Mound Work

Hello Baseball Friends

This is my first post and I hope I make sense. I apologize in advance for clumsy sentences and stupid thoughts:

I am not a coach and only help out if needed during rec practice. I never tell the coaches what to do and walk quickly away when I see that they are discussing strategy. I was a swimmer and never played ball. My daughter plays softball and is a catcher on a travel team. I have followed the same no coaching approach with her.

My ten year old son pitches in rec down here in So Cal. He will be in Minors for a second season next year and I am very happy with our league and the level of sportsmanship and competition that has been shown since we have been involved with Little League.

Last year my son was the second pitcher behind a very good pitcher. My son typically pitched the last 2-3 innings and started a few games. It was a great learning experience. My son was accurate and learned to hit spots during the last half of the season. He was throwing 44-46 mph. I was unable to go to a few of his games but his coach told me that in one game that my son started he threw 56 strikes on 75 pitches. By the end of last season, he hit spots and closed out games.

All Stars was a rude awakening. My son was on the 9-8 team and expected to be the starter. He threw strikes but was lit up and could not bear down and get as many strikeouts. I could tell that this was a new experience and that being a starter who was expected to pitch the majority of the game was very different from coming in and closing a game out after a faster pitcher had set the table.

We took a few months off and did not throw a ball or pick up a bat. We went back to work in Sept.

For fall ball, he is throwing 47-50 mph in games. We use a pocket radar to get those speeds. It looks to be an average speed. He hits his corners with a 2 or 4 seam. The 2 seam drops at the end. His change up is a work in progress but is improving.

I typically take my son out two times a week and have him throw 4-5 simulated innings. We do a pre-game warmup and then 10 or so practice pitches as he would on the mound before a real game. I then have him throw to each batter, working the inside and outside corners and occasional change up. I have him throw a high fastball every so often. We go until he gets out of an inning. Then I have him sit for a few minutes to simulate that downtime when his team hits and we do it again.

Sometimes, I become that crazy ump who makes repeated awful calls and see how he responds. I do things to try to upset his rhythm in order to mimic a batter or an opposing coach who might try to so the same. I make bad throws back to him to mimic a bad throw from his catcher.

In short, I do anything I can to make him uncomfortable and to get him to lose focus. As I have said, I did not play ball, but it seems to me that pitching is all about relaxed focus. When I work with my son, if I can duplicate those crazy games where everything and person is trying to break that focus, that better prepares him to succeed when those influences do actually get thrown at him.

So, he throws 2 simulated games a week. 4-5 innings each. In season, this changes depending upon how much he pitches. He also swims competitively and that is such a different sport that it does not conflict re technique and it seems to keep his arm and shoulder loose.

He has never complained about a sore arm. As I noted, we are in rec. If we ever decide to go the travel, my son will need to dramatically improve his overall skills and that is at least a few years off. Since my daughter plays travel, I see just how skilled these kids can get and how much they need to enjoy playing if they want to go to that level. Time will tell if this will be an option for my son.

So far, my son still loves to play ball and pitching especially. I am trying to help him as much as I can. He has had a few lessons and I am looking into getting him lessons on a more consistent basis starting in a few weeks. One of his rec coaches pitched in college and has been a great mentor re form and pitching drills and I am grateful for that assistance.

Anyone have any other advice? I hear about these 10 year olds throwing 65 and hear about pitchers playing on 2-3 teams at once. I am trying to avoid all of that mythology and just trying to get to the next season.

Any other advice or input on what I am doing right/wrong or anything else? I never really cared much about baseball, but I am really enjoying learning about this sport as my kids grow.

Thanks

Welcome to the board’s!

Sounds like you’re doing a great job, especially if your boy is having fun playing the game.

The lessons you’re getting hopefully will pay off in the long run. If you’re happy with how it’s been going so far and are seeing results that you’re happy with then by all means keep it going.

You are doing a good job with his arm care, keep it up. I’ve always felt the biggest job as a parent with a kid in any sport is making sure their kid is healthy and as injury free as possible.

I would how ever be very cautious mixing swimming and Pitching it can lead to some potential shoulder problems down the road.

Keep up the good work and be sure to use this site as a resource for you and your son’s development!

My advice to you would be to let/tell your son to as throw as hard as he can. Balls and strikes are too worry about but more later than at his age. If he can teach his body to work for the goal to throw hard then he and his arm will be in a much better relationship as he gets older, plus he will throw harder.

SwimRob,

I won’t tell you you’re doing the right or wrong things, but I will encourage you to keep track of the number of pitches he throws, and the dates he throws them on. FI, 11/11/12 – 50 pitches. That way if something does happen, at least you’ll have some kind of record to show the Dr. to help him make a diagnosis.

I’m just a noob about all this stuff, but it sounds like your kid:

  1. isn’t blowing em away with speed
  2. has great accuracy
  3. doesn’t walk many batters
  4. gets hit hard by good hitters

Is it possible that he’s throwing too many strikes? It’s not something that people usually ask, but do you think he’d have more success if he were to try to miss the strike zone a little more often? Establish the low and away pitch a couple inches off the plate? Throw a few inside to keep the batter from getting too comfortable?

Bbrages, you ask some good questions there—but in my opinion, based on years of experience, the kid isn’t throwing too many pitches; it’s where he’s throwing them. Of course he’s going to get hit hard if he keeps throwing them right down the pipe, because most batters are sitting dead-red on a nice juicy fastball that they can blast out of the ballpark, across the street and into Aunt Minnie’s kitchen window—unless he’s a 97+mph fireballer on the order of C.C. Sabathia or Justin Verlander! What would serve him better is learning to change speeds, and that means, among other things, learning and using a good changeup. Babe Ruth, who was no slouch on the mound, once said that a good changeup will cause batters more grief than anything else.
My wise and wonderful pitching coach was a master of deception and misdirection. We had many long talks about strategic pitching, at which he was a consummate master, and he had many words of wisdom. Things like “Get the ball over the plate and make 'em hit it. Make 'em go after YOUR pitch—what you WANT them to hit.” “Figure out what the batter is looking for—and don’t give it to him.” “Move the ball around—high, low, inside, outside, work the corners, CHANGE SPEEDS, and stay away from the middle of the plate.” I asked him once about his approach to pitching to hitters, and I said “It’s kind of like judo, isn’t it?”, to which he replied “You could say that. The principle is the same—taking the batter’s power and turning it back against him.” He demonstrated how just about any pitch can be turned into a nice changeup and showed me how to throw some of these pitches. He might give up a lot of hits, or at the most two or three—but he didn’t like to walk batters. (It’s no wonder that this guy—his name was Eddie Lopat—racked up a lifetime 40-13 record against the Cleveland Indians, who at the time were a very good team!)
And he helped me become a better pitcher than I had been.
So I would say that the kid would benefit greatly from this advice and act on it. And it doesn’t require changing arm angle or arm speed, just locating his pitches better. 8) :slight_smile: