this; Did Bob Gibson, or Christy Matthewson or Grover Cleveland Alexander or Bob Feller or Whitey Ford have pitch counts? I have personally seen Bob Gibson go 11 innings on a 110 degree ball field against Fergusen Jenkins who also went the same 11, they had the capability to do this every time they walked to the mound and would do it every start of their 20 win seasons (Maybe not 11 innings, but the complete game was all they knew). What has changed? I see Latin kids in an ascendecy where they are starting to dominate the sport, and yet when you hear about El Duke, he is renowned for throwing 4 even 500 innings a year in Cuba, Sosa talks about year round marathon seasons in the Dominican where kids just pitch and pitch? As I have mentioned to Chris O’Leary, I know a college coach who has coached internationally who relates that the Japanese throw for incredable amounts of time prior to every game, (As much as 8 hours of warm up and throwing). When I was a kid (60’s and 70’s) it was “regular” to see a kid pitch for every game of the entire season, kids got hurt but it wasn’t TJ surgury, it was take a couple of days off we have 3 games next week.
Let no one think that this is the world I advocate, I don’t know. I think that like everything, we can become too prevention oriented and fall out of competitiveness. Baseball should be a joy, it is a game of happyness, when we put children in a position in which it becomes a serious death match everytime they hit the field while at the same time telling them how terrible something (The curve) is and then worshipping those that do the thing (Boy how we all loved Danny Almonte and the Hawaiians), well what happens? I think that simply restricting everything will cause baseball to loose the color that makes it so vital. That said, I am against doing anything that would cause harm to befall anyone, specially a kid. So here we are at a classic paradox. Our kids today cannot do the things we used to do, I used to go “outside” and play for all day every day (Baseball when it was warm, Football when it’s cold and hockey on the street when it had snow on it), now what parent could dare to let their children do such a thing? Get jail time for neglect you would!
My vote is to let common sense prevail, we should not put kids on a major league schedule of games for the year (Fall ball is supposed to be a time of work on fun and fundementals so we do ourselves no service to get rid of it), we shouldn’t have pre-teens and teens prepare as adults do, because they aren’t adult (i.e. hours and hours of conditioning and weight lifting), we should encourage/legislate that leagues add certain amounts of parental awareness training and partnerships with higher levels of the sport (We partner at our association with the local high school and college) so what they learn IS healthy and positive and not just what ole Bubba did when he led the Pee-Wee league. We should vote with our wallet (The word boycott comes to mind) when our media goes out of it’s way to promote things that the experts declare lunacy. We should stop with the glorification of younger and younger stars (Labron, TimTibo both were extensively showcased by ESPN prior to leaving high school, it will only get worse).
You want revolutionary? Well how about neighborhood safe zones where children “CAN” go and play without worrying about being shot or raped or pimped or drugged. Well I know this starts to leave the subject…but does it?
I’m sure Dr. Marshall is much smarter than I at what he writes, but I think the thought process is somewhat backwards, restricting the act will just make it fade, not enhance it. I think that given pure statistical anaylisis one could prove that every sporting act of a kid will ultimately lead to some form of injury. I don’t see the streets lined with kids and their arms in slings (That TJ is one ugly scar), no more than ACL’s all being blown for running backs that start running at 9 yrs old. So I would push for balance and not extremeism.

Some FANTASTIC posts!

While the individual posts certainly demonstrate that there are many of us out there who are concerned with what has been, more importantly they highlight the need for the careful scrutinizing of each part of the issue before any chosen form of action we may think is appropriate is implemented.


I understand little league is experimenting with setting pitch counts, however I’m not sure it will make much difference. Somewhere knowledge and common sense have to enter the picture. Pitch counts are a bit better than innings for limiting pitches but neither really protects a pitcher. A pitcher who is cruising through the lineup in a relaxed manner, throwing at 90% or so of max velocity may be able to exceed pitch counts by quite a margin and need to do so in order to maximize improvement. At the same time a pitcher struggling and trying to throw at max speed or throw sliders or hard curves could damage their arm in only a few pitches.

Coaches have to know their pitchers and be able to see when they are struggling and when their arm is bothering them. How many times have coaches seen a kid signalling that their arm hurts (they tend to make it pretty obvious), gone out to check and have the kid tell them that their arm is fine, leave them in for a few more batters and then when they pull that pitcher be told that his arm hurts?

Sure, little league needs to be changed although not to the extreme degree Marshall recommends. I think Marshall preaches what he does because he didn’t happen to be a pitcher early in life and ended up being a rubber armed pitcher later. So what! Scott Shields arm was abused in college and he’s a rubber armed pitcher now. It is genetics. Marshall seems to be another person trying to extrapolate what worked for him to everyone. Using medical terminology doesn’t make it right.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much to be done about little league during the regular season as I think the rules, though not perfect are pretty good. It is the poor coaches that do the damage during the regular season. A coach who abides by the spirit of the LL pitching limits is not going to damage a kids arm unless that arm was already predisposed to injury. The LL tournament rules on the other hand could certainly be adjusted to protect the pitchers far better in a situation where poor coaches are even more likely to damage kid’s arms and many of the kids throw harder thereby putting more stress on their arms.

