First time baseball coach

Plantiers Wart

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The prior coaches had a thing where every practice and every game would end with a team-wide catchphrase to end a team huddle. One season was "Play like a Champion," once it was "Go the extra mile."

Anyone have any good ideas?
Pick a different kid every time and let them choose. “All for one”, etc. you’ll be surprised that one or more will strike a chord.
 

Granite Sox

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The prior coaches had a thing where every practice and every game would end with a team-wide catchphrase to end a team huddle. One season was "Play like a Champion," once it was "Go the extra mile."

Anyone have any good ideas?
How about, to carry forward a SoSH legend, "WIN IT FOR ___!" Let each kid pick someone important to them (Dad, Mom, Granny, Officer O'Reilly, Principal Anderson...) and they can rally around him/her.
 

Saints Rest

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So we're three games in (10U).

First game was a loss to the team who traditionally beats up on everybody, mainly because they have the best hitter in the area. Lost 16-0 when aforementioned hitter went 3 for 4, with three HR and 9 RBI. Our team was clearly pressing, and got discouraged/gave up once that kid hit his second HR blowing open the game in the 4th.

Turned it around in the next two games against two teams from the next town over who just didn't have much to offer. Won 11-1 and 10-2.

Here's my current issue. I have really three tiers of kids:
  1. The three kids who play on the town travel team, plus my son and one other kid. They know their stuff and are pretty good all-round players, capable of playing any position and making smart decisions whether in the field or on the bases. Can all hit.
  2. Two kids who want to get better but are less athletically inclined than the top-tier and/or have less experience than the top tier. I don't really worry about them, and we are tying to get them more experience playing more positions around the diamond.
  3. Four kids who are some mix of inexperienced, unskilled, unmotivated, scattered, and/or scared. Some times, they strike out. OK, that happens to everyone, but these kids tend to not know that three strikes means your'e out and you go sit down. Similarly, they don't know that 4 balls, means take your base. One of the kids got hit by pitch yesterday and had no idea he could take a base. This is the group I want to see get better, but how to do so?
For example, yesterday, we had a man on third and one of these Tier 3 kids at the plate (RHH). Wild pitch and our kid on 3rd takes off. Batter stands unmoving in batters box. Close play at the plate. Runner called out for batter interference. So we take the kid aside afterwards, and explain what happened and what he has to do differently. We reiterate this to all the team. Sure enough, next time this kid comes up, same situation set up. I'm coaching 1st so I call down to him "if there's a wild pitch, you have to get out of the way." Wild pitch happens, and the kid steps about 6" back from his stance. So I tell him again "you need to get all the way out of the way, like back to the fence." Next wild pitch, he moves about 2'. Sigh.

Same kid, different game. He's playing RF. Soft liner hit about 3' to his left. He sticks the glove up and it deflects off his glove. He picks it up and tries to throw it to first (we've had practice drills where OFers practice hitting the cutoff man and how their first play is always toward second). Then he sees the first baseman yelling and pointing to throw it to second, so he promptly fires it over the 2B cutoff man, over the SS, and somewhere between the 3B bag and LF. When he comes to the sideline, his grandfather says to him "I thought you were going to catch that, it was hit right to you." Kid answers "It wasn't hit right to me, it was out here" (and indicates a spot about 6" beyond his glove).

Same kid last night. One of our batters walks. Kid isn't in the on deck circle. Kid isn't on the bench. Kid is was down the line talking to his parents with his sweatshirt on. Everyone yelling to him to bat. "Huh? What?" "You're up, grab your bat, let's go!" He wanders over to his spot on the bench to get his helmet. Strolls up to get his bat. Walks up to the plate. All of him in encapsulated in one 30 second block: Unaware of the situation, unmotivated to hustle, unconcerned about the rest of the team.

Another kid is super-afraid of the ball, whether at bat or in the field. I spent some time with him in the field, telling him how his glove was his shield and he could protect himself by using the glove to protect himself. Great progress is made. He starts calling his glove "his magic shield." Before the game on Monday during BP, I remind him of that. He says "but I don't have my glove when I bat." So I tell him his bat is his lightsaber like Luke Skywalker deflecting those robotic dart/bolts during "New Hope." So he says very uncertainly "May the Force Be With Me." In that game, he makes contact to put the ball in play for the first time in 28 PAs (over two seasons). A grounder to the pitcher. He manages to get to first safely. Much rejoicing all around! I give him the game ball after the game. He's sky-high. Game last night, he's staying in the box, not stepping out on every pitch. Taking (for him) aggressive swings. Strikes out. Walks. Third time up, softest pitcher on the mound. And he's back to stepping out every time.

