I will be coaching 10-12 year olds for the first time. What are some of the common mistakes this age group does and how do you guys go about fixing some of these problems. Thanks
Not good balance and posture, very small stride, weak glove side mechanics, using the arm to throw vs getting a flat back and using legs and back and not driving hips to throw the ball
Thanks!! I will be a brand new coach to baseball. This site is great for learning how to pitch. What other forms of information do you coaches suggest I visit? Web sites,books,DVD’s. When you guys were first starting out what did you find helped you the most and like wise something to stay away from. Are then any good training devices that you would recommend. I am leaning towards purchasing the insider bat. What do you think of this product? Any help is welcomed I am a little nervous going into this.
I can tell you what has worked for me with this age range.
First- Set-up. I was amazed how many kids on other teams over the years wondered all over the mound. Their starting position was different on every pitch. If you are teaching a kid to shoot free throws, alignment is very important to success, same in pitching. I go with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly flexed and foot closest to plate slightly closed. The kids need to be in an athletic position.
That leads to balance and momentum.
Help them keep their head on line and moving to target. Some young kids have been told repeatedly to throw over the top which has them really tilting their head to the glove side to accomplish this. Eyes level moving to the target. Not a fan of balance point drills or pause at the top. Some big kids get away with it because they are strong enough to get thier hips moving again but small kids can get left in the dirt and robbed of any chance to get some decent velocity. I would tell them to just pick up their front foot and get moving to the target. As they get more comfortable their leg lift tends to get higher. I often used the analogy that riding a bike in a straight line while moving really slow is hard to do but get some momentum/speed and it is much easier.
Final thing for this age group was glove side. glove firm over the front foot, taked chest to glove. Equal and opposite would be the goal. Worth reading aout in other posts on this site but for most coaches that’s hard to work on because of time constraints and access to video etc. But if the kid undertands taking body to glove and he gets lessons some day there will be a lot less adjusting if he is already firming up his glove. (Coach Corral has a good glove side drill video on this site)
Stride usually is handled by getting the hips moving but if you get a kid with a real short stride have him lay down on his back heels on the rubber. Place a ball by his shoulder. That’s about 80% of his ht. Don’t tell him what it’s for. Have him throw. If he’'s falling well short of that he needs to work on momentum. I like step behind drills for all kids especially in this case. It let’s them get a sense of how their body moves sideways and how momentum helps with velocity.
It may all sound “cookie cutter” but most the kids will look different. Different arm angles (fine). Different leg lifts. (some barely have one initially, some very high and athletic looking) Some have more “coil” in the lift etc. In over 7 years, (not very long compared to many on this site) I never heard a comment about how all our pitchers looked the same. Just that we had a lot of good pitchers.
Another thing to consider is the mound condition. I will try and post later on that.
Hope some of this helps.
Thanks coach RJ. Great stuff!! So what I was thinking of trying to do for hip movement was this hershisher drill,cross-over drill,narrow stance drill knee drill. Your not a fan of this for this age group?
Big fan of hershiser drill. Good way for a kid to get how leading with the hip feels. Didn’t do tons of reps with it though. I like the kids to actually be throwing the ball to a target as much as possible and practice time for most house leagues is very limited. Cross over and narrow knee are also fine. Depends on the kid and his level of strength and coordination. For some a high leg lift ( which i prefer) is very difficult because they lack the strength in thier core and the coordination. Doesn’t mean they can’t be a good little league pitcher just means at that point focusing on a high lift may cause them problems. I really have found as momentum improves and they gain strength most will start using a higher leg lift with little or nor encouragement. For throwing in general I like the step behind step drill. TCU uses this for their pitchers even when “just” playing catch and doing long toss. Just step with the lead foot then step behind. Very rythmic. You can start with hands together and just tap the ball in the glove (like many people naturally do) or just swing the arms real loose in rythm, throwing arm crossing under glove arm. That is good for kids with no arm swing (just take to ball out of glove, right back to thier ear) as well.
One other thing for youth coaches. Work with all your players on pitching/throwing. Don’t assume things. Never know what you might discover working with kids that may not be the obvious choice to pitch. And even if a kid isn’t ready to pitch that year if you give him a good foundation and some encouragement maybe something will click for him down the road. I always tell people kids can get a lot better at pitching without actually pitching in games. Don’t assume because at 9 your kid doesn’t get a lot of innings in games that his “career” is over. When things get more serious No One cares how many innings a kid threw when he was 9 unless he threw too much and is hurt. Keep playing catch and having fun with it.