Letting kids pitch moderate amounts will build them up for later in life rather than damaging them permanently. Not letting them pitch at all early in life will rob the opportunity to ever pitch from many players.

JD, award for longest post ever, but a good one at that. Skweeze, you’ll have to settle for second.
Some of us haven’t been here often lately as we prepare for upcomng seasons.
I have always agreed with pitch counts with Youngsters.
What Bob Gibson and El Duque do is not my concern. How many pitches or yet curveballs did they throw when they were under 12?
They probably only played sandlot, no pressure to be their best for 6 innings.
You can choose to be an activst, and if you’re on a board maybe you can make a difference.
I choose to make a difference to one player at a time when I first speak with them before instruction.
I give my opinions on curveballs, don’t need them before 14-15, and pitch counts which fall in line with what I’ve read here.
Keep at it guys, you may make a positive difference.

  1. i think youth pitchers should concentrate on throwing fastballs/changeups.
    BUT if you learn the proper mechanics a curveball is not going to hurt your arm. let the grip do the work. theres no snapping, twisting, etc.
  2. i agree with leo mazzone and others that arm troubles are the result of not throwing enough. innings pitched and pitch count rules can be detrimental to arm care. you just have to have some sense. ive been doing this a long time at all levels and never had a kid that had good mechanics and threw all the time hurt his arm. if you just throw once a week you are going to have all sorts of trouble. im not talking about max effort everyday but throwing every 4th, 5th, 6th day from the mound and playing catch, long tossing, and flat ground work in between.
    some of the thoughts and ideas in some of these recent threads scare me.
    know the difference in a hurting arm and a sore arm, dont go following some gurus idea of pitching mechanics - talk to people in the game, dont get caught up in your personal won/loss record - there is a magic pitch count number for every kid but its a little higher than ive seen in this thread, etc. etc. etc.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I work as a pitching coach at the Junior College level. With that being said, you also know that we often supplement our “incomes” by teaching private lessons.

When a young childs (8-14) parent contacts me about pitching instruction, I immediatly know what I’m up against. I will tell a parent at the first meeting that I will evaluate the player and let the parent know: 1) if he should be pitching, 2) if not, what it will take before he should be pitching, and 3) if there is good reason for that child to pursue pitching. (Don’t get me wrong, I can’t see into the future and tell wether or not a kid will be a pitcher. It’s just some kids should continue having fun playing the game and if they are meant to be a pitcher later, then we can take care of it then).

I teach young players throwing before I teach pitching. Many youth have come to me for lessons who do not even throw the ball very efficiently. Many parents do not want to take this approach and some have walked away, very unfortunate. I have always thought that if the young player throws very efficient, then the pitching part will take care of itself. Usually around age 13 or 14, I will start to work delivery off of the mound.

Once they throw well, they can continue to play other positions without as much risk of injuring the arm. I believe in limiting the amount of pitches that can be thrown at the youth level. I also believe that coaches have to take responsibility for protecting these arms on days they are not pitching. This is something that I find is overlooked too much.

I caught my whole life until I graduated high school, mostly because I had a good arm. Because of that good arm, my youth coaches always wanted me to pitch. As soon as my father caught wind of this, he got me pitching lessons so I could use my arm and body effectively. I liked to pitch, but I loved to play the game. I think this approach should be taught more to the youth playing the game today. If you are going to pitch—learn how, but do not limit yourself to only being a pitcher when you are 10 years old. I see this way too often, and it is upsetting.

I might have gotten a little off subject, sorry, my thoughts.

Coach DeLunas

GREAT post!
Insightful and thought-provoking. While some parents have walked away because they didn’t like your approach, you know you did the right thing. It’s too bad (and sad) that the parents couldn’t “see” the wisdom in your words. We have the same problem around here in the great Northeast. Because we have to contend with cold weather, there is too often a tendancy to rush kids (particularly the young ones) along so they can stay “equal” to their warm-weather counterparts.
'Wish you lived in the Northeast. We could certainly use your “mind-set” around here.

[quote=“raiderbb”]1. i think youth pitchers should concentrate on throwing fastballs/changeups. BUT if you learn the proper mechanics a curveball is not going to hurt your arm. let the grip do the work. theres no snapping, twisting, etc.