Third kid was a late addition to the team. Made it to one practice before the first game. Asks me in the middle of this game (the blowout loss), "When am I pitching?" (This less an hour after he says during throwing warmups, playing catch "Im not good at aiming.") Every inning, he comes up to me and asks "Am I up?" (We have a lineup card on the fence showing the batting order.). So we get word from one of the assistant coaches who is friends with his mom about the lineup card and about following the lead of the older players. Still he comes up to me or one of the coaches every time to ask when he is batting, where he is playing. Last night pre-game, he tells us "I can hit with either hand." So I tell him if he wants, he can bat lefty his first time up and then bat righty the next time. He never switches. Lots of talk, no self-awareness.

We have a game again tomorrow, and we've asked these bottom tier 4 to come early for some extra work. But I'm not sure how to get across to them all the rules and nuances of baseball, not to mention the norms of things like look at the lineup card to see when you are batting.
 

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Update: We lost our game last night, 4-2.
  • Their first run scored because our third baseman didn't tag out their kid stealing third even though our catcher gunned him out by about 10'.
  • Their final run scored when our other catcher skipped a throw by the SS (probably a catchable play), but the second baseman hadn't gotten into the right position to back up the throw, and the RCF (we play 4 OF in this league) simply stood watching as the ball scooted past him. By the time the second baseman chased it down, the runner had made it all the way around to score. Backing up second base on steals was something we drilled for two practices in a row.
  • We gave away another out when one of our runners stole second on a passed ball, but then he overran the bag and got tagged out.
I understand that they are 9 and 10, and that some of them haven't played much baseball. But how can I teach them all these things???

I was chatting with the ump in the next half-inning after our kid got tagged out at 2B while I warmed up our pitcher, and we discussed the fact that kids don't watch baseball much any more, so they don't see the games being played. This made me wonder if playing baseball video games would help to team the basic principles of the game.

Otherwise, I am all ears for any advice on dealing with all these things.

PS: the third baseman was one of the middle tier kids (see post above this one), who I thought knew the game better. My sense with him is that he doesn't trust himself at all on the field. He can hit really well in practice, but in the game, he's either frozen at the plate, taking good pitches as called strikes or swinging late, or having decided to swing at anything, will swing at pitches over his head. Similarly, at one point yesterday, he was catching and a ball got away from him. He bounded over to pick it up and looked to third (there was a runner at 2nd). Then he hesitated, hesitated, and finally threw. The runner beat the throw by about half a step. If he had thrown it on first impulse, he gets him.
 

BroodsSexton

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First, accept the team for what and who they are. That doesn’t mean they won’t and can’t improve, but honestly, the fact that you have a recognizable game going at 10U with balls in play and outs being made in the field is a blessing. It sounds like you’re doing that, and connecting with the kids who need more help, which is awesome. Love the Star Wars kid.

I’d do situational drills in practice. Put the kids in different scenarios, ask them where the play is. Teach the kids that part of the game — when in the field — is thinking when the batter comes up about where the ball is going if it comes to them. Tick through the plays in their heads. I’d quiz the runners as to what they’re looking for, and the fielders where they go on a line drive, grounder, pop, etc. Then put the ball in play.

I’d come up with a code word that means “think through where the ball is going, and respond to me when you’ve checked it down.” Train them to respond to that word in practice. Then, in the game, you can use that code word call and response to players: “Johnny—Dinner time?” “Ready to eat, coach!” They only respond after they’ve thought through “grounder, line drive, fly.”

But honestly, it sounds like you’re doing great. They’re 10 years old—expect engagement but also lots of dumb mistakes and even a kid picking dandelions once in a while. It’s not going to look like a game of 16-year-olds much less pros.
 

Saints Rest

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First, accept the team for what and who they are. That doesn’t mean they won’t and can’t improve, but honestly, the fact that you have a recognizable game going at 10U with balls in play and outs being made in the field is a blessing. It sounds like you’re doing that, and connecting with the kids who need more help, which is awesome. Love the Star Wars kid.

