Take A Year Off From Pitching?


#1

Hi,

Need some advice.

My son is 12 and ending his Little League “career” soon. He’s in the Little League All Stars Sectional Tournament as I write this, but after losing yesterday it looks like the team is done (he pitched well, though, shutting down one of the top teams in the state in relief in the 5th and 6th innings).

Next year he will be 13 and on a travel team playing the 60/90 diamond. The jump from 46/60 to 60/90 seems big to me, but that’s what we have around here.

Since he will be in 7th Grade next year, he will have two full seasons of 60/90 baseball (7th and 8th Grade) before High School. I have heard stories of kids having arm injuries when they jump from 46/60 to 60/90 at 13 years of age. My good friend’s son had serious shoulder and elbow injuries just this past season when he moved to 60/90 at 13.

It has been suggested to me by some (who have played and coached minors ball) that since my son will have two full seasons at 60/90 before High School, he has a “mulligan” and should use the first season (7th Grade) to “adjust” to 60/90 and focus on fielding and batting, not pitch, and return to pitching in 8th Grade.

I kind of like the idea. His strength is pitching, but he could use a year of focusing on fielding and batting. Plus, with all the youth throwing injuries I have seen and read about, a year off from pitching at his physically delicate age (12 now) might be a good thing. On the other hand, will a year off from pitching really mess him up?

What do you guys think?


#2

[quote=“south paw”]Hi,

Need some advice.

My son is 12 and ending his Little League “career” soon. He’s in the Little League All Stars Sectional Tournament as I write this, but after losing yesterday it looks like the team is done (he pitched well, though, shutting down one of the top teams in the state in relief in the 5th and 6th innings).

Next year he will be 13 and on a travel team playing the 60/90 diamond. The jump from 46/60 to 60/90 seems big to me, but that’s what we have around here.

Since he will be in 7th Grade next year, he will have two full seasons of 60/90 baseball (7th and 8th Grade) before High School. I have heard stories of kids having arm injuries when they jump from 46/60 to 60/90 at 13 years of age. My good friend’s son had serious shoulder and elbow injuries just this past season when he moved to 60/90 at 13.

It has been suggested to me by some (who have played and coached minors ball) that since my son will have two full seasons at 60/90 before High School, he has a “mulligan” and should use the first season (7th Grade) to “adjust” to 60/90 and focus on fielding and batting, not pitch, and return to pitching in 8th Grade.

I kind of like the idea. His strength is pitching, but he could use a year of focusing on fielding and batting. Plus, with all the youth throwing injuries I have seen and read about, a year off from pitching at his physically delicate age (12 now) might be a good thing. On the other hand, will a year off from pitching really mess him up?

What do you guys think?[/quote]

I’d ask your son what he wants & take it from there.


#3

That might be a good idea—to take a year off from pitching, but NOT from throwing. In addition to focusing on fielding—a pitcher must be able to field his position—he needs to do a lot of just playing catch, because that is one of the best ways to strengthen the arm and shoulder. As for hitting—pitchers do it in high school but not as one moves up in the higher echelons, because of that (arrrrgggghhhh) designated-hitter setup, but he could learn to bunt—everyone should do that. Then, as the year off nears its end, he could start thinking about, among other things, adding perhaps a breaking ball to his fastball-changeup repertoire; may I suggest a nice knuckle-curve? Something to think about. :baseballpitcher:


#4

Thanks, Zita. Yes, a year off from pitching would include plenty of throwing! 1st base, outfield, etc. And, maybe at the end of the year add a knuckle curve! Other pitchers his age already throw this, but right now he throws only fastball and circle change - fairly effectively, I might add.

Pitcher17: Why would I leave the decision to a 12 year old? God gives children parents for a reason: children don’t know what’s best for them. If he wants to throw curve balls 100% of the time, three games a week, all year round, should I let him do so because it’s “what he wants”? Riiiiiight.


#5

If he’s not indicated a desire to take a break from pitching, not burned out, or suffering any injuries just not sure why you would want to keep him off the mound if he wants to be there. You are correct its the parents ultimate responsibility to look out for their kids well being including workload & types of pitches thrown. Just not sure of the point of holding him out if he wants to pitch.


#6

As I indicated in the OP, he will have two full seasons at 60/90 before high school (many kids have only one), so he basically has a free extra season at 60/90. If the jump from the 46’ mound to the 60’ mound at 13 can lead to injuries, then maybe he should use that first year playing everything but pitcher and adjusting to 60/90? My real question is not the reasons for doing it or not doing it, but whether doing it would be detrimental to his pitching long term?


#7

Just giving my opinion for what its worth (according to my wife I’d owe you). My son loved the transition to the bigger fields as a pitcher. Got much better movement on pitches; particularly offspeed. Didn’t like so much as a hitter, had difficulty waiting on the ball. My opinion is move to the bigger fields is overstated. With that being said; weaker arms are exposed.


#8

I don’t believe not pitching for one season would hurt him in the long term. To keep his arm conditioned to pitch he will need to throw a lot more than most position players will be throwing. I would suggest transitioning him gradually over part of that year from 50 feet then to 55 then to 60.5. Stay on a bullpen schedule even if he’s not pitching in games. Make each step when he looks ready to make the jump. If he still wants to pitch after this “year off” I think that’s a solid way to get there. To train for pitching there is no substitute for throwing from the bump at max effort. Such training should not be removed from his routine.


