How young is too young for the slider?


#1

I’ve read a bunch about when its the right time to throw the curve, etc., and most say any breaking ball before you shave is a no-no.

Okay, so how do I stop a 14 yo kid from throwing a hard slider that he uses once or twice per inning for an out pitch? Its a beauty, but I want him to learn a good change-up but he resists because his slider is so successful. At the same time, I don’t want him to lose the slider, because I figure it will be a great pitch for him later on.

Any ideas?

Thanks.


#2

I’d ask several questions before venturing suggestions. First, does he throw it in a proper manner (Thr true slide piece is a fastball derivative but some throw the pitch with extreme supination of the arm what I term as spinning a pitch…ouch)?
You mentioned a game freq of 14 times a game (2x per inning would be max), IMO a way high number depending on his normal profile, does he throw complete games, how oftern? I mean if the kid goes 3 or 4 innings a week thats one thing, but throwing cg’s twice in say a 5 day stretch, I’d be looking hard at that kind of frequency. Think of it this way…If he has the dexterity and control of body to develop a “hard slider”, then learning a class “A” change shouldn’t be much of an effort of his part. He would just have to make a commitment to the pitch and practice it at least as much as he practices his slidey. I’ve heard good pitching coaches at the D-1 level as recently as last weekend say that no properly thrown pitch will cause more or less damage to the arm, I differ only in my opinion that this is only the case if you practice and condition properly on your entire arsenal of pitches. If for example you train 70% fast ball and 10% change and 10% curve and 10% slider, your arm isn’t as conditioned to the arm/ hand motion necessary to properly deliver those pitches less practiced so would seem to me, subject to over use issues. This is not a scientific statement but one of my experience.
I believe that if he has fundemental validity on the pitch (Throws it in a non-destructive way…Again some say that this is a destructive pitch and would disagree with me), it can be ok to throw it at his level, I would strickly supervise the way he practices and conditions, and if I’m not real sure that he is fundementallty correctly throwing it, I’m checking with somebody who does know.
Is he your son? If not how does his parents feel about it?
As to the change/slider issue…make him work the change into his practice routine until he sees it work and then let him whip it out on some huge kid who’s lookin for a fastball to hit…he’ll love it from that day forward I assure you (My son who is 16 just went through a fall of fb/change only pitching and man is he stoked for next year…it took him 3 seasons to get a complete game confidence in the pitch…but now it’s a better wipe out pitch than his best curve).
Good Luck to ya.


#3

I’m his dad.

His coach generally pitched him 3 or 4 innings a week last year, with a couple of tournaments in which he pitched more. His coach only allowed him to pitch one complete game last year, and is very protective of the kid’s arms.

He spots his fastball and has good movement on his 2 seamer and can usually get easy groundball outs, but when he needs to ring the batter up, he goes to the slider.


#4

When calculating how often he throws the slider, don’t forget to factor in the times he throws it in practice or even while you’re not around.


#5

Excellent point.

Also, throwing a slider two times per inning is already too much. Even if a pitcher is 18 years old, it should be thrown less than ten times per game — more like five times.

It’s good that his strategy is to use it as an “out” pitch — or a pitch to put away a hitter when a strikeout is necessary. However, if he NEEDS to get a strikeout twice an inning, then his pitching is not too advanced.

The problem, of course, is that even a poor slider is devastating to nearly all young, inexperienced hitters — especially the less talented ones. So, naturally a pitcher will fall in love with the pitch. However, you can impress upon him that using the slider as a crutch now, will not help him as he advances. Eventually, he will face stronger hitters who will lay off the slider — and then the ability to spot the fastball and change speeds will become much more important.


#6

Well it looks like he’s accurate, and has some command, all good stuff. Joe is right about not getting too in love with the pitch.
It sounds to me like you are guiding him well about strategy. I would challenge him to start working for a good 4 pitch repitore and try not to depend on one pitch. Confidence that he can use all of his pitches to get folks out is necessary to move on up, all that srarts with being able to hit his spots with his fast ball. Remember in the school of Maddux it’s changing speeds and late movement. If he throws the slide piece right, then a cutter is a piece-o-cake…and a great pitch.


#7

Or his teammates are less than stellar defensively. As I said, he gets a lot of groundballs, often to the right side because he throws pretty hard. Overall, he has been one of the few bright spots on a rather lackluster team for a couple of years. His new coach this year ( and new team) saw him last year and said with his stuff he should have been getting no-hitters instead of losses, and promises better defense this year. I don’t know about the no-hitters, but it will be nice to see the infield behind him putting routine grounders to bed for a change.