I’d do situational drills in practice. Put the kids in different scenarios, ask them where the play is. Teach the kids that part of the game — when in the field — is thinking when the batter comes up about where the ball is going if it comes to them. Tick through the plays in their heads. I’d quiz the runners as to what they’re looking for, and the fielders where they go on a line drive, grounder, pop, etc. Then put the ball in play.

I’d come up with a code word that means “think through where the ball is going, and respond to me when you’ve checked it down.” Train them to respond to that word in practice. Then, in the game, you can use that code word call and response to players: “Johnny—Dinner time?” “Ready to eat, coach!” They only respond after they’ve thought through “grounder, line drive, fly.”

But honestly, it sounds like you’re doing great. They’re 10 years old—expect engagement but also lots of dumb mistakes and even a kid picking dandelions once in a while. It’s not going to look like a game of 16-year-olds much less pros.
We are having a practice tomorrow to do exactly that. It's only 8 of our 11 players, as the 3 who play travel ball are all playing a doubleheader for that team.

Our main concern as coaches, more broadly speaking, is that it’s like we have two teams: one team that needs to learn how to play/understand the game. And the other that needs to be coached at a higher level and the big challenge is working with each without making the other group feel like they are getting short-changed.
 

Cumberland Blues

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I was chatting with the ump in the next half-inning after our kid got tagged out at 2B while I warmed up our pitcher, and we discussed the fact that kids don't watch baseball much any more, so they don't see the games being played. This made me wonder if playing baseball video games would help to team the basic principles of the game.
When I coached young kids - was a level below u-10 that I did this but should be fine there too - I explicitly asked the parents to watch a few innings of a game on TV with their kids just so that they could get a feel for how things are supposed to work. Because every team has 3-4 kids who are baseball junkies and know this stuff, and the rest of 'em have no idea because they've never watched a game. And others here have mentioned this as well...but yeah, my kid knew all the rules mostly because he spent too much time playing backyard baseball on a hand-me-down gameboy when he was little.
 

LoweTek

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I had 10U, mostly as head coach/manager, for quite a few seasons (Spring and Fall full seasons here in Florida). I would always pick a concept for exra work every practice and reinforce in the next pre-game talk: force outs, tagging up, getting out of the way when there's a runner on third and a passed ball or wild pitch, where outfielders should go with the ball, etc. But the one question I asked the group all the time was, "What is the most valuable thing in baseball whether you are hitting or in the field?"

I would pick a kid and have him explain the answer and what he could personally do to preserve their value. By season's end I made it a personal goal and team goal to make sure every kid could answer the question with at least a decent portion of accuracy.

The answer: outs.

Try it. Lots of lessons can emerge from this simple exercise.
 

Saints Rest

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I had 10U, mostly as head coach/manager, for quite a few seasons (Spring and Fall full seasons here in Florida). I would always pick a concept for exra work every practice and reinforce in the next pre-game talk: force outs, tagging up, getting out of the way when there's a runner on third and a passed ball or wild pitch, where outfielders should go with the ball, etc. But the one question I asked the group all the time was, "What is the most valuable thing in baseball whether you are hitting or in the field?"

I would pick a kid and have him explain the answer and what he could personally do to preserve their value. By season's end I made it a personal goal and team goal to make sure every kid could answer the question with at least a decent portion of accuracy.

The answer: outs.

Try it. Lots of lessons can emerge from this simple exercise.
I think I would have gotten it wrong. (Would have said “runs.” Do I need to turn in my SOSH membership?)
 

LoweTek

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I think I would have gotten it wrong. (Would have said “runs.” Do I need to turn in my SOSH membership?)
Just an opinion my friend. Keep up the good work. My counter would be: can't get runs of you can't minimize outs. Can't stop runs if you can't maximize outs. It's mostly for the teaching opportunities the question inevitably presents.
 

ctsoxfan5

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This thread has a lot of great info in it - thank you to all who have participated. I'm coaching a team of 9-11 year olds. As others have said above, it's a wide range of skills (and wide range of interest in baseball).

