Type of pitches

What type of pitches should an 11 year old throw? Do you have any photos how to hold the ball and throw the pitches?
Can explain what the pitches do? Ed30985

11-year olds should throw fastballs and change-ups. For grips, click on the “Blog” link above and then look on the lower right part of that page for the link to “Pitching Grips”.

fastballs, fastballs, fastballs and more fastballs. Devolop your arm. Around 13-14 is where you should devolop other things.

i suggest throwing fastballs, changeups, and maybe a little forkball. DO NOT HAVE HIM THROW CURVES. IT MIGHT MESS UP HIS ARM!!! Take it from a coach, i have seen little leaguers really injure themselves, depriving them of good season and ruining a perfectly good pitching career. Have them throw curves in their teens.

When I was about that age, my dad had rotater cuff surgery and asked this question to his orthopedist. He told my dad that a pitcher shouldn’t throw “junk pitches” until he is about 17 because his arm is pretty much developed by then and his growth plates should be closed or close to it. If your good, a fastball and changup is all you need through high school. This guy also did surgery on several major leaguers.

For an 11 year old I’d just work on developing the fastball. A change up really isn’t needed until around 13. A cuveball is a sticky situation, it really depends on how developed he is. I would say not to start working on it until the freshman year of high school.

An eleven-year-old should be throwing primarily fastballs. He should concentrate most on the four-seam fastball, which is held with the index and middle fingers across the two widest seams of the horseshoe. His hand may not be large enough to go across both sets of seams, but that’s OK; his fingertips should be gripping one of those seams. Make sure his thumb is directly underneath the ball and close to in between his top two fingers (as opposed to riding along the side of the ball).

If he’s able to throw a lot of strikes with that grip, he can occasionally grip the ball between the two narrow seams for more movement.

If he’s doing well with both the four-seam and the two-seam fastball, you may consider introducing a pitchfork change-up. This is held by spreading the index, middle, and ring fingers over the top of the ball with the middle finger positioned between the narrow seams and the others riding on the outside edges of the seams, with the thumb directly underneath. The pitch is thrown exactly like the fastball.

Personally, I recommend that all pitchers stay away from curveballs, sliders, forkballs, and sidearm delivery until at least age 14. Even then, I believe practice time is used more wisely by locating the fastball and changeup, and learning how to make those pitches move. If a kid can command a fastball and a changeup, with movement, and is at least 15 years old, then I’d let him start to tinker with a curveball.

It is best if kids wait until they are 16 or 17 to start throwing curveballs since only then is it likely that the growth plate of the Medial Epicondyle will be closed.

If they start throwing curveballs at 14 or 15, then they run the risk of irritating this growth plate (or worse) and experiencing an overuse injury due to the large amount of practice that is required to develop the strength to first throw and then master a curveball.


Are you saying that growth plate injuries are tied to curveballs? I know growth plate injuries are somewhat common with youth baseball pitchers but I tend to associate them with overuse. I was unaware of a tie between them and curveballs. If there is one, can you site some references? I’d like to read up on this. Thanks!

Chris, thanks for the correction.

Since you seem to have a good grasp of the growth plate issue, I’d like to get feedback on the following.

First, is it OK to introduce the correct curveball technique at 14-15? I mentioned “tinker” in my post, and what I meant was, can a kid start with the grip and proper motion at age 15, and allow perhaps 10% of their practice time to it?

Second, since all kids grow at different rates, is there a specific test / x-ray to determine when it’s safe to start with curveballs?

Thanks for your answers … I often instruct high school-aged kids and would find this information very helpful — not only for myself but for the fathers and coaches who insist on adding breaking pitches to their young hurlers’ repertoires.

(p.s., I have yet to meet a high school kid who REALLY has command of the fastball and changeup, and thus haven’t taught a curveball to anyone under 18!)

I think 16-17 is kind of old to start throwing a curve. That means the kid wont have it mastered till his junior-senior season. I know plenty of kids that started around 14-15 and have had no arm troubles and it seems that these kids have better command on the pitch too.

A kid who has mastered at least two moving fastballs and a moving changeup won’t need a curve until he’s about 16 or 17.

Personally I don’t see a legitimate reason to learn a breaking pitch before commanding a few fastballs and a changeup. Even at very high levels of competition, a pitcher who can pound the strike zone, change speeds, and get good movement, is going to have success.

Although it is an admirable goal to develop command of the fastball and change in HS and not need a curve it isn’t a realistic goal for most HS pitchers. The high 70’s, low 80’s kids who make up the bulk of HS pitchers tend to get hammered in the better HS leagues unless they have command far better than the typical HS pitcher and a far better changeup than one usually sees in HS. It takes years to learn to throw a good changeup and most HS pitchers can learn to throw an adequate curve in one off-season or less.

A more realistic scenario is to work on fastball control and on developing a changeup that can be thrown for strikes fairly often before making the curve part of the arsenal.

Unfortunately, the hitters tend to be ahead of most of the pitchers until the junior season and most pitchers need to have a curve if they want a chance to pitch.

Even in HS a starter with 3 pitches is usually far more effective than a starter at the same talent level with 2 pitches.

i wouldent pitch a curve or slider till my senior year

fastballs are key with control and speed comes movement

and good fast ball and change is key at that age

Not only is it unrealistic…I cannot think of a single notable pitcher coming out of hs without at least a decent breaking ball. I am really concerned about the line we are taking here. Is a curve thrown in an improper manner a problem? Yes it is. Should we delete a pitch that has been thrown with success for 2 centurys? Come on. That is the line of reasoning I am hearing here. I have heard over and over what a terrible thing the curve is. The slider will ruin you. Kiss you arm good bye. Well the Hall of Fame is full of folks that threw it for years without crippling themselves. I believe the issue is one of coaching and maturity. Do we as coaches have the ability to control our ego’s enough to teach the use of a pitch or are we going to “prevent” it out of existance? I’ll take a bet with any one of you that the kids in Latin America won’t stop throwing this pitch look at the Hernadezes they are both getting down right long in the tooth and they throw the crap out of breaking balls, Japanese kids do. Did anyone notice that NC had nothing but smoke on the mound and they got hit quite regular. Do not misunderstand my statement here. I don’t like to see little 12 year olds spinning a bunch of crap in the LL WS no more than Harold Reynolds did. But and I mean BUT to think that some kid can walk out on to a hs mound without a pitch to keep the hitters honest (Knucklers not withstanding) is just plain intellectually inconsistant. It also invites those who will take that challenge to move way beyond us in skill level.
Remember we are not talking about an undangerous skill here, it is a skill that takes a toll no matter who throws, I can name on my right hand pitchers that have made it to the pro’s and had a career that MLB considers successful without injury.
Prudence, good coaching, excellent conditioning are the keys to helping a kid make it deep into the higher levels of this sport. So much can take a kid out of it (Grades, girls, bad genetics, lack of enthusiasm, work ethic…just plain bad luck). Tools of any kind can be dangerous…it is in my opinion “How” we employ those tools that makes the difference.
I will now get off of the soap box.

^thats the problem too many coachs leave it in the kids hands to throw

ive played baseball since i was six im now 15

and never once has a coach gone over proper thorwing mechincs or how to thorw to keep your arm good

LL have fathers as coachs not pitching coachs

i throw pretty good curve but i dont reley on to much is comes out with two stikes or on a good hitter

too many kids rely on the curve to get them threw innings

also alot of younger kids cant control i try to keep mine to drop on the lower half of the outside

i dont like running the risk of it hanging on a rightiy and droping on there shodler and not the zone

a proper curve should be taughtabout 13

but puberty is a factor muscles are growing and a whole lot is going on so the wrong motions could cause issues

I find it hard to believe that a HS pitcher who truly has command of a few different types of fastballs and a decent changeup, would have trouble against high school hitters.

Maybe there is a misunderstanding of what “command” is, and what we’re talking about when we talk about fastballs (not one, but two or three).

Look at Aaron Heilman, Tom Glavine, and Mario Soto as examples of pitchers who throw / threw primarily fastball-changeup and had great success at the Major League level.

Command is the ability to throw particular pitch to a particular spot at least 80% of the time. A high school pitcher who can command a straight four-seam fastball and at least one type of two-seam fastball (down and in, down and away, and/or straight sinker), is on his way to getting hitters out most of the time. Add a changeup that moves, and he should occasionally dominate high school hitters. Now when he turns 16 and starts mixing in an adequate curveball here and there, he’s on track to take his game to the college level.

Why take chances with a kid’s arm, if he can benefit from learning to command three pitches that likely won’t do damage? Why not have a 14-year-old wait just a year and a half?

Joe I understand your point. As a Greg Maddox fan I think I have a little grip on what control is. I bring to your attention your statement:

Why take chances with a kid’s arm, if he can benefit from learning to command three pitches that likely won’t do damage? Why not have a 14-year-old wait just a year and a half?

Now I won’t address your contradiction of Sr year and beyond as the time to start throwing it. I won’t even bring up my point of the fact that others from all over the world will be throwing this pitch just as soon as they can figure it out and start whipping it up there.
I will say empatically that you or me or Steven Ellis or Mike Marshall or Tom House can bloviate until our lips cramp but kids are gonna throw a curve. No way around it, it works. It is peer pressure, mommy/daddy pressure, the pressure of watching other kids in the little league world series do it, pros do it. coaches who only care about their ego and the ability to beat there chests as to what great winners they are will relentlessly pursue the uncontrolled throwing of it. I will remind you that You and Me aren’t taking the chances with a kids arm…the kid is. We can only hope that a kid who wants to compete at higher levels will get to folks like Roger, or you or me so they can be properly instructed. What can you and me do? We can teach. We can hope, we can encourage the proper way. We can get real instruction into the leagues (Little, Babe Ruth what ever), participation with advanced levels . i.e. getting college and hs coaches to care enough about future prospects to actually spend some time helping out in leagues.
I will say it again, the act of pitching is a dangerous skill, the chances of injury are huge, few escape without some form of it, I don’t believe that there is a realistic way around that fact. My current experience is in hs ball, I’ve coached somewhere around 40 teams over 20 years, I talk with regularity to ex-pro baseball players and college coaches, as we get to higher and higher levels of the sport, more and more kids will fall away for the reasons mentioned in my first long winded post on this thread, the rest know the costs. That knowledge begins in hs, we as folks that want to help, can be there with them to help them reach their goals or we can let them do what they will, but we won’t take that fire out of their bellys (Kids like Tanner who post on this site because they just cannot get enough of baseball). That competitive fire will have them doing whatever it takes to get higher…seach for the posts on the splange or that other Japanese pitch.
If anyone has stayed with me this far I thank you…I will quit using so much of Steven’s server space now.

This issue is a good discussion.

I feel that kids are going to throw curveballs whether us coaches/parents/adults like it or not. One kid will learn to throw the curve and then down at the playground when coach isn’t around he’ll show his buddies and then they’ll all be trying to throw curves. And, most likely, they’ll be throwing it the wrong way. This is why I believe in teaching kids the right way to throw the curve at a younger-than-14-or-15 age. But I also believe you have to teach them about the possible consequences of throwing it the wrong way and of throwing it too much. You need to put a scare in them.

But, understand that even for a coach who knows the right way to throw the curve, it’s next to impossible to confirm with the naked eye that a kid is throwing the curve the right way. The forward acceleration of the arm happens so quickly that the human eye just can’t see whether or not there was any twisting. So herein lies the problem. Unless you have a coach that is willing to use video to see what the naked eye can’t, it is a gamble letting young kids throw curves even if they have been taught the correct way to throw them.

I agree that a pitcher who has command of multiple fastballs as well as a change-up should be able to be very successful at any level. However, getting movement on your fastball is easier said than done. Some kids seem to do it naturally and other just can’t ever get it to happen. In addition, I feel the change-up is harder to learn than the curve. These things make it difficult to steer kids away from the curve.

In the end, there is an ideal and there is reality. The more we can get reality to match the ideal, the better off kids will be. Our job as coaches is to figure out how to make that happen.

What about the knuckle-curve? Is that any different?