Raiderbb, I think your comments re: fb/changeups is right on. From reading your posts it’s obvious that you are a student of the game, and because of that I hope you’ll clear up the comment about the curveball…for kids of LL age ( 13U ) , you wouldn’t teach/encourage them to throw the curve ball, correct ? The medical evidence is pretty clear that while growth plates are still moving throwing breaking pitches has dangerous consequences, and I just didnt want to move on with posters thinking you advocated that if you really dont.

To any out there that would take a chance with a youngster throwing a curveball, my only question is … other than giving you a chance to get an out, why would you do it? It certainly doesn’t improve his opportunities to advance to higher levels of baseball … I mean in the big picture who cares - let’s measure success when he’s 17 or so.

we’ve had young kids throw curveballs for years with ZERO problems later. its fastball mechanics and arm action. the grip is the only thing different. there is no twisting, snapping, breaking, etc.
having said that - if they just concentrate on fastballs/ changeups they’ll learn how to pitch. 12 and under hitters cant hit a breaking ball whether thrown right or not. get them out changing speeds and hitting spots.
we’ve been doing this for over 20 years now. babying arms leads to baby arms - injuries. snapping breaking pitches leads to injuries. not throwing but once a week leads to injuries. throw, throw, throw. know the difference between hurt and sore. know how to get arms in shape. know how to take care of them between mound appearances. know proper mechanics. know how to properly throw breaking pitches.
the big picture/the measure of success? to us the big picture and success is helping kids develop the skills it takes to be a great husband and a great dad. thats the most important thing. baseball can help that through the relationships developed through the game. we’ve been lucky that we have talented kids lucky enough to go to college/get an extended education because of their baseball ability and grades. most of these have been pitchers.
to a 12 year old the big picture is the team they are playing on right now.
to a 10 year old the big picture is the team they are playing on right now.
the big time is where you are right now. you can only hope that these kids are coached by somebody with some baseball sense and that understands the big picture is not baseball related.

Right on raiderbb!!! The kids in your area are really very lucky.

That’s why we have forums like this, so we can share different viewpoints. Sounds like you run a great program, I am glad you have had no arm problems resulting from young kids throwing curve balls.

But, others have not been so lucky, so it’s important parents and coaches are well educated and aware of the risks they run when they allow these young men to perform like adults while they still have the body of a child .

I’ve seen many young kids throw curveballs with no probles. I have also seen kids throw curveballs and really hurt their arm. I agree that if you throw it correctly there shouldn’t be a problem, but 90% of kids throwing a curveball arn’t throwing it correctly. I would rather wait until a kid is a little older to throw a curve.

Drawing from your years of experience (and a successful program) would you please explain how YOU differenciate between a “sore” arm and an arm that is “hurt”? Also - what do you do to “take care of them between mound appearances”? Though I have my own thoughts/routines, I’m interested to “hear” yours.

Lastly, though I know it’s difficult to explain without the use of video, because it’s of such vital importance (as some of the posts have indicated) exactly how do you teach your pitchers to throw the curve properly?

  1. i agree - no argument that it is not good for young kids to throw curveballs if not shown the correct way to throw it. most kids are not.
    if they are out there snapping, twisting they are asking for arm troubles. ive said in every post on the subject that they should concentrate on fastball and changeup unless they are getting quality instruction and even then the emphasis should be fastball/change
  2. most of you know the difference between a sore arm the day after throwing and a hurt arm. soreness will be in the muscle. pain in the joints - elbow, shoulder/rotator cuff needs to be checked out.
  3. between appearances. most of our guys are position players. if they are experiencing extra soreness, etc. we will just dh them the next day or let them sit. most of the time they are ready to go though. we dont take pregame infield( i know thats weird but we dont) so we dont have the problem of them “showing” their arms there.
    after every mound appearance we immediately do arm care excercises and run. sometime during the week we also do a “energy lift”/blood flow lift. the kids swear by these lifts that it takes the soreness out.
    the day after a start we will play catch or hopefully long toss. we will do at least one flat ground 45’ bullpen ( some of our pitchers want to throw off the mound - we let them make that decision) between appearances. if the kid doesnt throw in relief before his next start we will throw another bullpen off the mound.
    we tube before everytime we throw/can after throwing. we will do ab work and get in the weightroom for regular lifts 2 times a week ( energy lift is the third.) we will do a medball circuit once a week.
  4. the curve ball breaks because you throw the top front of the ball( fastballs you throw the back of the ball) you do not “pull down lampshade”, 'snap wrist", etc. fastball arm action with palm facing side of your face.
  5. an alternative to a curve which will give a big break safely is gripping ball with middle 2 fingers and thumb with first finger off the ball. throw it like a dart or football. i dont know what this pitch is called but we have had kids throw this for years. matter of fact we had a kid sign d1 using this as his curve and he continued to use it in college.
  6. i’m not on here to argue or disagree. just state my opinion and learn from everybody else. once you quit learning or get closed minded you better quit.