Thanks, Pedro and Mr. Mills, for your responses. Actually, the fact is that Andrew works very hard on his mechanics and his control in his workouts and is very motivated to improve. He and his dad throw at least three times per week, and they do use the blocked practice to get certain pitches and locations down. I don’t think they have been charting his bullpens, and maybe need to do that. My husband estimates he hits spots with his fastball about 70-75% of the time. They also use the blocked practice for his changeup – that has been a major priority for them in the offseason, as he had trouble locating that pitch last summer and lost some confidence in it. It is coming around and at the camp was 15 miles less than his fastball. He has recently seemed to acquire more movement on his fastball and this makes it a little harder to control. It sort of takes off up in the zone. My husband has started wearing a mask to catch him. The one major problem they have had is that they do not have any access to a mound in the off season indoors, so he has been doing most of his work on flat ground. Our basement is finished and would not be high enough for this anyway, and the indoor places he practices do not have anything that can be used for this (YMCA mainly). We know this is not ideal, and would appreciate any ideas anyone might have as to how to find a way to simulate mound work in this situation. Also, these facilities do not like them to use a real baseball, so he has found a very good softer baseball (he still sneaks the real one in for the last 10-15 pitches, so Andrew does not lose the feel). He says the softer ball does not have the good seams of a real baseball, so there isn’t as much movement, but the ball makes a whizzing noise when he is on with the fastball and when Andrew throws the real baseball at the end of his workouts, it really moves. We know it’s not ideal that he is not able to be throwing the real baseball from a mound, but are doing the best we can in the situation, as Andrew wants to throw and this is all we have available. Any ideas would be helpful. I think that not being accustomed to the mound made him a little tentative in throwing off one at the camp, and it also did not help that one of the coaches was talking to him and making suggestions the entire time that he was being evaluated. His dad said that they actually did not mess with his mechanics very much, and their main concern was that they did not think he was bringing his backside through forcefully enough. They did video him, but only from the front. The written evaluation from this camp made special note of his control and the movement on his pitches. He just did not start to “pop” the ball until after they had used the radar gun on him and apparently lost interest because he didn’t register high enough (FYI that was 78-79). Both his dad and I were watching and the explosiveness that he normally shows was just not there until too late. It’s frustrating, because he needs to show that pop right away in these evaluation/tryout situations if he wants to get some notice, and as a high school junior, he needs to start getting noticed if he wants to play college ball, which is his goal. They mainly just gave them 10 minutes or so to warm up with a catcher before taking the mound, and he just was not quite there yet. He does do visualization prior to his games while listening to music that he uses to get his concentration on the game. However, I don’t think he quite knows how much stretching and throwing he should try to do before taking the mound, and he is with the team, not his dad, so he needs to do this on his own. The coaches are not much help and are sometimes a hindrance, as they will be telling him to do something else (like infield or catch for the guy hitting to the outfield) when he probably should be warming up. I think he needs a longer warmup than a lot of pitchers, but the coaches don’t give him enough time and he is somewhat shy and not assertive about asking for it. Can somebody give me a sample of a good routine and then maybe he can experiment with it and try to find out what works for him? Thanks again for the help.
Thank you. I think this will help him out a lot. I think he has exactly the problem you mention, that he is not generally throwing at full intensity until he starts the game, and as a result, doesn’t get a good start. We will try very hard to find a way to get him on a mound. Thankfully, spring will be here soon, and we will be able to get him outside. In the meantime, we will look for an answer for next year, his senior season. We will also talk to him about speaking up for himself to the coach. He is almost 17, so he needs to learn to do this. One final question: his coach has also mentioned using him as a closer this season. He ordinarily plays the middle infield, so he would be coming in from there. Do you have any suggestions for him on being prepared for that type of situation? He actually did that a few times last year and did very well, which is weird, given that he seems to be a slow starter. He likes to pitch in the pressure situation, but I am concerned about injury. He wasn’t ever used on too little rest when he closed, but came in without having warmed up for pitching at all. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
I will have to check with him and his dad to get a little more detail, but what he was doing when his dad coached him was to jog to the poles and back, then some tubing and throwing to loosen the arm before they began to throw from the mound. I do not think they had a set number of pitches there, just until he thought he was ready to throw. There is probably a need for more of a routine, but we just never knew exactly what to do. Back then, though, he did not have the problems he seems to have now. Now that he is in high school, his dad doesn’t help him, and it seems that he just doesn’t get loose enough before going to the mound. He is not very assertive about telling the coaches or his catcher if he needs to throw more, I don’t think. He says he is doing pretty much what he has always done, but his dad doesn’t think he is getting enough pregame pitches. I guess we need a lot of help in knowing how to help him get a good routine. He is 16, and doesn’t want to listen too well, however. I’m sure part of the problem is that he gets pretty excited before he is pitching, and maybe tightens up some because he really wants to do well, but it seems to cause him to get off to a poor start. Once he gets past that, he pitches really well. He actually does a lot better coming in as a closer than as a starter, which may be a little weird. Any help would be appreciated.
