Requesting Advice: My son is super competitive and wants to be the best always, but is having trouble finding the strike zone on a consistent basis. He's been taking pitching lesson for about a year now and has improved his velo by 12 MPH in the last year, but is having trouble being as consistent as his peers( which frustrates him immensely). He's been growing like crazy , as he is 2.5 inches taller than 12 months ago. He is 13.5 years old and is 6 Feet and 1/8 inches tall-160 Lbs. We're trying to figure out if we should keep on with the pitching lessons or focus on  the 1stBase/Hitter scenario. I want to keep baseball fun for him as well as helping him be the best that he can be. He'll be going into 8th grade next year , then wants to play on the HighSchool team. 

Any thoughts/advice?

Original Post

Could be a lot going on there. Is he just missing, or is he pretty wild? This could be a small adjustment or a mechanical flaw that results in a motion that is difficult to repeat? 

A little different scenario, but it may work for you. My son had the C yips pretty bad and couldn't throw the ball back to the pitcher. We started playing light catch and slowly advancing to full speed throws with the lightest Driveline baseball. It is a 3oz ball and forces the player to make adjustments just to get the ball to the target. Then muscle memory kicks in and the mechanics become repeatable.

Whatever the issue is, I'd recommend a different pitching coach. If he hasn't been able to diagnose or get your son where he wants to be in year, I don't see him getting him there at all. After a year they should be focusing on small tweaks to get him better and developing/enhancing other pitches. 

I'll go a different route.  I'd say to not overdo it and preach patience.  Baseball is a marathon and not a sprint.  If your kid grew a ton in a year, he needs time to "grow into his body".  Many kids I know who were very good HS pitchers had control issues immediately after they grew a lot.  A year later, they seemed to be fine.  Everything you work into your kid becomes "out of date" when he grows a bit more.  Also, if he is growing a ton, overuse could become a bigger threat due to potential growth plate strains.  As I said, I'd preach patience, which is easier said than done.

Lack of command is almost always the result of poor throwing mechanics. And it’s usually more than just one thing. It usually begins with one specific bad move that creates a chain of other bad moves. None of the bad moves ever repeat themselves the same way in sequence so the throwing motion isn’t repeatable. I agree that it’s probably time to find a new pitching coach. Unfortunately there aren’t very many that are competent in teaching the complete throwing motion. I like to compare the complete throwing motion to a pie that has been cut into 8 pieces. It’s not hard to find a pitching coach that can teach about one or two pieces of the pie. But it’s very hard to find someone that can teach about the whole pie. Corpus is a baseball hotbed so maybe there is someone good down there. I know one of the Asst Coaches at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and I will ask him if he has a name that I can pass on to you. If he does I will send it to you in a PM. Good luck! 

New pitching coach for sure!  Scares me he has that much increased Velo without control- hopefully the bad mechanics aren’t putting his arm/shoulder in danger.  
Also, please don’t pigeonhole your player into first base so young. It’s very limiting and, as our TB coach says “colleges don’t recruit first basemen, they recruit hitters and have them stand at first base”. 

In the major growing years coordination and mechanics can be greatly affected. He’ll grow out of it. 

My son grew from 5’4” to 5’11” from 8th to 9th grade. My daughter grew from 5’2” to 5’10” in the same time period. Sending them to track camp in the summer ironed out their coordination issues. It was mild for my son. But track camp helped his speed. It stopped my daughter from being a spaz.

As someone else mentioned don’t get pigeon holed into first base. Ultimately, it’s where the kid who can’t play another position gets placed. If your son develops into a college prospect being a first baseman creates a narrow recruiting avenue.

Every kid should learn how to play outfield. When he gets to high school if he can hit varsity pitching the first available positions for young players are often left and right.

Thanks folks for all the good advice. The only reason I mentioned First Base was because that's my son's first love ( and at over 6 feet , that boy Can Stretch). I ,myself, loved the outfield, and since my boy is fast and has a strong arm , i can see him playing Right or Center field. We have gotten on with a new coach, who seems to be very good. I'll pass along the "be patient" advice to my son, but that's not his typical approach ( probably gets that from his DAD). We just put up a 70 foot Batting Cage ( something to do during the quarantine) so we can continue to progress his hitting. I guess we'll continue to work on the pitching also. He did have some very bad arm mechanics( dropping his elbow), but we finally got over that and his accuracy has improved. He never states that his arm or shoulder hurts(and I ask him after every practice). We will keep the pitching reps under control until he slows down his growth, and ice him down after practice. He never pitches more than 2 and 1/2 innings in a game. Maybe in the mean time , I can get him to enjoy playing outfield! 