That said, I appreciate your point. I agree that two sliders per inning is too much, even if he’s only going 3 or 4 innings. That’s why I’m trying to get him to work on the changeup.


#8

I’m not sure he could throw a cutter. I’d sure like to know how to teach that pitch to him!


#9

He can throw anything he’s made a comitment to learn and spends the effort to perfect and the guts to work it into a game. A cutter is a fastball variant also, finger placement on the ball causes the proper rotation with the proper motion, working the right hand side of the ball for a cutter the left (On a righty) for a sinker kind of action. You mention that he has good velocity, how bout something that starts over the plate and busts in and down on the hands (the sinker is Maddux’s money pitch)…that is when you start seeing stuff like 3 pitch innings. A great change can also accomplish this but you have to establish the fb first. Don’t be discouraged about poor defense (My son was treated to a 5 k inning this last year…a newbe catcher couldn’t stop anything in the dirt…so all of these guys are whiffing and getting on, talk about a game to build charactor). I understand that scouts like to see kids work out of these type situations so look at them as opportunities, albeit frustrating ones. It will also give him a chance to work on a quality pick.


#10

My son had 9 strike outs in two innings 2 years ago as a 12 yo playing on a (poor) 13 yo team…a five and a four SO inning with 2 different catchers…and though disgusted, he didn’t point the finger at any of his teammates, just kept on throwing.

It was winning games playing in front of poor defense in a couple of tournaments that got him invited to his present team, and I’m very hopeful that they will be competitive this coming season. After all the hard work and adversity, I think he’s earned a year in the winners circle.


#11

he didn’t point the finger at any of his teammates, just kept on throwing.

Ain’t kids great? My son did the same…I was ready to swallow my tongue. It’s like how do you cheer with positive statements when this sort of thing is going on…Answer…learn from your kids.


#12

My son had 9 strike outs in two innings 2 years ago as a 12 yo playing on a (poor) 13 yo team…a five and a four SO inning with 2 different catchers…and though disgusted, he didn’t point the finger at any of his teammates, just kept on throwing.
[/quote]

His attitude is a great thing to hear. It’s good that he understands that people are not perfect, and that he can’t allow what’s out of his control to affect his game. I think we call that “poise”.

Good news: your son can learn to throw a change-up that has plenty of action and can be just as deadly as a slider, only better, because it can be thrown for a strike.

Challenge him with that, and see how he responds.

Start him off with an easy, pitchfork changeup grip, thrown exactly like a fastball, and aimed to a low target (such as the catcher’s knee or top of his foot). If he doesn’t get any natural action, encourage him to start tinkering with the placement of his thumb, and/or placement of fingers on different seams, and/or some squeezing pressure between the index and ring fingers (it’s similar to forkball / split finger pressure). If he dedicates some time to experimentation, he’s bound to find some adjustment that causes the changeup to move and sink … and you can rest easily knowing he’s learning to change speeds and not hurting his arm.

It’s amazing how obsessive some kids can get when they discover that a changeup can do more than just go straight and slow. Present it as an out pitch and watch the excitement begin.


#13

[quote=“hoseman18”]I’ve read a bunch about when its the right time to throw the curve, etc., and most say any breaking ball before you shave is a no-no.

Okay, so how do I stop a 14 yo kid from throwing a hard slider that he uses once or twice per inning for an out pitch? Its a beauty, but I want him to learn a good change-up but he resists because his slider is so successful. At the same time, I don’t want him to lose the slider, because I figure it will be a great pitch for him later on.

Any ideas?

Thanks.[/quote]

Its not called the “devils” pitch for nothing. Its relatively easy to throw/control and it does work. It also can tear up a healthy arm in a hurry if not thrown correctly. 14 is to young to be throwing a slider period. Probably somewheres in the vicinity of 75% perhaps even a bit higher of kid who think they are throwing a cutter are actually throwing a weak slider. Know a 15 year old right now that has just had elbow surgery within the last couple of weeks. He could not be told or he would not listen to anyone about the roundhouse arm action slider he was throwing since he was 11 or 12. At 14 fastballs/changes/curve. Anyone that tells you a porperly thrown slider is no worse on the arnm than any other properly thrown pitch is quite frankly “out to lunch” thats just not true. The slider ranks right at the top in terms of stress on the arm.


