Not enough walks?

My son who is 11 never walks people.Since the beggining of last season into this season he’s walked 1 person.His goal this year is to not strikeout hitting and not walk 1 person pitching.So far he has reached his goals…The problem is he is not a very fast pitcher.We are part of a small league(6 LL teams) and all the kids know he throws nothing but strikes.I’ve always told him"just throw strikes" but kids just swing at every pitch and are starting to make some good contact on him.His accuracy is verey good and he tries to work the corners but if he falls behind he’s going right down the plate.He’s been working on a changeup and a couple other pitches that have some movement but if he throws one for a ball during a game he goes back to his 4 seam.I know its a good problem to have but just wondering if I should leave well enough alone and it will all work out.I keep telling him not to worry about walking someone and it might even be good to so hitters have to stay more on their toes.He’s a lefty he throws in the low 50’s.

All right, so your kid is not very fast. We call someone like that a finesse pitcher—one who doesn’t have a whole lot of speed but who can compensate with several good breaking pitches and great control. I know—I was one such; when I realized that I would never be one of those rip-roarin’ fireballers I went in the other direction and acquired a good arsenal of breaking stuff and offspeed pitches. And it led to my getting the nickname “The Exterminator” pinned on me by opposing batters who hated to face me because I was outthinking and outfoxing them all the time.
Years ago I had an incredible pitching coach—an active major league pitcher—who wasn’t in the habit of walking batters. He felt that if a batter wanted to get on base he would have to earn it with a hit. But he was an expert at strategic pitching, and he taught me a lot about that, and I got into the habit of keeping the runners off the bases, usually via the strikeout but sometimes by making the batters go after what I wanted them to hit. Nowadays we call that “contact pitching”, and your kid would do well to get into that. Tell me, what breaking pitches is he working on besides the changeup?

He’s been workin on a knuckle curve and a slider.He has a 3/4 to a little lower arm slot.With the slider it’s pretty much a 2 seam grip with his fingers slid over together.Being he’s a lefty with a little lower arm slot alot of times he just makes up a grip and the ball will have some movement.He also throws a pitch called a football changeup.You pretty much throw it like a football.When it’s workin it’s one of the best pitches I’ve seen a kid throw.I ve been tryin to teach him a good slider but when you cant throw one yourself it’s hard to teach

It seems that when he drops down closer to sidearm he’s getting very good results with the slider, so don’t worry about having trouble teaching him that pitch—he seems to have developed a good feel for it, and it will serve him well—he might even make it his strikeout pitch! The knuckle-curve can be a real bat-breaker as well—I remember when I wanted to try a knuckleball but couldn’t do anything with it because I had that sharp karate-chop wrist snap on my curve ball, so I experimented with using a knuckleball grip and throwing the curve that way, and I had it. (I think Mike Mussina picked his up the same way I did.) I also had a palm ball—my first changeup—and a good circle change, just for variety. Also—being one of those exasperating sidearmers, I used the crossfire extensively; this is a beautiful and lethal move that works only with that delivery, and if your kid can throw sidearm he might do well to pick up on that; it will give him twice as many pitches! Terrific! :slight_smile: :baseballpitcher:

With today’s lightweight youth bats, a youth pitcher who throws straight down the pipe is going to get hit, whether he throws slow or fast. I’ve seen fireballers in Little League get shelled because all they do is throw down the pipe. Take advantage of your son’s great control and have him mix it up: fastball, change up, two seamer, even a knuckle ball. Not just changes in velocity, but changes in the “look” of pitches can throw off a batter’s timing.

I have a 9 year old pitcher on my Little League Minors team who does not throw hard but is amazingly effective as a reliever - usually good for pitching once through the other team’s lineup - because he throws a fastball, change up, and knuckle ball. More, his father calls his pitches from the side and spots the pitches (low/outside, high/inside, etc.). The kid is able to spot his pitches at 9 and is terrific, especially coming into the game after a flamethrower!

As for the fear of walks, or being a little wild, here’s a story. I asked a former D1 college lefty pitcher and scout for the NY Mets about my 9 year old lefty son, who throws very hard for his age but can bean a batter or two. He said: “Oh, you don’t want a 9 year old lefty who throws hard to throw strikes all the time. A little wildness is good. He’s 9!” :lol:

Southpaw, you’re on the right track.
Those coaches who insist that the kids throw nothing but fast balls are asking for big trouble, precisely because the hitters have been catching up with the pitchers. Those batters are looking for meatballs right down the pipe, and the kids on the hill are, in effect, being told they have to throw that kind of stuff to the hitters. And the ones who don’t have a fast ball, or anything resembling it, end up on the bench and never get any playing time—it’s no wonder so many give up on the game so early.
I remember when I was a little snip, and I realized early on that I would never be a fireballer like Feller, Raschi, Gibson, Verlander or whatever—so I went in the other direction. I had a natural sidearm delivery, which I had discovered at age eleven, and there was this nice little curve ball that came attached to it, and I decided to see what I could do with it. I picked up a couple of breaking pitches—a knuckle curve and a palm ball (my first changeup), and I worked on my own on changing speeds and what-not. Then at age 16, as a result of my curiosity about the slider, I met the guy who would become my pitching coach for almost four years—and what I learned from him was nothing short of priceless. I became a very good finesse pitcher indeed.
This kid who throws some of these offspeed pitches—and who obviously has the control to go with them—is on his way to becoming a very good finesse pitcher himself, and let me tell you, these guys will last a long time simply because they don’t throw their arms out trying to beat the fireballers. They outfox the hitters instead, and as you say, now the batters have those lightweight metal bats or whatever they use and it won’t do them any good because they’re not getting the pitches they love to hit!
Way to go! 8)

It sounds like he need to transition from a thrower to a pitcher. What I mean by that is use his greatest asset as a strenght. The strike zone is approximately 7 baseballs wide. Take away the 4 balls in the middle and encourage him to throw using the 2 balls on the inside and outside of the plate. He will minimize damage if he is able to do that.

