Getting "Shelled" 9/10 YO


#1

I have been working hard with my son (9-10 YO) the past year since he really wants to pitch. He has been doing pretty good this year. He has one flaw we contine to work on – he steps to the left (open) which tends to send the ball outside a bit (to a RHB). When he gets the “corner” he is unhittable. When he doesn’t, it becomes a walk fest.

The past week we have worked a lot on his glove hand – keeping it in front of his body to help with his step. First game out, kids start hitting everything he throws. Of course there is no defense behind him and 6 runs come in. A couple of errors and some “lazy” outfielders. Now he is angry.

We talk about it and I tell him that at his age, we want him to have sound mechanics, good control and throw “strikes.” The fact that the other team hit the ball means he was doing exactly that. The defense will mature behind him as time goes on. His velocity will get better as he gets bigger and stronger. But today good pitches are the primary goal because walks just kill you (in our league a walk is equivalent to a triple).

Am I missing anything? What do you tell young pitchers when everything they throw gets smacked? Thanks in advance.


#2

You logic is sound.

As your son grows older, he will also get better at locating his pitches so that instead of “throwing strikes”, he will be able to throw “pitcher’s strikes”. He will also be able to better change speeds and throw pitches with movement.

Yep, develop solid mechanics now to position for the future.


#3

Reading this, I got the impression that the kid is just throwing batting practice—and a pitcher who throws batting practice is supposed to get racked up like that, because the batters are practicing hitting. But, if the kid is not throwing batting practice, he needs to take a good look at what he’s doing on the mound, in order that he may keep the batters from hitting.
When I was a little snip, eleven, twelve years old, I came up on a drill that was more than just that—it was a terrific workout and a lot of fun, and I continued to do it well into the years that I was pitching. Your kid is probably doing this at the 46-foot pitching distance, and he can continue to do this when he switches to the 60’6" (regulation) distance. And here it is: I would get a catcher—there’s nothing like having a real live catcher with a mitt for this—and either he would mark off a pitcher’s rubber and a home plate (we did this at 60’6" all the time), or if we could get to a playing field that wasn’t being used I would take the mound and he would position himself behind the plate. (The problem with the chalk marks is that they are too easily scuffed into oblivion, by the way.) And we would play a little game we called “ball and strike”: the catcher would position his mitt in various spots, high, low, inside, outside, every which way but standing on his head (:lol:), and I would concentrate on getting the ball smack-dab into the pocket of the mitt. I did this with all my pitches, at different speeds, using the crossfire (I was a natural sidearmer), and what a nice satisfying feeling it was when the ball hit its intended target! From time to time we would have someone stand in the batter’s box, on either side, so I could work on really zeroing in on the strike zone—which in my day was much bigger than it is now, and the pitcher’s mound was a few inches higher. I can tell you, there is no better way to work on one’s control and sharpen it up than this!
At this stage of the game, your kid doesn’t need any more pitches than a decent fast ball and a good changeup, and as far as the latter is concerned I would recommend the palm ball. This was the first change I picked up, and it’s an easy one to throw and control because you throw it with the same motion and the same arm speed as you do a fast ball. You grip it with all four fingers on top of the ball and the thumb underneath for support and you grip it well back in the palm of the hand-----but don’t grip it too tightly, because you do NOT want to squeeze the juice out of the ball!
This is how I started out—only, because I didn’t have a fast ball to speak of and I knew I would never be a rip-roarin’ fireballer like Feller or Raschi or Verlander, to name three, I had to go to the breaking stuff early on, and so I began with a nice little curve ball that came attached to my sidearm delivery, and I went from there, in easy stages. I think this will help get things squared away. :slight_smile: 8)


#4

Reading this, I got the impression that the kid is just throwing batting practice—and a pitcher who throws batting practice is supposed to get racked up like that, because the batters are practicing hitting. But, if the kid is not throwing batting practice, he needs to take a good look at what he’s doing on the mound, in order that he may keep the batters from hitting.
When I was a little snip, eleven, twelve years old, I came up on a drill that was more than just that—it was a terrific workout and a lot of fun, and I continued to do it well into the years that I was pitching. Your kid will probably do this at the 46-foot pitching distance, and he can continue to do this when he switches to the 60’6" (regulation) distance. And here it is: I would get a catcher—there’s nothing like having a real live catcher with a mitt for this—and either he would mark off a pitcher’s rubber and a home plate (we did this at 60’6" all the time), or if we could get to a playing field that wasn’t being used I would take the mound and he would position himself behind the plate. (The problem with the chalk marks is that they are too easily scuffed into oblivion, by the way.) And we would play a little game we called “ball and strike”: the catcher would position his mitt in various spots, high, low, inside, outside, every which way but standing on his head (:lol:), and I would concentrate on getting the ball smack-dab into the pocket of the mitt. I did this with all my pitches, at different speeds, using the crossfire (I was a natural sidearmer), and what a nice satisfying feeling it was when the ball hit its intended target! From time to time we would have someone stand in the batter’s box, on either side, so I could work on really zeroing in on the strike zone—which in my day was much bigger than it is now, and the pitcher’s mound was a few inches higher. I can tell you, there is no better way to work on one’s control and sharpen it up than this!
At this stage of the game, your kid doesn’t need any more pitches than a decent fast ball and a good changeup, and as far as the latter is concerned I would recommend the palm ball. This was the first change I picked up, and it’s an easy one to throw and control because you throw it with the same motion and the same arm speed as you do a fast ball. You grip it with all four fingers on top of the ball and the thumb underneath for support and you grip it well back in the palm of the hand-----but don’t grip it too tightly, because you do NOT want to squeeze the juice out of the ball!
This is how I started out—only, because I didn’t have a fast ball to speak of and I knew I would never be a rip-roarin’ fireballer like Feller or Raschi or Verlander, to name three, I had to go to the breaking stuff early on, and so I began with a nice little curve ball that came attached to my sidearm delivery, and I went from there, in easy stages. I think this will help get things squared away. :slight_smile: 8)


