Help me not ruin my 8 year old


#1

My boy turned 8 in April and in my opinion he’s got great potential… He wants to throw faster and he hones in on the strike zone nicely and even when throwing balls, rarely are they “wild”… I’ll post some video in the coming days to get some feedback on his mechanics… Here’s the problem. I got a Glove Radar (
http://www.gloveradar.com/
), and while it’s fun to see what he’s throwing, I’m reading on here about kids throwing WAAAAY faster than him. His fastest (@ 46ft) was 35 on the glove radar… According to the company, I should tack on 5-6 mph on top of readings since the reading is at the glove & not release… So that means the fastest I’ve ever clocked him at is what 41? Is that dog slow? And BTW that’s his TOP speed… That day his average was around 37mph… Yesterday when we practiced, his average was around 34!? I don’t tell him, I just look at the reading and encourage him, and in fact, I encourage him to NOT try to throw hard because he loses command quick.

Anyway, is he way slow for his age? Should I stop coddling him and let him try to throw harder or work on his mechanics to get more velocity? I think he definitely needs a longer stride… And I also think he’s turning his trunk/torso too soon… Anyway, any advice? Thanks much, glad I found this place… :slight_smile:


#2

If you’re going to spend all your time paying attention to how other kids throw, at what speed, you’re asking for trouble. The kid is just eight years old, and he’s pretty much just gotten started, and what he needs is to go at his own pace, not at the pace of Johnny Hosselplotz or Willie Veeblefetzer or whoever. So my advice is don’t push him. Talk to him and find out what his biggest trouble spot is and start there, and be patient with him. One step at a time, that’s what will do it. Make sure he has it down cold before going on to the next one.
I remember when one day I went to Yankee Stadium (the original) in the morning for a session with my pitching coach—Ed Lopat—and I found that he had arrived there ahead of me. He had two Little Leaguers in tow, and he was working with them on mechanics, and I watched him for some fifteen or twenty minutes. Each kid was at a different stage—one was learning how to throw a changeup, and the other one needed to learn The Secret—getting the whole body into the action—and he spent a good bit of time with each one. He told me later that this was one of the key precepts of his work as a pitching coach—he would work with an individual pitcher to help him/her make the most of what s/he had and could do. He did not believe in the “cookie-cutter” approach, and this was one of the things I liked most about him.
So, as I said—don’t rush, don’t push, work on one thing at a time and let the kid proceed at his own pace. When he’s ready for the next step, he’ll tell you. :slight_smile: 8)


#3

My son was seven when he started pitching. He is now 19 and still pitches in college. If I could turn back the clock and give myself some advice I’d post this on my mirror or in my car so I could read it everyday:

  1. Make sure he’s having fun playing the game.
  2. Make sure you get a competent pitching coach to teach him a fundamentally sound way of delivering the baseball.
  3. Never put him down or criticize him harshly for a poor performance.
  4. Never allow him to disrespect other players or the game itself.
  5. Always make sure it’s his dream and not yours.
  6. Never compare him to other so called better players. Teach him personal pride. I used to called it “PP”.

#4

:applause: That’s a great list, Dino!

cnykirk, I think you’re getting too caught up in this. Kick back, let your son have fun, and have fun watching your son have fun. Play some catch - create some memories. It’s way too early to start judging things like velocity. Like Dino suggested, get a good instructor to set your son up with some good mechanics that will enable him to continue to succeed as he grows and develops.


#5

cnykirk,

Throw the gun away. He’s 8.

My son is 8 and I’ve never gunned him or allowed anyone to gun him. Although he has a strong arm and I have a pretty good idea of his velocity (by comparing him to kids who do gun), at this age it’s all about MECHANICS and FUN.

Also, keep in mind that at this age velocity is determined largely by physical development. Boys develop at different ages at different paces, and the boy who throws hardest in Little League is not necessarily the boy who throws hardest in High School.

This past 2010 Little League season I had a kid who returned from the 2009 season (he had been a mediocre outfielder). His father lives in a foreign country and the kid has no one to play catch with. As such, he does absolutely no throwing other than during the LL season. Well, he showed up this season and all of a sudden he has the strongest arm on the team and possibly the league - all from simple physical development. He’s wild as all hell, but he made some wicked throws from deep center!

Along these lines, Dick Mills (yeah, yeah, I know he’s controversial) is spot on in this article on the role of growth and development in pitcher velocity:

http://www.pitching.com/articles/view/the-role-of-growth-and-development-in-youth-baseball-pitchers-success/


#6

Thanks for the replies… I don’t use a gun. I have the glove radar… and he has no idea I’m even looking at it… But when I hear of folks who say their kid is throwing heat =at the same age… I makes me want to tweak his mechanics… I dont think thats a bad thing. I had my tongue in cheek when I said… “Help me not ruin my 8 year old”… I was kidding. I’m not pressuring the boy lol. We have fun with it. BUT , His mechanics could sure use work… And it’s likely that would in turn increase his velocity. Lets not pretend velocity doesn’t matter. When my boy strikes out because the opposing pitcher wizzed one by him, he wants to wiz one by some batters himself…
Command is most important, and that’s what I preach 100%… But once a kid has very good command, I think getting his mechanics correct is important… And I’m thinking that will increase his velocity. I can’t be the only father here who wants to see his kid throw better. Am I?


