[quote=“Steven Ellis”]This debate has been going on for years and years. But it’s always good to revisit.
I’m wondering if the issue isn’t so much about curveballs as much as it’s about a need to improve young kids’ overall conditioning levels, arm strength, fitness and durability. I a big advocate of fastballs and changeups ONLY at this age. But I’m also realistic: kids are throwing breaking balls 20-45% of the time, no matter what we try to teach them to wait until their older. So perhaps, then, the conditioning needs to ramp up to match the added stresses kids are placing on their arms?! Thoughts?[/quote]
After watching LLWS for for four games and eight hours yesterday at Williamsport, I think conditioning needs to ramp up. It was an incredible day, watching the best 12 and 13 year old pitchers from around the world. It appeared every team had their ace going. The 4-seam fastball ruled, but fate was decided by the curve. Japan gave up two hits to Mexico, both long home runs off of heat. The curve kept Mexico swinging and missing. All day I saw the same scenario. When Mexico’s pitcher mixed in the curve regularly, Japan was off-balanced and unable to score. When he threw predominately 75 MPH FB, Japan scorched him.
The biggest surprise for me on this day was the FB for most of these kids who threw heat were straight with little movement. I was expecting more movement on the FB, more use of the 2-seam and cutter. Also, in the eight games, I only saw one kid who threw a good slider . . . and he was unhittable.