I coach a 9 year old travel team. We have 2 pitchers (both notice a lot of success) who commonly pause their pitching arm at the top and then release through instead of a fluid, continuous motion with the ball. Is this a problem or is this ok considering they have good velocity and control? Increased chance of injury?
This PAUSE that you refer to is common with youngsters at that age. Kids are learning something new everytime they step onto the infield, pick up the ball, and TRY and reach home plate. The surface that their pitching off of doesn’t help matters any, and more often then not, their not as prepared as they should be … and who can blame them… their nine (9).
As far as hurting themselves, I doubt it. Oh, you’ll have some sore arms and elbows for sure, and that’s a given at this age. Pitching itself is not a natural thing for the body to be doing anyway. So, the kids get a ball, tries and resemble something he/she saw on TV, and let’s-it-fly! And by the sounds of it, that’s what your experiencing now.
Th important thing is select kids that have a natural flow with THROWING the ball … not forced. From this population, you have a pitching staff (rotation). And at that age, this is the best you can expect.
Moreover, keep a serious record of PITCH COUNTS. Don’t let a kid stay in a game for sixty (60) pitches an inning… for five inning. And from your question here… its sounds like you have a much better handle on the health of your charges then to allow that.
On this web site there is an information bar that runs along the top called ARTICLES. “click” on to that and scroll down the subjects till you come to an article titled “Pitch Counts”. That article is very helpful for coaching youths.
Regarding pausing at the top, it could be that these kids were previously coached by someone who made them do the ol’ ‘balance point’ drill. This is a popular drill that many, many coaches put their kids through. Unfortunately, pausing at the top is not what the best pitchers in the game do. Check out video clips of guys like Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, etc. and you’ll see that they get their momentum started forward early and there is no pausing or stopping at the top.
So, while the pausing may be part of the learning process for young kids (as Coach Baker pointed out), that’s not a teach you’ll want to pursue and you’ll eventually want to push the kids towards being more fluid.
Very young pitchers usually don’t have the hands, shoulders and other physical endowments to allow them to learn good pitching skills. Skills that involve good body posture, arm slots, etc. So, to compensate for some of these short comings, I suggest trying a baseball that’s just small enough — but similar to a regulation size ball. I suggest using a Rawlings 850 ball. You will find the learning curve won’t be steep for some kids who are trying to focus on good form during the coaching experience.
If you have a sporting goods store near you, try and purchase a Rawlings 850 ball. It’s a good train’g ball for young kids just starting out.
I use this same ball for special drills and technique train’g for guys in their mid 20’s.
A picture of what the ball looks like is below.
ROGER is 100% correct, coach. This “pausing” is not something that the kids will want to incorporate into their development. And as they get older and move up in the game and at the pitcher’s position, they’ll be coached (hopefully) in much more progressive techniques.
However, in the amateur game, your dealing with a lot of variables that professional coaches, players and trainers don’t. You and your players have to address so–so mound qualities, hectic game schedules fitted in between school, jobs, family matters and a ton of other things. Kids also have a wondering attention span that invites in-one-ear-an-out-the-other performances.
So, give the kids time, try no to implant perfection, keep it simple and the kids will … somehow … grow into it. WE DID.
Best wishes Skipper.