Last week we gave some parenting tips to help your child become more confident at the plate. This week, we’re back with advice on helping your youth baseball player become a fine young pitcher and what kind of pitches he’ll need to succeed. We’ll offer tips on fastball control and adding a change up, and offer our advice on the age-old debate of when to learn a curveball.
First things first. As always, it’s immensely important to get your young pitcher into a good warm up routine to prevent injuries. Youth baseball programs and coaches are often pretty good about this, but it’s important enough that we want to reiterate it. A pitcher of any age, let alone a young pitcher, should never jump right into throwing off the mound at full speed. Start with some static and dynamic stretches, then warm up the arm with some close catch, adding distance and velocity until the arm is good and loose. Even when your young pitcher does step onto the mound, some warm up pitches will help adjust to the mound and stay loose. Pitchers are the most susceptible to arm injuries, so prepare your pitcher well.
Any coach, from the very beginning of youth baseball all the way through the upper echelons of the pros, will tell you that fastball control is the single most important quality a pitcher can have. A young pitcher will often be much more concerned with velocity, because who doesn’t love throwing some serious heat. But what good does that heat do if it’s nowhere near the strike zone? None. Learning to be more accurate and start hitting his catcher’s spots will help your youth baseball player really get an edge on the competition.
Developing a Second Pitch
Once your young pitcher can throw strikes with pretty good consistency, it’s time to start adding a second pitch. A smart and safe bet is the change up. Change ups are meant to deceive the batter, by using a regular arm motion while removing velocity by altering the grip on the ball. Change ups can be tricky to learn and even trickier to control, and remember that practice makes perfect. Your youth baseball player should be able to repeatedly throw his change up consistently and accurately before he should try it out in a game situation.
Trouble with the Curve
Here’s where things get tough. A lot of young pitchers are eager to learn a curveball because they look a lot cooler than a change up and some of their favorite MLB role models can probably throw some serious junk. However, due to the altered pitching motion required for a curve, and the potential for injury that comes with it, it’s widely recommended that youth baseball players don’t attempt to learn a curveball until at least age 14, when their throwing arms have become much stronger, their pitching motions have become much more secure, and their risk for injury is reduced. If at any point during the process of learning a curve, your pitcher starts to feel any discomfort in his elbow, immediately stop throwing curveballs for a few weeks, and stop pitching altogether for at least a few days until the discomfort has fully subsided.
Developing a strong pitching arsenal can be a huge advantage for your youth baseball player and his future on the mound. Remember, practice makes perfect, and some pitches just aren’t for everybody. Stay safe out there, and play ball!
More from Sandlot Swag
While you are here, please take a moment to browse our entire line of youth Baseball Shorts. And don’t forget, we also offer custom baseball shorts, perfect for travel teams, slow pitch softball teams, flag football teams, and more!