My son is 9 years old and plays in a highly competitive pinto national (pony league) league. He is one of the top pitchers on the team, so he is the starting pitcher for the majority of our games. I am looking for advice on how to prepare for the game mentally. He has a problem getting going. He has issues with dropping his elbow during delivery, causing him to miss high. I try to give him direction during warm up but he is very stubborn (gets it from his mom) and it usually leads to tension between us. He usually struggles for the first couple batters then settles in and does well. When he pitches the middle innings or closes he is usually very solid ( I think cause by then he is mentally into the game) I was thinking maybe have some body else warm him up before a start or not trying to coach him during warm up. I have a real problem with saying to much sometimes( over coaching ). Any help would be appreciated.
For what it’s worth, I’ll warm up my son’s arm before games by playing catch at home, and maybe letting him throw 20 pitches or so. This allows me to remind him about one or two things I would like him to be working on. Once we get to the ballpark, I let the coaches take over and he warms up with the catcher. He needs to feel comfortable with the catcher, and respect (as I do) his coaches decisions. It seems to work.
Here’s what I used to do…
The day before I was scheduled to start, I would do a light bullpen session, just to see how my stuff was doing. The day of the game I would get together with my catcher and go over the opposing team’s lineup—this is important, by the way, to get a sense of the batters’ strengths and weaknesses and thus formulate a strategy for pitching to them. Then I would warm up for about fifteen minutes, and when the game started I would take the mound and do my stuff.
After he loosens up and stretches, try having him throw to you from one knee with emphasis on starting with his elbow up at the starting position of this drill. Have him throw the ball about 50% focusing extension and on follow through across his raised knee.
This may help with him dropping his elbow.
Thanks for the replies. We had a game two days ago, it took two hits,a walk and a mound visit for him to “wake up”. He started the game throwing about 40 mph, after the mound visit he was throwing in the high 40s to 50 mph. After his rough start he settled in shut them down. We are starting playoffs tomorrow. If anybody has a mental pregame routine they do or suggestions please share.
Many young kids need an inning to get warmed up and dialed in. These kids should basically throw their first inning in the bullpen before the game. In other words, after he’s done his warm up routine, have him throw pitches to a catcher. Have him start with his fastball. Once he gets dialed in with that then add in his offspeed and finish off by mixing it up. You can even have a coach call pitches and keep a count - to implement simulated at bats.
Keep in mind that most youth pitchers don’t get to warm up from the mound prior to the game as there is usually another game going on at the time. Instead, they are asked to throw from flat ground and many coaches don’t even mark off the correct distance. It takes some kids more than the 5-8 warm up pitches that most kids get just prior to the first inning starts to get dialed in.
We have to deal with the same thing, but through the years, we have learned a few things that help us get our pitchers ready. First, always measure the distance out and have a rubber to throw from and a plate to throw over. It gets them in the “pitching” mind set versus the “throwing” mindset. Second, have a coach catch the pitcher that knows the kids. Our warm-up coach has been catching our kids for awhile, and he knows that if my son is throwing his fastball high in the warm ups, then it will be right where it needs to be from the mound. On the other hand, we have another pitcher that likes to leave his change-up up in the zone (where it gets crushed). The warm-up coach knows that if that pitch isn’t coming in at knee high in warm ups, then it might be a long night. So, he reminds the kid and helps him to make corrections.
Does this always work - no. Last week we had one of our better pitchers give up 3 runs in teh first, primarily because he couldn’t find the zone and walked a bunch of batters. Once he got through that inning, he didn’t give up another run.
Im the pitchers coach for the team, so I warm up the pitchers.We usualy throw about 10-15 pitches before the game. We try to keep the # of pitches down. Like Roger said I dial in the fastball then bring in the change. Maybe I should have another coach warm up my son, he usually gets mad when I tell him he is doing something wrong, like dropping his elbow,he usually shuts me outand doesnt work on it. Then he will go into the game, leave a few high, walk a batter or two, get mad about it, correct it and get out of the inning with minamal damage. Im just trying to skip to the good part. Its something about starting. When he pitches middle innings or closes, he does well from the begining. We do the same warm up routine (just during the game). Maybe he is not a starter, but then he tells me he prefers to start. There probably no answer for this but share your pregame routine if it seems to work.
Having another coach catch for your son might not be a bad idea. I know how that works.
Also, you might have him throw a few more warm-up pitches. I have my 14yo pitchers (the ones who need more warm-ups) throw 25-30 pitches. Maybe make the latter half simulated at-bats. This gets him in the mindset he’ll need to be in once the game starts.
I think I wil try to have another coach warm him up next game. I will have him throw more pitches as well. I just worry about strain on his arm like if he struggles and hits his pitch count (55). Even though he pitches almost twice as much as any other kid on the team and never complains of any soreness.
At 9, and really any age, don’t forget that pitch counts are a maximum, not necessarily a target or goal to reach. Nothing says they have to reach their pitch count or pitch as much as the league allows. As you learn more about the specifics necessary for your son to warm up properly you may find that shorter, more frequent appearance are more productive to his development and health. He’s got a lot of baseball ahead.
Exactly. Give him what he needs to warm up and limit is game-time pitch count accordingly. Better to be properly warmed up and pitch well in the game than to go deeper in the game but not do as well, IMHO.
My son had his first scrimmage game yesterday with his tournament team . Im not a coach for this team so he had to warm up with someone else. He was the starter. He came out sharp, he gave up a hit to the first batter and then struck out the 2-3-4 batters (he only pitched one inning). The biggest thing was he came out sharp. I dont know how many pitches he threw in warm ups but I think warming up with someone else may have helped. I think this is one of those times where you kow what needs to be done but you need to here it from someone else. Thats why I love this site.
I’ve learned from talking with my son that every mound and every field has a different feel, and it takes 20 pitches or so to make the necessary adjustments so it feels right. Last night we played on a new field that had a temporary mound. So my son and his catcher warm-up on the new mound until he felt comfortable. He figured out he needed a higher kick to keep his fast ball in the strike zone. He threw 11 pitches in the first inning, getting two Ks. In the 2nd inning it started to rain, and he had to make another adjustment. It was his 1st time pitching in the rain. He walked the 1st two batters on eight pitches trying to make the adjustment, then figured it out and struck out the sides. Pitchers make adjustments to each different situation. A new field, a different mound, a different catcher (yup, this can cause fears!),bad fielding, rain, wind, etc.