When do you allow a kid to take the mound for the 1st time?

Here is the hypothetical scenario…

You are the volunteer assistant coach of 10u team in playing in a rec league. The head coach has deferred to you all decisions regarding pitching, pitching practice, who starts, who relieves, and who closes.

6 kids on the team have expressed interest in playing the Pitcher position. You have two players who have starter experience in previous seasons. another two kids who have pitched fewer than 3 games life time. One who never pitched before but is a good player. And one who has never pitched before and is wild to the point where the other kids don’t want to warm up with him due to his aim.

The teams in the league are very well matched and the head coach is competitive by nature and has told the kids that winning isn’t everything but it’s funner than losing by a mile.

The stage is set and you’re expected to turn out a good product, meaning be fair and competitive. The league that you play in encourages letting kids try different positions but leaves the the decisions to the coaches.

Here is the question for you…

The wild kid, who is struggling to find the strike zone (~30% strikes), not impressive in terms of speed, has difficulty hanging on to the ball when it hits his glove, and is repeatedly asking when it will be his turn on the mound…

When do you play this pitcher? How do you balance what is fair for him vs what is fair for the team?

1st of all sorry for my bad english, i’m usually speak french^^

When I was young (10-11 years old), I was just like that (so wild that my coach told me to try to throw the ball with my other arm hahaha). Good thing for me, that coach was a good pitcher and he helped me a lot during the practice by doing bulpen sessions. He told me that I would not go on the mound in a real game till I was doing OK on bulpen session.

I think the first thing you need to do is to be honest with that kid and just tell him that he need to work on his control first. Be sure he’s holding the ball the good way, work on good pitcher mechanics (to make sure he always look at the catcher glove, follow through, well balanced on his throwing foot etc) and be sure he don’t try to throw 90MPH.

If he can hit the glove, try adding a batter (or maybe a coach with a good helmet hahaha).

That’s what I think, but I might me wrong^^ Anyway, that’s how I learned how to be a good pitcher.

At ten years old give any that are interested a shot. My son had the good fortune of having a coach at 9 years old that let all that wanted try, not many coaches in the league shared his philophesy. Not all pitched in games but a couple continued to pitch in practice the entire season & even got a shot in a couple of games. I never thought my kid would be a pitcher & was surprised at his success. He’s going on 14 and continues to pitch today. I am very grateful we had this coach and give him lots of credit for my sons development. The worst thing you have to loose is a game; the opportunity to develop the kids is much more important. A nice side affect is the parents get an opportunity to see what their kid can do instead of grumbling they never got an opportunity.

I’m with Mike and Sam.

At that age you gotta let the kid give it a shot, tell his parents to get him some instruction if he’s not getting it at team practices etc.

You never know what he could potentially develop into, be it a Pitcher or something else at that age.

I remember the first time I played hardball I think I was around that age, we just moved to a new town all the kids on the team had player together since T-ball, the Coach already “knew” who his Pitchers were, I walked over to him said I can pitch he didn’t believe me and was very reluctant to even let me try because as I said he “knew” who the Pitchers were. Finally he gave me a shot in practice and as they say the rest is history.

Let the kid try and work with him and go from there.

Good question. My oldest son pitched three times total game in LL. The 1st two times he came in with the bases loaded in bad games and got the out. Not much to talk about. A total of two batters. The third time was in the Championship Game. The starter had walked 8 in 2+ innings, and it wasn’t looking pretty for us. One of the assistant coaches recommended my son to pitch, since he had seen him practicing every week on the sidelines when nobody was looking, and thought he had what it took to come in with the bases loaded in the 3rd, no outs, and give us a chance. The Manager actually agreed, skipping the other two all-stars on the team, and called my son in from right field to pitch. Everyone was shocked, since he hadn’t pitched before and this was the Championship. Great ending! We win 3-2 as he throws a one-hitter from then on with only two walks, striking out 9, and hits the game winning home run. And yes, he ended the game by striking out the other team’s stud by freezing him on an inside fastball.

Advise the young kid to practice hard, and good things will come. My son got one chance to pitch, and he made the most of it. Two year later he’s finished with baseball; but he got to pitch one game, and it was a game to remember.

[quote]The wild kid, who is struggling to find the strike zone (~30% strikes), not impressive in terms of speed, has difficulty hanging on to the ball when it hits his glove, and is repeatedly asking when it will be his turn on the mound…

When do you play this pitcher? How do you balance what is fair for him vs what is fair for the team?[/quote]

I would have him work on his control issues during bullpen sessions.
As far as pitching in a game situation, honestly, he wouldn’t pitch unless the team had a comfortable lead and even then on a short leash.

I understand this is a rec league, but the other players on the team deserve as much consideration as one who wants to pitch.

Edit: Turn22, We must have been replying at the same time. I see your point. There are other kids to consider.

I think that most people agree that you’d want to give the kid a chance, the real question was “When do you play this kid?”

Do you start him? Do you bring him in as relief mid game? Do you let him pitch when you are winning or losing by a large margin? And is it fair to the others on the team? How would it effect morale for the team to have that pitcher on the mound?

What type of benchmark should a pitcher reach before being allowed on the mound in a game situation? Obviously if he is only throwing one strike out of ten pitches, you wouldn’t want to subject him to the pressure. How proficient at throwing strikes does he need to be before you give him his shot?

Having him pitch to live batters in practice is good. Good game simulation; can decide from there if he’s ready. If he’s not ready But shows potential let him continue to pitch some in practice until he’s ready. Agree with Wales; level with him if he needs lessons.

When my younger son played Little League minors and wanted to pitch (not having ever pitched before), I talked to the coach and asked that he get a shot in a game that was out of reach one way or the other. The coach abliged and my son did poorly. But that helped him understand how far off he was and how much work he’d need to do. The next day, he drew a box on our fence with a piece of chalk and proceeded to practice pitching. He was out there every day. He did this all on his own. One day I watched him and realized he had greatly improved. So I asked the coach to give him another shot. The coach obliged, my son did well, and he became part of the regular starting rotation.

Your pitcheer may be be ready to pitch now, but could be later in the season. Giving him a shot now might help him. Working with him to help him develop over the course of the seaon should help him.