Wrong

I’d say Pedro was more 3 quarters, an I only cite a lack of radar gun in regards to Walter Johnson because it’s well known that those golden era guys didn’t have the velocity of today’s pitchers. Curveball at 11, huh? That’s terrible for you, kid. I never developed my 12-6 hammer till junior year because I could get by throwing 92-93mph at that time. I think at a young age, good mechanics should be developed, so by the time the body fills out, velocity will more than likely be there and injuries will be less likely. Throwing a curve at 11 basically just ruined your shot at ever going somewhere.

There have been attempts by ASMI to quantify the injury risk of throwing curveballs at a young age. The result was that they advised against it even though they could not present scientific facts to justify their recommendation. Another suggestion could be that kids who throw curveballs at a young age are usually very successful and so find themselves pitching in the game more often which leads to overuse which is the root cause of the injury risk; not the pitch itself. Where is the “somewhere” you refer to? Is it “anywhere”? College? Pros?

Let’s take Zita for example. When she played the game, by all measures of human endeavor…she made it to “somewhere”. Somewhere very fulfilling with a lifetime of great memories. It’s not where you end up. It’s all the things you enjoy along the way.

What qualifies you to make such a statement? Are you stating that no pro level pitcher ever threw curveballs at 11?
There is no way you or anyone else can make that assumption.

It seems to me after reading this post and your “14 yr old pitching bible” you’re a little caught up in absolutes. I’d say a Junior pitching 92-93 mph can get by with throwing only fastballs but that is few and far between. I might have missed a post but have you set an arbitrary age for throwing a curve? If so what age would that be? Who is to say both kid X & kid Y are both ready just because they are the same age? My kid is 14 now and learned to throw a curve at age 13 based on his pitching instructors recommendations; not an arbitrary date but at a point in his development instructor felt like he was ready and had learned to throw a change (I understand you think those are dangerous also) consistently. As far as fastball development; he’s added about 9 mph in less than a year and a half and yes; he has good control & hits his spots. What’s worked for him has worked for him but I don’t think it’s necessarily right for everyone. High School ball around here has pitchers anywhere from low 70’s & up; some hit 90’s but not too many. If these guys go out pitching only fastballs they aren’t going to be pitching. Even in the local youth league my son can get by early in season with fastballs because his is faster than most; as the season goes on kids are able to time it so he has to throw some off speed. What worked for you is great I’d just rethink advocating a “bible” based on your personal experience.

I’m saying throwing curveballs at a young age reduces your chance at going pro. What qualifies me to make such a statement? I am one, but anyways I’m not trying to set any absolutes, but instead set a standard in which different kids can be molded off in accordance to other factors. I’m not tying to force every kid into a certain mold, but instead just trying to set some standard or guidelines in which coaches can build off of an change depending on the kid.

Ok; fair enough but what constitutes a young age? I’m still skeptical of your views on change ups for young pitchers.

It really depends on the change-up. A change-up slowed down by grip is perfectly okay, but a change-up that requires a child to primate on order to get exceptional movement is not. I would say a young age is from 10-13. At 13, I think it’s okay to begin to throw a circle change, Vulcan change, or a straight change, which require the hand to primate in order to get exceptional movement.

Pronate* not primate. Stupid autocorrect lmao smh

Pronation isn’t used just to create movement - it also reduces velocity. (Force used to impart spin on the ball is not used to accelerate the ball.) Some pitchers I’ve worked with can’t take enough off their change by grip alone - regardless of grip - and have to add pronation to create a big enough differential between their change and their fastball.

Yes I agree. I personally pronate on my change-up. Pronating does a lot of positive things for the change-up .

This may be a little off topic, but my 13U son is dealing with this issue. He’s nearly 300 pitches into the season, and only two balls have left the infield. Sounds good, except, there’s a sore elbow to contend with, and enough infield errors and weak infield singles to make a 13 year old want to give up.

I charted his last game. He throws two pitches, but in actuality, there’s three pitches he’s throwing: The 2-seam FB, the slider and a third pitch, which I’ll discuss in a moment. I charted over 50% off-speed pitches during this game, which is a very high amount for him. A good friend who’s son is also a very good pitcher thought he was throwing too many curves, as it seemed like every pitch was a curve to him. The FB were mostly strikes looking. I asked my son after the game how many sliders he threw. The answer, maybe 10% at the most. He said he threw almost all FB. Now, this was opposite of what we saw. So I thought more about his arm action, the spin on the ball, location and movement of all these pitches I thought were some kind of breaking pitch and my friend though were curves. The pitches sunk down and went out from the RH hitters. If they were over the plate, the batters hit ground balls. Otherwise, they were looking and called balls. Since he said he was throwing the 2-seam, I looked closer at the release. All the pitches were on the outside. He holds the 2-seamer with about a 1/2"+/- gap between his two index fingers. To start the hitter off, it’s the FB: he doesn’t pronate, and gets the strike looking. But on the 2nd pitch, I noticed the pitch rotates off of his finger. He kind of spins the ball off his finger-tips like he does with the slider. This naturally causes pronation. Velocity is down from his FB, but not as much as the slider. This pitch, if I’m understanding it correctly, is what Roger speaks about the effects of pronation. It reduces velocity while creating movement, resulting in ground balls.

