Coaching 8-10 year olds; overload/confusion

Hi everyone,

I’m going to be a second-year baseball coach in the spring and many of our kids, including my 8-year-old son, will be pitching for the first time. I’ve looked many different resources, talked to friends, and have gotten myself into a mess of confusion.

My question is to those who have coached beginners at the 8-10 yo level. Is there a book/DVD/ebook/website or other resource that you have found to be very successful in developing pitchers?

I started with “The Ripken Way” DVD because I’m certified through them, and the DVD is just OK. I also have “Coaching Pitchers” by Joe McFarland, which speaks to older pitchers, but says some good stuff about not worrying too much about arm slots.

My issue is that there are so many books out there, few of which seem to truly tailor to young new pitchers. The latest recommendation I have is to get “Pitch Like a Pro” by Leo Mazzone, but I’m also considering Chris McCoy’s ebook here on this site (no offense, but this is quite expensive for a lead author who doesn’t have the same experience or credentials as those other authors whose PRINTED books are $5-$20 on the new and used market). Then we get into the Tom House, Chris O’Leary, Mike Marshall, and controversial stuff like Dick Mills, etc… and it’s just too much for me.

I’m a successful coach for youths because I teach well (I went 15-1 last year). However, in order to teach well, I must understand the topic fully and feel confident in the techniques, and how to adapt to kids’ different styles (armslots, timing, etc) and I get obsessed and insist on knowing the correct/best techniques while adjusting to kids natural forms.

Anybody have experience with the many books/videos/dvds/websites out there and what best to do with 8, 9, and 10 year olds who are new or mildly experienced? Many of the resources seem to speak to 12yo and higher. I’m looking at the very basics and fundamentals, explained clearly, graphically, and the “why it works” stuff is a bonus. I’d rather have an 0-15 season but develop a great foundation for these kids than have a 16-0 season and screw kids up for the future.

Help, please! I’m just overwhelmed. PS: If there are complete resources that include best batting techniques as well as other defense/offense, that’s an absolute bonus.

Thanks in advance,
Brian

Brian,

With any program you will have to identify the most basic elements and teach those to the really young pitchers. I put focus on posture and balance as well as controlling the glove.

I suggest you consider the “Pitching Mechanics” video by Tom House and the NPA
http://www.nationalpitching.net/videos.asp?
. By the way, one of the pitchers they use for demonstration is a 9yo kid.

You know what they do in Chinese restaurants? “Pick one from Column A and one from Column B”. And the best choices would be what has been suggested—the most basic, fundamental things, posture, balance, control of the glove. And don’t worry about things like arm slots—each kid will find the one most comfortable for him. I remember one day when I arrived at Yankee Stadium to find that my pitching coach, Ed Lopat, had beaten me to it. He had two Little Leaguers in tow—ten years old—and was working with them on mechanics, and I watched for some minutes, and I couldn’t help noticing how he instructed them on the finer aspects of things like release points. He had a way of explaining things in clearly understandable terms and was calm and patient with the kids, making sure they understood things. And his basic premise was this: Every pitcher has a natural motion, and he would work with that pitcher and show him (or her) how to make the most of it.
So you start these kids, some of whom are picking up a baseball for the first time, at Square One. With some you may need to go slow; others might challenge you to keep up with them. It’s an adventure, and one which will pay dividends. 8)

I believe Little League has also put out an instructional video. im not sure how long ago but I had one. E-Teamz has good information as well for coaches

I’ll second this. Based on Roger’s recommendation, I bought “Pitching Mechanics.” I also bought “Performance Drills.” Both are very good. Not too complex, not too simple. Just right for a dad and his young son.

I’ve also read “The Art and Science of Pitching” by NPA (I was amazed to find it at our regional library). The book is good, but IMO, it is easier and more effective to learn the complex movements involved pitching (or any sport for that matter) from watching video than it is to look at still pictures and read words. Phrases like “stack and track” and “swivel and stabilize” mean more when you see them implemented than when you read them and look at a picture.