Getting frustrated


#1

Am new to this forum, and relatively new to coaching youth pitchers.

We have a team of mostly 8 yr olds, who are pitching for the first time. First half of our season is machine pitch, and last weekend was first kid pitch game.

I’ve been working with the pitchers most of the season to get them ready, and now we have seen them pitch in two games. I have no real prior coaching experience, but pitched from age 7 until age 22, and have been a good student of the game.

We’re focusing on the fundamentals… throwing strikes, and using the proper mechanics. We’re so far struggling on both ends. I know they don’t succeed overnight, but want to get them on the right track, and need some expert advice.

Main thing is the kids aren’t using what they learn (and do properly) in practice for the games. Most of them are pushing/aiming the ball versus just throwing it to the mitt… and are only throwing half the speed I know they are capable of throwing

I know velocity isn’t important at this age, but many of the pitchers are throwing rainbows in the games. I have a big kid who throws some heat, but babies the ball to the plate during games… part of this is confidence, and part of it is he doesn’t want to hurt anyone.

So… with that being said, any advice you can give me? Main thing is i want them to apply what they learn in practice, but in the game they turn into a completely different pitcher… and not in a good way.

Thanks in advance!


#2

Plenty of 10 yo’s I see still do the same. Gun it in practice and and try to place it in the game.


#3

my kids 12 throwing about 62 at home about 54 in games good luck i have no advice to ya


#4

I have no idea what kind of mechanics you’re teaching so I’ll offer this. Pay attention to how fast the pitchers move their bodies in practice vs. game situations. I’d bet they slow way down in a game. So rather than focusing on a bunch of positions they may not be able to replicate in a game focus on establishing a consistent speed of movement in practice and games. In general too fast is better than too slow. Keep working on mechanics but don’t lose sight of how fast the body moves. If you focus on speed of movement you may find the mechanics fall into place.

Another suggestion would be to try to replicate game situations and conditions in practice- live batters with a catcher. Start with a hitter in the box and move the catcher outside off the plate- 2-3 feet off if you have to- and let the pitcher throw hard to the target. As he becomes more comfortable start moving the catcher in toward the middle of the plate. Again watch for a slow down in body speed or movement.


#5

Excellent suggestions from JP!

Also, make sure you give the kids permission to fail. I don’t mean outright telling them it’s ok. I’m talking about your body language and your reactions to their mistakes. Do you get on their case when they do? Or are you supportive. If the kids fear a negative response if they make a mistake, they will resort to what’s comfortable - they old ways. They’ll also play conservatively just trying not to make mistakes. Unfortunately, this takes away the fun and it stifles their development.


#6

I would de-emphasize just throwing strikes. I would keep encouraging them to throw hard and repeat their delivery and really focus on that. It is a process and often times coaches and parents worry about the result ball/strike and base their response on that which can lead to reinforcing bad habits.

I would also talk to the parents and encourage them to not coach from the sidelines and keep their comments positive. Comments like don’t lose him or just throw strikes or just let him hit it serve to create doubt in a pitchers mind. Encourage with comments like good delivery, good pitch if it just misses, keep throwing it etc will tend to reinforce good habits.

The last misconception that many parents have is that if a pitcher just throws softer that somehow the pitcher will start throwing strikes. Generally it is mechanics and being able to repeat them and not that the kid is overthrowing.


#7

[quote=“dave78063”]I would de-emphasize just throwing strikes. I would keep encouraging them to throw hard and repeat their delivery and really focus on that. It is a process and often times coaches and parents worry about the result ball/strike and base their response on that which can lead to reinforcing bad habits.

I would also talk to the parents and encourage them to not coach from the sidelines and keep their comments positive. Comments like don’t lose him or just throw strikes or just let him hit it serve to create doubt in a pitchers mind. Encourage with comments like good delivery, good pitch if it just misses, keep throwing it etc will tend to reinforce good habits.

The last misconception that many parents have is that if a pitcher just throws softer that somehow the pitcher will start throwing strikes. Generally it is mechanics and being able to repeat them and not that the kid is overthrowing.[/quote]

That’s good advice. Strikes will come once he has proper mechanics and is comfortable on the mound. Just throwing strikes mentality seems to lead to kids pushing/short-arming the ball to the plate. They can get away with it at the LL level, but not on a bigger field.

The 2nd part about about just throwing softer also leads to problems, as the kid in the first place doesn’t have control, and he throws away any fashion of mechanics just to throw it softer and get a strike. The result seems to be ball high, ball low, ball outside, ball over the batters head, the ball everyplace but over the plate. Work on the same pitching form on every pitch. Strikes will come as they develop.


#8

We could post a ton of info on this subject but I will offer one thing that has helped my teams in the lower levels. The number one most important thing is, have your pitchers throw to live batters during practice. I would have my pitchers throw 20-30 pitches during practice at live batters.I will have them start with a new batter and a 2-1 count.After the pitcher hits his 20-30 pitch count,I put in a new pitcher. Your hitters will build confidence as well as the pitchers.

My reason for doing this is that I have seen hitters that crush the ball during coach pitch BP but cannot touch the ball during games.They fear geting hit by the pitch. I have seen pitchers that can pound the strike zone during bullpens but throw everyting outside on live hitters.

The closer you can get practice to real game situations the better.In my experience,it has done wonders for my teams.


#9

When Allie Reynolds was in college he was known as a very good athlete. One day the baseball coach asked him to throw some batting practice to the hitters. Oh, we all know batting practice—throw meatballs at moderate speeds so the hitters can practice jacking them all over the ball park. But when Reynolds took the mound—and he took the mound, not ten or fifteen feet in front of it, but on the rubber—he threw all right. Real serious high cheese. (Even then he threw in the mid- to high 90s.) The batters couldn’t even get a loud foul off him. The coach saw this, and he yelled at Reynolds, "Go get a uniform! You’re on the team!"
That is one thing you can have your pitchers do—have guys stand in the batter’s box, and go after them. Challenge them, make them go after what you want them to hit—if they can. There’s nothing like a game situation, even a simulated one. 8)


#10

Not only do i have a lot of experience in pitching but i study pitching and biomechanics on my own. if you’d like and have a video of the kids feel free to send it to me. Kdemorgandie@yahoo.com maybe i can give some advice and help your team out ! Best of luck !