What to focus on with an eight year old pitcher?

My son is 8 yrs old and has started pitching in little league this year.

Unlike his father (me) he listens to everything his dad says about pitching…

That being said I am trying to pound into his head about consistency in his form, pushing off, and throwing hard. He also feels bad about hitting batters…

Last night he struck the first three batters out that he faced and hit the first batter the following inning. He was bothered so much he wouldn’t throw hard any more and he lost everything he had. His control left him (due to lobs) and he when he tried to regain it (after I’m screaming to push off and rip it) he hit the next batter. Needless to say it was a good first time/ learning experience.

What do I focus on for him being 8 without over doing it, or can’t I over do it? He told me I wasn’t bothering him during his game (trying to correct his erratic form).

Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

I lost my chance by not listening to my dad and damaged my arm as a Sr. Higher and only want my son to reach a better level than I did (as long as he wants too).

Thanks

tman
I would recommend you not focus on pushing hard in order to smoke it in there. Take a more holistic view of this. At 8, I would focus on overall mechanics that are repeatable. This is a total body effort and focussing on one thing can result in something else being neglected with negative results. Are you familiar with the whole concept of the kinetic chain and the transfer of momentum from large body masses to small ones? It all has to be put together into a unified whole. At 8, if he’s thinking “rip it”, the “whole” will break down. Variable results would not be unexpected. What about timing of the parts? Is he focussing on the arm to throw it hard? Not that the arm’s not important but he needs to get used to the entire chain happening effectively. You want him to start with what will take him farther in his pitching life. If he doesn’t have repeatable, efficient mechanics overall, he won’t have lasting consitency. Motor learning researchers typically state that a “reverse progression” approach to acquiring complex motor skills is the most effective. Start with the end, or goal, in mind (arm action to throw the ball) and gradually add what comes before (shoulder rotation then trunk flexion then lower body). Taken as far as one can, don’t let him add the next component until he’s “mastered” the current one. Always finish with the “goal”, that being to throw the ball. This way, he’ll always be doing something he’s adept at. Forward progressions (starting at the beginning with drills for those items) result in a kid doing things he’s not really mastered yet. Reverse progressions avoid that.

My advice out of all of that is that you should not focus on one thing, such as pushing off or throwing hard, without keeping it in the context of the “big picture”. Repeatable mechanics and practice of them will result in the control he needs. It’s just not overnight.

I would NOT focus on teaching him to push off the rubber. That will give him little if any extra velocity and can cause problems.

Instead, I would first and foremost teach him to focus on the glove and throw to the glove. If you get the focus right then his body will be able to adjust around some inconsistencies in his form.

As the coach and father of a 9-year old pitcher, my biggest suggestion for you is to remember that it is your son that chose to pitch, not you. What you did or did not do as a child has no relevancy in this situation. I used to try to “coach” my son during football games. I realized that all I was doing was introducing displeasure into a sport my son loved. Quit with the pressure and you will find that he may actually ask for your help. Put yourself into his shoes. Would you really want someone trying to “pound” anything into your head?

Have your son work with a pitching coach. You can go along. Listen and learn, but do not say a word. What you will find is that the most successful youth pitching coaches talk gently and spend more time watching and listening. The few words that are said are very powerful. I learned a lot from the experience; probably more than my son. We now work together and the most rewarding part is not my son’s successes on the mound but the joy of spending time together.

With an 8yo I would keep it very simple. I would focus simply on good balance and stride. I would also keep an eye out for tilting the head and dropping the glove to try to avoid developing those bad habits. The only other thing is to keep it fun.

[quote=“Chris O’Leary”]Instead, I would first and foremost teach him to focus on the glove and throw to the glove. If you get the focus right then his body will be able to adjust around some inconsistencies in his form.[/quote]Don’t you really mean that he will train himself to have to “adjust around some inconsistencies in his form”? I would STRONGLY suggest that we not allow these “inconsistencies” to fester. Teach him well from square one. Yes, keep it simple and fun but don’t allow bad mechanics to linger so that he can “hit the glove”. I’d much rather him miss the glove now, temporarily, as he develops mechanics that will take him a long, long way. Hitting the glove with bad mechanics will only hurt him in the long run.

It really depends on the magnitude of the inconsistencies.

If the inconsistencies are small, then I would say that fixing them is less important than is learning to focus on the glove (because some level of inconsistency is normal at this age).

Of course, large inconsistencies make focusing a moot point and must be fixed.

I also agree that some mechanical things, while they may work, should be fixed because they are likely to come back and bite you (in the form of injuries and/or control problems) as you get older.

What would qualify as a “small inconsistency”? Yes, it’s difficult and nobody expects an 8 year old to have flawless mechanics but we should work on them. Control will come with repeatable, efficient mechanics and lots of practice focussing on hitting the glove with those mechanics. I propose that focussing on hitting the glove with less than optimal mechanics gives a false and fleeting sense of accomplishment. It’ll disappear as he grows older if the “inconsistencies” remain. Don’t let them fester.

Just remind him that he’s not the one getting hit. :mrgreen: It hurts the batter, not the pitcher.

keep it simple, good balance, high knee and elbow, reach back( dont throw from his ear) good stride and finish. DO NOT over coach during games. game time is to have fun, keep him relaxed and stay positive during games and you both will have better success. practice is when you want to work on mechanics with just some reminders during games. it is natural for him to get upset for hitting another kid, he should outgrow that with in a year or two. good luck

Acuracy and mechs thats all

here’s another perspective from someone who trained his son under major league supervision and has trained around 50 youth level pitchers over the last 10 years.

most pitching coaches use a break it down approach. focus on doing one thing right and then add another till you get the whole thing right. backward chaining is starting from the most important part of the motion (how the ball leaves the hand) and work backward from there to get it right (paul nyman who based his teachings on the east germans when they ruled the olympic training world).

there is another german theory called gestalt theory. it argues that when you take something apart, you no longer have the thing (the gestalt or unified whole) and it destroys the thing you are trying to study and duplicate. the best way to practice and develop a movement is as a whole. i have found this to be true and if a drill does not place the body in the same position it will be in during the actual motion, you are teaching them to be good at the drill which most likely will not transfer to usable practice when performing the pitching motion. i know this is deep ( i teach university psychology and statistics so stay with me here).

with a little guy (8 yr old). the best first lesson i have found is putting them in a batting cage with an atec pitcher’s target attached to one end and a bag of 25 to 50 good baseballs to throw into the target. with a running start (and i mean running), have them throw the ball into the orange outlined strike zone at full speed. have them release the ball from 10 to 15 ft from the target. when they can consistently throw 8 to 9 of 10 pitches into the target.

when they can do this and control their body moving this quickly throwing the ball at a target, they are way down the road in the right direction in my opinion. this is the first throwing i do with any new student. especially a little guy.

if this is helpful we can talk about additional things working from this base.

as stated by someone earlier, have fun. and as terry kennedy says on xm radio 175 with rob dibble, when working on pitching mechanics, don’t forget to throw the ball.

i wish you all the very best and hours of fun with your sons. encourage always. stop bitching and start emphasizing what they do right. then maybe they’ll let you work with your grandchildren.

  1. If you are not the coach of the team then you should keep quiet from the sidelines as it is the coach’s job to coach your son. There’s nothing more annoying to a coach than a parent coaching from the sideline.

  2. If you are the coach then why are you “screaming at him to push off and rip it?” Rather than drawing all the attention and focus on him in front of all the spectators call a time out and walk to the mound and have a private conversation and help him process his feelings of hitting a batter.

  3. Yes, you can definitely overdo it and in my opinion you already are. The first priority for 8 year old is creating an environment for fun. Help him fall in love with the game by encouraging him and the rest will fall into place. be quick to lsiten and slow to speak.

I’m with him

don’t even work on changing speeds. Work on throwing strikes. I would start with balance and go from there. Especially with really young kids. Good balance, good posture, consistent release point. No need to overwhelm the kid, the ultimate goal is to throw strikes.

I missed this initially, this is GREAT advice. After all, kids love games and it needs to be treated as such. If you can find ways to make balance drills fun for a kid and throwing drills fun that is half the battle

I’ve just gone through coaching my son’s first year of pitching.

I’m anything but an expert on pitching. In fact, I use this site as my primary source of teaching for my son (and those kids willing to take pitching seriously). But I do know a thing or two about coaching little league.

In terms of pitching mechanics, here is what has worked for my son …

  1. Keep the mechanics fairly basic at his age at game time. No exagerated movements. Focus on glove side control (as Roger stresses), decent stride and lead foot landing pointing towards home. Get these going and you’ll have him pitching in the strike zone.

In terms of the mental part of pitching (probably the most important at this age) …

  1. Don’t put him in a position he can’t handle. Kids at that age have good days and bad. When he’s off, don’t push it and don’t put him in a pivotal role (starting or closing) if possible. Most kids at this age don’t have the self-confidence to work through a bad outing. When this is occuring, make light of the situation and get them out of there.

  2. Don’t emphasize pitching speed. I keep telling the kids that once the mechanics are perfected the speed will come. Not to worry about it at this age.

Good luck to both of you.

maybe you should teach him the eephus.
I threw 2 no hitters with the eephus combined with the great command of the fastball

[quote=“Papibon”]1) If you are not the coach of the team then you should keep quiet from the sidelines as it is the coach’s job to coach your son. There’s nothing more annoying to a coach than a parent coaching from the sideline.

  1. If you are the coach then why are you “screaming at him to push off and rip it?” Rather than drawing all the attention and focus on him in front of all the spectators call a time out and walk to the mound and have a private conversation and help him process his feelings of hitting a batter.

  2. Yes, you can definitely overdo it and in my opinion you already are. The first priority for 8 year old is creating an environment for fun. Help him fall in love with the game by encouraging him and the rest will fall into place. be quick to lsiten and slow to speak.[/quote]

I think Papibon has focused on the most important issue in this situation. Your son is 8 yrs old. No one should be screaming at an 8 year old in his first year of pitching. I really dont think yelling at any kids will fix any issues. Also if you are not a coach Papibon is right the best thing you can do is queit down and support your son. I can tell you as someone who has been coaching kids baseball for 8 years one of the first things we look at in a kid is the parents. Being an overbearing parent can hurt your child faster than anything else. I aslo have watched more overbearing Dads run their sons right out of sports. Remember he is 8! Let him have fun learning the game until HE decides to jump to a more serious level just sit back relax and enjoy the games.

as a dad that coaches both his kids…My main rule and it took me 3 or 4 seasons to learn this is when the game is over and we leave the field we dont even discuss anything in the game unless they bring it up…dont harp on mistakes or failures…

Also rear back and throw it is not the advice he needs…he needs to know how to deal with not hitting a batter…I would show him clips of major league pitchers hitting batters and tell him it happens and its part of the game…and not to worry about it…Kids at 8 are very emotional and personally I dont think they should be pitching…

Just tell him to keep pitching and have fun…

teach him that it doesnt matter if he hits a kid. hell learn that eventually, youll hit batters on purpose. but if he loses everything because of one wild pitch, its a waste. so teach him that hitting a batter isnt the end of the world, but remember that hes eight, so dont kill him over it.

also, make sure he doesnt overthrow, itll hurt his arm.