When should youth pitchers start pitching competitively?

I recently read an article that suggested pitchers should refrain from pitching competitively until they are 13, pitch no more than two innings at a time until they are 16, and throw baseballs for no more than two consecutive months out of the year until they are 16.

It certainly makes for interesting discussion.

What are your thoughts on when youth baseball players should start pitching competitively?

I think that is ridiculous!!! How are you going to develop anything with that amount of time throwing a baseball.
I think that kid pitch here in Texas starts at age 10. I think that you really have to monitor the amount of throwing that they do and give them the proper instruction.
I think that it’s making a good judgment on when you think a kid is ready. Kids mature at different ages. I have seen some really :shock: big (developed) 9 & 10 year old kids that were ready.

I thinbk 10 is a good age to start and I also think that 9 yr olds should get a chance near thend of their season. Of course some kids are bigger and develop quicker. the hard part of the discussion is how much should a 10 yr old throw? When a travelling team plays 40+ games and a AA or AAA team only has 3-4 solid pitchers and maybe 2-3 inning eaters, some kids are bound to over throw. Coaches have to know and kids can’t be afraid of saying when they are hurting.

I guess it depends on the definition of “competitively”. Heck, if they can pick up a ball in the house and smash mom’s favorite lamp, then we should be able to teach them to throw to a specific target…I know mom would appreciate that. Even in T-ball don’t we try to teach them to throw to a person and be accurate…so what’s the difference if that person happens to be squating behind a plate (I don’t think you’ll get many batters willing to step in the box, but that’s an issue for Let’s Talk Hitting :lol: ) Now, if they’re talking about “travel ball-competitive”, around here the youngest is 8:U…and some of those kids are damn good!

8U traveling? That, I think, is too young. How many kids on a team that age can pitch accurately? The games must go on forever.

I have coached my son for the past 3 years who is now eleven. I recently coached some 8-9 yr old pitchers and learned something about kids pitching. DO NOT PITCH HARD! pitch very relaxed and do not worry about velocity, just pitch. STRATEGY? low pitches at knees, pitch slow…high pitches, pitch about 5-7 miles faster …and once in a while pitch one faster than your both low and high pitches (but don’t try too hard, just whip the arm a little faster). Making them understand to pitch very relaxed (i believe) allows them to pitch safely at a very young age. just my opinion.
esteban

Yeah, I thought so too. But there were a lot of 8:U AAU teams in the Sunshine League (Florida’s AAU- www.sunshinesports.net) approximately 20 teams (this fall there are only 10, but that will increase for the spring). I personally saw 4 of the top 8:U teams play several games last spring and they each had 2 stud pitchers and at least 2 pretty good pitchers and all of them were accurate. In fact the main pitcher for the best 8:U team had a 42 mph fastball and a wicked change up.

Jon’s Dad, I thought like you until I saw these kids pitch. I was curious if 8 year olds in other parts of the country are this developed.

I’m in Wichita KS and currently coaching my 3rd team I started off coaching my little brothers team when I was 18 (4x state champions) my baby brothers team when I was 26(2x state champions) and now my sons team. All of them started tball at 5-6, machine at 7, and kid pitch at 8. We play in a highly competitive usssa league and the pitching by the end of their 8 yr season is reaching 50 -58 mph. Some coaches do teach a pointing curve at this age, all teach a circle change, and I’ve even seen some kids throw a knuckle curve. My best pitcher threw 43 k’s with 30 bb and most teams out here have one or two kids equivalent to this. My goal in coaching is of course to have fun first and second to get these kids to high school ball, all of my teams have ended at the 13 yr old division and year to date 16 kids have played D-2 or D-1 college ball with one playing minor league. Does anyone else see a pointing change this young? This is the first I’ve seen of it and am considering teaching to 9yr olds this fall. There is no pronation of the arm like a reg CB, so I wonder if there is no damage being done. The last thing I want is to hurt someone by the time they’re 10. Times are changing and I don’t like it.

Bandit, I think you need to take your team to Kansas…

Pitcoach, an 8 yr old throwing 50-58?? What is the distance to the rubber, 42ft? That’s the major league equivalent of about 98 isn’t it? What are you feeding those kids or do you need to check the batteries on your radar gun?

I think I need to take my high school team to Kansas!

Pitcoach, that’s a pretty advanced program…and least compared to this area. Do you get a lot of complaints from parents or others regarding arm abuse? It sounds like you guys have been successfull in the long run, have you had any problems with arm injuries over the years?

50 -58 is the top speed not the top pitchers (I have a kid on my team that when he hits someone, they may quit baseball), my son consistently pitches 47 but he is only 7 and we play up, but the older and bigger 8 yr olds throw smoke. I have never had a problem with injuries and don’t teach junk until later, only sound mechanics. I have been working with all these kids, pitchers or not since they were 5 on proper mechanics, and that is the norm with competitive teams (9 mo practice 3 mo off.) I have always had support from parents because I generally know their sons limits as well as or better then they do and they trust me.

Thanks! It sounds like you have a great program out there with dedicated parents. Count your blessings!

