This is my first post/reply to this site. I started reading this site and others when my son told me he wanted to pitch a year ago. I appreciate all that I have learned from Steve and the contributors to this site.
When my son was 8 and just starting to play baseball he informed me two weeks before the spring season started that he wanted to pitch, I asked him how important pitching truly was to him because it requires A LOT of work. It was very important to him and he was willing to put in time outside of practice. I felt that since the desire was there it was my responsibility to help my son as well as my obligation to protect him from injury. Most of the youth coaches are volunteers with limited baseball experience and similar knowledge of the game as me so I knew I was not willing to put my son’s arm under their care. Thanks to this site and others, the books and videos, I educated myself in proper mechanics so I could take an active role in helping my son do something he so strongly desired.
If you have concerns regarding when you should allow your child to start pitching first educate yourself. Use the tons of information out there to help draw your own conclusions. I did and realized since the desire was there I should not hold my son back. Many people thought eight was too young. With a lot of research and education, a determined focus on developing strong mechanics, and child who was determined to be a pitcher, my son started pitching and loves it! And most importantly, he has NEVER had a sore throwing arm.
The most important recommendation I can make to a parent of a young pitcher is lose the hang-up right away on velocity. Start slow and focus on mechanics, mechanics, and mechanics. As your child improves, so does the desire to learn more. Next, don’t forget the off-speed pitch. You want to get a young pitcher really jacked about pitching just have him throw a good off-speed pitch when he is ahead in the count. Even at 8-years old! Then focus on pitch placement, followed by movement. It is kind of hard to work on pitch placement when there are consistency issues due to poor mechanics. The velocity will come with improved mechanics but should never be stressed with your child. It’s okay to brag about your son’s pitch velocity with other parents, however.
I must continuously remind myself he is just a kid and not to push him. If he does not want to throw I can’t force him. Even if I know he should in order to keep “the edge” for an upcoming game. I must let him take it at his own pace. The last thing I want is to sour his love for the game. This happens way too often and the sad fact is too many kids quit because of the pressure us parents place upon them.