#9

Ditto. My son loved the larger fields but hated the “coaches” who still manage by favoritism. Mentally, he would have been better off working out on his own, skipping the ten gazillion different bad hitting and pitching coaches opinions, and returning to baseball as a relatively unknown sophomore with his skills, a mature and strong body and mechanics in tack. Well meaning coaches at this age can do a lot of damage due to their own lack of understanding and personal ego.


#10

75% of the arms I see on display every day through my involvement in youth baseball are what I would classify as weak. Players in general do not throw often enough or with what this site calls intent. Make sure there is plenty of throwing and that mound work is not eliminated. There is often a major disconnect between throwing velocity and pitching velocity.


#11

[quote=“CoachPaul”]Make sure there is plenty of throwing and that mound work is not eliminated. quote]

And this doesn’t necessarily need organized teams. He can work on his stuff on the HS bullpen mound, or throwing with intent against the wall of the batting cage.

My son throws too hard for me to catch him effectively, and I have a hard time reacting to the movement. So we have an understanding: I kneel behind the plate, and he throws to the glove. It’s not my responsibility to move the glove. It’s his to hit the glove. He hits the glove, I throw it back. If not, the ball glances off the glove and he picks up another ball from the bucket. He tells me what pitch it is, so I can look for the movement. And we discuss what movement the ball has, so he can experiment with the feel. I wear equipment so I don’t get hurt and he feels free to throw it hard without hurting his dad. Then he’ll go into the cage and throw a bucket of balls as hard as he can against the dangling ropes. By now, he’s feeling pretty good, so I’ll pitch a couple bucket of balls to him behind the L Screen, do some infield practice, and finally off to ice cream. He prefers this better than JH/Frosh organized ball.


#12

Absolutely & it really shows when they move to the “big field”. If OP’s son has a strong arm don’t think its going to be as big of an adjustment as he thinks.


#13

West2East, that reminds me of what I used to do in my playing days. I began as a little snip and kept it up. I would get a catcher, and he would set up behind the plate with a mitt and a mask, and I would get up on the mound and we would play a little game we called “ball and strike”. He would position his mitt in various places, high, low, inside, outside, every which way but standing on his head :lol: , and I would concentrate on getting the ball smack-dab into the pocket of that mitt. I did this with all my pitches, and because I was an honest-to-gosh sidearmer I would use the crossfire as well, and we went at it for an hour at a time three or four times a week. And what a nice, satisfying feeling it was to hear that resounding “thwack” as the ball hit the pocket of the mitt! A great way to work on control—location if you will—and command of my whole arsenal of stuff. :baseballpitcher: [/youtube]


#14

Thanks, Coach. I agree, not pitching on the 60.5’ mound at 13 (7th Grade) will not adversely affect him long term, especially since he will later have another full season (8th Grade) in which to pitch from 60.5’ and get ready for high school. I like your idea of throwing bullpens on the side from gradually increasing distances.

He definitely wants to pitch. He has a strong arm and pitched well this past season, and had an ERA of 0.00 as a reliever in the Little League All Stars District and Sectional Tournaments that ended yesterday. The idea of taking a year off from pitching is just something suggested by a Manager of a MLB AA team. He calls 7th Grade on the 60/90 diamond a “mulligan year”, a good time for a pitcher to adjust to the field without the added stress of going from 46’ to 60.5’ all at once.


#15

7th graders on the 60/90 is going to be really awful baseball. You remember what it was like during your first year of player pitch? Very similar. Lots of walks, lots of under-thrown balls in the field. It gets a little better at 8th grade since that is when a lot of the boys will become young men and can handle the distance a little better. Even that year could be bypassed if he doesn’t mature early. I like CoachPaul’s idea of working on the side and letting him get there at his own speed.


#16

Thanks, viking. Comments on other baseball websites are in your camp, suggesting 60/90 at 13 could be problematic. They recommend 54/80 at 13, but that’s not an option in my area.

I hear our local Little League is transitioning to 50/70 next season for 11 to 13 year olds. What do you guys think of this 50/70 as an option for a 13 year old in 7th Grade, who can then move to 60/90 in 8th Grade? My main concern is that at 13 he shouldn’t be playing with 11 and 12 year olds. :roll:


#17

We’re pretty lucky around here with a heavy USSSA representation. You can find 13U and 14U tournaments at 54/80, 57/85 & 60/90. Is traveling not an option for you guys? I would say that if you don’t think your son is physically ready for 60/90, then go ahead and play 50/70. I’d still go ahead and start stretching him out over the summer with long toss and start working on pitching the longer distances in the off-season (provided you have either the weather or facilities).


#18

Yes, we have travel for 13+, but it’s all 60/90. My son is physically ready - big, strong, and throws hard - so it’s not playing at 60/90 that is the issue, but whether he should pitch from 60/90 at 13 in 7th Grade, especially when he can pitch from 60/90 at 14 in 8th Grade.

I talked to a neighbor who pitched in DII. He recommends definitely not pitching from 60/90 at 13 in 7th Grade, but taking the year to adjust to 60/90 and work on fielding and batting with some bullpens on the side.


#19

A true knuckle curve is thrown with two fingers. A curve ball with one finger bent is a spike curve ball. Just talked to an Orthopedic surgeon of a professional baseball team about that very pitch (the spike curve) and he said no one should throw that as the grip puts to much strain on the forearm