My 8 year old as has only played baseball for exactly one year. THis year in fall ball he made the move to kid pitch. He is only 4’ 3" and weighs 48 lbs. Interestingly enough he wanted to play shortstop so bad that between spring and fall ball seasons, we practiced shortstop throws almost every other day. When we signed up for Fall ball the coach said that he was probably going to use him at pitcher just because he was one of the only accurate kids he had. We sent my son to a 3 day pitching camp at the local university to learn mechanics as well as me resorting to internet articles and friends who are former pitchers at the minor league level for advice. He learned a lot at camp (the basics) and we had to eliminate his side arm delivery. We worked mainly on balance and location of pitches to start. When he pitched, he did not strike fear in the opposing team until they faced him - he developed a 4 seamer, 2 seamer (sinker) and changeup. His top speed was as clocked at 55 MPH ( most pitches were at 49-52). In his last game, the head of the umpires had watched his progression from a little kid who threw hard to, as he put it, “a real pitcher”. He went as far to give my son the game ball. All I can say is mechanics, mechanics, and mechanics. We also did are own "bullpen sessions in the backyard - marking off 46 feet and raising a pitchers mound to 6 inches - throwing about 50 pitches everyday. Needless to say, he also became a great shortstop!!! He and I have agreed that we would not do any throwing until around January. We will work on developing leg strength and skull sessions!!

My son plays Rec ball during the spring and travel in summer and fall. I think the most important thing is to make sure you tell the coach that your son is on a pitch count. Innings arent as important as much as pitch counts are. Each kid is different and each kid can throw more than others.

If your kid has great mechanics and throws long toss 2 3 times a week and pitches on sunday for three innings then he will be better off than the kid who plays ps2 all week gets a bullpen session 15 minutes before a ballgame and throws for 5 innings in pain???

Each kid throws differently and each kid body compositions are different. Just make sure you and your kid have an understanding of how much is too much??? 65 pitches 70 80 ? Ok.

I wanted to laugh at one coach who says innings is what he goes by? Say one kid throws 25 pitches each inning? By the third he is toast! Or you have another who averages 11 pitches an inning and getting ground ball outs who is getting warmed up by the third.

our kids start playing in our competitive league when they are 7 and 8. its an aabc sanctioned league. i believe league rules state 3 innings per game - 5 for the week - with days rest requirement. not real sure on exact specifics. im not high on this age group playing competitively but ive not seen any unusual negatives in our community.
one thing we do in our program in this age group is make our pitchers throw out of stretch all of the time. its easier to begin teaching balance points and mechanics with this age group from the stretch. we stress hitting spots and trying to teach a change to the more advanced kids. personally id rather wait til the 9/10 age group for them to play in a competitive league but im in the minority on that.
steve

The views are interesting, but it sure seems to me that at about 8U, kids need to start getting their pitching together to play competitive ball. My son is 11 and is throwing in the 55-65 range with a high of 67. Last year he was in the 52-57 and 47-55 the year before. He’s has ample pitching instruction and his mechanics are solid and although velocity isn’t a problem, accuracy is.

From what I’ve seen, velocity isn’t the key - it’s accurancy and being able to change ball speed. If a pitcher has good velocity on his fastball and a good change up that he can throw for strikes - he’ll do well!

We work a lot on mechanics, accuracy, velocity, strength, injury prevention, periodization, but accuracy is still a struggle. Maybe I’m expecting to much too young - but… I will also note that we’ve watched a lot of tournaments (USSSA, Superseries, etc.) and I’m always surprised that teams will have some hoss that can throw lighting bolts, but gets pulled because he gets in trouble with walks at ages 12, 13, 14, and even HS… Do we get too caught up ad Dad’s worrying about how fast our kids throw rather than working on their accuracy. Shoot, nobody asks me how “accurate” my son can throw - they ask me how fast can he throw - and I tell them…

Hmmm… Shoot, maybe instead of pitching drills, we should be practicing darts, bowling, and other games where hand-eye coordination is key?

Later…

It breaks my heart to see parents & coaching talking mph’s for kids this age … I hate the guns , throw them all away … I prefer the basics . Teach them how to throw the fastball to different locations (AND EXPLAIN WHY … MAKE THEM PITCH INSIDE) and change speeds off the FB , and keep them under established pitch counts … regardless of what the coach says . Give these kids a chance to play in HS by not destroying them in elementary school .

I started pitching when I was 8 years old. I think I wouldn’t be as good as I am if I would have started later I think the earlier the better. Just NO CURVEBALLS OR BREAKING PITCHES. Let them pitch but only change ups and fastballs. When I started pitching I threw one pitch. SLOW. haha. No I only threw a fourseam fastball I didn’t learn a good change till the age of about 13. I didn’t start throwing a curve till my sophmore year in high school.

weve got a radar gun but the only time we get it out in practice is to make sure the speed on our changeups and breaking balls are right in comparison to our fastball not to see our fastball mph. our kids never ask because they know its not the important thing. we’ve had kids that have thrown hard - 4 pitchers have signed college the last 2 years(2 mid/upper 80’s, 1 lower 80"s, 1 76-77) - but the recruiters liked them because of their command of the strike zone with 3 or 4 pitches, their changeups, and their competitiveness. velocity was never mentioned.