Lose pitching ability?

Hello everyone.

I would like to start by saying thank you to anyone who responds to this. My son started pitching last year at age 8 and did very well. He was one of the top pitchers on the team and maybe in the league for that division. He is accurate and has great velocity for a small framed kid. He seemed to really enjoy it and was always in a positive mindset. However, even though this season has not yet started, his attitude as well as accuracy are highly inconsistent during any practice we have had. He is a good kid and has some natural ability. He’s no phenom but again he is very good for his age. I fear that my pushing him last year to perform has all but soured the game for him (playing wise that is). Yet when I try to back away, he gets upset. How do you find the balance? Mechanically I think he is alright. He has had some clinics where they said he was close. The people who see him think he is amazing just to have any mechanics at all. Unfortunately I am not very good at throwing myself, nevermind pitching, and he basically has learned everything from what I’ve read and seen and also through his coach of the last 2 years who is very dedicated and who is now a good friend of mine. He loves baseball, reads constantly about it, watches it, and at every party at his friends homes, he just goes outside and throws a tennis ball against the wall. After they lost the championship game last year and the majority of his teammates were upset, he ran around cheering that they got second. I can’t help but respect that.
So I guess my questions are how do you help someone with natural talent achieve their potential without overdoing it and how do you help remind yourself that it is just a game and he is just a kid?
And most importantly, how do you keep him focused and happy through all the hard work?
Also, is it likely for someone to just forget how to pitch and that the entire prior season was a fluke?

Thank you all for your time.

Every good dad with a conscious asks himself that question at some point. It’s very difficult, at times, to find the balance between really wanting to help and crossing the line into overbearing. I find that what works for me is to find the most important advice at the time (whether it be mechanics, attitude, strategy, etc.) and try and work the advice in at the right time and in the right tone. Your son will look back one day and really appreciate all you have done for him but right now the key is to try and take it at his pace. At his age, you’ll also need to pick your spots. If he’s not into a particular toss with you or not into a particular practice or game, that’s probably not the time to speak with him. In my experience, let those days go and work with him when he’s in good spirits (he will also be more receptive to helpful advice about that bad game of last week if you wait to talk to him about it). Whatever you do, don’t get frustrated and give up on him. Coach B reminded me that kids are growing inside and out and don’t often understand what they’re going through. They are certainly not mature enough to remain even keeled and to know what is best for them. Often times, their reaction is to say “forget this, I hate baseball”. Your son will be a very good player and you’ll find the balance. Just give some thought to how best to communicate with your son given his age, personality, and style. And, no, he didn’t forget how to pitch. He may need to have his mechanics tweaked (who doesn’t!) but it’s probably more “he’s just not into it right now”. He’ll come around and you guys will live and grow through baseball.

All the best.

When you figure this out, write a book. A lot of us need to read it.

I try to do what I can to keep it from being work. Last week, I invited two of his friends to join us when we threw at the gym. Having his buds there made it more fun and actually improved his focus (he likes to show off his skills a bit).

Sometimes, when we are working on something and I see his focus waning, I point blank ask him to focus for just five or ten more minutes until we get through what we are doing, then he can go do something else. Without a doubt, it is hard.

Doublebag

[quote=“Doublebag”]

I try to do what I can to keep it from being work. Last week, I invited two of his friends to join us when we threw at the gym. Having his buds there made it more fun and actually improved his focus (he likes to show off his skills a bit).

Sometimes, when we are working on something and I see his focus waning, I point blank ask him to focus for just five or ten more minutes until we get through what we are doing, then he can go do something else. Without a doubt, it is hard.

Doublebag[/quote]

Ditto. Try to keep it fun at this age. My youngest (10) is incredibly talented pitcher for his age; yet, when he comes home from school it’s basketball, not baseball, that drives him. So we play basketball. Layups, free throws, passes, one-on-one, etc. He really doesn’t have any interest at this time in baseball practice. But, put a glove on him and surround him with a few kids, and the light turns on. Instantly he’s all throwing, hitting and fielding. There’s nothing else in the world he’d rather do then show off his arm, or dive for a grounder hit up the middle. Once the kids leave, he’s back on the court dribbling between his legs. We’re fortunate to have a baseball field and open farm land near near our house where we can get outside and throw the ball when the feeling arises. And the neighborhood is full of LL kids, so as the weather warms up I invite the neighbor kids to join us in the field for some ball.

