USSSA baseball 9 and up

I find it difficult to understand why 9 year old pitchers are having to worry about holding runners. At that age, the pitcher should only work on having a fundamental pitching motion; and throwing strikes.

I coached an 11 year old USSA team last seson. Because of the lack of concentration on throwing strikes, its a walk-fest. Not to mention the walks turn into doubles due to the lack of mound experience. It frustrates the kids and some just don’t like to pitch anymore.

I was wondering if anyone else feels the same way, and is their anything that can be done.
Thanks
Jeff

Maybe yes, maybe not … I understand when you say the little pitchers should concentrates in strikes only, probably because they’re still learning how to play baseball, specifically how to pitch. By other hand, if they care the runners, they’d play exactly how the baseball is, playing it while they’re still kids. So when they become teens, they 'd have more experience with the rules than if they had played without wathcing out the runners. The same for the runners, I think it’s good for they to be alerts with the bases, because in some moment the pitcher can throws the ball there. and then the runners would be more experiencided when they become teenagers, about how stoling a base. So I think it’s valid the the kids watch out the runners. that’s my opinion …

Jeff, ask your players what they think about it and tell us here …

Jeff what kind of change would you like to see? No leading off? You could switch over to National Organization of Little League…They don’t lead off until 13 years old. 9 years old to me isn’t meant for the death matches you see later…and the 9yr old travel teams I’ve run into do like 60-70 games a year…to me that is just nuts… Of course you can go to several forums where this sort of ball is defended and encouraged, but in my experience when you put kids that age on that sort of schedule, you end up with burn out and lingering injury (Never having time to completely heal before the next tourney where the kid throws back to back days or even games). Dads will pay to have lil Babe Ruth or Rocket glorified as the heros their dads want them to be but…except in rare occasions what I mentioned as far as the negatives happen…trading that minute of glory for a possible future in the sport.

i thought lttle leaguers werent allowed to lead off? in the llws they dont lead off and out little league team doesnt lead either

Little League Juniors (which starts at age 13) plays on the full-size field and allows lead-offs. The LLWS you see on TV is for Little League Majors which is for ages 11-12.

I know the different league rules, and what ages they do and do not lead off and steal. In USSSA baseball they start leading off and stealing at 9 years old. Don’t get me wrong, I feel that learning the rules at an early age is important- but not at 9 yrs old. The game is fun; until the kid(s) make so many mistakes (balks etc…) they hate it.
I feel that for the first two years of “kid pitch” baseball the players should not be able to steal or lead off. Learning the skills needed to have sucess with holding runners soaks up a lot of practice time that could be used to work on other game fundamentals.
My thought is that the 9 and 10 year old seasons, kids should learn only to pitch from the stretch when runners are on base, and from the wind-up when no runners are on the bases. Make them aware of what to expect when they get to 11 yr old baseball. At 11yrs of age is a good age to start learning this skill. This gives them 2 years to build solid fundamental skills; from 9 to 10yrs old- and 2 years of experience with the runners leading off and stealing.
To the person talking about the amount of games these kids play in a season (60 plus games) is stupid!! In more ways than one. The amount of experience these kids are getting is good. But for the pitchers, this is deadly for their future in this game. All the kids that pitch, play other positions and their arms do not have proper recovery time. On top of this, most coaches are not aware on how much a kid can handle. My advice to the parents of these young kids is; if they show no interest in pitching at this age do not push them into it. Save their arm. Get to a good private pitching instructor and make sure their throwing motion is healthy-even if they do not pitch. Get this done at an early age. Bad habits are hard to break. Give them the opportunity to learn fundamentals at the earliest age possible.

