HELP! Coach demanding 14 yr old throw a curve


#1

Hello everyone,
I’m new to the forum and I would like some opinions and advice.
I have a 14 year old left handed son that pitches. He’s 5’7", 140 lbs. He is still growing and maturing. He has developed some speed this year finally and throws a decent change up. He still has a tendency to keep his change up in the zone which results in some hits by the batters.
I believe that young pitchers need to develope their fastball and learn location before learning and throwing curve balls, which I have always felt kids tend to rely on too much when they do throw it.
My son’s new coach for the middle school cub team is telling my son that he has to throw a curve ball or he is going to get hit all the time. My son told him that I didn’t want him to throw a curve ball yet and the coach told him, “I’m the coach and if you want to pitch or play, you’re going to learn and throw a curveball when I tell you to”. As a note my son didn’t tell me this but other kids on the team did.
My question is; Am I wrong in wanting him to wait another year so he can develope his fastball more and learn to hit his locations better?
Should I give in or try to talk to the coach and express my concern?
If someone could please help out, I’m losing alot of sleep because of this…
Thanks in advance,
Kmase


#2

Don’t worry…think about it…nothing has happened. He just said to learn a pitch, it doesn’t seem like a condition to be on the squad, just a warning that without it, he faces difficulty. My advice would be to approach it eyes open and learn as much as you can about throwing it properly and ways to properly prep and condition for arm health and then keep an eye on it all. This does come up fairly often. Reputable scientific associations have found the pitch not to be harmful when thrown properly. So really you should have confidence, find a good representation as to proper delivery…get him taught correctly, follow my other adviso’s (Conditioning AND diet are key), get a good video camera and comfortable stadium chairs and have yourself 5 years of fun while you wait for college.
As he gets to higher levels you are going to have to trust him (Your son) in the training and good sense he’s received from you…his being told stuff at higher levels will be un-negotiable and generally not harmful :wink:


#3

Thanks jdfromfla.
The coach has not said it was required to be on the squad but he has implied that he needs to do it to play. I know that as he gets older, high school and beyond he is going to have to learn it and other things the coahes say which is not a problem.
I guess I’m concerned because none of us really know the coach or his experience.
He’s told the boys including mine that when they throw the curve they have to snap their elbow and wrist to make it curve and that worries me. I’ve always thought that the curve was thrown using the fingers to snap the ball. I guess it also worries me that I messed up my arm when I was young by throwing to many breaking balls.


#4

Truthfully I have thrown a curve since I was 11-12… Maybe it wasnt the healthiest way to go about it, cause truthfully I doubt if any pitcher needs a curveball before he is 16-17. I think you should do whatever you feel is best, but I dont see there being any problem with him learning it at the age he is at if he is taught properly. There are also some ways to throw curveballs that dont involve any breaking of the wrist or change in motion at all. One of my pitching coaches who played professionally had a curve/slider with alot of movement and he threw it exactly the same as his fastball, just a different grip.


#5

No big deal - read as much as you can about how to properly throw it & don’t throw it too many times and don’t become too dependent on it. I started throwing it when I was thirteen or fourteen and my arm is fine.

My pitching coach really never said anything about snapping the fingers - I think that just sort of happens - because the index and middle finger are in front of the ball at release and the ball jus tumbles off of the them. My pitching coach says that the sharper the break is more related to arm speed then anything that the hand, wrist or fingers do to the ball. Just my 2 cents - but of course I just hung a curve ball that cause a neck injury the last game - I jerked around too hard when the batter crushed the pitch over the left field fence. I can laugh about it now. :roll:


#6

Thanks for the info guys. I’ll keep reading and studing the videos and photos to make sure my son learns to throw it right.


#7

I was eleven years old when, while playing catch in the schoolyard at recess, I discovered that I had a natural sidearm delivery, and that what came attached to it was a pretty nice little curve ball. In experimenting with it I found that the easiest way to make that pitch break was to throw it with a karate-chop wrist action, and I got a nice sharp break as a result, with no ill effects.
Personally, I think that your kid’s coach at school is overanxious. But if the kid needs to learn the curve ball, he should get together with a professional pitcher who throws a good one and who can teach him the right way to throw it. And here’s a thought: the kid also needs to learn a good changeup. Remember what Babe Ruth, who knew a thing or two about pitching, once said: “A good changeup will cause batters more grief than anything else.” My personal recommendation would be the palm ball, which was the first changeup I acquired and which will put no strain on the arm and shoulder because you throw it with a fastball motion. Incidentally, the coach at school is all wet when he talks about snapping the fingers—it’s the wrist action that results in a pitch breaking.
And if the kid has trouble with the curve ball—I’ve seen a lot of pitchers who have problems with it—he might think about the slider. Oh, yes, I’ve heard stories about how pitchers should not even think about throwing that one until at least 16 or 17 years old, but think a minute: the slider, when thrown correctly, is even easier on the arm and shoulder than the curve, because you don’t snap your wrist, you just roll it—turn it over, so to speak. And there are other pitches he can learn, some of which are more advanced and yet easier to throw: the knuckle-curve, for example. (I learned the slider when I was sixteen, and some kids pick it up even earlier and have great success with it.)
Above all—don’t let that coach bully you or the kid. Let your son figure out how to proceed, and help him all you can. Some coaches don’t know everything. 8)


#8

I can see a high school coach making such a mandate. Below that level, it’s a little bit harsh, IMHO. 14-15 is often recommended as the age at which to start learning the curve though I don’t know that there is anything scientific behind that. The NPA
http://www.nationalpitching.net
ssays kids can of any age can throw the curve if they throw it correctly and if the limit how many they throw.

In your son’s case, the coach is the coach and the players need to do what he asks. However, as a parent, you are on the front line of defense for your kid and if you think the coach is doing something that could harm your kid then you certainly have the right to discuss the matter with the coach. You just need to do it offline - not in front of the team. And, as JD pointed out, you need to approach it with an open mind and a “can’t we all just get along” attitude.

Now, at the same time, you should take it upon yourself to learn the correct way to throw a curve so that you can make sure your son is being taught properly. You might even consider a good private instructor if you think your kid is not being taught properly. The “snap the elbow and wrist” instruction does worry me because that is too easily interpretted as doing something that could be harmful.

Finally, attend your son’s games. Watch what he does. Count pitches. And count curves. Curves should account for no more than 20-25% of your son’s pitch total in each game. Also make sure your kid gets proper rest between games.


#9

One of my very first coaching jobs issued me a reality check, big time. I directed a man to do something, which in turn he said , “I’m from Missouri.” When I said ," so what", he said, “show me!”

To make a long story short, I couldn’t demonstrate the point that I was trying to get across - oh I could talk up a storm, reason why and what-for, but show him, not gonna happen.

As coaches we have a responsibility to go beyond the demands, ideas, and anything else that comes close to wanting a player to perform as directed. I learned the hard way not to over-expect, color outside the lines, and ask people to do something that I couldn’t. Kind-a shattered any creditability on my part.

So, I would suggest that your son, (not you), ask this coach for the proper way to train and condition his body to accept the stress loads an other demands of that pitch - among others, and how to start and complete the pitch cycle necessary properly manage a curve ball.

Now youngsters are pretty savvy when it comes to adults trying to pipe smoke up their skirt (excuse the expression), pretty savvy indeed. So after a few do-this-do-that, talk to your son and both you and he reason things out. Does everything seem reasonable - don’t worry, you’ll know. Heck, you can even bounce things off a few very quick thinking folks around here.

In any event, the comments that you’ve received thus far are good ones. So please, visit often, graze around other topics and welcome to the crazy world of pitching.

Coach B.


#10

As a father who coached his son from age 7 through age 18 and then assumed the advisor role as a freshman in college, a few things popped in my mind…

  • The above quote imo was meant to emphasize the coach/player relationship and less importantly the fact that he should learn a curveball.

  • Age 14 is a transition period. One in which you will have to begin to loosen the grip on your guidance and trust others to be an influence on your son. You will begin to worry about the things that are obviously injurious like overuse (abuse). Certainly throwing the curveball the wrong way is a concern.

  • However, that curveball will actually eventually save your son from high pitch counts and long innings.

  • I can’t put enough emphasis on getting the best instruction you can afford as early as possible. This could save you the headache of reversing bad habits. The curveball/slider is just one reason for this.

All things that you’ve heard before probably but I couldn’t help repeating some of them. You know what the tent preacher says, “If you read it over and over in there, then it gotta be important.” He also says “Ask yourself what the therefore is there for.” :roll:


#11

Well, you seem like an educated guy. What you’re saying is right. BUT, as you may already know, b ecause of the way our bodies are, throwing a baseball is always unhealthy. Throwing it the RIGHT WAY is not bad. That’s why young kids need to take care of their arms and do that all their life if they intend on pitching in College and maybe the pros. :shock:


#12

First I would like to thank everyone for their responses. The information you have given me is very helpfull.
I was finally able to talk to the coach and he understood my concerns. He empasized that he wanted him to start learning the pitch but not necessarly throwing it in games yet. I mentioned a instructor’s name that is in town tot he coach for teaching my son how to correctly throw the curve and he agreed that the guy would be a good choice. Therefore I’m letting him learn but i’m still going to keep a close eye on him. I guess that is just me being a dad.
Thanks again everyone.


#13

Sounds good.