Thank’s gettingthere. That was a great response and I really needed to hear it. Last night we grabbed a field and worked just on mechanics and not velocity. Some of his throws were wide left (from catchers perspective) which seems to be where he misses, while others were right down the middle. Then a few friends came buy and we just had fun. Nothing crazy. Just fun. He played the best he has in a long time. Most importantly he smiled more than he has in a long time. Doublebag, lol. And thank you for the advice. I will try that next time. Shoshante, it’s funny you say that. When he’s outside shooting baskets I’m like what are you doing, it’s baseball season. Just you saying that made me realize who’s been taking the fun away. As I told him last night, it has been a long winter and we’ll get there. Both of us have a lot of work to do.

I think the same thing! By opening day I expect basketball will be forgotten until next fall. Of course, there’s football in the fall.

That’s the whole point—to have fun. A kid that age isn’t really into working on mechanics or whatever—he just wants to have fun throwing, catching, hitting, whatever, with his peers, and by making it something he has to do, for whatever reason, you’re taking all the fun away from him. Sometime back, jdfromfla made the same point. And there’s an article in the NPA archives called “Take Me Out Of The Ball Game” which explores this situation in greater depths. How old is the kid? Eight, nine? There’s time yet to get into the serious aspects of the game, and now is not that time, so the best thing you can do is just let him be. As has been pointed out many times, baseball is really just a kid’s game, at whatever level—and the major leaguers are grown men playing a kid’s game!
When the kid is ready to get to work on one or another aspect of pitching, he’ll let you know. And when you do get to work with him, make a game out of it. He’ll make more progress that way. 8)

Thanks Zita. I am most certainly guilty of getting caught up in the “your son is good” aspect of it all. I loved hearing nice things about him. As did he. It made us proud. I wanted him to stay at that level and in doing so lost sight of what the game is about. I have ridiculous expectations and I admit all of that. He is very talented as are many kids in his age range. He loves the game. Only takes books out from the library having to do with Baseball. Mike Lupica is one of his favorites. (to each their own). I also love the game. I love our time together because of the game. But believe me when I say I try to make it fun. But trying and doing as we all know are different.

This post could have easily been posted by me. I have an 8 year old son that started out as one of the bottom 3 of his team 2 years ago. Now he is in the top 3 overall on his team and probably in the top 2 or 3 pitchers in a highly compectitive league. Due to my competitiveness and need for my son to succeed, I pushed my son very hard. Over that time I could have made him really dislike baseball.
Thank god I have had my wife to set me straight. I have a whole different perspective now. I try to let him dictate how and how much he practices. Almost everything we do has some sort of game associated with it. I like to set somewhat easy goals for him to achieve. I found that breeds confidence and with that comes fun. Just last night I worked late and was kinda hoping to skip practice, but no he wanted to work on a little pitching and batting. He said he needed to practice because he struck out in the game the night before.
I guess my advice is maybe try to let him have more control. My son went from being forced to practice to bugging me to practice.

[quote=“duckct”]Hello everyone.

I would like to start by saying thank you to anyone who responds to this. My son started pitching last year at age 8 and did very well. He was one of the top pitchers on the team and maybe in the league for that division. He is accurate and has great velocity for a small framed kid. He seemed to really enjoy it and was always in a positive mindset. However, even though this season has not yet started, his attitude as well as accuracy are highly inconsistent during any practice we have had. He is a good kid and has some natural ability. He’s no phenom but again he is very good for his age. I fear that my pushing him last year to perform has all but soured the game for him (playing wise that is). Yet when I try to back away, he gets upset. How do you find the balance? Mechanically I think he is alright. He has had some clinics where they said he was close. The people who see him think he is amazing just to have any mechanics at all. Unfortunately I am not very good at throwing myself, nevermind pitching, and he basically has learned everything from what I’ve read and seen and also through his coach of the last 2 years who is very dedicated and who is now a good friend of mine. He loves baseball, reads constantly about it, watches it, and at every party at his friends homes, he just goes outside and throws a tennis ball against the wall. After they lost the championship game last year and the majority of his teammates were upset, he ran around cheering that they got second. I can’t help but respect that.
So I guess my questions are how do you help someone with natural talent achieve their potential without overdoing it and how do you help remind yourself that it is just a game and he is just a kid?
And most importantly, how do you keep him focused and happy through all the hard work?
Also, is it likely for someone to just forget how to pitch and that the entire prior season was a fluke?