I know the different league rules, and what ages they do and do not lead off and steal. In USSSA baseball they start leading off and stealing at 9 years old. Don’t get me wrong, I feel that learning the rules at an early age is important- but not at 9 yrs old. The game is fun; until the kid(s) make so many mistakes (balks etc…) they hate it.
I feel that for the first two years of “kid pitch” baseball the players should not be able to steal or lead off. Learning the skills needed to have sucess with holding runners soaks up a lot of practice time that could be used to work on other game fundamentals.
My thought is that the 9 and 10 year old seasons, kids should learn only to pitch from the stretch when runners are on base, and from the wind-up when no runners are on the bases. Make them aware of what to expect when they get to 11 yr old baseball. At 11yrs of age is a good age to start learning this skill. This gives them 2 years to build solid fundamental skills; from 9 to 10yrs old- and 2 years of experience with the runners leading off and stealing.
To the person talking about the amount of games these kids play in a season (60 plus games) is stupid!! In more ways than one. The amount of experience these kids are getting is good. But for the pitchers, this is deadly for their future in this game. All the kids that pitch, play other positions and their arms do not have proper recovery time. On top of this, most coaches are not aware on how much a kid can handle. My advice to the parents of these young kids is; if they show no interest in pitching at this age do not push them into it. Save their arm. Get to a good private pitching instructor and make sure their throwing motion is healthy-even if they do not pitch. Get this done at an early age. Bad habits are hard to break. Give them the opportunity to learn fundamentals at the earliest age possible.
Thanks
Jeff Hunter

oh well thats the level i play at for my team (13-16) cause we dont have basebal in schools here, we call this pony and the ll major is bronco, as far as lead offs i found them difficult to come to terms with at first but that is REAL baseball so i suppose kids need to learn to del with this

oh well thats the level i play at for my team (13-16) cause we dont have basebal in schools here, we call this pony and the ll major is bronco, as far as lead offs i found them difficult to come to terms with at first but that is REAL baseball so i suppose kids need to learn to del with this[/quote]

I agree kids do just have to deal with it. And alot do, and do it well. I am just worried about burn out and loss of interest. The ones who were born loving to play just learn to deal with it. Some kids are tring to find their own nich. I have seen talented kids that were pushed away from the game because of how serious youth ball is taken. Thats an entire different issue. I know kids can handel it at 9 but, some can’t.
Thanks
Jeff Hunter

One thing is certain, though many folks believe such intense play for young kids this age is not beneficial in the long run, many will participate and endorse it. Little League has become convinced that over-usage is “THE” worse factor…more so than curves or sliders, they’ve attempted to limit only pitch counts…what that unfortunately doesn’t take into account is the travel squad the kid plays on too. So he can be controlled for his league play and turn around and go back to back on a week end. My opinion is that this is real abuse and needs to be stopped. The only way is to hold the coach responsible in a punative way if he/she/it over-uses a kid. If it was my kid…well he just wouldn’t be my kid…my kid will be the healthy/happy one playing high school and college ball :wink:

Perfectly Said. Breaking balls at a young age is dumb! I am living proof of that. I threw these type of pitches at a young age. My fastball topped out at 84 my senior year. I went to juco, and the throwing program didn’t allow me to throw breaking balls. My arm neverfelt better and my fastball went up to 88 to 90. I had great sucess in highschool with a 3 year record of 33-4. I knew how to pitch. Curve ball caught up with me, now my arm is junk. Injury ended my career in Independent Ball with a shoulder injury. Read My Bio at advantedgesports.com and my goal with working with kids is clear.
Thanks
Jeff Hunter

Jeff,

Some of your points are very valid. I’ve been a pitching coach the past 3 years for my son’s select team here just north of Cincinnati. He plays in the 10 year old league this summer. His team last year was 9 year olds and I saw a huge difference in talent and skills. Leading off teaches kids the game full out from the get go. They learn to deal with everything at a young age and basically you have to start training them earlier and eariler. But, our 9 year old team last year had 2 games where they walked only one batter with 18 strikeouts and 16 strikeouts. It is sometimes amazing what they can learn and pick up if you give them a chance.

As far as curveballs go the problem isn’t teaching them at a young age, the problem is that they throw them too much. The curve should be taught correctly very early and it’s use is what should be monitored strictly. Last year my son never threw one curveball, just fastballs and a changeup. Tom House says he would teach his son to throw the curve at 3 years old so they knew proper mechanics.

Welcome to the world of teaching to youngsters what we thought came very naturally.

Tracy

my son has played select travel ball since he was 9. at 9 we played 70 games and we’ve played between 85 and 110 games per year for the past 5 years. we began throwing breaking pitches at 10 yrs and closely monitored it. in the 6 years we had 2 pitchers go down with sore arms and neither was serious. we never pitched a kid more than 6 innings a weekend and one appearance during mon-thurs league games. we lost some games not abusing pitchers and used our weekend sunday guys primarily as closers during the week. made our 5-6-7-8 guys grow up and they helped on friday-saturday weekend games.

travel ball was our hunting/fishing. i wouldn’t trade it for anything and do it again. yes we’re crazy but we’re baseball people. if it’s done properly it’s great, it it’s done wrong it is damaging. regulate your own, don’t try to regulate the world. clemens didn’t pick up a baseball till he was in high school but bob feller began when he was very young throwing 4 pitches. it’s not the same for everyone.

[quote=“Tdog67”]Jeff,

Some of your points are very valid. I’ve been a pitching coach the past 3 years for my son’s select team here just north of Cincinnati. He plays in the 10 year old league this summer. His team last year was 9 year olds and I saw a huge difference in talent and skills. Leading off teaches kids the game full out from the get go. They learn to deal with everything at a young age and basically you have to start training them earlier and eariler. But, our 9 year old team last year had 2 games where they walked only one batter with 18 strikeouts and 16 strikeouts. It is sometimes amazing what they can learn and pick up if you give them a chance.

As far as curveballs go the problem isn’t teaching them at a young age, the problem is that they throw them too much. The curve should be taught correctly very early and it’s use is what should be monitored strictly. Last year my son never threw one curveball, just fastballs and a changeup. Tom House says he would teach his son to throw the curve at 3 years old so they knew proper mechanics.

Welcome to the world of teaching to youngsters what we thought came very naturally.

Tracy[/quote]

I agree to one aspect, the kid with proper mechanics at that age, if his motion is consistant enough, can throw them in moderation. But only few are strong and stable enough to be this consistant. And its hard to moderate in a 60 plus game season for a 9 yr old. Unless you or myself could monitor every pitcher in the U.S. I tell everyone no curves until 13. And then use them in moderation.
Thanks
Jeff Hunter

“70 games and we’ve played between 85 and 110 games per year for the past 5 years”

This is my point…Have you Dusty ever had to endure your kid dealing with an injury to his arm? It’s like a death in the family…read CaDad’s log man. Kids can play for long times…as you so readily prove…how many of those kids you are speaking of have you personally seen make it to and past high school? I would wager a high percentage break down in their High School years…I have been through 2 boys…they are 10 years apart so I’ve went through 1 span of baseball and now another…I swear on a stack of bibles that this much play has a long term bad effect on players…burn out is HUGE!!! Lingering injury is endemic, I’m not ranting because of what I think, I’m ranting because I’ve seen it…time and again in coaching for 25 years. So much so that I never let my youngest play travel until now (17-18,), we had a reasonable league season, then All-Stars and then he went to baseball camps, where he had fun, learned the game from college guys and coaches and now he throws CG after CG…at high velocities…no injury…and ya know what? He has had that same fun you descrbe…won a State championship when he was 12, many, many victories…just no way he’s goin that many games BEFORE puberty.
I hope you prove me wrong Dusty, you obviously love the kids you work with but IMHO this is no service to them.

I think it’s all a matter of what the kid truly wants. If a kid really wants to play travel ball and that’s what he’s all about, then I’m all for it. But, if a parent is pushing the kid to do it and he doesn’t really have his heart in it, then it’s likely not going to be a good thing.

I think the responsibility will always fall back on the parent. Do your research and challenge the coach or coaches if you think your kid is being pushed too hard. I still remember a kid who I coached, who had a very good arm at the time for a 10 year old… not be able to pitch. And I only had about 2 other good arms. His mother refused to let him pitch for this fear of him throwing his arm out in a city baseball league that was only 3 months long. She honestly wanted him to save his arm for pitching later, including high school ball. Guess what? That never happened and he never learned how to pitch and eventually stopped playing in 8th grade.

I’m all for kids pitching early as long as pitch counts are reasonable and if they learn a curve it’s simply a show pitch like 5 or 6 times a game. My kid has learned how to compete by pitching since 8 years old, how to not lose his composure and how to battle. Also just pitching in so many situations to real time batters has enabled him to have very good control and the confidence to use different pitches. He’s had his share of failures and my motto always has been failure leads to success in baseball.

Lucky for me he plays football…so no fall ball here which does let him rest the arm up. But, I loved AAU ball (he started when he was about 12) to supplement his local travel team. (loved it more than he probably did, as I throw the guilty flag there for pushing a little bit :roll: ) But I am convinced those extra games on about 4 or 5 weekends a year helped him because of the competition. Now he is pushing to start as a sophomore in high school so I think it was a good thing. I just monitored his pitching and didn’t pitch him more than a few innings in my league if I knew the AAU coach would throw him that weekend. Again, that to me is the parents responsibility since they are the only ones knowing how many innings he played in that week, etc.

I guess my realization is that only a very, very small percentage of kids will play in college…(what is it, 2% or something?) So spending all that time with this kid means more in a bonding sense than anything else. I think the likelihood of pitching past high school is remote, but I support any dreams of the like. I am loving the high school thing though.

I understand the bonding and even to a point the quality thing…I’m just saying…look at what Dusty said…5 years playing as many as 110 games. College players who condition all year to get their bodies to do 60…still break down with, if not frequency, regularity…these kids are playing twice what colleges do…a full 2/3 or more of a major league season…now yes kids are rezilliant, yes they love the travel, the hotels and the adventure of it all, but at some point you place a body in a situation where you either are dealing with scar tissue or it takes longer and longer to get better from strains and pulls or re-injuries on old injuries or any number of issues…I’ll also say in 25 years, every single kid who ended up with TJ was a long term travel baller, not one was just a league and All-Star player.
I know of no physician who would recommend this level of athletic involvement for a kid in pre-puberty. Step back and just look at it. The thing is, there is no arguing this unfortunately, guys and kids who do this will do it and those who are against it will remain against it. I don’t judge them as I’m not living their life…I only wish to insert my opinion as a counter possibility for anyone to consider.

fair enough…I could tell you my kid never had the love of the game enough where it was even remotely possible for me to consider year round ball. We always went from baseball to football to basketball every year

We enjoyed the in house early, then local travel and a bit of AAU with the final piece being high school

Amazing the memories you have with it

fun stuff

Well said, JD. I spent a big part of my first 18 years playing travel team hockey. It was the best! San Diego, Detroit, Boston, Chicago…

We got into a lot of fun and a lot of trouble. But years later, I realized that I had given everything to play hockey, given up baseball, basketball, football…being a one sport guy was great while I was doing it, but now I wish I had participated more fully in the other sports, too. It’s a personal choice, but one that shouldn’t be made too young IMO. I’m with you JD…I’m not living that life…but I wish parents would give some thought to encouraging their kids to participate in more than one sport.

The Hose

yes we have experienced injury. did it come from overuse, yes. was it preventable playing as much as we do, yes. will we ever throw 16 innings in 10 days again, no.

the question is, when does the window of opportunity really open for a player to train seriously. i think it is somewhere between 14 and 17. at that time you can seriously train and make permanent positive change to a player. if the player burns out, i believe they were destined to stop playing anyway.

of the players we have played with on our teams (approximately 40 to 45 players, all of them to my knowledge made the cut for their freshman and jv high school teams. 11 have made large school varsity squads as freshmen. 5 are competing or won starting jobs for their teams. when they walk in the dugout and onto the field, they know what they are doing. it is their home. they are assassins. they will take your lunch money and your girlfriend if you’re not careful. they know exactly what they are doing and currently injury free.

this summer my son will play in:

hawaii, florida, omaha, austin, arizona, atlanta, the jr olympics, and the world underclassmen wood bat championships.

we have also played in new mexico, puerto rico, copperstown, dr. pepper stadium in dallas, and the super nit at kc.

would this have happened if we didn’t play this much, i don’t think so. could we blow out an arm doing this, yes. we accept the risk and take every precaution possible to prevent injury.

we have a clean bill of health from a baseball specific physical therapist and are on the prospect list. what more can we do?

if you want to see an animal, do a youtube search for bryce harper, the #1 15u prospect in america by travelball select from las vegas. watch him swing the bat. he is special and already projected in the first 5 rounds by professional scouts. this kid has played up to 150 games per year. he spent 6 weeks in cooperstown when he was 12. there is something to be said for playing the game. when they go to college or pro ball they are home. i’ve heard it said repeatedly that college ball in no way gets you ready for a professional schedule. i believe it.

could i look back in 4 or 5 years and say we did too much and broke down, yes. could you look back in 4 or 5 years and wonder if bryce harper lived at your house and you didn’t train him, yes.

it’s tough to make decisions and i respect what you are doing and it may be best for you and your son. we are doing what we think is the best for us. we apologize if doesn’t fit your picture, but we like things the way they are right now.

good luck to you and your program, i sincerely hope all your dreams come true.