I am interested in thoughts on curveballs being thrown in the 11-12 year old little league division. My son doesn’t throw them but most of his peer group does. It puts him at a slight disadvantage when the hitters know that its either a fastball or change and no breaking pitch, vs. with the other pitchers you have possible breaking pitches. But I don’t want to ruin his arm because he’s a lefty, throws hard and is already on the radar of our local high school varsity coach (who has told me to stay away from the curveball). I understand there is a study out there that says curveballs are not damaging to arms, I haven’t read the study, but I don’t think I agree with that premise. So I am interested in some thoughts. Thank you for your consideration of my topic.
James, does he move the ball around the zone and locate well? Does he change eye level of his pitches? I wouldn’t move to the curve ball until 14. Does his change up tail away from the hitter?
Hi Randy, thank you, I feel as you do about curves at 14. He does move his fastball around, in/out and down/up, and when he is on he has excellent control.?? He’s been very effective using his fastball.?? His changeup is still a work in process.?? It slows downs very nicely (about 10-12 mph) using the same mechanics/arm action as his fastball, but comes in without a lot of movement which I am trying to work on.
I know what you mean by the pressure of using a breaking pitch at this age. Have you tried a 2 seam fast ball? Good movement from the pitch if kept down in the zone and acts as an off-speed pitch as well. I taught my son at age 11 to throw a knuckle curve which later evolved to a slider (he’s almost 15 now). He now throws the 4 seam FB, slider and straight change. I tried to teach him the change up at 11 but he resisted because his hands didn’t fit the grip very well. Is his change up effective on off-speed counts? Does he “telegraph” his change up to the hitter? That is, does he move slower and give it away?
Here is the study regarding the curveball. http://ajs.sagepub.com/content/36/4/686.abstract
I do not see why any pitcher needs a curveball until well into high school even though we demonstrate how to throw it properly on our Youth Pitching DVD’s…because we know youth pitchers will try throwing it anyway. ??
I have worked with several very successful high school pitchers who used mainly fastball command and a change-up to be successful and could easily get by with throwing less than 10 breaking balls a game.
The curveball thrown properly is not more stressful than a fastball.
Gentlemen, thank you.?? Randy, he does throw a 2 seam.?? I think his main issue with the change is the same as your son, his fingers may not be long enough to throw it.
A sinker can be used in place of a change up if a players fingers are to small
Hi Guys, as an update, he used his change up yesterday against 2 boys with 2 of the highest batting averages in the league (one is No 2 in homeruns and hit a homerun against our other pitcher in that same game) and my son struck them both out using the change up.?? I am going to continue working on the change up in bullpen sessions.?? And I am not going to throw curves until he’s older.
You do not need big hands to throw a change-up.?? It is all about the grip, (light) and how it comes off the hand.??
Don’t snap the wrist.?? It is more of a stiff wrist like you are “high fiving” someone at ball release.
It is all about throwing a ton of them as much as possible and in practice bullpens.
My favorite pitch.
We’ve started throwing a lot more in bullpens.?? Coach Mills, we are now doing sets of 3 pitches: 4 seem FB, 2 seem FB, and change, the fastballs trying to hit in and out up and down, keeping the change low.
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