Thank you all for your time.[/quote]

I would imagine that for every kid its different. For my 10 yr old, who has a stubborn streak a mile wide, i HAVE to let everything be his idea. If it even starts to smell like “daddy’s idea” his attitude starts to sour. Basically i do this. I say, “Tomorrow i will be home from work at X time. If you would like to go hit some, you let me know.” or “Tomorrow i am off work, if you want to go up to the ball field and pitch some, let me know.”

Its often frustrating, because the competitor in me wants him to spend every waking moment honing his spark of talent. The 10 year old in him is often happy just playing with a stick in the back yard with the neighborhood kids.

I have recently come to grips with the fact that no matter the talent, he will probably never have the internal drive it takes to become even a high school baseball player. I will never tell him that of course, and people i suppose can change. But once i accepted that, and stopped trying to impose my adult perspective on a child and a child’s game, it became much easier to step back and just enjoy the ride.

South Carolina…

That’s a great approach. He will probably come around and want to do more simply because he’ll want to spend time with this Dad. I hope every Dad reads your post.

I meant to comment on this too, and forgot :slight_smile:

My son is just past 1 year removed from his first pitching experience. He had some very early success, which was followed by a longer period of inconsistancy. At the time it was alarming, but now looking back, i realize that it was just natural growing pains. The first couple of times my son pitched, no one could touch him. He pounded the strike zone (as well as a 9 yr old could), didnt walk many, and had great success. He had very little formal training, and was just a big kid with a live arm throwing the ball at home plate. After the initial success, though, coaches began to try to change some things in his delivery, to be more mechanically sound. The mistake i made was thinking that a nine yr old would be able to incorporate these tweaks seamlessly. In the long tun, these chganges needed to be made. But in the short run, two things happened. One, my son was having to throw a ball in a manner he wasnt used to, and two, you could see him out there, thinking, going over his checklist of things coaches told him to do. It wasnt until this spring, when his pitching coach just went back to basics, and simplified his delivery, that his old strike throwing consistancy returned. He has other issues, but for me its easier to deal with him when he is having some success, than when he is struggling. IOW when he is playing well, he seems to be more willing to go play catch, or go to the batting cages. In general his whole attititude is better.

I can well imagine what the kid must have been going through, having to deal with those coaches who tried to change his delivery and make him throw the ball in ways that were not comfortable for him. I’ve seen this all too often—and I wonder how much of it is the coach having an agenda. Remember Fred Sanford, a pitcher with a herky-jerky delivery who was getting the batters out until his pitching coach in a thoroughly misguided moment changed it? That destroyed him.
And I remember my pitching coach of long ago—an active major leaguer who was a key member of the Yankees’ Big Three rotation and an extra pitching coach for them. He firmly believed that you never mess with a pitcher’s natural delivery. What he would do is work with that pitcher and show him (or, in my case, her) how to make the most of it. I was a true natural sidearmer with a consistent release point, a slide-step, and a crossfire which I had fallen so in love with that I used it a great deal, and this guy—you may remember him, his name was Ed Lopat—helped me refine my moves, taught me some unusual and extremely effective pitches, and in effect helped me become a better pitcher than I had been before, and all without changing anything in my windup and delivery. I pitched for more than two decades without ever losing a game or blowing a save (I was a starter who would relieve between starts), and I never had a sore arm or a sore shoulder or a sore anything else.
Coaches, please take note of this. Unless a young pitcher is REALLY screwing things up, don’t do anything to change him. The coach who went back to the basics with this kid did him a tremendous favor by getting him back to his natural delivery. 8) :slight_smile:

Thank you all for your feedback. His velocity is coming back as well as his control. We just completed evaluations and my son did great. Actually too good. He doesn’t have his comfort coach anymore but instead a very stern coach. However this coach has been coaching for years and coaches high school ball. He saw something he liked when my son was pitching. He actually got up from his chair to tell him. I don’t agree with his style but people say he is a great coach, just not the friendliest. The team he has is full of talented kids and it will be interesting to see how my son reacts to the pressure. Last year was more like playing ball with your friends. He is now the newcomer on a team that has been together basically since t-ball. This could benefit him greatly or can turn into a disaster. At least I know he is getting proper instruction now and I can definately back off. Man I miss the days when people would go crazy if a kid just made the catch. :slight_smile: