Velocity vs Control

I’ve heard some coaches say that you must develop velocity and when you get near what would be considered fast for that age, then you work on control. Taking the approach of “get them up to speed, then fine tune the location”.

I have also heard from coaches that speed comes with practice and experience so just throw strikes and speed will come later.

Knowing that velocity and control are not mutually exclusive, there is a tendency for younger kids to slow down their pitch in an attempt to be more accurate. If you were starting with an above average player in 10U who is developing his pitching, do you emphasis velocity first or control?

Please elaborate.

I would say teach control, proper mechanics, hitting your spots, velocity should come on its own.

I think that the answer is both…now followers of certain folks (Nyman, Mills…I think Top Velo is in there somewhere too…I know Dusty Delso, who used to post here was also a “throw the crap out of the ball” guy) will disagree…and shock of shocks…you’ll see the method has plenty of success stories.
Thats the thing…there is more than one way to raise up a pitcher. I don’t find myself a hater of that style…heck I think very highly of Nyman, Brent and Dusty’s approach…but I find my “personal comfort zone” to be more geared towards the very successful college coaches I’ve known and learned from…guys like my good friend Dusty Rhoads who was the HC at North Fla., his great Asst. and P coach Bob Shepherd and the great friend of our site Fred Corral, they approach the art in a holistic way, they and I believe that there is no reason to “concentrate” focus in development to one aspect but to develop the entire player…fundementals, re-inforcement, analysis, adjustment…tactics, diet…rest cycles…are all in the picture, miss one aspect and you imo weaken one link that will have to be strengthened later…and after you do that you’ll have to re-adjust the rest anyway.
Location comes with repeatability…speed with the coordination, strength and effort (Intent) of the body…heck sometimes the best way to attain these skills for a kid is to shift their view to another game/sport/discipline which sharpens the skill set also (We favored martial arts but there are all kinds of similar methods).
Good luck on your particular journey…my advice is to continue to learn…find that “personal comfort zone”…if you select velocity…remember, it’s real cool to see a young kid bringing smoke in LL…but be there when he gets a full scholly and it’s a totally different experience…

Great post JD

My belief is that yoounger pitchers should be taught proper consistent mechanics. With more consistent mechanics, velocity should improve without much sacrifice in control.

Many years ago the Brooklyn Dodgers had a pitcher named Rex Barney. It was said that this fireballer could throw a ball through a brick wall. Yeah…but which building? He was that wild. And the Yankees had a pitcher named Tommy Byrne—often referred to as “my wild Irish Tommy” by his managers. There have been others in the major leagues about whom it could be said: the pitcher had electric stuff but couldn’t find the plate. Believe me, I’ve seen more than enough of them. I agree one hundred percent with the ones who say that the most important thing for a pitcher to master is control. Location. Being able to put the ball where you want it to go. The velocity can come later; the main thing is to find the strike zone and work with it. When I was a kid, many moons ago, I would find a catcher, and we would go to an unused playing field, and he would take up his position behind the plate (with a mitt, of course) while I took the mound. We would then play a little game we called “ball and strike”, in which the object was to get the pitch smack-dab into the pocket of that mitt. I would work with all my pitches to this end, throwing sidearm (my natural delivery), crossfiring from time to time, and oh, what a satisfying feeling to hear the “thwack” of the ball hitting the pocket of the mitt. I can’t think of a better way to sharpen one’s control. And remember: the best pitch is STRIKE ONE. Get that and you’re ahead of the batter—and the game. 8) :slight_smile:

Welcome back!!!

Thanks for the insightful replies.

Command, here we go again.

I am from the school of the throw the crap out of the ball. I think of command a little differently than most. I believe pitchers struggle with command for two primary reasons:

  1. They can’t feel the difference between a ball and a strike (down vs away, up vs down, etc.)

  2. Most kids focus on making mechanical adjustments rather than just saying, I’m missing high, why not aim lower.

I think you can accomplish both, at a younger age I strongly feel it is more important to “try and throw the ball hard” and that command is much easier to improve upon.

I have a link on my site that goes in detail about both.

IMO, the equation is:

Consistent, solid mechanics x intent x practice == control + velocity

The practice must involve attempting to hit a target and involve feedback – the thrower should know whether the attempt to hit the target succeeded.

I don’t think it’s a either/or question.

Sincerely, a noob.

65 mph throwing down the middle, but will probably miss a little ,but will still be a strike. Or 58 mph but hitting inside and outside?

My pitching coach once said, and I will never forget his words on the subject: “Move the ball around…high, low, inside, outside, work the corners, change speeds, and stay away from the middle of the plate.” He knew whereof he spoke.He was a finesse pitcher, not much on speed (or so he wanted the hitters to think), and because he didn’t have the requisite high cheese he relied on a wide assortment of offspeed and breaking pitches—including, once in a while, a good knuckleball. And because I was a very similar type of pitcher, the things he said resonated with me. He knew I was a true natural sidearmer who used the crossfire extensively, and he worked with me to refine some of those pitches and show me how to make the most of them. So…this goes for any pitcher who doesn’t have a fast ball to speak of. Find your best pitch and your second best pitch, and build your repertoire around them, and work on control and command. And remember—the best pitch in baseball is strike one. Oh yeah—here’s something that Babe Ruth, himself no slouch on the mound, has to say: A good changeup will cause batters more grief than anything else, so be sure you have one…or two. 8)

Thanks for all the well thought out replies! Ideally you’d have both Velo and control and that is something that we work on constantly. As a training philosophy, I’m with you guys there.

When the situation is less than ideal, the kid is on the mound and all you can give him is a brief instruction to carry him through his game, which of the following would you tell him.

A) Throw strikes (knowing that he can do that if he is pitching 47-48 mph or 85% of his max velo)

B) Fire it in there (knowing that he can overpower some hitters if he gives it everything he’s got, but will also let batters on base via walks or hit batters)

Which call would you make?

[quote=“PIP”]Thanks for all the well thought out replies! Ideally you’d have both Velo and control and that is something that we work on constantly. As a training philosophy, I’m with you guys there.

When the situation is less than ideal, the kid is on the mound and all you can give him is a brief instruction to carry him through his game, which of the following would you tell him.

A) Throw strikes (knowing that he can do that if he is pitching 47-48 mph or 85% of his max velo)

B) Fire it in there (knowing that he can overpower some hitters if he gives it everything he’s got, but will also let batters on base via walks or hit batters)

Which call would you make?[/quote]

http://baseballthinktank.com/the-1-reason-pitchers-cant-throw-strikes

Let say the kid is throwing 52-53 and is still having control issues. Throwing equal amount of balls to strikes, less hits but more walks and about 1k per inning. Would you tell him to dial it back a little to 48 or keep him at 52-53?

I know to some extent, it depends on the opposition and where they are in the batting order. However, this is just an exercise in coaching… so I would think that half of the coaches will keep him at a faster speed and half will dial him back a bit. Is this just a matter of preference or are there some sound reasons why a coach would have a pitcher go one way or another?
Keep in mind that we are talking about 10U for the sake of this post and not High School, College or MLB.

[quote=“Lefty’sDad”]

Exactly 10u coach should be developing players through out the season, by the time playoffs come around he should have developed better control of that 53 mph, which is likely now 54-56 because he wasn’t easing up al season.[/quote]

I hear you load and clear Lefty. You would push the velo. If only kids progressed at a linear rate… Even with our best effort, some kids are still wrestling with control late into the season. Come game time we don’t dwell on the fact that maybe we could have done more. The question remains what instructions do you give them to carry them through a game?

In an ideal world one would work on velo.
In this world i would work on mechanics.
If a kid has proper mechanics chances are his location is good enough to worl on velo?

What im saying is…its not location vs velo…its mechanics vs. velo!?

Of course my point is, at least in my view, the 10u coach’s job through out the season is to develops the players to be better players in high school, college and beyond, not to win every game.

That my friend should be silently read and thought about by everyone one of us who coach not just 10u but all little kids from say 14u before every game!!!

dman

Throw strikes—or let 'er rip?
We’re talking about strategic pitching here. And we must know the game situation. We have to know—what inning is it, early or late in the game? How many outs? How many runners on base—guy on first, runners on first and third, bases loaded—and how fast are they? The batter—what are his strengths and weaknesses? What type of hitter is he—and is he looking to park one in the seats or just try to get on base and move the runners up? What’s the count—1-1 or 3-0 or some such? And is the batter looking for a particular pitch? Now is not the time to lollygag or hem and haw; both the pitcher and the coach have to zero in on the situation.
This is what Eddie Lopat told me long ago. Two things: a) Figure out what the batter is looking for—and don’t give it to him. b) Move the ball around: high, low, inside, outside, work the corners, change speeds, and stay away from the middle of the plate. I’ve seen many home runs hit because the pitch was down the middle or middle in. So, it’s decision time, and the whole point is, we have to get the batter out and prevent any, or any more, scoring. In the long run it’s up to the pitcher. One thing—with one out, and first base occupied, have your infield go to double play depth. As we all know, that’s the pitcher’s best friend—a well-executed double play. 8)

Update on control vs velo.

We let the 10yr old pitcher cut loose for the first fall ball game and he was averaging mid 50’s. A bit wild on the first batter, got behind 3-0, gave up a big hit on the next pitch, trying to find the center of the zone. Then he struck out the next 3 batters using only fastballs and change-ups.