One issue that I'd love any suggestions on relates more to the mental aspect of the game: there are a couple of kids on the team who make a mistake or two and just spiral downward and can't get past it to move on to the next play. If they make an error in the field, you can see that they're mad at themselves and then it leads to more errors because they're still thinking about the last play. Or if they're pitching and walk a couple of batters, they're mentally done and then start walking every batter. Even though they were pitching fine before that and they are a good pitcher generally.

I know that they're only 9 or 10 and this is a tough thing to do at that age (or any age). I've tried talking to them about forgetting about the last play and focusing on the next one; how they can make up for it next time, etc.

This is not a crazy competitive league. Every team makes the playoffs and the playoffs are a random draw, so our regular season record doesn't matter. So making an error isn't the end of the world (and happens to all of them at some point at this age!). All of our coaches are very supportive and none are out there yelling at the kid who made an error or is struggling on the mound.

It's tough to see a kid falling apart on the mound or in the field when you know they have the physical ability to do it, but they can't get past a minor mistake they made on a prior play.

Maybe this is obvious, but this happens with the kids who love baseball and are very intense about it. With one of the kids less interested in baseball, they almost don't care if they make an error because it doesn't mean as much to them - which is fine. But this is happening to the kids who are more serious about it.

(Note: my own kid is one of these kids, which is why it's so hard me to watch it happen. He's generally one of the better players on the team. But I can see him just shutting down out on the mound or on the field if things start going sideways. And there are 1-2 others like this as well.)

Any thoughts/suggestions are welcome. Thank you!
 

Saints Rest

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We use a variety of techniques to get the kids past the inevitable failures that baseball brings. Some work one-on-one, some work better as a team.
  • "Turn the page." What's done is done. Focus on what's ahead.
  • "Ball it up and throw it away." We mimic balling up a piece of paper and throwing it over our shoulders.
  • "Babe Ruth hit more home runs than anyone for a long time; he also struck out more than anyone."
  • "Baseball is hard. If you can succeed 3 times in 10 tries, you are an all-star. If you can succeed 4 times in 10, you are a Hall of Famer."
 

LoweTek

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When it comes to errors and mistakes even with the younger kids I differentiate between mental and physical errors. We spend a lot of time in practice on what to do with the baseball if it comes to you (mental error). And offensively (not) looking at strike three (mental error most of the time, IMO). I actually ask the kids if they ever heard the expression "pair of shoes," which I love. Of course none of them has ever heard of it. But the message is received clearly when I tell the story. Thanks, Eck!

I strongly emphasize striking out happens to all hitters but I'd rather see them go down swinging. "Anything close with two strikes... can't get a hit if you don't swing." I note a lot of young kids who lack confidence hitting will look for walks. I like walks in general and emphasize OBP but there is a difference when a kid gets a lot of Ks looking and a kid who knows his strike zone.

Within the game, we generally call out to a player who gets upset something like, "We need you to make another play out there... forget the last play. Gotta let it go!"

If they really get upset crying back in the dugout, etc. I take them aside and try to calm them down.

I try to head off a lot of this at the very beginning of the season with a "baseball is hard" speech. One of my favorites is, "It's really hard to be good at baseball. Getting good at baseball will be one of the hardest things you will ever do." This does help.
 

Doug Beerabelli

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Maybe this is a bit off these days, but I’ve seen suggestions to discuss the idea of moving on from an error or a tough outing by flushing the mistake down the toilet, and then using the visual cue of the toilet flushing motion as an affirmation gesture. IOW, say something to the player or get the player’s attention after an error, coach does the flushing gesture, and the player in the field makes the same gesture to confirm the message is received. I think this was a Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) suggestion, and or in the Double Goal Coach book.

I also liked to suggest to kids to “fail aggressively.”
Basically make an error act of commission, not omission. Applies to batting too.
 

ctsoxfan5

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Thanks to all for the replies and suggestions. Some we'd already been trying but it's good to get reinforcement that we're doing the right things. And we're implementing some of the other ideas.
 

PaSox

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I'm finding this thread pretty fascinating to see all the challenges and positives from all the other coaches...I coach a 10-12 Little League team. Won our first game of the year on Thursday. We are now 1-6. Good win since it was against a team from our own league that beat us 17-5 the first time we met. Socio economic dynamic for my team is bad. Have some kids that are stepping in the box with an 0-2 count when it comes to everyday life. If I decided to have a Father's Day Game, I would have four show up out of 12. ...I am taking the philosophy that I have three 12 year olds on the roster. Doing my best to get them prepared to move on to the next level, while at the same time keeping the others who will be returning next year engaged, learning the game and having fun. What I have found that has been working, is that through my job, I bring in "guest speakers" to every Sunday practice. I was able to bring in a junior from a local high school has given a verbal to LSU, he talked to the the team about obstacles you face, hung out at practice and offered tips and pointers during our practice. Brought in a high school coach and two of his players that are going on to the next level to play. They went through an entire practice with us, spoke to the boys about the values of being a good person, good student and that baseball can be a way to help you advance in life....I have been a Little League coach for a while and have certainly had better teams, but by far this is the most enjoyable team I have ever been around.
 

LoweTek

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It works that way some years. You do allude to a very important point though. The coach often does not know the details of a kid's home situation. It's a good idea.to never make any assumptions about the topic. I had one team a few years back. By year's end I learned there were only two kids living in a house with both biological parents still together. You just never know going in the troubles a kid is living through.
 

Saints Rest

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I apologize in advance for this post, as it's pretty much a blatant brag.

Our team finished in first place, going 13-2. After losing our first game 16-0 and two our first four, we won our last 11 in a row, including beating both teams who beat us early in the season twice each.

More importantly, I managed to get most of my team to bat in every spot in the lineup at least once, got 10 of the 11 a chance to pitch (and the 11th would have pitched if our 16th game had been made up after a rainout), and most players played at least 7 of the 10 defensive positions (we played 4 OF in our 10U league).

Every kid "earned" at least one game ball, sometimes for things like "First Time Ever Pitching," or "First Ever Hit."

We did all this as the only team in our town to have only 3 of the town's travel team's players (the other two teams had 4 each).

Most of my favorite moments from the season were defensive plays, many involving the aforementioned bottom tier kids:
  • One time our opponent tried to steal second. Our excellent catcher threw a good, albeit a bit high, throw to our excellent SS. Unfortunately, our SS lost it in the late-day setting sun, and took it off his own cheek. But one of our bottom tier kids, playing 2B, was there to back it up, picked it up and threw it to another bottom tier kid at 3B who made the catch AND the tag to get the runner advancing.
  • Another time, in what turned out to be the last game of the season, against the team who spent the whole season in first place, their guy hit a solid liner up the middle. The kid on our team who started the season most afraid of the baseball, managed to knock it down, pick it up and throw to our SS who turned and gunned out at home the runner who had started at second trying to score.
  • Same game, different hitter hits a liner to center. Our RC player, who is one of the middle tier kids, slid to his right and made the catch cleanly.
  • Earlier in the season, in our first rematch against the team who beat us 16-0 in the first game, they tried a double steal. My son was playing catcher and threw through to second. Fortunately the aforementioned excellent SS stepped in, grabbed the throw and gunned it back to my son, who, never having practiced this play, was ready to receive the throw and tag the kid out at home.
  • And finally, on a personal level as a Dad, I was super-proud of my son, who overcame the severe trauma of catching a liner in the teeth while pitching in the championship game last fall to pitch again this season. When he got hit last October, he was sitting on the sideline, bleeding into a towel, and said "I'm never playing baseball again." After a few days, it became "I'm never pitching again." A few weeks later: "I'll pitch again, but not for at least a year." By the start of the season, he was ""I'll pitch, but only against the weaker teams." After we lost the first game 16-0, he said, "I'm ready to pitch in the next game." Later in the season, he faced that same team who not only had been the opponents in the championship game last fall, but also the team who beat us 16-0 in Game One. And in that game, he struck out the Paul Bunyan-esque legend of a player who hit 3 legit, over the fence, home runs in that first game.
 

tonyandpals

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Sounds like a great year! Congrats! Wish you were my son's coach. Last game of the year, playoff seeds already decided, coach rolls out the same lineup as usual, same rotations as usual, same pitchers as usual. Don't start the season saying everyone will get a chance to play everywhere and pull that shit in a game that means nothing. He had a chance to get some kids more ABs and let them have some fun in other spots and even pitch. But no, had to try to beat that #1 seed for no reason.
 

LoweTek

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Glad you told us about your season and success. I feel like I along with the other experienced coaches helped a little (I hope). Congrats.
 

