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When is it too much?

Feb 13, 2009
26
0
North Carolina
I am new to this board and have posted a few comments but mostly I just lurk in the background and see how other coaches respond to issues I have had to deal with in the past. I have found a number of posters here to be quite knowledgeable and a few I have asked advice of myself. The majority of the responses I have found to be quite in depth and accurate as far as my knowledge allows me to evaluate them.

The one thing that I have not heard, although some have alluded to it, is a response saying “NO, don’t do that, your daughter is too young”. Why is that? Does anybody out there believe in “Too much, Too soon”? There have been posts that have mentioned, some quite extensively, the limitations to the growing body but nobody seems to want to say that, for example, a 10 year olds body is not ready for the stresses involved in throwing junk pitches. Some of these young pitchers may have all the talent and ability to start trying to throw some of these pitches but their developing bodies do not need this kind of stress on them on a regular basis while they are growing. Parents have asked questions and outlined their daughters practice schedule that includes workouts of some level every day of the week. This should not be happening even at the high school level never mind with pre-teens. Where is the line drawn where we say this is enough for now, your health is more important then that starting position or a possible scholarship 8 – 10 years from now?

Now, don’t get me wrong. Most responses I have heard have answered the questions posed honestly and accurately, for a fully developed and experienced pitcher. I would like to know how the experienced coaches out there determine when their younger students are ready to start throwing with the energy required to produce junk pitches on a regular basis. I have not only seen the possible results of doing too much too soon but I am also a product of this practice. There is one family in my area with three awesome pitchers and every one of them had shoulder surgery before she graduated from high school. I understand that there is more involved in this equation such as proper mechanics, conditioning and supervision by an experienced pitching coach but I am just looking at age and body development in this question. The question is: When do we say that your body just isn’t ready yet, lets work on control or location or other skills a little longer until your body catches up?

I realize most of the coaches out there are working with the older more advanced girls so this may not be an issue for them but I hope some of the coaches that work with the younger, newer pitchers may be able to offer some insight here. There is a lot of data published by the orthopedic community concerning youth baseball but softball is just beginning to be studied and there are few results out there. Some published material is available concerning the elite level pitchers and injuries but youth softball has been lumped in with baseball to date.
 

Amy in AZ.

Super Moderator
May 7, 2008
8,508
48
Tucson
The only thing that I am teaching pitching students through age 11ish, is the fastball, change up and hitting their spots. No one is even approaching 45, yet, so there is still so much more I can teach them, before they try to master another pitch.

We are working hard on the change up and hitting their spots.

Many, if not most 11 YOs that a parent shows me, that they say are throwing a drop ball (for example) are just throwing a low fastball. If I were to run a string across the area in front of the plate, the ball would be under it, not over.

Yes, proper form is more important than advanced pitches, in my mind. The girls will grow so much at age 12 and 13, there is plenty of time to reach new goals.
 
Feb 13, 2009
26
0
North Carolina
I am so glad to hear that. I also stick to fastball, changeup and location until their bodies develop. So much happens as hips and other areas come in that it just makes sense, not to mention the stresses that these growing bodies do not need.

I have also yet to see a true junk pitch as proclaimed by so many parents of young pitchers but , hey, what can you do. I honestly believe that if you build a truely solid foundation when their bodies are ready they will progress into and through the advanced pitches quicker and easier then if you start trying to get them to throw this stuff at 10 and 11 years old.

If I have a truely talented pitcher I will work on varying arm speed on the fastball to present a slightly different delivery. Makes one pitch look like 5 when it really isn't. Being able to put a good fastball wherever you want whenever you want and at varying speeds is my goal for girls under 13. After that it depends on the girls ability, development and desires.
 
To give you a little idea of what goes on in SOCAL this has happened to me by a president of a local travel team. I long time friend I pitched against in the 70's who I have not talked with in a very, very long time has a young 11 yo grand daughter who pitches and plays for a well establish SOCAL travel team. Her father is in the military and moving down to where I give lessons. The grand father asked in another website who are the pitching coaches that give lessons in my location.