I would also encourage him that not all walks are bad. Guys that have no power shouldn’t be walked as typically the worst that will happen is a single and more often than not they will make an out. Power hitters he should be more careful with esp with runners on base and if 1st base is open even more so. Even one of the best control pitchers of the last 30 yrs Greg Maddux would not give in to hitters and walk the occasional hitter by not giving in and making the hitter either hit his pitch or take a walk.

soxpatstool,

Why do you think putting batters on base without making them swing is ever a good idea? No matter what anyone tells you, that’s never a good answer.

Personally, I think you’re overreacting for a couple reasons. The main one is, do you really believe that even if he wanted to he could throw the ball right down the pipe? No pitcher can do that! What’s more likely is, he backs off of his normal delivery just a bit, and a 51mph FB becomes 47, and very hittable for everyone in the lineup.

The other one you’ve already figured out. He’s 11 and things are gonna change! He’s learning all kinds of new things right now, and trying to deal with them with his limited experience. Its called ignorance, and with a little help, understanding, and experience it can be easily overcome. But the thing to keep in mind is, it doesn’t take place overnight, so sometimes you have to be a bit patient.

Part of the process is to learn by failure. Talk to him and try to make him understand the ramifications of the different options he has, but you have to let him have leeway to allow the lessons to sink in. Sometimes its getting blasted, but it happens to everyone who’s ever pitched.

I’m curious. You didn’t mention how “successful” he is. I don’t know how you define success, but a simple way would be how many total runs he’s given up. in relation to how many batters he’s thrown to. If you know, I think it would be interesting to know his strike percentage.

Hang in there and good luck!

Well the boy started last night.We talked before the game and i told him to throw the diffrent pitches that he’s been workin on.He threw alot more change ups along with his knuckle curve and 2 seamer.He took a perfect game into the last inning but lost it with a tough walk to the leead off man in the sixth.He ended up with a no hitter.The team he faced was’nt the greatest but have a couple of good hitters.I think he finally realized that taking chances and not always playing it safe can work out in his favor.

Exactly. The kid has some good stuff, and he’s using it very well. He took chances, and he won the game. 8)

My reply is…

What do you want out of the game for your son? LL/Babe Ruth (or whatever) and out. Then keep up what you’re doing. If however you see HS ball or beyond look for a travel team to hook up with. You will run into teams that will unload on your son and either run him out of the game or run rule him.

It will give him no choice but to learn to pitch.

We had a kid join our TT this year. He was a pretty dominate pitcher in league ball according to his dad. Things didn’t go so well with us. But you know what, a couple of tournaments and he was a different pitcher, and a asset to the team.

[quote=“SomeBaseballDad”]My reply is…

What do you want out of the game for your son? LL/Babe Ruth (or whatever) and out. Then keep up what you’re doing. If however you see HS ball or beyond look for a travel team to hook up with. You will run into teams that will unload on your son and either run him out of the game or run rule him.

It will give him no choice but to learn to pitch.

We had a kid join our TT this year. He was a pretty dominate pitcher in league ball according to his dad. Things didn’t go so well with us. But you know what, a couple of tournaments and he was a different pitcher, and a asset to the team.[/quote]

The boy played AAU last year and did well.He was 10 a t the time and played 11u.What do you mean by keep doing what your doing.I think I will.Just because a kid plays travel ball means nothing. I want my son to have fun NOW and we’ll see what happens in the future.AAU and travel teams are a joke.If a kid had talent and the desire he’ll make no matter whaT

My point was he’ll face better hitters from the top to the bottom of the lineup, because TT are for the most part all star teams.

Facing better hitters will make him a better pitcher. That’s all. Geezz.

Actually, I think throwing in the low 50s isn’t that bad for a 11yr. old lefty.
It sounds like he could use a good change-up.
If he throws just fastballs, the hitters are going to expect fastballs.
If he throws down the middle, most hitter are looking for that.
It sounds like it would be a good idea to work with him in practice sessions on working around the plate with his pitches.

Jim Brosnan, in his book “The Long Season”, tells of the time when he was with the St. Louis Cardinals. One day he was talking with pitching coach Clyde King, and he mentioned that he was having trouble with both his fast balls, the two-seamer and the four-seamer, neither of which was working for him. King called in a catcher and had Brosnan do some throwing for about ten minutes, using both pitches. Then he told Brosnan to drop the four-seamer and go with the two-seamer which was working much better for him. Broz took King’s advice and became a sinker-slider pitcher, and he had great success with that combination in subsequent seasons.
I would suggest that the kid, if he walks a batter, go not to the four-seamer but to one of his changeups. The four-seam fastball is the kind of pitch batters drool and lick their chops over, especially if that pitch is in their wheelhouse—right down the pipe or middle-in, and he wants to avoid that if he can. His best bet in that situation is a good changeup—no less a player than the great Babe Ruth once said that a good change will cause batters more grief than anything else, at any level of the game. And if the kid keeps the ball down he can get ground-ball outs.
And don’t worry about the speed. After all, he’s eleven years old. The velocity will come in time as he matures and builds up his arm strength. 8)

[quote=“SomeBaseballDad”]My point was he’ll face better hitters from the top to the bottom of the lineup, because TT are for the most part all star teams.

Facing better hitters will make him a better pitcher. That’s all. Geezz.[/quote]

Sorry about my reaction.I took it the wrong way.