Saints Rest

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Glad you told us about your season and success. I feel like I along with the other experienced coaches helped a little (I hope). Congrats.
Thanks. Advice from here was definitely put into action: situational baseball practices; our motto ended up being "Effort and Attitude" which not only was our rallying cry before and after games, but were great touchstones when kids hung their heads); home run derby from second base; lots of the drills. The things we didn't do were music (one of the other towns does that) and nicknames.

We ended up clustering the batting lineup for our six games against the top two teams, and then spread them out all over the place for the other 9 games, which made it so much easier to get each kid into each lineup spot. Pretty much the same thing for defensive positions.

Here's how batting order and defensive positions worked out. The B's in the defense woudl have been filled if our final game had been made up after getting rained out.
Screen Shot 2021-06-16 at 3.39.05 PM.pngScreen Shot 2021-06-16 at 3.38.46 PM.png
 

AlNipper49

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What do folks have for the best advice for beginning pitching? My 9 year old will be pitching this year and if anyone has any collective gems to share is really appreciate it. We have him being coached, etc but would love little tips etc!
 

Archer1979

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What do folks have for the best advice for beginning pitching? My 9 year old will be pitching this year and if anyone has any collective gems to share is really appreciate it. We have him being coached, etc but would love little tips etc!
Stick with four seamers and two seamers. There is nothing to be gained and everything to lose by trying to throw curves. Throw hard to build up his arm strength.

And practice. Nothing dooms a kid's chances at pitching than being wild.

Standard stuff as well, cross-body motion with full follow-through. Maintain balance with weight at his butt.

For game time situational stuff... Make sure he thinks about the game situation before he throws his pitch and what to do if the ball gets hit back to him. He needs to know what to do with the ball before the pitch as there isn't a lot of time for him to think after it comes back to him.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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If your kid pitches, there is a good chance they will be overused at some point, even within the context of pitch counts (e.g. kid is eligible, arm is tired, team needs outs). In my experience, it happens even with coaches who generally have the best intentions.

Given that I have known more than a few parents who thought pitch counts were a form of coddling their own kids, I wouldn't presume to tell you how you might respond. I am simply letting you know that you are bound to confront this issue at some point.

The other thing I will say is that while it may be a bit early for changeups, we had three guys who were really effective as soon as we hit the big field. They all pitched through high school and as far as I know, the only one who had arm issues featured a hook. One kid was a diabolical type and feasted on many of the opposing players who were going on growth spurts and destroying straight fastballs.
 

Archer1979

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The other thing I will say is that while it may be a bit early for changeups, we had three guys who were really effective as soon as we hit the big field. They all pitched through high school and as far as I know, the only one who had arm issues featured a hook. One kid was a diabolical type and feasted on many of the opposing players who were going on growth spurts and destroying straight fastballs.
For the younger guys, if they wanted to play around with change-ups, we had them go with the two-seamers to take a little off the pitch. Our league strongly discouraged anything that put any torque on the elbow so curve balls were forbidden. We weren't too concerned with having overly dominant pitchers since we also wanted the fielders to get a shot to develop.
 

Fred not Lynn

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Spend a lot of time with the catcher practicing what you do when the catcher doesn’t catch the ball. Pretty much half the runs scored in 9 yr old baseball come on wild pitches and passed balls, as do two-thirds of the outs.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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For the younger guys, if they wanted to play around with change-ups, we had them go with the two-seamers to take a little off the pitch. Our league strongly discouraged anything that put any torque on the elbow so curve balls were forbidden. We weren't too concerned with having overly dominant pitchers since we also wanted the fielders to get a shot to develop.
Makes perfect sense.

As a side note, I try not to mess too much with kids mechanics beyond the obvious (pulling their head at bat, not finishing on the mound or other clear issues) because, more often than not, they are getting instruction elsewhere. Even if I thought we could do it better, its important to remember that these are just kids and conflicting information can be worse than none at all.
 

AlNipper49

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Apr 3, 2001
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I'm proud of my little guy, 2 innings with 6Ks. Granted, 4 of them were from kids who had swings about 2 feet from the ball, but he was pretty consistently near the plate. We have been practicing a bit and my one takeaway is that he spends more time practicing what to think while doing things, which is weirdly encouraging to me.

Mechanically he was hitting the plate but throwing very slow, which is my next challenge with him. It was raining today but I'm thinking of trying something like having him throw into a garbage can and then angle the garbage can up to show him which one is easier to hit. I think once the lightbulb goes off that throwing a *bit* faster will help him. Basically having him throw approximately the same speed as he does when throwing from SS to 1B.
 

MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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Jun 26, 2006
9,743
I'm proud of my little guy, 2 innings with 6Ks. Granted, 4 of them were from kids who had swings about 2 feet from the ball, but he was pretty consistently near the plate. We have been practicing a bit and my one takeaway is that he spends more time practicing what to think while doing things, which is weirdly encouraging to me.

Mechanically he was hitting the plate but throwing very slow, which is my next challenge with him. It was raining today but I'm thinking of trying something like having him throw into a garbage can and then angle the garbage can up to show him which one is easier to hit. I think once the lightbulb goes off that throwing a *bit* faster will help him. Basically having him throw approximately the same speed as he does when throwing from SS to 1B.
I see this a LOT. Athletic kids who can throw hard, but haven’t pitched often, will start lobbing it in, just to get strikes. But it doesn’t work.

You have to de-emphasize results and emphasize just trying to throw the same pitch the same way, every time. The strikes will come.

The toughest coaching is getting a relatively hard thrower with terrible mechanics who’s sorta figured out how to get by throwing it basically where it should go. Very hard to get them to unlearn what’s “worked” for them.

Once a kid has a fluid, consistent motion, then you can get them to dial it up with effort and strength work. As a coach currently at u14 level, my biggest frustration is watching kids who were successful at Little League level get crushed at big field level because they were allowed to get by with crap mechanics and raw athleticism.
 

Saints Rest

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My college roommate at HC was all-MAAC pitcher his sophomore year (opposite Pete Harnisch). He coached his boys thru all levels of baseball up thru high school. Here is the list of recommendations he gave me when I started coaching:

  • KNEE DRILL: (30 FT). Have player kneel on his right knee and extend his left leg out. Extend his arm back and throw to another player or parent 30 feet away. Have the player throw to different targets. Up, down etc.
  • LONG TOSS: (60 FT). Practice having the player take one small step, aim the left shoulder at the target and then step and throw. Practice throwing long - not hard.
  • STAY CLOSED/ NO STRIDE DRILL: (40 FT). Have the player extend his left leg just slightly shorter than the pitcher's natural stride. Point the toes towards the target. Have the back foot perpendicular as if against the pitching rubber. With hands together, have pitcher lean forward on the front leg and then shift to the back leg and then throw to the catcher. The emphasis is on keeping the front shoulder pointing to the target as long as possible and minimizing movement. Focus on weight shift and high elbow. Have the catcher move the target around. Bring a 2x4 slab of wood, lay it flat and have them perform that drill on the wood
  • LANDING AREA: Always mark a spot for the rubber and make sure you are 42 feet apart for 8year olds and 46 feet for 9 year olds. After throwing a couple of strikes note, on the ground if possible, the landing area of the front foot. Mark this area and try to have the pitcher land in this area consistently. Pitcher should land on the middle/front of their foot, not on their heel.
  • CAP/ANKLE DRILL: place their cap just outside their landing ankle and have them pick it up on the finish. Note that throwing high is most likely a result of poor timing, when your front foot lands early before arm is ready. The ankle/cap drill works because it helps the player get better timing of legs and arm.
  • RHYTHM. Teach player to develop an internal rhythm. As the player bring his left knee up have them say one, as they bring their arm back say out loud two and then as they step forward say strike. 1 - 2 - STRIKE This drill promotes the development of a player's own natural rhythm leading to greater consistency.
  • DON'T RUSH - If body gets ahead of the arm, the right elbow drops, the arm lags behind and the pitcher loses any control. Go back to the rhythm drill when this happens.
  • SIMPLIFY WIND-UP. USE STRETCH IF NECESSARY.
The one thing my neighbor (who was a catcher at IONA with Jason Motte) added was a short-toss warm-up, from about 15', where each kids stands facing the other directly. The tosses are all wrist and forearm, -- the elbow stays relatively stationary. Emphasis on a good 4-seam grip. We woudl always start with this, then go to the first three drills above.