I hope this doesn’t offend anyone but I have to say, I honestly believe that we have the entire development concept backwards and it’ all starts at an early age. It’s shaped by the will to win right now.
Great stuff ThinkTank, something I’ve been discussing recently with a few different people.
When kids start pitching high velocity, if they have a mechanical fault then injury can follow. I am seeing it in kids at the 12u/ middle school level. Teach em’ good mechanics at a young age.
I think the question becomes what are good mechanics. The best pitchers I have seen with younger kids are ones that haven’t had pitching lessons. I can spot the players that have had pitching lessons a mile away. It seems that younger pitchers that are guided by intent to throw hard seem to find a way to throw more efficiently. Most kids whom take pitching lessons in search of good mechanics, tend to be very stiff and methodical.
Sure it’s not the case for everyone of them. But, it seems that way for the majority
Good article Lantz.
I think there is a real need for kids to be taught to throw hard with efficient mechanics to prevent injury. Mechanics will be tweaked over the years of pitching, a 9 year old isn’t going to have “perfect” mechanics at that age, therefore, the focus should be on efficiency.
IMO if young pitchers are taught to finesse the baseball before throwing the ball, the ability to throw it hard can and likely will become secondary.
Good mechanics and balance and hard throwing don’t have to be independent of one another. It’s not two extremes, I see plenty of kids do both. You teach mechanics at the youth level because walks get you pulled. At the 8u,9u and 10u level the pitchers have the advantage over the batters.
I see what you’re talking about, my point is teaching kids to focus on “pitching” sets back and slows the development. Too many constraints from too many sides. I think movement patterns are influenced by the intent. In other words, “You Become YOUR Intent!”
IMO if young pitchers are taught to finesse the baseball before throwing the ball, the ability to throw it hard can and likely will become secondary.[/quote]
No doubt and there MP’s will be reflected based on intent to throw strikes.
Loved the article! Exactly described what I see with the coaching I’ve done and seen done at the youth level, as well as my own experience growing up in the game. It often seems like the kids who develop into the hard throwing pitchers are the kids who are stubborn and ignore the coaches who constantly are on them to “let up and just throw strikes,” choosing instead to fire it as hard as they can because they enjoy throwing the ball hard.
I like to see balance in any approach, I have always recommended the concept of intent but I think it is applicable post preparation. At the age ranges 6-12u I see more upside to producing a player with a competent mechanic (Seriously disagree that this means anything like throwing softer). To me the emphasis needs be (in those years) control of the body, coordination of the body, solid fundamental athletic movements, as way more important than throwing hard. For one simple reason, if the body is uncontrolled and an unfamiliar body movement done at max effort, the chances of injury are at imo their greatest. This can ruin chances, I’m against that.
In the Dominican we have 2 scenarios…The first is the academy’s, they are sponsored and supported by MLB or ex-players (Sammy Sosa has one…I hear the island cork trade is all tied up :lol:…sorry Sammy I just had to) so your going to get what you see out of MLB from those guys…The others? They play the way Americans used to play…all day long and with anything that resembles baseball equipment (The aforementioned Sammy talks about using a milk carton for his first glove) so you’ll get the types of pitchers that come from that sort of scenario (Wild, random, pure desire), I like to use the Hernandez family as the “standard” latin guys (Cuban though they are I think they both are very representative), Livan would throw from every angle and every kind of pitch that could be thought up, El Duque…he had smoke and multiple arm angles…what the Latin guys don’t have is all these geniuses who “think” they can control the sport through travelball…TRYING to get a 6 year old to pop in the upper whatevers…before their bodies have the physical capability and the body coordination to pull it off for multiple innings at a time…so we end up with 13 yr olds getting major shoulder work or TJ surgery and they (The Latin guys) play on up until the pro’s.
As opposed to Paul…just my humble opinion.
I am also of the opinion that velocity and mechanics are not automatically mutually exclusive. It would depend on the instruction. Bad mechanics certainly are easier to correct at a younger age before they’ve become too engrained. (I know, what are “bad mechanics”?)
I’m not certain the Dominicans have necessarily figured out something we haven’t. I’d guess it’s more likely that they simply can’t afford private instruction. But point taken about no instruction being better than bad instruction.
Anyone aware of and train according to the “windows of trainability”?
And therein lies the problem.
I may have mentioned this before, but it certainly bears repeating. A baby has to crawl before s/he can walk and walk before s/he can run. A pitcher has to learn to throw the ball before s/he can pitch. Now what we have here is the proverbial cart-before-the-horse situation: too many kids are inundated with mechanics this and mechanics that, stuffed to the gills with all sorts of fine points and tweaks and you name it, and they haven’t yet learned to just plain throw the ball! Is it any wonder that we see 10 and 11-year-olds headed for Tommy John surgery or just plain giving up on the game and taking up something else? GRRRRRRR! :x
I was at a 9u tournament yesterday. The first team my son faced was very good. The first pitcher we faced had great mechanics and good speed. We hit him and he got pulled in the first. The next pitcher threw faster and struck out more of our kids, and thus winning the game. Every 2nd or third pitch the reliever twisted his wrist on release, I’m sure unintentional. Who has the better future? Which one get’s the elbow pain?
Zita, You nailed it.
Kids need to throw. Pitching is great, but you need to be able to throw before you pitch. I know I’ve said it before, but, my son’s PC, taught him to throw efficiently then integrated pitching mechanics into his throwing. The emphasis was always about throwing as much as possible, ideally every day.
8 years later, same PC, kid still throws almost every day. Whether it’s long toss, pen days, game days, or just throwing with friends, throwing has become part of his daily routine, much like taking a shower.