The president of the travel ball organization contacted him and told him that the one he endorses and the reason he endoreses the pitching coach is because the pitchng coach teaches many pitches at one time. You see I do not teach all the spin pitches at one time. I teach one pitch at a time and many travel coaches hate that because they want pitchers who throw all the spin pitches. My experience has shown many of the kids who are learning all the spinners at one time normally all pitches look the same and take longer to develop.
 
Jan 15, 2009
585
0
I wouldn't get too hung up on a specific age. My daughter played against a girl who was 6' at 12 and had an adult body. This girl would not have looked out of place at a Div II tryout at the age of 12. I've also seen 14 year olds who could easily pass for 10U players because they haven't developed yet. IMO it's a mistake to overwork a pitcher prior to them achieving about 95% of their adult body. The risks outwiegh the benefits as they will have to relearn mechanics when they do grow and will likely have to unlearn habits they had used to compensate for their lack of size, strength, ability to properly grip the ball etc. I have seen a 13 yr old who was no superstar, but a strong athlete pick up a ball and start pitching and throw 53 MPH by the end of her first year of work. All the work a kid puts into pitching from 8-12 can be caught up to by a kid starting at 13 before they turn 15 because you can't learn how to pitch in an adult body until you have that body and you can't get a significant head start on that at 8.
 

Ken Krause

Administrator
Admin
May 7, 2008
3,470
48
Mundelein, IL
Stan, I agree with you. I know many of my students have trouble remembering how to throw one spin pitch at a time from week to week, much less learning several. I want them to learn one and really get the hang of it before moving on to another. Not that there aren't setbacks from time to time. In that case we go back to basics. But I also try to get them to understand why I'm asking them to do certain things, or why the ball isn't going where it should or doing what it's supposed to do. Hard to remember all that if you're trying to jam it all in there at once.

I am not so sure you need to restrict teaching certain pitches by age. I think you have to look at how the pitch is thrown and whether the pitcher is sufficiently strong/developed enough to handle it. And you have to keep an eye on it.

In most cases it takes care of itself if you don't move on until the previous pitch is ready, i.e. an 11 yo won't be throwing a curve ball if she can't locate the fastball and throw a well-disguised change and a good drop. But if she can do all that and is capable of it, I will teach a curve. If you do it properly there is less risk than teaching the pitcher to snap her hand to her shoulder on the fastball. Then again, here in the snowy Midwest they're not throwing seven days a week for an hour at a time. That probably does more damage to young arms than any single pitch.
 

Ken Krause

Administrator
Admin
May 7, 2008
3,470
48
Mundelein, IL
All the work a kid puts into pitching from 8-12 can be caught up to by a kid starting at 13 before they turn 15 because you can't learn how to pitch in an adult body until you have that body and you can't get a significant head start on that at 8.
Unless you know a BALCO distributor.
 
Feb 13, 2009
26
0
North Carolina
I am so glad to hear the responses so far. I was using age as a defining feature but body development is the key here that I was trying to stress. I was hoping that I was just hearing everyone talk about the more advanced pitchers and it appears I was right. Pheww!

Unfortunately, I have run into a lot of coaches and worse yet pitching coaches in this area that feel you must be able to throw a riseball and dropball at 10U if you are going to be any good and they will not look at you unless you can do this. I have also had many parents pull their kids from my clinic because I will not teach them a pitch their body is not ready for. Their leaving does not bother me but I worry about the kids. I stand by my record. I have been running my pitching clinic for 12 years and have had over 700 kids pass over my rubber and there has not been one pitching related injury. I plan on this continuing well into the future.
 
Mar 4, 2009
1
0
We just covered this on TexBall

One of the more remarkable discoveries I had, was a rcent meeting w/ Jenifer Wells and Donnie Watson @ the Complete Athlete.
They get it and have implemented a very thorough 4-part system for pain-free performance.
Please, take a few minutes and see the article at TexBall Baseball & Softball Notes . It's important enought to share w/ everyone you care about, and they're certifying coaches in just a few weeks.
 

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