Is a pitching coach necessary once they start high school?

My son has played Select ball since he was 9 years old and he has excelled at every level thus far. He is now 14, having just completed his U13 Select Season. He has never had an individual pitching coach that could work with him one on one outside of team practices. Now, after watching him pitch in some tournaments recently, I realize that his pitching needs to be further developed and his delivery needs to be sharpened and refined. But now he is entering high school, a high school with a very successful baseball program. He has already met and worked with the school’s coaches and he was a member of the school’s Metro League team for incoming freshmen.

My question is, is their a need for an individual pitching coach? Would there be a conflict of interest by bringing in a individual pitching coach for my son?

You see, once my son was about 11 years old, I turned my focus towards my younger boys, we have 4 altogether, and somewhat left my older son to the behest of his coaches. I know he would be a more developed pitcher now had I encouraged him more and made sure he was working on his craft.

At this point, what can I do to keep him on the top of his game? Should I still be working directly with him or just making sure he is getting skilled instruction somewhere. ( I am a decent coach, but was never a pitcher, so I lack that expertise for sure).

How can I help him? I feel partly responsible that his pitching isn’t more developed.

I would appreciate any advice.

Well, depends on how far he might be able to go? What sort of opportunities he has in high school and if he needs inprovement to make that team.

I think a private instructor is good 1 -2 times a month to work on things that you and he might not see. Make it private lessons on days that he doesn’t have other team practices and I think he will make some great strides.

I dont understand what you mean by “conflict of interest” though?

I actually think the reverse is more true: A pitching coach is not necessary UNTIL high school. Just let them have fun until then; it shouldn’t be about cutthroat competition when they’re preteens.

My thought is that the player is 14 and the cut throat starts as a freshman against other players looking for the spot that he wants…if it’s a easy thing to get onto the “c” team then what about making JV or the V team. Now that is competition. My in coming freshman son want to make one of the upper teams as a freshman and is doing everything possible to make it.

You have to also consider the quality of what can be offered. If the coach offers nothing incrementally to what the school program offers…well no brainer but as with me, the guy was everything I couldn’t offer (In my case it happened to be one of the catchers who caught Greg Maddux’s first Cy Young). Once he exceeded my expertise I looked for someone who could meet that challenge.

I have often said that when you’re looking for a pitching coach, look for someone who not only knows his/her elbow from third base but also can relate to the kid being worked with—a coach who will show the kid how to make the most of his/her capabilities. And if that coach has had pro experience, so much the better. 8)

by “conflict of interest” , what I meant to say was would his high school coach be concerned that he might get inferior instruction or incorrect mechanics. basically, he may have a coach that doesnt want one of his players getiing instruction elsewhere out of fear that there’s guys out there that may not be very credible instructors.

I just wanted to know if it is common practice at the high school level to have outside private instruction.

I think outside instruction may drop off in high school as high school coaches want things done their way. But if the high school coach ain’t cutting it (and that’s not uncommon especially at the freshman level) then outside instruction might be a good idea. Of course, you can always do the outside instruction during the off-season.

Ultimately, you and/or your son will have to get a feel for the high school coaches and then decide what to do.

FWIW, I’ve been working with a high school pitcher in the off-season even though his high school pitching coach is a fairly well known former MLB pitcher. Most of my instruction fits with the coach’s instruction. But, in one case, it differed and the kid (and his dad) preferred my instruction so they had to work that in in a subtle, limited manner.

First of all I reccomend private pitching instruction as early as you can.
In the case of your older son, I would talk to your High School Coach and get his opinion. He may have someone he could reccomend that would be on the same page as he. You should also have a lot of confidence in this coach and I would check out references.

The main thing to keep in mind about it is, there’s one heck of a lot of difference between a “team” coaching environment and a 1 0n 1 environment. No matter how good a team pitching coach is, its very unlikely he’ll be able to coach the way a private instructor would. Here’s an example.

Let’s say the greatest ML pitching coach in history became the PC for the local HS team. How much personal time is each pitcher going to receive in a “normal” week? Remember, the practices are only 3-4 hours long, the pitchers have a lot of other things to do besides work on their mechanics and pitches 1 on 1, during the season, there may only be 1 or 2 practices a week, and finally, there’s likely to be anywhere from 6 to 10 pitchers on the team. A private coach can devote a half hour or more to a pitcher, where there’s no interruptions. If there are 8 pitchers on a team, where’s the 4 or more hours of 1 on 1 time coming from?

In the end, that coach won’t coach the same kid privately as he would in the team environment, and I’d say that was pretty universal. So if for no other reason, a private coach from that perspective is a good thing. But keep in mind that we were talking about the very best pitching coach there was! Now consider that the “normal” HS pitching coach just isn’t all that great. There are some good ones, but in general HS PCs aren’t threatening to steal any higher level PC’s job. :wink:

So, if your kid’s HS has a top notch pitching coach, by all means take advantage. But don’t assume that all HS pitching coaches are of the same caliber, or even that the one you have will be the same as a having a private coach.