#5

[quote=“Golfman25”]

Am I missing anything? What do you tell young pitchers when everything they throw gets smacked? Thanks in advance.[/quote]

I’ve always emphasized mechanics and form and let the results take care of themselves. He’s only responsible for how he pitches and shouldn’t take it personally when his defense plays bad. Bad defense is part of growing up, and how the child responds to it is what counts.

For example, my 10 YO started the playoff game last night. 1st inning, two big errors and 3 unearned runs even before an out was made. A fly ball dropped. A bunt and nobody covers 1st. Etc. He did his part - get the ball in play and let his defense make the outs. He’s feeling the pressure and we weren’t sure if he could shake it off. I talked to him for a minute - mostly about mechanics, staying relaxed and if the mound was OK. He gets the next 3 guy out, 2 on Ks and the 1st inning is over. The next inning, he walks the 1st hitter on 4 pitches. Again, not sure if he’s going to shake the 1st inning off. Go out and talk to him - mostly about how the mound feels. Get back to the dugout, and he takes them down 1-2-3 on 6 pitches. Now he’s feeling the groove. Start of the next inning, a few lazy defensive plays and another 2 runs score. Again no outs. But, he knows he’s done his part and takes the next 3 down. 4th inning is 1-2-3. He’s hit the pitch count limit and now it’s the bullpen’s job to hold the 4 run lead (which they barely do!). Game over. He get the win. Allows 2 hit. 2 walks. Strikes out 7. And was able to shake off the bad defense and pitched a gem against a team that has a habit of 10-running their opponents. The game was a growing experience, and he grew up.

Stay focused on mechanics and good form, and continue to trust the defense. In time, it will pay off.

I was most proud of my son that he stayed with his game plan and didn’t try to strike everyone out. In the past, I’ve seen him after a slew of errors barrel down and just throw the heat, believing the only way to win was to strike out 18.


#6

You have to constantly reinforce that a pitcher can only control the things that he can control. His job is to throws stikes, keep the ball down, and put his team in position to make plays. If they don’t make the plays, that’s not his fault and should not change what he is trying to do on the mound.

My son, now thirteen, has pitched since he was nine years old. He is not a fireballer and he doesn’t throw a bunch of junk. But, he works the corners, keeps the ball down, and changes speed between a couple of fast balls and changeups. He expects for the opposing batters to put his pitch in play. In fact, he prefers it because he throws a lot more pitches on those days when he is getting more strikeouts.

In the early years, when the kids were younger, he would get really frustrated when his defense let him down. But now, as he’s older, the defense is better and he is better at handling adversity on the mound when someone makes a mistake. The best part is that his teammates like it when he pitches because they know they are going to be involved throughout the game and that they have to be on their toes every pitch. That can make a huge difference in being more enjoyable for everyone.

Keep working on the mechanics and the outs will come. Good luck!


#7

This year as the “pitching coach” for my son’s LL team, I worked with a talented young man who has always struggled by taking himself out of games mentally when things didn’t go his way.

I took a page from The Mental ABCs of Pitching and told him right up front that he was very talented but even with his best effort, he was going to walk batters and give up hits. He needed to understand that this was going to happen to him because it happens to everybody. More importantly, once a walk or hit or error happened, there was nothing that he could do about it. It was in the past and all that mattered is right now and executing the next pitch.

Twice when he walked a batter or got in a jam, I went out to visit him on the mound. I looked around and said, “Remember, we talked about this. We knew these things were going to happen. Right?” He responded (a little reluctantly), “Right.” I asked, “What matters now?” He said, “Throwing the next pitch.”

It worked pretty well for him and I thought he kept himself together in some circumstances when he would have otherwise fallen apart.

Doublebag