As to what this pitch is, I’m not sure. It may be a split finger, but whatever it is, it’s too early for him to be throwing, since it’s causing too much strain on the elbow. He left after 61 pitches with pain behind the elbow. He’s rested, fine now, but won’t pitch in a game until the mechanics are corrected. It doesn’t seem smart to pronate on the FB at this age.

I’ve been careful about pitch counts and innings pitched, but didn’t see this coming.

(Statistically, 25% of his total pitches this year are called strikes looking. 45% are balls. 6% are strikes swinging. That leaves 24% are hit in some manner, either fouled off or in play, and of those, only two have made the outfield. So this pitch, whatever it is, would be effective at a higher level with good defense. In his last game, we agreed on six sliders total. Three were strikes swinging - pitches were in the dirt and the batter couldn’t hold up. One was a called strike. The other two were balls. Since his FB are mostly strikes looking, and only 6% of his total pitches are strikes swinging, the kids are making contact on this third pitch. I find this interesting, that a pitch that should keep his pitch count down (groundballs) actually increases the pitch count (errors and infield hits, plus some walks), and leads to more stress on the elbow due to pitching more stressful pitches (trying to be perfect) with runners on base. And it’s probably an excellent pitch for HS, but the wrong pitch for JHS)

West,
Your son is a year younger than mine & the cutting action you describe is something mine has experienced in the past. Although his didn’t have the break you described at times his two seam would cut away from a right hander rather than running inside. His pitching coach told him he wasn’t staying “on top of the ball” but getting around it. He explained cutting is great but only when he intends for the ball to cut. Another kid in league throws pretty hard; my guess is he’s touching on 70 although my son says closer to 65 (he’s hit against him & I haven’t for what it’s worth). Kid is very effective & looks to me like he throws sliders a majority of the time although his dad has told me mostly fastballs with occasional curve (no sliders but sure looks like them). Kid thows very low 3/4 (almost sidearm) so I’m assuming his release is causing spin. Kid also has a past history of arm issues as season progresses. I’ve noticed his elbow dips below his shoulder at release; not sure if cause but have wondered. Not sure if any of this sounds familiar with your son but I’d think it has to be spin based on how he’s throwing. So far as ground balls; I say keep it up! He’ll have a defense behind him soon enough.

I agree with the coach’s sentiment. You must stay on top of a fastball. Mistake cut is bad for a kid at this age if he throws it too consistently. You may also want to put that slider away for another 1-2 years. If work more on fastball command. I’ve seen high school coaches utilize off-speed/breaking stuff over 40% of the time with kids that don’t have overpowering hs fastballs (85+), which absolutely breaks my heart. As a starter, I can personally tell you I throw my fastball 65% of the time whether it’s straight or a tailing 2 seam. I throw my change-up 15% of the time and my breaking ball 20%, which still may be too much.

[quote=“Mike4”]West,
Your son is a year younger than mine & the cutting action you describe is something mine has experienced in the past. Although his didn’t have the break you described at times his two seam would cut away from a right hander rather than running inside. His pitching coach told him he wasn’t staying “on top of the ball” but getting around it. He explained cutting is great but only when he intends for the ball to cut. [/quote]

His FB cuts inside. This is the pitch he’s thrown since 9, and it’s a pitch he can control. When he throws it this year, it’s been mostly strike looking. Ironically, he’s had no control issues with it, nor has he come close to hitting anyone.

My conjecture on what happened is last year in LL he was throwing too fast, so he found out how to slow the velocity down, create this wonderful movement to the outside, and still control the pitch - relatively speaking. He could throw easy, get lazy ground outs, keep his pitch count down and keep the ball away from the hitter. He fears hitting someone, so this keeps the ball on the outside. In his LL days, he broke several hands (batters hugging the plate) and gave a kid a concussion (batter ducked into the pitch). He’s a sensitive kid, and doesn’t want to hurt anyone. This third pitch became his safety pitch.

He threw mid 70s last year, but is considerably less this year; except on the few occasions he when he just throws the ball. Angle of arm is as you described.

Never had an ounce of soreness until last week. Therefore, it’s time to make adjustments. He’s agreed to only throwing hard, which means his FB that moves in, and live with the chance of hitting someone. And the occasional slider to keep the big hitters honest. He’s a smart kid so he understands anatomy and the reason why it’s too early to throw this third pitch.

He’s anxious to get back on the mound.

Thanks for the advice…

Agree. Thanks for the feedback.

He’s a strong 6’-180#. Is throwing a small percentage of sliders to keep the big hitters honest harmful for a kid his size? We went to a college practice the other day, and the coaches and players were extremely nice to him. They thought it was a campus visit instead of coming to watch his 8th grade basketball coach play.

Agree. For him it’s getting back to the basics of throwing an overpowering FB and not worrying about hitting the batter.