Thanks again for all the help!

I agree with making sure his mechanics are correct first. Beyond mechanics, pitching control is a “feel” and is about feeling the release point, It can be improved slightly but not necessarily taught. I personally have not seen anyone with bad control issues past about 15 or 16 find really good control later even though I am sure there are examples. He is still growing so don’t let him  stress over it yet.   Pitching is also VERY mental.  Relax and continue to work, but everyone has different skills sets, don’t get caught up in the fact that his friends may have a little more control at the moment. 

My son was/is fortunate to have always had good control, but never got the extra 12mph or the ideal height. Currently pitching in college and probably had 2 or 3 pitching lessons his whole life.  We simply played toss in the yard and I always told him throw to a spot even when just messing around.  You/he will remember  those times in the yard, much more than  the hours spent in pitching lessons. Good luck and keep it fun!

Wareagle:Wow, only 2-3 pitching lessons and now pitching in College( that sure would have saved me alot of money! LOL). Thanks for the advice! We are having a good time(mostly). I'm glad my son has that competitive spirit but hope he allows himself to just enjoy the journey sometimes. He is still 13 and has alot to learn about baseball (and life) but i guess we all do ( at least I do, that's for sure). 

Consultant: I'll check on his dominate eye. He pitches right and bats right, etc. DO you think that might be an issue, and if so, what might be the corrections?

I have to say, i love the height measurement down to the 1/8" resolution.  

Have him slow down and focus on balance and stretching those fingers out and following through. He has lots of time to get better or more accurate. Play him wherever and let the fun happen. There will come a time when his position finds him.

Adams;

if the right eye is dominant your son may desire to practice hitting left handed. When has he had a eye exam? It may also effect his pitching. Does he focus on the catcher mitt "web".

Bob

Last edited by Consultant

Consultant: I just tested him and he is left eye dominant, but pitches right and bats right. He says he focuses on the catcher's mitt. He is up to date on eye exam. 

TeribleBP: Usually , with his fastball, he mostly misses down and away. If he tries a new grip or a new pitch, it can be all over the place. He seems to be getting better than he was 6 months ago when he was missing high and away-alot( when he was dipping his elbow).  At 13 what ratio of strikes to balls, is typical. 

I think one issue is he LOVES to throw as hard as he can. i'm trying to get him to slow down just a little.  

SHoveit4K: Thx for the advice-i do believe your are 100% correct about slowing down a bit and enjoying the game. 

And , by the way, he wants me to measure his height every month-he is on a quest to be taller than his favorite uncle. Pretty funny!

TeribleBP: Usually , with his fastball, he mostly misses down and away. If he tries a new grip or a new pitch, it can be all over the place. He seems to be getting better than he was 6 months ago when he was missing high and away-alot( when he was dipping his elbow).  At 13 what ratio of strikes to balls, is typical. 

I think one issue is he LOVES to throw as hard as he can. i'm trying to get him to slow down just a little.  

It’s tough to say what a good ratio is at that age. I would set small goals for him and not focus on what other kids can do. 

One drill my son does when he is pulling low and away is a rocker drill. I’ll usually set up between 45-50’. After 10-15 he is usually able to correct himself and dial in. Then he’ll throw a few off the mound. If that’s good I’ll move back to 60

It’s tough to say what a good ratio is at that age. I would set small goals for him and not focus on what other kids can do. 

One drill my son does when he is pulling low and away is a rocker drill. I’ll usually set up between 45-50’. After 10-15 he is usually able to correct himself and dial in. Then he’ll throw a few off the mound. If that’s good I’ll move back to 60

Rocker drill is always good. Should be part of every warmup routine. Missing down and away is usually the result of not staying closed going down the mound. It is usually a chain reaction that starts with the toe of the stride foot swinging open and pointing directly at the catcher. When this happens the front hip opens too soon followed by the front shoulder. At this point the stride foot, lead hip, and lead shoulder are all rotating on an east-west axis toward the 1st base dugout. The throwing arm is forced to sling across the body throng to catch up with the front side and the result is often that the pitch is pulled down and away. None of that is what you want but almost every pitcher struggles with it. The solution is to focus on staying closed going down the mound. Start with trying to land the stride toe slightly closed (at about 2 o’clock). 

