Mental Approach - Circle Change and Handling Daddy Coaches

Some observations on the start of 13U/14U spring baseball:

Keeping it mentally simple – We’ve had three bullpen sessions so far, and my son feels most uncomfortable about throwing the circle change. Mentally, the grip isn’t comfortable. He’s fine with the knuck-curve, but has no control over the change up. With about a month away before games begin, he’s looking at being a two-pitch pitcher - the 2-seamer and the slider.

Daddy coaches – 1st idiot tells my son to get rid of the short, compact swing and learn to swing longer, i.e Ryan Howard. The daddy coach wants home runs. My son gracefully tells him in a few years he’ll have the designater hitter rule and he won’t have to hit, so it doesn’t matter. 2nd idiot tells him he won’t make it in HS wth a low 3/4 deliver. Must come over the top! Then, the daddy coaches all watch the catcher falling backwards catching his fastball. He’s all smiles because he caught the ball. On the next pitch, the catcher’s smile is even bigger as he stays with the slider, catching it and again - falls backward. Didn’t feel it was necessary to reprimand the daddy coach on his stupitity. BTW, the teams regular catcher doesn’t catch my son. He’s scared. Instead, the SS (who is D1 material) does the catching for my son. Yeah, daddy coach is probably right. :roll: 3rd idiot says my son at best will be the third or fourth pitcher on the team, 'cause rest of them play travel ball and practice 4/5 times a week. Yeah, tell the catcher that. Fortunately, my son shrugs it off. He and the catcher have a good time laughing. Until another practice.

I found this a tough year myself. Your boy seems to have it sorted out. The thing with being that low on the totem pole is you may get eliminated before he can show his stuff. Oh well…don’t try…just keep your eyes and his on the ultimate end of HS ball. When he has an opportunity, be ready…it’s all you can do…and keep laughing…the kids know who has it.

The “bottom of the totem pole” is daddy coach talk. Fortunately, the manager is excellent, and his son is the only one who will catch for my son. He dropped by on Sunday to let my son know he’s on the team, the #1 pitcher, and expects lots and lots of home runs - with the short swing. He’ll be hitting 3rd and playing 1st base when not pitching. :lol:

At the end of the day, as long as we have a good laugh and a Shamrock Shake from McDs, life is good.

West,

The circle change is a tough one, has he tried other variations of a change and had any success?

I can’t remember how old is your boy now?

What level is this current round of Daddy Ball at?

[quote=“Wales Diesel”]West,

The circle change is a tough one, has he tried other variations of a change and had any success??
[/quote]

He’s tried different grips. Nothing feels good. It’s the only pitch he seems to have no command.

[quote=“Wales Diesel”]I can’t remember how old is your boy now?

What level is this current round of Daddy Ball at?[/quote]

He’s 13. So he’s playing at 14U. HS next year. This will be his 1st spring on the larger field, and he loves it 'cause it allows all of the action on his pitches. I’m looking forward to the first game.

Mint Oreo Blizzard at DQ…sit down at a booth inside and have a chat.

He’ll get the hang of it. The most crucial time is when he is pitching an otherwise respectable game and misses with the change at a pivotal time.

Throw it when it won’t hurt him so much until he masters it and has confidence. But he has got to find a way to work on it in game situations. Some day, he’ll may need to go to the change up as an out pitch.

Until then pick an aggressive hitter. His natural tendency is probably to pick a weaker hitter to throw it to. All that does is speed up a poor hitter’s bat. Do it with nobody on base and ahead in the count and at least one out. This way you are minimizing the damage. And then hope like heck it stays low in the strikezone.

And don’t worry, he’s going to bean somebody with a pathetic change piece. At least this way, it will be one of the better batters who had a better chance of making it on base anyway.

You should never ever throw a changeup to the 7, 8, and 9 hitter. Dino’s rules for 13U. As usual -you may disagree and for plenty of good reasons.

There was a time in my son’s career that he had to get prior approval for delivering a change up. It was that bad.

One of the things I like about the travel team my son plays with is they just throw fastball and change. They really want the guys to try and master the change and fastball variations. Just takes time and practice.
As for the dumb comments…my favorites I have heard this year have been “I dont keep stats, dont believe in them. Leads to over thinking things.”
"I dont believe in utility players. If a guy is just a great fielder there isent a place for him."
Unfortunatly these are from my sons new high school coach. The reality is, just my humble opinion, is most high school coaches are terrible and insecure. The guys coaching “for the kids” do the best they can with the youngsters, the ones good enough to get paid have generally moved beyond high school. There are exceptions, but, my boys high school experience with coaches has been (with one exception) a series of jokes.

[quote=“West2East”][quote=“Wales Diesel”]West,

The circle change is a tough one, has he tried other variations of a change and had any success??
[/quote]

[quote=“West2East”]
He’s tried different grips. Nothing feels good. It’s the only pitch he seems to have no command.
[/quote

My sons been with pitching coach since 12 yrs old. PC immediately began work on improving his change up. Modified his grip & told him to practice by throwing non mound from longer distance. Anytime tossing would work, shagging fly balls in outfield is perfect. Helped him get the “feel” of the pitch.

[quote=“Mike4”]
My sons been with pitching coach since 12 yrs old. PC immediately began work on improving his change up. Modified his grip & told him to practice by throwing non mound from longer distance. Anytime tossing would work, shagging fly balls in outfield is perfect. Helped him get the “feel” of the pitch.[/quote]

He seemed to do well with it last year during spring bullpen sessions, but never threw the pitch in the regular season since his FB and slider dominate. This year it’s absolutely no control with the change. He still has three or four more 40 pitch bullpen sessions this spring to play with it. He pitches three days a week for 40 pitches during the spring. Day 1 is have fun. Try different grips. See what works and what doesn’t. The slider was developed during these sessions. Day 2 there’s a set 40 pitches he throws, each one is a different pitch/location. Day 3 is a simulated 2 inning game. Once games start, the season takes over and he uses what he has. After the season it’s more conditioning related than throwing. And, we start the process over in the Fall. This Fall will be different than the past (he will no longer be in youth ball) since it’s more of a prep for than pitching in games, so the gym and conditioning, as well as hitting, will be the focus until the spring.

For what it’s worth, my son’s grip uses a traditional C change grip along the seams (two seam) and focuses on applying upward pressure with his thumb in an attempt to keep his wrist up until the last moment. At release he will pronate the “C” to the ground. Has pretty good control of it as long as he doesn’t choke the ball. If he tries to choke it the ball will bounce about 10 times before it reaches the catcher!

Dino,

You made the following statement.

Based on the rest of the post, I’m assuming you say that because you believe the lower third of the order is substantially weaker than the upper two-thirds. I have absolutely no problem with that line of thinking, but I wonder what you’re using as proof.

Do you have access to any numbers based on batting position for any amateur level HS or below? The reason I ask is, looking at the HS numbers I have, based on more than 180 games, while the lower third is definitely not the best 3 batting positions, there is usually at least 1 of that 3 “better” than one of the upper two-thirds.

Since I don’t chart pitches, I have no idea what “type” of pitches or locations are being seen, but I do understand that the lower the level, the more likely the weak batters will be able to be “overpowered” by velocity. But, I also believe that there is a point where the FB, unless at a much higher velocity than “normal”, becomes the easiest pitch to hit.

[quote=“scorekeeper”]Dino,

You made the following statement.

…the lower third of the order is substantially weaker than the upper two-thirds. I have absolutely no problem with that line of thinking, but I wonder what you’re using as proof.
… while the lower third is definitely not the best 3 batting positions, there is usually at least 1 of that 3 “better” than one of the upper two-thirds.
[/quote]

Anyone who has pitched doesn’t want to walk any of the 7-9 hitters because that means someone at the top of the order will get an extra at bat. 7-8-9 hitters also seem to take more pitches and are less likely to swing 3-2 since they will roll the dice and take anything that fools them. A 3-2 change up may be just the right speed for them to make solid contact on you. The proof is in the experience. Pitching makes one very tuned in to patterns.

Also, your term of “better” is subjective. I could ask you what specific criteria do 7-9 hitters possess that would make them better than a 1-6 hitter? I’m sure that there are attributes all the way through the order that some are better at and some are weaker at. On the whole, 7-9 hitters are not consistent enough to be table setters and don’t have the power to drive in a lot of runs.

Scorekeeper :

Statistics in and of themselves are a very one dimensional tool. To be meaningful they require human interpretation in the form of statistical analysis or comparisons presented in an understandable format. Collection of statistics is one thing, the application is another.

I have all the respect in the world for those who are able to compile and save minutia with the understanding that the proper use of them may assist in more intelligent decision making. As well, the misapplication or perhaps even conscious manipulation of the so called facts to meet one’s expectations will lead you away from the truth and toward what you would like to believe. And in many instances there are aspects that have not even been contemplated that create a void of understanding.

With that in mind, I tip my hat to you for your dedication to numbers. But I also believe in experience, the capacity of the human mind and intuition. Call it beating the odds, getting lucky or playing a hunch - sometimes things we choose to do go against all the sabermetric gospel. The numbers never change but sometimes the understanding of what they really mean does.

For example, a pitcher may be more likely to throw a hittable pitch to a 7,8 or 9 hitter simply because he believes that they are not likely to hit any of his pitches well. Meaning that the pitcher is taking cues about the skill of the hitter just by virtue of his location in the order and because of this is relaxing his concentration and becoming a poorer pitcher. This might appear statistically to show that one of these hitters is better than his position in the order implies.

If as you say there is at least one of the three better than one of the upper two thirds, it would be probably the number nine hitter because coaches are more likely to put a inconsistent lead off type hitter with foot speed in that slot, at the HS and under levels. But another major factor would be the HS use of the designated hitter - which I detest because pitchers get pigeon holed as non hitters early in their career.