#14

Anyone that tells you a porperly thrown slider is no worse on the arnm than any other properly thrown pitch is quite frankly “out to lunch” thats just not true.

My quandry Chin, is that the folks that I have actually heard say this are from their perspective correct (A D-1 highly regarded , ex-minor leaguer, pitching coach and a very well respected collge pitching coach, PM me and I’ll give you his phone number you can get his take, this guy was directly responsible for staffs that won and was runner up on the NAIA WS, he is no moron). They have their history and perspective to back it up and they don’t back away from it when challenged with statements such as yours. In no way are these guys “out to lunch”. They have no soap to peddle except keeping the pay check coming. They don’t run a rival travel team, they aren’t making money unless they keep live, healthy arms in the funnel.
What does make sense to me and obviously you, is that throwing the pitch incorrectly can be catostrophic. It is way easy for a kid to get a spinner to “work” in the short term, at the expense of his elbow. I would say that the majority of kids under say a sophmore in age, don’t understand how the pitch works, so your cautionary statement is absolutely valid.
So as the whole picture comes to light, we are in semi agreement, issue two being if he has it in the arsenal he’s going to throw it, then what?


#15

[quote=“jdfromfla”]Anyone that tells you a porperly thrown slider is no worse on the arnm than any other properly thrown pitch is quite frankly “out to lunch” thats just not true.

My quandry Chin, is that the folks that I have actually heard say this are from their perspective correct (A D-1 highly regarded , ex-minor leaguer, pitching coach and a very well respected collge pitching coach, PM me and I’ll give you his phone number you can get his take, this guy was directly responsible for staffs that won and was runner up on the NAIA WS, he is no moron). They have their history and perspective to back it up and they don’t back away from it when challenged with statements such as yours. In no way are these guys “out to lunch”. They have no soap to peddle except keeping the pay check coming. They don’t run a rival travel team, they aren’t making money unless they keep live, healthy arms in the funnel.
What does make sense to me and obviously you, is that throwing the pitch incorrectly can be catostrophic. It is way easy for a kid to get a spinner to “work” in the short term, at the expense of his elbow. I would say that the majority of kids under say a sophmore in age, don’t understand how the pitch works, so your cautionary statement is absolutely valid.
So as the whole picture comes to light, we are in semi agreement, issue two being if he has it in the arsenal he’s going to throw it, then what?[/quote]

I use the term “out to lunch” loosely. In my opinion they are wrong . My information comes from the people at asmi. as well as my own personal experience. 14 is to young to be throwing a slider, probably a cutter too due top reasons stated in the previous post. Im sure there are many many exceptions out there but for the vast majority 14 is to young to be throwing a slider.


#16

Well there is no law about us having to agree upon everything. Not that I am in total disagreement.
Happy New Year Chin, I’m sure hoseman18 will work out where he is with the whole thing, given both of our input and the input of everyone else.
Toodles


#17

I think what a lot of people fail to understand is that to throw this pitch or that pitch “correctly”, it takes not only proper mechanics but also proper functional stength. Many kids can be taught the mechanics to throw a certain pitch correctly but if they lack the necessary functional strength they will not throw it correctly and will risk injury.

As a pitching coach, you need to be able to instruct your pitchers in the proper mechanics, condition them to give them the proper strength, and then verify that the mechanics are actually being performed correctly (no easy task). If you can’t do this, then you’re gambling with your arms when it comes to young pitchers and pitches like the slider.


#18

I dont know about anyone else, but I’m staying away from the slider unless I absloutley need it. A curveball is just a effective, in different ways than the slider IMO, w/o elbow damage.


#19

[quote=“Roger”]I think what a lot of people fail to understand is that to throw this pitch or that pitch “correctly”, it takes not only proper mechanics but also proper functional stength. Many kids can be taught the mechanics to throw a certain pitch correctly but if they lack the necessary functional strength they will not throw it correctly and will risk injury.

As a pitching coach, you need to be able to instruct your pitchers in the proper mechanics, condition them to give them the proper strength, and then verify that the mechanics are actually being performed correctly (no easy task). If you can’t do this, then you’re gambling with your arms when it comes to young pitchers and pitches like the slider.[/quote]

Two great points Roger.


#20

So from the perspective of a college coach it would be a more reasonable claim to make than say “Skippy” the 13u Travel Team coach. Clearing up where Chin and I were at odds.