As mentioned in an earlier post (Coaches/Pitchers/Parents - Part 2) I had not yet heard from noted pitching authority, Bill Thurston.
Of the comments requested and received from the four pitching “experts/authorities” I contacted (House, Mills, McFarland, Thurston), his will probably spark the most debate.
"Let me give you my personal thoughts based on my experience of working with young pitchers. I only work with the 9-13 age groups doing “throwing clinics” more then pitching clinics. I have video analyzed close to 1,500 pitchers aged 14-18, plus many non-Amherst College pitchers and a few pro pitchers.
I have never been a supporter of the concept of Little League Baseball. Kids are attempting to play the game before they develop throwing, catching, and hitting skills. The emphasis has been on the results (winning) not on the process (learning the skills of the game). Little Leaguers do not practice enough, even throw enough to develop a good throwing rhythm, arm strength, or arm stamina.
The injuries referred to by Mike Marshall do occasionally happen to a very small percentage of the “elite” youth pitchers who are pitched too often, throw very hard (effort and velocity), allowed high pitch counts, have poor mechanics, and throw breaking pitches. The average Little Leaguers (90-95%) do not throw enough to learn and develop a good motion and arm strength.
I would prefer that a young player not pitch until he is 12-13 years old depending on his body and arm development (particularly the muscular development of the biceps, triceps and upper forearm muscles).
Youth players would be better served in skill development programs then “competitive-win championship” programs.
I do not disagree with Mike’s observations if he is referring to the elite, top 5% of kids who are over pitched on travel and out-of-season programs. I know Dr. Andrews is really concerned about pitchers who pitch year around and do not have a down-time (2-3 months) from pitching, I agree with him. Young athletes should play multiple sports. They will become more athletic and compete better in the long run.
I hope my thoughts are helpful."
They certainly are. Thanks Bill…and “Thanks” to each of the other respondents.