Hi, I have a question about how to help my son with going out to the mound ready to pitch. He seems to have a very hard time getting properly warmed up before taking the mound. We have noticed that if a team is going to hit him, they will do so in the first or second inning, and after that, he seems to be settled in and firing the ball. This hurts him in games, of course, although he seldom gets hit hard enough to get taken out, but does put himself in a hole sometimes that he doesn’t get out of unless his team puts up some runs behind him. It also hurts him in situations where he is being evaluated by coaches (tryouts or camps). This past weekend, for example, he attended a pitching camp at a major school. As a junior in high school, this would be a good opportunity to be noticed by college coaches, so he wanted to do well. They worked on mechanics and drills on the first day and then finally got them on the mound and videoed the kids and gunned them on the second day. They had them warm up a little with a catcher and then started them out, three at a time. In the position he was placed, he was the first one they timed and he was just not throwing explosively like he can. By the time he finished throwing, he was firing it, but by that time, no one was really watching him because he did not do much at the beginning. We could use some advice on how to help him to find an optimal warmup routine so that he can walk out to the mound ready to throw his best stuff from the beginning of the game. Any advice would be appreciated.
Hi, I would also be interested in the cheat sheet, if you would not mind sending it to me at [email]firstname.lastname@example.org[/email]. Thanks!
I really get upset watching these games and hearing the announcers talk about the “great curves” these kids have and then seeing the pitch counts and the number of breaking balls thrown. The camera actually showed one pitcher in the dugout between innings the other day getting his arm rubbed down with something (I assume Bengay) so that he could go out and throw some more. These kids are very often over 100 pitches and not on a lot of rest. Also, it amazes me where they find all these kids who are like 5’9 160 lbs at 12. My 12 YO is 4’10 and 90 lbs so I guess he wouldn’t have much chance to play in a good LL game. And these bruisers are throwing from 46 feet and have all kinds of junk already, not to mention they are hitting on a 200′ fence. When we watch these games, I use the opportunity to talk to my son about what these games should teach you NOT to do.
The problem is that the competition to play on the better teams, even at the youth level, is becoming more intense, and these win-at-all-costs coaches don’t have time to wait for a kid to develop naturally. They are not interested in developing the kids, they want to win NOW. If a boy who is not an early bloomer cannot get as strong as the kids who get their growth early, he is probably going to get cut or just not get an opportunity at all. Too many coaches are not coaches, but rather “player collectors”, out to find the biggest boys they can put on the field, rather than looking at their skills. It is very frustrating if your kid isn’t one of those early bloomers. On the bright side, if you can find a place for them to keep honing their skills and playing good competition, you will find that they usually catch up with the “hulk” kids eventually, and often will pass them in the end. The key is hanging in there and finding those opportunities for them. It can be a tough go. My oldest, who was always one of the smallest on every team (and we often had to form our own team just to get him a chance to play) is now entering his junior year at 6’0 175 lbs and throws 80+. He started on his high school varsity as a sophomore. But had we let some of the youth coaches out there determine his worth, he would have given it up years ago.
I can also attest to the fact that early size means very little. My son was also about 5′ tall as a 12YO and 5’5 as a freshman. He grew last summer until he is now scraping 6’0 at the end of his sophomore year and may have a few more inches in him, as his dad is 6’4. He was constantly denied opportunities to play on better teams when he was younger, many of which looked only at his size and did not even bother to give him a chance. We had to go to great lengths to find good competition for him, because we knew he had the skills and the heart to play baseball well. Now he is throwing around 80 and starting on varsity for a fairly good high school program and also hitting the cover off the ball. The moral of the story is to never give up if you really want to play baseball, work very hard at developing skills and mechanics, and become a fundamentally sound ballplayer. Eventually people will notice.
Will this info be available on video at all? We don’t own a DVD player yet and don’t know how soon we’ll be investing in one. Thanks!
There is also the Mickey Owen baseball camp near Springfield, MO, which offers one and two week camps through the first part of August. My son has not attended, but has friends who think they are very good.