In any event, my suggestion regarding the changeup was mostly predicated on the 13U level and the trouble he had been having throwing the pitch. If he can throw an effective changeup at the 13U level, he ought to be getting plenty of strikeouts and weak groundouts. Use it on everybody.

Being a Daddy Coach myself, I’ll have to say that when I’m on the field, I give my own son a much shorter leash than the other boys. If he tries to take any liberties or get away with anything that I don’t accept from others, he’ll find himself getting handy with a pair of tweezers.

I’ve found that if I sit him down one time for not running out a ball or not hustling on and off the field, everyone gets a lot more steam in their strides.

One of my goals is to reduce the number of pitches per inning. Throwing strikes (or balls) by everybody, whether it’s the fastball or an unhittable slider, doesn’t reduce the pitch count. The youth hitter who is unable to hit the pitches is praying for the walk. To keep the pitch count at or under 15 per inning requires the offense to swing at some pitches. Doesn’t have to be many, but at least a few swings per inning, and preferably one or two per batter. An effective change up serves this role and gets the weak infield grounder for a quick out.

[quote=“West2East”]
To keep the pitch count at or under 15 per inning requires the offense to swing at some pitches. Doesn’t have to be many, but at least a few swings per inning, and preferably one or two per batter. An effective change up serves this role and gets the weak infield grounder for a quick out.[/quote]

It’s for that reason that my son’s average pitches per inning is 20-25 when he’s having control issues. He doesn’t have many kids swinging, even when he’s ON. When he’s OFF, it’s tough to watch the pitch counts rise so quickly. 3-4 batters seeing 5-6 pitches apiece can get to 24 pitches very fast if they aren’t swinging or he’s not throwing strikes.

I always have him conditioned to throw 100 pitches per outing even though the league only allows him to throw 85 per game 110 per week. His game day is the easier because he doesn’t have to worry about running out of gas.

I have seen it done, but rarely will a kid go more than 5 innings because there is usually one long one in there due to poor defense or losing pitch accuracy for an inning. There really is no need for a kid to throw more than 4-5 innings anyway at the youth level.

Probably even less chance this year throwing from 60’6" instead of 50’. We’ll see how his endurance is this spring and what upper limit he can be trained to reach. I’m sure the typical progression I’ve been using will need to be tweaked.

[quote=“CoachPaul”][quote=“West2East”]
To keep the pitch count at or under 15 per inning requires the offense to swing at some pitches. Doesn’t have to be many, but at least a few swings per inning, and preferably one or two per batter. An effective change up serves this role and gets the weak infield grounder for a quick out.[/quote]

I always have him conditioned to throw 100 pitches per outing even though the league only allows him to throw 85 per game 110 per week. His game day is the easier because he doesn’t have to worry about running out of gas.
[/quote]

My son gets stronger each inning and throws as hard or harder in the 6th as he did in the 1st. Still will limit him to 85 max. It’s a team sport

Easier for the junk ball pitcher when their ball is sinking. My favorite was a 5 pitch inning where the kid gave up three hits. Ground out - base hit -base hit - base hit - DP.

The larger field is to the pitcher’s advantage. Bunts are easy outs. Infielders have time to get to the grounder for easy outs. And fly balls get caught. My son averaged 15 pitches/inning or less during the past two fall ball leagues playing on the bigger field, eventhough he maintained a high strikeout rate per inning at 2.1 and 2.2. (It was down from his LL average of 3.0/inning) :shock:

[quote=“West2East”]
Keeping it mentally simple – We’ve had three bullpen sessions so far, and my son feels most uncomfortable about throwing the circle change. Mentally, the grip isn’t comfortable. He’s fine with the knuck-curve, but has no control over the change up. With about a month away before games begin, he’s looking at being a two-pitch pitcher - the 2-seamer and the slider.[/quote]
Control of the circle change can be enhanced by gripping the ball with thumb and middle finger cutting the ball in half (sacrificing a tight circle for a big circle or “C” if necessary). But how about simply using his fastball grip and pronating it?

[quote=“Roger”][quote=“West2East”]
Keeping it mentally simple – We’ve had three bullpen sessions so far, and my son feels most uncomfortable about throwing the circle change. Mentally, the grip isn’t comfortable. He’s fine with the knuck-curve, but has no control over the change up. With about a month away before games begin, he’s looking at being a two-pitch pitcher - the 2-seamer and the slider.[/quote]
Control of the circle change can be enhanced by gripping the ball with thumb and middle finger cutting the ball in half (sacrificing a tight circle for a big circle or “C” if necessary). But how about simply using his fastball grip and pronating it?[/quote]

Should the ball be in the fingers or setting back in the palm?

I would be careful overlooking the 7,8,9 hitters, especially at the HSV level.

I’ve seen a good many of the bigger schools where the 7 hole might be a tick below but is still a good RBI guy. The 8 hole might be a lesser hitter but still with power, maybe a higher strike out guy. The 9 hole is often a speedy guy with decent bat control and a “second” lead off type hitter.