Adbono 

i like my over simplified release point explanation better. Lol.  I am a self proclaimed dummy when it comes to specific knowledge. I never played myself, and my only experience is with my sons. I had a hard time reading your explanation, much less trying to perform it.  I guess I was just lucky, that it came naturally for both my sons. One worked really hard and it’s paying off for him. The other enjoys it more for the social aspects and probably underperforms based on his talent but has a really good time. There really is a lot of mechanics that go into it, but I still believe it is mostly natural as far as overall control. The work comes in for mine, when you start trying to change/develop different grips and movements. If you can’t control a straight fastball you will not last long on the mound. 

Unless your velo is fast enough, then most coaches will continue to give you chances even if your all over the place. 

Great tips!!! thanks to all. I never pitched ( played alot of outfield), so i have trouble giving my son advice on mechanics. I will use these tips on his next Bullpen session. I had forgotten about the Rocker Drill and will definitely start using it again.  He threw a Bullpen yesterday and really had some good stuff, which made him feel better. He had a friend come over , who he is very comfortable with and wasn't trying to impress by  over powering his pitches ( for the most part). 

Thanks again to ALL !!!!!

His new coach told him to throw at 50% untill he stops trying to "Over Throw/over power" his pitches and gets his mechanics consistent. Something , I 've been telling him for a while now.  Why do kids listen to others more than their own family? -i'm sure i was never like that-LOL ! 

Imo before you develope command you need general control. What I what do would be telling him I don't care if it is a strike or ball but that he shouldn't miss the zone by more than a foot.  Once he can put the ball consistently within a foot of the zone and rarely has that big miss by two plus ft or even to the backstop he can refine it from there.

Just an up-date, 

My son is doing much better. I think its a combination of 1. Not trying to over-power his throws and 2. Working on foot placement( we painted some white stripes down the center our our home made Pitcher's Mound). Almost completely stopped the very wild pitches and his strike -to- ball ratio has really improved( now its about 2-3 strikes per ball and the balls were pretty close). Rocker drill has helped too.

Thanks to all who gave advice-it helped !

Glad to hear it. May be a good idea to get some video of things going well. This way when he’s struggling you can compare and see what he’s doing different. 

Growth spurts are really tough on teenage pitchers trying to maintain or develop control. Usually the repetition of throwing pitch after pitch improves control, teaching your brain and neural system the speed and timing necessary. But growth spurts disrupt this cycle especially where boys lack functional strength. 

Of course control issues can be linked to mechanical problems, but mechanics can change as the body grows. So this to me is more appropriate for those late HS and college guys who are done growing and still fighting control issues. Those 8th/9th grade years in particular seem to have some significant growth spurts. Developing core/functional strength is key for kids in those high growth spurt age ranges. 

Be patient, keep throwing, stay mentally strong and ignore the haters. My LHP grew to be over 6'3" (incl 9" over a 2-yr stretch) and struggled bad with control at times. Imagine if he quit because he couldn't throw strikes when he was 5'9", getting harsh criticism from coaches, teammates (and himself!) and just starting to grow. He's now signed to D1. His HS teammate is now about 6'5" and did give up pitching in 9th grade because he lacked control. Picked it back up in 11th grade in the upper 80s, worked hard in the weight room, and currently he is throwing mid 90s and fielding calls from MLB teams daily, likely drafted in a couple weeks. 

For immediate results, slowing down will help. But I think long-term this is poor advice. Velo is king to progress to the next level. Of course control needs to be there if your son wants innings NOW, but accept that growth spurts will put more demands on re-teaching your brain and nervous system, and that just takes time (and lots of practice, done safely).

Thanks BPThrower and RightStuff ! I just let my son read your post ( RightStuff) about  control issues and growing fast( Wow, 9 inches in 2 years-Holy Cow!!!). He immediately said "see Velo is King"!-LOL. I said we'd continue to work on both ( he loves to throw hard). Anyway, it was a very inspirational thread-so thanks again. 

I do plan on taking some video , even though he says it "messes him up" , but i told him that he needs to "get over it" as he'll have people taking videos of him as showcases, tournaments, etc. and he's got to learn to "shut it out". 

Thanks again to both of you and the other folks who sent very good advice. Its helping to keep the journey fun! 

 

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