Son's gone wild--Help!

I’ll try to make this quick, my first post. My son, now 12, has pitched well for over two years. He’s in a new league now, with more kids that he knows than the league he was in last year, and he suddenly can hardly throw the ball. When we practice together he’s drilling it to the glove after some warm-up throws (which do start pretty wild for some reason now), but on the mound in a game he’s throwing it in the dirt, sometimes behind the batter. I’ve tried everything I know–just have fun–forget about who’s up, or who’s watching–just having a catch–taking a deep breath between pitches–among others, nothing seems to work. I’ve even suggested taking a break from pitching, but he wants to fight on.
I feel so bad for him, he’s so down about this. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

The first thing to try is to have him focus on the glove. He’s probably looking at the batter and the ball will tend to go where the eyes go.

The way to help him work on this is to warm up with a batter standing in the box. That will teach him to focus.

He also needs to stop thinking and just throw the ball to the glove.

Chris is right. Focus small. Focus on strategy. Just focus!! A wandering mind will wander where you don’t want it. Another thing to try is a good pre-pitch routine that he goes through every time. It’s another way of getting focus. Hitters do it, golfers do it, etc., etc.

Thanks for your help. Unfortunately, last night’s outing wasn’t too much better. He finally told me that when we warm up he doesn’t think about anything, but when he’s on the mound he’s thinking about everything. I can’t seem to get him to clear his mind on the mound.

Here are a couple more thoughts…

  1. When you are just playing catch or warming him up to pitch, play a game that I call “Don’t Make Me Move The Glove.” That means that he should try to hit the glove with every throw and not make the catcher move the glove at all. That should help to teach him control. You can start out with widely different targets – way to your right and way to your left – and then gradually work on hitting smaller spots.
    I am doing this with one of my young flame throwers who sometimes has control problems. When warming him up in the past, I didn’t take seriously the fact that he couldn’t hit the glove. Now I’m having him pay more attention to his control.

  2. You might suggest to him that when he’s on the mound he should concentrate on playing his favorite song (preferably loud) back in his head. That might distract him and let his body do what it knows how to do. You might even let him listen to the song on the bench between innings. I use U-2’s Vertigo for this purpose when I’m having trouble throwing BP.

  3. You might want to sign him up for karate, tae kwon do, or some other martial art that teaches focus and concentration. The bonus is that he will also learn to lead punches with his hips, which will help both his hitting and pitching (and golf if he plays it).

Let me know if that works.

Thanks Chris, those ideas sound great, especially the music one, which I might try on my own BP practice problems. Interestingly enough, we do the "Don’t Move the glove " drill, and I’ve actually had him do it throwing to me with his eyes closed, and he hits it almost every time, no movement, but again, in practice only. That tells me his mechanics are sound, he just has to get his focus back. I think the music and the karate might just do the trick.
thanks again.

Sounds like it.

i had the same problem like in summer or school ball when you face people you know you try to hard to strike them out and its a disaster. Have a contest with him say lets see if you can get through this inning in less than 11 pitches are coach used to do that and i would think more of just getting the hitters out and neglecting the fact that i knew them.

I can’t thank everyone enough here for your help with my son. He pitched amazingly on Friday. He took the last 4 innings of a 6 inning game, and after a couple of early walks, settled in and threw 12 strikeouts, and gave up only one run. Many parents who have seen him pitch over the years said they’ve never seen him pitch as well as he did on Friday, and I thought the same. Utimately what we did is a combination of Dr. Hanson’s Confidence in Baseball material, Mr. O’Leary’s idea with playing the music, and he would just say to himself before every pitch, “Just one good pitch.” I’m always surprised how much difference the brain can make in a performance. A week ago he was not only missing the mitt, but missing the entire batter’s box!
Thanks you all again, and thank you Mr. Ellis for providing such a great forum to help parents and players find the ideas they need to solve pitching problems.

Thats great!! keep us updated on how he does in the future

Awesome!!!

hes scared of not throwing a strike and therefore is stopping his throw and letting go of the ball. (i hated when that happened to me in little league)

Two years ago ma dude.

Hey Yanks needpitchin…You can tell when someone last posted on a thread, the date is at the very top of the post. :wink:
Get into some of the active threads it looks like you have some things to contribute.