Is a 4 seam fastball, 2 seam fastball, changeup, knucklecurve, and cutter an effective pitch arsenal for an 11 year-old?
I don’t see why not. If you can locate those pitches, get them in there for strikes, you should have a whale of a good time making the batters look stupid. One thing—most of those pitches have little variation in speed, so your changeup needs to be quite a bit slower, without varying your arm motion and arm speed. Also, your two-seamer is, in effect, a sinker, so it should prove a good contrast to the four-seamer. You could easily pick one or two pitches and make it, or them, your out pitches.
By the way, what’s your arm angle—your arm slot? :?:
Uhh I honestly don’t know. I can locate my changeup and 2 seamer the best. I’m still working on my cutter and I don’t know if I’m really comfortable with it yet. How can I use it with my other pitches?
You need to get together with a good pitching coach who can watch you in action and then help you determine what your arm slot is, and then you can work on getting those pitches together. Me, I never had a problem, because I was a natural, honest-to-gosh sidearmer who used the crossfire practically all the time!
At 11, I think having an arsenal of five pitches is a bit much. You would probably be best served to focus the majority of your efforts on mastering the 2-seam and, to a lesser extent, the changeup. Get totally confident in those pitches, see the movement in them, be able to throw them to any quadrant in the strike zone in any count.
In Derek Johnson’s book "The Complete Guide to Pitching"
, he talks about the difference between “owning” and “renting” a pitch. It’s okay to work on your other pitches, but you must absolutely master, or “own” one or two.
Here’s the relevant section:
[i]Owning Versus Renting the Pitch
Pitchers need to understand the concept of “owning versus renting” the various pitches in their arsenal. As mentioned before, it is common for young pitchers to adopt the various types of pitches that their favorite big leaguers throw, and they sometimes end up throwing four or five different pitches.
Unfortunately, the young pitcher can rarely master and command his full repertoire. Though he is capable of throwing a certain pitch, he may not be able to throw it for a strike very often, and the pitch presents no real threat to the accomplished hitter. This condition is called renting the pitch. The pitcher has the ability to throw the pitch, but his inconsistency and lack of command with it make it a low-percentage strike pitch. In other words, the pitcher can’t rely on the pitch in a crucial situation; it is not a sure thing, and he is therefore renting the pitch. Owning the pitch means that the pitcher is sure-minded when throwing it. He is able to throw it in any count or situation, and he places full trust in its action and his command. An owned pitch is one that is thrown in the strike zone more often than not (high strike percentage) and one that will force the hitter to make a decision to swing or not. This is an important distinction for the pitcher to make as he is preparing the tools for his arsenal.[/i]
I have seen a lot of pitchers who throw everything in the book—including, perhaps, the kitchen sink—but who don’t have sufficient command of any of them. For them it’s a catch-as-catch-can—or, perhaps, a pitch-as-catch-can—situation. They can throw them, all right, but more often than not they can’t get anywhere near the strike zone.
And I have seen pitchers with just one pitch—but, brother, what a pitch! For example, Joe Page, probably the game’s first great closer. All he had was an overpowering fastball. When he took the mound, he was pure power; he would fire that pitch in there and say “Here it is, fellows, hit it if you can.” And more often than not, they couldn’t hit it. He had absolute control and command of that one pitch.
I had two pitches around which I built my arsenal—a slider which I had nicknamed “Filthy McNasty” (after a character in an old W.C. Fields movie, because that was exactly what that pitch was), and a very good knuckle-curve which came in there looking for all the world like a fastball but would suddenly drop like a glass hitting the floor and shattering into little tiny slivers. I didn’t have a fastball to speak of, so I had to rely on breaking and offspeed pitches, and I worked on the control and command of all of them. And, being an honest-to-gosh sidearmer, I added the crossfire, which works only with that delivery and which made those pitches virtually unhittable.
You would do well to concentrate on that two-seamer (which in effect is a sinker and a good one) and a good changeup, of which there are many to choose from, and in the process add a good breaking pitch—preferably the kind the batters fall all over themselves trying to get a piece of! With those three pitches you can be well set, and later on if you want to add yet another, go ahead. Just be sure you own all of them. 8)
At age 11 I am of the opinion that these guys should have the majority of their focus on throwing the ball with intent, intent to throw hard. In other words working on the fastball. Learning to throw it with command but also with the intent to throw it hard and improve on that velocity.
Along with the fastball, these guys, IMO, should be learning to throw a change up. Same arm slot and arm speed but taking speed off of the ball with the use of varying grips. Sometimes the change isn’t an easy pitch to command, so learn it young and work on it.
Breaking balls should be the third pitch learned. Why? Basically, again IMO, they are relatively easy to learn, compared to controlling the change.
That being said, a 5 pitch arsenal for an 11 year old is way over the top. I think it would be very difficult for any 11 year old pitcher to throw five pitches effectively. In my mind something would suffer. At this age it should be about learning to pitch, not learning how many pitches to throw.
If you can throw those pitches for strikes then throw them. I throw sidearm and have four pitches: fastball, circle changeup, sinker, and slurve. Im only two years older than you so all i can say is if you have good stuff throw it.