Need Help Creating a 12U Pitcher Practice Pre-seaon Plan

Hi all.

My soon-to-be 12 y/o son is going to be doing some active rest mainly in July and then start getting back into baseball shape beginning in August. I’m looking for help coming up with a practice plan specifically for pitching. I’d like to keep pitching related activities to 2-3 days tops, but I’m confused about how to do bullpens and long toss concurrently.

In the TuffCuff Jr. program, it says to throw long toss 4-5 times a week, but I see people say to add an extra days rest sometimes after throwing long toss. I don’t see how it is possible to throw long toss 4-5 times a week and have an extra days rest. Also, if I want him to do a bullpen 2 times a week minimum, how can I do this and long toss?

Also any detailed plans for bullpens or long toss programs suitable for this age group would be appreciated.


The long toss can be a warmup for the bullpen sessions. They aren’t mutually exclusive. I think long toss is a great warmup prior to any pitching. 4 days a week in the fall is fine, but is your son also playing fall games or pitching in fall games? That would change things if I were putting together a plan.

You mentioned … “My soon-to-be 12 y/o son is going to be doing some active rest mainly in July”

Is there a specific health reason for this “active rest.” If so, everything else that follows has to be tailored to your son.

I am not privileged to the youth game, but I do know this, at 12 years old youngster can have energy peaks and valleys. It’s all part of the growing process. Be aware of his time at any session Vs his tolerance levels.

The best advice that I could offer you for this time of the year and your son’s baseball experience is to practice a solid diet and nutrition program. Map out his breakfast especially. His breakfast should contain enough food value to be time released during the early part of the morning. In other words, his solids will be digested later on during the morning with the liquids and similar foods getting into the body’s nourishment stream a lot quick - thus giving him energy when he needs it the most.

There are plenty of web sites that offer a good nutrition plan for sports minded youngsters.

Nutrition is always important. Be sure to gradually bring up his pitch count to the goal over a 6-8 week period. He should get warm before you start counting pitches. Don’t count any early pitches thrown at less than game intensity. Start the first week throwing every 2 days, then every 3rd day when he gets up over 60 or so pitches. Be sure he gets 5 mins rest every 15-20 pitches. There is a lot to a full program and this just scratches the surface.

[quote=“Coach Baker”]You mentioned … “My soon-to-be 12 y/o son is going to be doing some active rest mainly in July”

Is there a specific health reason for this “active rest.” If so, everything else that follows has to be tailored to your son.[/quote]

No, I was just referencing the phase he would be in following Steven Ellis’ Tough Cuff Jr., sorry I was not more clear. Since there isn’t much a break between spring and fall baseball, I thought it best to have him do some active rest in July, mainly swimming, which I know has a lot of controversy surrounding it where pitchers are concerned; but he likes to swim, and I thought it would good conditioning until he ramped up baseball again in August.

What should be the goal for a kid his age, or is it an individual thing like long toss where you just monitor what he’s capable of until his mechanics start to degrade?

Also, I’m still not clear whether I should be having him long toss and bullpen at the same time. Tough Cuff Jr. says to long toss 4-5 days a week. Is that combine with 3 bullpens a week (i.e. throwing every two days) too much?

Thanks Coach Baker and Coach Paul!

Goals depend on where he’s at right now and the distance he’s throwing from. Also, if he’s still playing any games this time of year would change a few things. In general, I’d look at his previous two weeks of work and figure his average. That’s probably a good start. Add 3-5 pitches each session if possible. If you see any indication that he’s over - doing then don’t push it.

I’m a so- so advocate of long toss, not that it’s a bad thing, but the mentality that is associated with it (long toss that is.)

In a professional sense, let me paint this picture to you. Time is money- period. Everything revolves and evolves around the buck. So, the cardinal rule that I use to use is - don’t get hurt, do something … anything … that’ll improve your workability and dependability, but don’t over do it.

I would use long toss for various reasons, but in every case, as a simple game a catch to keep the juices flowing and the muscles moving. I would never expect velocity to improve, nor control to improve, nor would I expect a man to go an extra inning or two, improve his mechanics or even anything close. I would use long toss to simply keep the body use to certain movements - but not so disciplined as to warrant video and such. A simple game of catch over a reasonable distance - and not trying to impress the ladies with a moon launch either.

Also, I knew the way every pitcher that I was responsible for moved, turned, made his stride, and so forth. Therefore, long toss was not pitching done upright, but rather a simple game of catch to keep things moving.

Now here’s one of the most important things that I used long toss for:
I’d also look for restrictions of the body during a long toss session, to signal me that a man isn’t moving the way he should. Now I’ve got to qualify myself on that last sentence, and in a way that’s not too belligerent either. So, to come right out with it … some pitchers can be as dumb as a fence post. They’ll get hurt, try and hide it, cover it up with all kinds of wrap and liniment, so on and so forth. As for me and others who have to project and use said pitchers, it makes it difficult to pencil in man, only to find out he’s only 65% going in, and even less coming out inning after inning.

I found the best way to long toss is with players that get along great. they’ll joke, laugh it up, poke fun at one another, and so on. Basically, a good time out on the grass, tossing the ball around over slightly longer and longer distances - but restrictive distances. Good reminders of the proper point to break the hands, start momentum moving, get the throwing arm up in the cocked position early, rotate the shoulders, turn the core and hips/legs, plant to stride foot firmly … but don’t… repeat… don’t over do it. Have a relaxing time reinforcing things that should be taken for granted during live time on the mound - but in a general sense.

As far as the number of tosses, before and after an appearance, go-or-no- go after an injury are all things that should be addressed by a coach who understands the individual pitcher, age, tolerance restrictions, environmental influences, and so forth.