LL 9U-need help to gain throwing distance to 40 ft in 4 wks

My son who just turned 9 last week is playing in Little League’s Minors division where the first mandated kids pitch games is less than 4 weeks away (4/20), and he’ll be one of the first players to do that. The problem is he can’t throw that far. He’s comfortably throwing from 30 ft + with good control - roughly 50% in/near strike zone, largely because we have a small backyard and there’s only that much room… So it was (understandably) intimidating and overwhelming for him to throw from 43-ft and he’s all out of whack during pitching practices.

As a baseball fan but not a player I know long tosses is the key to increase throwing distance for pitchers, and I think they throw bullpen every other day to give the arm a rest. So I came up with this simple throwing plan and hopefully get feedback from you guys:

throw day - 10 warm up tosses at 20 ft; 20 pitches at 35 ft; 10 long tosses at 45 ft
toss day - 10 warm up tosses at 20 ft; 30 long tosses at 45 ft; 10 at 55 ft

and every week i’d increase the pitching distance by a couple of ft.

what do you think? please critique. tks!

First, keep in mind your son won’t be the only 9 who has trouble reaching the plate, much less throwing a strike.

For example, I am coaching a 9U team that threw from 42’ in 8U and now has to go to 46’. We have several kids who can’t handle the 4’ jump and, even those with the arm strength, are adjusting to the mound and distance.

My son has a strong arm as an 8 and other parents have asked how he got that way. I tell them we just have long catches. We have a great time doing it but I do emphasize that he can throw hard to me.

Be patient and keep the instruction simple and have fun.

Actual pitching is harder than building pure arm strength but without arm strength, there is no pitching.

[quote]throw day - 10 warm up tosses at 20 ft; 20 pitches at 35 ft; 10 long tosses at 45 ft
toss day - 10 warm up tosses at 20 ft; 30 long tosses at 45 ft; 10 at 55 ft
[/quote]

Why on a throw day would you have him warm up with 20 pitches from 35 ft. when he’s gonna be pitching from 42 ft.?

He needs to throw from the distance he will be pitching. If at this point he isn’t strong enough to pitch 42 ft. maybe he should wait to pitch and build some arm strength. He’s very young and has plenty time to develop.

Play catch every day after school. As you’re throwing, step back one or two steps and continue playing catch. Keep stepping back until you reach his limit. Talk about stuff. Baseball. School. Friends. Your favorite baseball player, and why you like him. Talk about anything, keep throwing and steppiing back a little at a time. When you’re done throwing, throw him a bucket of ball to hit. Every kid loves to hit. Every kid loves to be with his dad.

Each day, each week, you’ll be stepping back further and further. One day you’ll find out he’s throwing farther then you. Cry old age and buy him a bucket or two of balls so he can continue to throw at his distance. He carries the bucket. I catch. I don’t even chase ball any more. He needs to throw the ball to me chest, 'cause I’m an old man. :slight_smile: His accuracy and intent improved once I stopped chasing bad throws.

The thousand of hours of playing catch pays dividends when the kid hits middle school. My 13U still wants to play catch with me, eventhough I can’t keep up with him. He’s paying back all of those hours we played catch when he was a little kid.

Arm strength at 9u is not nearly as important as learning to throw/pitch the ball correctly. Although I admire the throwing plan you came up with, mostly because of the time youre spending with your son, spending more time doing drill work would benefit your son more. This is especially true if at 9u he’s struggling to throw 40ft.
I believe the act of throwing/pitching a baseball correctly is not a natural motion, it’s a learned skill. If you focus more on doing some of the pitching drills located under the “ARTICLES” section of this website, it will help your son much more than just a throwing plan. Perhaps incorporate some drill work into your weekly plan.

[quote=“Turn 22”]
He needs to be able to throw from the distance he will be pitching. If at this point he isn’t strong enough to pitch 42 ft. maybe he should wait to pitch and build some arm strength. He’s very young and has plenty time to develop.[/quote]

Agreed. He should pitch or throw from at least the game distance always. If he’s not strong enough at this point, don’t sweat it. Next year he will be.

9-13 is all about making adjustments to ever-changing field sizes and body changes.

Let it happen when it happens.

At 9 his focus should be on learning to throw the ball hard, with intent. He’s going to have lots of time to learn different ptching drills and refine his skills.

BaseballThinktank wrote an article on this very subject in another thread on this forum.

tks all for the replies. thought i’d provide a quick update and also post another question.

question first - at a group pitching clinic the coach suggested working out with resistance band to strengthen the shoulder and elbow. i’m curious if 2-4 pounds of resistance level is sufficient for him or should we try 4-6 pounds? and how do we determine the right fit? tks.

now the update - so we largely stuck to the ‘program’ i laid out but due to weather etc only had about five or six workouts so far. so the progress is really small. he’s still most comfortable from 32/33 ft and got good control and decent velocity. 35 ft + he’s out of whack and not even near the strike zone.

the coach said players pitch games were pushed back two games/weeks to get everyone more time to get ready.

hopefully with warm/dry weather we’ll see greater progress the next four weeks.

[quote=“astoria442”]My son who just turned 9 last week is playing in Little League’s Minors division . . .

As a baseball fan but not a player I know long tosses is the key to increase throwing distance for pitchers, and I think they throw bullpen every other day to give the arm a rest. So I came up with this simple throwing plan and hopefully get feedback from you guys:
[/quote]

Core body strength is an important aspect of a long toss program, and as parents sometimes we have to wait until our child grows into his core body. Is there any real benefits to starting a long-toss, bullpen session program before the child is physically and mentally ready to handle one?My son is a big 13 year old (6’, 180+), and with only 7 weeks left before becoming a High Schooler, he’s just starting to want to work out to get his core body stronger so he can throw faster and be the best player.

Don’t overthink this pitching thing at 9U. If he’s like most 9U kids, they are very flexible with a little to no muscle. Play catch after work until he doesn’t want to play, or until it’s dark. This by itself at 9U will strengthen his little muscles and over a very short period of time ge will be throwing harder and farther. At 9, does he really want to be in a workout room hitting the bands and lifting small weights. Climbing a tree is great for building strength.

If he’s 5’ 120 lbs and throws the hell out of the ball, then it might make some sense at 9U to consider bands and light weights. Even Dylan Bundy didn’t start working out until he was 10.

We live in the Pa and have had only one outdoor workout and several indoors. Five or six is not too bad for this time of the year.

Honestly, it’s not that important at this age. If he enjoys playing, and you spend time with him, he’ll get better and better and stay with the game. If he feels pushed and doesn’t love the game, Lacrosse and soccer will take its place. And after each game, grab a lemonade or an ice cream. The score and results will soon be forgotten and he’ll look forward to the nnext game.

Mid 70’s to 80 this week. It’s worth going in early to the office just to get home early and throw some ball before the coaches and practice take over.

[quote=“Brian179”]Arm strength at 9u is not nearly as important as learning to throw/pitch the ball correctly. Although I admire the throwing plan you came up with, mostly because of the time youre spending with your son, spending more time doing drill work would benefit your son more. This is especially true if at 9u he’s struggling to throw 40ft.
I believe the act of throwing/pitching a baseball correctly is not a natural motion, it’s a learned skill. If you focus more on doing some of the pitching drills located under the “ARTICLES” section of this website, it will help your son much more than just a throwing plan. Perhaps incorporate some drill work into your weekly plan.[/quote]

Ok, I have to preface this with the “I am a noob” disclaimer, but I disagree with everything in this post after the first sentence. I think young kids are overcoached regarding pitching, and they end up with unathletic point-to-point mechanics.

I think throwing a ball can be learned naturally, just as nobody ever had to teach a typical kid how to run: “OK, Johnny, you have to pump the right arm up as you stride with the left foot! Now pump the left arm as you stride the right foot!” No – all it takes is the intent to go fast, and kids figure out the “running” mechanic. Is it the ideal running mechanic? Possibly not, but it’s pretty close and can be tweaked later by a track coach if they get to that point. IMO, throwing is the same way. Learn by doing to throw the ball, get to where you can put a little heat on it, then you can learn the specialized form of throwing that is pitching.

Is the kid in question much smaller than average? Because the typical 9-y/o, IMO, can throw the ball a lot farther than 40 ft.

[quote=“bbrages”]I think young kids are overcoached regarding pitching, and they end up with unathletic point-to-point mechanics…
Is the kid in question much smaller than average? Because the typical 9-y/o, IMO, can throw the ball a lot farther than 40 ft.[/quote]

After a full year consuming coaching advice/methods and coaching 8-,9- and 10U teams, I am solidifying the belief that young kids are over-coached on technicalities of every baseball activity. Run hard, throw hard and swing hard. Keep your head on the ball. Seems to sum up what they need to do. (This is impossible to do though as all our society is micro-managed at this point to make sure everyone little guy is a Harvard scholarship athlete, musician artist philantrhopist).

My experience is the typical 9 yo cannot pitch effectively at all. The typical 9U travel kid can’t either. I am in Northeast surburbia where scheduled activites is the parental norm so maybe I only see kids who dont have time to play catch, running bases, wiffle ball or any other baseball type play.

[quote]question first - at a group pitching clinic the coach suggested working out with resistance band to strengthen the shoulder and elbow. i’m curious if 2-4 pounds of resistance level is sufficient for him or should we try 4-6 pounds? and how do we determine the right fit? tks.
[/quote]

Know what else strengthens the elbow and shoulder? Throwing the baseball with the intent to throw it hard. Forget reps and sets and specific distances, throw the baseball.
Can you use bands and get stregnthening from them, yes I believe you can, but at this point he’s 9, let him just throw and enjoy throwing. My kid is 16 and a sophomore pitcher on his HSV team. Know what his favorite thing to do is? A game of catch.

Overcoaching a 9 year old will potentially do more harm than good. First they only have so much attention span. Second, They’re 9, they want to play not go to school or work. Overcoaching can indeed become like work to younger guys.

[quote]now the update - so we largely stuck to the ‘program’ i laid out but due to weather etc only had about five or six workouts so far. so the progress is really small. he’s still most comfortable from 32/33 ft and got good control and decent velocity. 35 ft + he’s out of whack and not even near the strike zone.
[/quote]

Astoria, Why would you ask for critique/advice, then ignore it. While your progam is basic and won’t harm him. IMO as I gave before, he needs to be throwing from the distances he will be pitching from, throwing the ball 20 pitches from 35 ft., shorter distance than he’s going to pitch from is a waste of time.

Again, at this point in time he needs to develop arm stregnth and intent to throw the ball hard. He needs to learn to throw before he pitches. Do yourself and your son a favor and just play catch.

guys, thx much for the replies. really appreciate them.

West2East - mid-80s today so a game of catch is in order after work :slight_smile:

bbrages - he’s not smaller. in fact he’s bigger at 55in / 75lb, both over 75%-tile for 9-yo boy (turned 9 couple of weeks ago). but the arm strength is just not there due to lack of practice/usage i guess. he only plays bball in spring. probably part of that is genetic, too :lol:

but because he’s the oldest and tallest on the team and has better control than most of his teammates, the coach wanted/needed him to be onf of the first kids to be ready for players pitch games. there’s one other 8-yo kid who plays football 3 seasons a year who’s got a bigger arm, but he’s only one kid and we need like four of them.

ephinz1 - i agree w/ you on overcoaching, but when 8/9-yos still ‘throw like a girl’ we as adults just couldn’t help ourselves…

Turn 22 - i did follow your advice and play catch and tell him to throw hard. but when the distance is outside of his comfort zone he constantly tries to lob it in for strikes coz he gets upset throwing uncatchable balls. it’s a work in progress but he needs that feel good motivation from 33 ft to maintain confidence…

thank you all again for the advice, and please keep them coming!

[quote=“astoria442”]
bbrages - he’s not smaller. in fact he’s bigger at 55in / 75lb, both over 75%-tile for 9-yo boy (turned 9 couple of weeks ago). but the arm strength is just not there due to lack of practice/usage i guess. he only plays bball in spring. probably part of that is genetic, too :lol:

but because he’s the oldest and tallest on the team and has better control than most of his teammates, the coach wanted/needed him to be onf of the first kids to be ready for players pitch games. there’s one other 8-yo kid who plays football 3 seasons a year who’s got a bigger arm, but he’s only one kid and we need like four of them.[/quote]

When my oldest son was 12 he wanted to make the LL All Star team. He had three problems: He couldn’t hit, field or throw. But he was big. He was always well over 100% height and weight for his age. He looked very athletic, but threw the ball like a girl. My fault here. He didn’t start throwing until age 6, and by then, the natural throwing motion that should have been learned wasn’t learned. We talked about it. To make the All Star team, he had to stand out in at least one area, and preferably two. Fielding was out, since he would never get the chance. But he could learn to hit and throw. So, we hit the back yard every day during the spring. I bought a bucket of balls, and he swung at 100’s of pitches every evening. At first, he would swing and miss every ball in the bucket. But, he worked hard, and by the 1st game, was able to regularly go yard. After hitting, we would play catch. I worked with him on a few basics, but mostly we would just paly catch. By the start of the season, his arm strength was the best (next to his little brother) on his team, and left field was his. We did this all spring, and finally as the games started, I put him on the mound and worked on pitching. Again, just a few pointers to keep him focused on the plate. The object was to throw as hard as you can, and keep everything coming to the plate. Three days a week he threw bullpen with me in the backyard. 20 pitches day 1. Then 40 pitches on day 2 and 3. He never got to pitch in a game during the season, but did hit quite a few home runs. (He was 2nd in the league that year, in only 19 official at bats.) The championship game came. My younger son pitched a gem to get us there, and we had several of the older boys who were the All Stars to pitch the final game. After two inning, out starter had walked six, but somehow only gave up a run. To start the third, he walked the first three batter, and the coach suprised everyone by calling my son in from left field to pitch. He finally made it to the game. The championship game, trailing 1 - 0, 3rd inning, bases loaded, and he’s making his pitching debut. Shocked! But he was ready. He’d been working quietly away from the action learning how to throw. He’s gone from throwing like a girld to pitching the championship game. And pitch he did. Throwing in the mid 60’s, and with a sinker ball that stunned every player, coach and parent in attendance, he finished the game allowing one hit and a walk, striking out 10, and hitting the game winning 300’ home run to center field. The last pitch was a sinker against the best hitter in the league. As the hitter stood stunned at the plate, arms up asking what the “heck” was that pitch, the umpire calmly said, “that, my son, is a strike!.” (I taked with the umpire the other day, and he still remembers that last strike. Outside corner, at the knees, sinker.) He started the season at the bottom of the pecking order, perceived as being non-athletic because he couldn’t throw and was awkward; he finished the season out-dueling the league’s ace and smashing a long, game-winning home run.

My story here is to work with your son behind the scene. Hard work pays off. Even a kid who’s not athletic and throws like a girl can overcome these obstacles through hard work and determination. He didn’t make the All-Stars. The coaches, who are very bias and son centered, disregarded what he accomplished and picked the same kids they always did. They lost in the 1st round because they had no power hitter and no power pitcher. He doesn’t play baseball anymore, but played varsity basketball as a freshman and sophomore. He’s still not the most coordinated kid on the block, but works hard to be a part of the action.

There is no substitute for practicing. If more parents understood this, organized sports would be better off.

Your story is proof being behind your peers is not a life sentence of less than mediocrity.

Be ready for your opportunity even if it is buried under layers of injustice.

Practice, practice, practice. If the only time a kid picks up a ball is for the once-per-week practice and the weekend game, they will barely be able to maintain their skill and have no chance of improving except from sheer luck.

I throw with my son every night after work and we chat about the day. We try to make the other person shake their hand with each catch and both get a chuckle when we succeed. Obviously, I’m not saying throw a ball at your child that is harder than he can handle, but it’s OK to challenge their skill levels. When I wanted to add some steam on my throws to him, I simply had him wear his batting helmet w/ face mask.

Now that he has catching gear we work on blocking and framing and footwork. He’s getting better at framing breaking pitches, etc. I put the gear on while he’s pitching and he sees how I handle his throws and tries to do what I do behind the plate.

I also purchased 3 dozen durable wiffle balls that travel about 100 ft max and stand up to aluminum bats. I have a plywood strike zone easel behind him and we have batting practice in the back yard 3-4 nights a week for about 3 rounds of 36 pitches. I throw from an appropriate distance where the time it takes the ball to reach him is the same reaction time as in a game, yet far enough away that I don’t get my head taken off with a line drive.

He’s finally at an age where he listens to me (11-13 was when it happened for him).

As recently as last fall, he was absolutely terrible at ground balls and decided, on his own, he wanted to work on it to be a complete player. I figured being able to pitch, catch and play the outfield would be enough, but he wanted to fix his weakness. We drove around to find fields not being used 1-2 nights a week and I would hit him grounder after grounder watching the balls shank off his glove, ankle, wrist, shoulders, and every other body part while he lined up willingly for the next one. After about 25, he’d scoop them into the bucket and run them back to me and we’d do this for about 100-125 grounders until he was too sore to continue. This year, he’s scooping them up no problem and zipping them across the diamond. His confidence is soaring right now and it’s translating to every aspect of his game. He’s raking at the plate right now as well.

You get out of things proportional to what you are willing to put in.

Agree with the post about practice. Makes me remember 9/10 year old league, had a pretty good coach that year. Same as every year had some kids on team who couldn’t do the basics including throw the ball. Every practice & every game same parents would berate their kid for mistakes or simple inability. After a similar scene in practice coach made comment to a few of us nearby that the dad was more to blame than the kid. When asked why he explained these kids don’t pick up a baseball from seasons end to first day of practice then expect kid to get everything they need at practice. He also added the most improvement would be made if the dads would only throw with their sons. Fast forward to this year with 13/14 yr olds. Coach always asks kids at end of practice what they think team needs to work on for next practice. A 14 year old (that cannot throw from here to there) suggested they work on throwing the ball. Coaches reply may seem harsh but was pragmatic and said respectfully. He explained to kid too much to cover in practice; needs to find someone to throw with & work on it at home.

quick follow-up question - how do i know he’s properly warmed up? it’s not that it’s still cold outside but he’s always anxious to pitch right away and i’m not comfortable with that. also do you do stretches? how long? tks!