#7

Btw… A pitching instructor would be wonderful… but financially, that’s not an option.


#8

[quote=“Dino”]My son was seven when he started pitching. He is now 19 and still pitches in college. If I could turn back the clock and give myself some advice I’d post this on my mirror or in my car so I could read it everyday:

  1. Make sure he’s having fun playing the game.
  2. Make sure you get a competent pitching coach to teach him a fundamentally sound way of delivering the baseball.
  3. Never put him down or criticize him harshly for a poor performance.
  4. Never allow him to disrespect other players or the game itself.
  5. Always make sure it’s his dream and not yours.
  6. Never compare him to other so called better players. Teach him personal pride. I used to called it “PP”.[/quote]

Great List. Thanks!

If I could add to the list . . .

  1. Allow him to be a complete player. Pitching is only one aspect of growing up. This includes other sports.
  2. Allow him time to physically mature. Don’t put too much emphasis on one aspect of the game at this age. My son pitched to three batters when he was 8, started pitching regularly in the middle of the season when he was 9, and has been very successful in the Majors at 10. (BTW, My son was clocked at 48 MPH when he was 7 and throws in the mid-60’s at 10. This will all be meaningless in a few years.)
  3. Give him the opportunities to develop friendships. This is more important, IMHO, than playing up. Why? Some day in the not so near future, the other kids will developmentally catch up, and keeping friendships now will pay off down the road.
  4. Teach him to respect and help the youngest and the last kid on his team.
  5. Teach him to listen to his coaches.
  6. Play catch regularly.
  7. Keep the game simple and fun.

#9

At this age you can teach him. There’s plenty of information available at this site, and review the videos. They’ll teach you.


#10

Good mechanics will help him reach his genetic maximum. But everyone has a limit and bad mechanics prevent you from getting there.

If an instructor is not an option, then this site may be the next best thing - especially if you can post video for us to analyze.


#11

Thanks Roger… Yes, I posted a video a few posts above… Any thoughts on it. I think there’s a lot of bad things going on… But he lands it in my glove quite nicely… :slight_smile: Thanks in advance.


#12

:oops: Don’t know how I missed the video. I’ll take a look and post comments later.


#13

I don’t know anything about pitching, but:

I would first work on his stride. During the stride, his foot looks way to high to me; he’s basically pivoting around his rear leg with his front foot up in the air. This isn’t what I see good (any?) pitchers doing. Note, for instance, how Suppan drops his foot nearly to the ground after leg lift: http://www.chrisoleary.com/projects/baseball/Pitching/rethinkingpitching/Essays/HowJeffSuppanActuallyThrowsTheBall.html

The front foot should be gliding slightly above the ground, and the front foot should be staying mostly parallel to the rubber (i.e. hips staying closed) until near the end of the stride.

IMO.

Signed, a noob.


#14

I would work on a couple things to start
1- Work on staying tall, it looks like he is leaning back a bit causing him to step towards first base.
2- He is what I call stomping his plant foot. Have him glide into his step. After leg lift have him bring his foot down and then out toward the catcher. Think draw an L with his foot.
3- Have him place his glove out in front of his chest and move towards his glove keeping his glove about chest height. Dont have him pull his glove in, move to the glove.
4- Have him stand with the side of his foot against the rubber not on it.

I would start there and once he has mastered those things repost a video.

As far as the gun. I think a gun can be a good tool if used properly. Do not use it to try to increase velocity. I use it about once a month mostly to gauge speed between fastball and change up. I also use it to prove points like good mechanics will increase velocity instead of trying to “muscle it”

As posted before, keep it fun, be patient and encouraging.
Enjoy the process
Good luck


#15

Good posture and balance form the foundation for a good delivery so that’s the first thing I would work on with this young man. Start by putting him into a more athletic position with some bend in the knees and waist. Think “batting stance” or “free throw shooting stance”. Then, get him to eliminate head movement in any direction except towards the target - no movement left or right, no movement back towards 2B, and no movement up or down except for downward movement associated with striding downhill (if on a mound) and planting on a bent front knee.

Once he can stabilize his posture through his delivery, then it will be time to work on the next thing.


#16

This is going to sound harsh, but it is my opinion – take it for what it is.

First, throw that “glove radar” in the trash. Focus on mechanics. Velocity will come as mechanics improve.

Second, STOP pitching. It looks to me like your boy needs some basic throwing mechanics. They all do at 8.

Thus, your work should be on basic throwing mechanics first. For example, start with the point, step, throw, follow thru. Then work on pulling the ball “out, down and around.” Right now he is pullng the ball out right to his ear. Once that becomes a habit, it will be difficult to break and he’ll never have good control. He’ll fall back on a bad habit under stress (ie; bases loaded) and look out as the wheels fall off. Use the one knee drill to help with pulling the ball properly and good shoulder rotation. Search around (google, you tube) for some videos, articles, etc. to help you.

Once he has the basic throwing mechanics down, then you can work on more pitching specific stuff – leg lift, balance, stride, etc. Good luck.


#17

[quote]This is going to sound harsh, but it is my opinion – take it for what it is.

First, throw that “glove radar” in the trash. Focus on mechanics. Velocity will come as mechanics improve.

Second, STOP pitching. It looks to me like your boy needs some basic throwing mechanics. They all do at 8.

Thus, your work should be on basic throwing mechanics first. For example, start with the point, step, throw, follow thru. Then work on pulling the ball “out, down and around.” Right now he is pullng the ball out right to his ear. Once that becomes a habit, it will be difficult to break and he’ll never have good control. He’ll fall back on a bad habit under stress (ie; bases loaded) and look out as the wheels fall off. Use the one knee drill to help with pulling the ball properly and good shoulder rotation. Search around (google, you tube) for some videos, articles, etc. to help you.

Once he has the basic throwing mechanics down, then you can work on more pitching specific stuff – leg lift, balance, stride, etc. Good luck.[/quote]

Don’t know about harsh…wise maybe.
1st things first…get him delivering a baseball to a target…it applies to every position on the field.
What your boy is doing is attempting to translate what he sees (And at 8 doesn’t uinderstand) into that delivery. It’s stylized (For an 8 yr old) but thats what it is.
Let me just ask cuz I didn’t go look see, how much did that glove radar cost? A decent lesson runs (Depending on area) 40-80 bucks…but I usually don’t recommend a pitching coach until there is something meaningful to coach…I’m sorry if it’s personal Kirk but if you take him to daycare, consider a week at a college camp, where they teach fundementals and he can go elbow to elbow with other kids who are learning mechs…I know CCNY has several pretty darn good schools and down here in Fla. I sent mine to camp instead of daycare for the month that they were offering individual weeks (I did this every year from 8 til 14 instead of travel ball…talk about expense…thats where things get crazy is travel ball)…but the cost was exactly what I was paying for daycare and the benefits were tremendous. As a side benefit, if you can hang around a bit (I actually took vacation for at least a week, a couple of times two weeks and shadowed/interned with the instructors), you’ll learn some coaching technique and potentially learn some drill work.


#18

Help me not ruin my 8 year old really had me wanting to read this post and there are so many great things in this tread like the list of how “Not to ruin your kid”, I also agree with throwing out the speed glove, or how about put it on ebay and get a lesson with a pro for your kid. Honestly, if you have a good pitching instructor the ones my kids have been to let you video tape the lessons and then you have 6-8 weeks of things that you can work on, really goes a long way.


#19

I find your post interesting and very typical. This is not meant in a bad way. I have been coaching for 14 years and have been coaching competitive ball for 4 years. In that time I have been training pitchers for 7 years. What is important for you to understand is velocity is and should be your last concern at this point. Finding a good coach at a training facility who can teach your son how to pitch with proper mechanics and how to understand his role as a pitcher. Proper training, mechanics and long toss is what will keep him healthy and help him become successful as a pitcher.

I have had 10 yr olds who throw 60 plus and 16yr olds who only throw in the high 60s / low 70s but what have made both successful is their ability to throw the pitch they need to get the result they expect. Their understanding of the game and their ability to emotionally stay within the game.

Pitching is one of the most unnatural things a person can do. The stresses on the arm are great even when a young player has great mechanics. Make sure you get someone who understands mechanics, the use of finger pressure for movement not hand rotation( at your sons age) and makes the experience challenging but fun.
With proper mechanics, velocity will eventually come within whatever your son’s potential is. But if he learns how to pitch which is working the 3rds of the plate, up down and changing speeds, velocity becomes less important!

I will give you an example, My son is only 13 and throws in the mid 70s. Pretty good velocity for his age and the only reason I know this is a local private high school is looking at him and put a gun on him recently. Though as a pitching coach I had suspected he was in the 70s, I had not worried about velocity. As a trainer, I do not own a speed gun…. What makes him a good pitcher has less to do with velocity but his ability to get ground balls when he needs them and or pop ups. He has lots of movement on the ball, he pitches to the 3rds and his off speed pitches are truly off speed and without tells. He knows his job is not to strike everyone out but to get the results he needs.

I hope this response helps.