Thanks for responding. I plan to speak to Ginny if I get an opportunity to call, to see what kind of ideas she may have for food, since the little guy is getting pretty bored with all the current options. He is now two weeks in and is getting his hopes up that he can get the gear off at 4 weeks, but we’re trying to keep him from being too disappointed if that doesn’t happen. While I won’t be crusading for all the protective stuff, we do plan to get an extension to his batting helmet to cover his jaw when he bats. I am like you in that I think pitchers are much more vulnerable than batters, but of course, they don’t want to wear the gear, and actually, it’s probably the dads that are more macho about doing anything to protect the pitchers more. I am thankful that these types of injuries are rare, but even one bad injury is something we’d all like to prevent. I do make my boys wear the Heartgards, which they don’t mind because it’s under the jersey. I really would like to see someone get serious about the aluminum bats, as they are the biggest danger in my opinion, especially with all the weight lifting these older boys are doing now.
Mr. Mills, Our younger son, age 11, was hit in the face by a pitch last Thursday evening while batting in his regular league game. He spit some blood, his teeth seemed okay, although his cheek swelled some, but he wasn’t in great discomfort, so we didn’t take him to the ER that evening. As a precaution, I ran him by the dentist first thing Friday morning. He decided to Xray and found that the jaw had been fractured. He sent us on to an oral surgeon, who wired him and inserted a plate. His right jaw is broken in four places and his opposite jaw also broke. He’s doing okay, though of course his season is done and no solids for at least a month. I know you and Ginny have been through this. Any ideas for recipes and advice as to what he can and can’t do? Of course, we are listening to everything the doctor is telling us, but so far Aaron isn’t too interested in food (except for planning his first “real” meal when he gets the wires off). Did Ryan have a tough time getting back into the game after having this happen to him? Any advice would be appreciated. Also, we have an older boy (15) who just found out he will be playing 16YO All Stars in Senior Babe Ruth – a shocker since he was playing up. His league was 15-19 YO and he barely got to pitch because the older boys did most of that. He was chosen mostly for his catching and hitting, but may now be expected to pitch with this younger group. He has been throwing, just hasn’t had much game experience this summer. Any advice on getting him ready for this weekend? Thanks for any input.
Just had to brag a little and tell everyone that our son made the freshman team in spite of all. They kept 18 out of 36 who tried out. After those first few days, when he did follow the above advice, my son reports that the coach stopped trying to make changes to his pitching, even though he’s pretty well back to his own style of throwing now. Thanks to all of you for the good advice! Hopefully, he will have a good season.
We’ve run into a situation I’ve read a little about before on this board, and I would appreciate some suggestions about how to help our son to handle it. I know many of you have dealt with similar situations. Our son is trying out for the freshman team, and they finally started to work with the pitchers over the past couple of days. I think it is good that they waited until the kids had thrown for a week to start this, although our son had worked out quite a bit and was ready to throw. He came home last night a little upset. Apparently, the coach likes his speed, but feels the need to “correct” his mechanics. Our son has been taught to take a very small rocker step and to stay as balanced as he can as he goes into his leg lift, etc. The coach told him he needs to take a much bigger step back and lean way back before throwing so he can throw harder. He also wants to change his hand break by bringing his hands much lower. I know these are not huge changes, but I feel strongly that they are not things we really want him to start doing. He is 5’9 155 lbs and is throwing around 73 now, so we think the speed will come as he grows. It has taken a lot of work over the years to get him to this point, and we hate to see someone mess with him, especially since he has a mild learning problem and has to work really hard at everything he learns. Should we just go with the flow and tell him to try to please this guy? The team isn’t chosen yet, so obviously, we don’t want him to make any waves at this point. He told me he asked the coach in a nice way how the hand break change would help him and was basically told that he would do it that way because the coach said so. No explanation at all of any reason this way was better. Any suggestions?
Kent, Congratulations for having the guts to stand up and tell these parents the truth, even if they did not want to accept it. My husband has also had a few parents get upset with him when he has refused to pitch boys who he knows have already exceeded their pitch count by pitching with other teams. I think these parents get really caught up in thinking their boy is the “star” that none of his teams can do without, and of course, there are coaches out there that are happy to tell them just that, while being only too happy to take chances with the kid’s arm. We lost a boy this year for just that reason. He played for us in a fall league, and my husband refused to pitch him as often as his parents wanted him to pitch. He played for another coach in one tournament last summer, and the coach pitched him the max number of innings allowed, which amounted to about 15 innings between Friday night and Sunday afternoon. Dave even approached his dad and warned him that his son was being overused. The dad said that his son didn’t throw that many pitches per inning (he said 10, which is very unrealistic for a 10YO, but if you are not really counting ….). Even if he did throw 10 per inning, that was 150 over three days, which was way too many, and it was probably much closer to 200 or even more. Of course, he chose to play with that coach this summer, and it’s pretty sad, but they’ve got to choose what is best for him. Hang in there, Kent, hopefully they will see the light before it is too late.