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My son is 9 years old. He pitched a little in fall ball, and he'll be pitching a lot this spring season. I was never a pitcher, so I don't know that much about it. I've tried to study up on it as much as possible.

One of the things that has helped him out was to draw a line in the dirt to make sure that his left foot (he's a right hander) is landing in a straight line to the plate. As much as we work on this, he always lands about 4"- 5" to the left of the line. He throws more strikes than the other pitchers on his team, but still.... Is that something to work on, or just leave alone, since it's not real far off the line.

One more question: I have never been able to get him to keep his hand behind the ball to get the backspin. His throws always have kind of a.... 2 o' clock to 7 o' clock spin. He throws hard, and his elbow is shoulder level, but his arm is kind of 3/4.

With a young kid, I feel like I should choose my battles. I can't try too much all at once and I don't want to take the fun out it.

Thanks in advance.
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Hey Dano. First of all, welcome to HSBBW. My opinion is that you should definetely work on the foot landing. Many problems can wind up occuring with an open landing. One of the things I used to do with my son is go play catch on a field with a line. Didn't have to be a baseball field, a football or s****r field. After every throw, I would have him look down to see where he stepped. Get it ingrained in his muscle memory to step towards his target. Drawing a line on the pitching on the pitching mound is a good idea as well. I used this even with my 14 yr old travel pitchers.

My son also throws from a low 3/4 slot and has been successful with it. The thing you want to make sure he is not doing is coming around with his hand under the ball. In other words, if his forearm were at a 90degree angle to his upper arm, you would want a 12-6 spin on the ball. If his forearm were straight out with his elbow, you would want a 3-9 spin on the ball. Figure the angles in between. It's ok to have side spin on the ball. As he throws harder, this will give his ball movement.

Hope all this makes sense. Good luck with the pitching. It's been (and still is) a lot of fun watching my son pitch.
danocaster, Welcome to HSBBW. This is a great site with a lot of good information and helpful members. Here are some helpful tips, as a father of a pitcher who has gone through the process from T-ball to college:

*He's 9 years old. At this age, the most important thing is to have fun, and don't take it too seriously. Let him learn a love for the game naturally.

*I know this sounds crazy, but don't worry too much about mechanics at this point. The reason being is proper mechanics is highly technical--too technical for a 9 y.o. IMHO. If you focus on mechanics he'll probably just learn it wrong and it will be a mess later. If you must, keep it simple. Focus on two things and two things only: 1) When his plant foot lands, can you draw a straight line from his glove hand to his body to the ball (when you are standing behind him)? This is called "staying closed". 2) Keeping the head still and throwing the ball to the mitt. "Smell the mitt".

*Forget about throwing hard. At 9 y.o., this is impossible and probably counter-productive. At about age 12-13 you can start learning ways to increase velocity by regular long-tossing. But not until then.

*Don't let him "pitch" too much at the younger ages. Pitching regularly begins about age 13. If you let him pitch too much at the younger ages the pitching motion and mechanics become engrained and harder to fix when it's important (age 13+).

*Don't mess with his natural arm slot. 3/4 is good, and IMHO the best for combining velocity and movement.

Finally, the landing foot toe actually should point slightly inward. But just slightly. One last point: A kid with a 3/4 arm slot has a tendency to fall just a bit to the left (if RHP) or right (if LHP). This is normal so no worries.

Good luck!
Thanks for the advice. I think we're on target with some things, and maybe not so much with others.

- I put a rubber mat where his foot was landing, and told him to land to the right of it- which puts his foot adjacent to the straight line.

- I have played long toss with him for at least 2 years or so. He's always had the cannon on his team, even before his growth spurts when he was one of the smallest guys.

- He doesn't really throw that hard when he pitches though, and I haven't said anything about it. I was just working on him throwing strikes at this point.

- As far as he lack of backspin, I'm not sure if it's because of the arm slot, or that maybe his hand is not directly behind the ball. It's definitely not under the ball, just not directly behind it, if that makes sense.

- He's also playing catcher now. I know the league has limits on pitch counts and then playing catcher. How much is too much?

- When we practice pitching, we play a game where we either: call strikes/ balls, and see how many walks/strike outs in 2 or 3 innings, or he throw until he throws 25 strikes, and we count how many balls, wild pitches etc. Once we're done with the little game, we stop.

- I thought he was getting burnt out in the off season, so I left him alone and quit asking him if he wanted to practice. Where we live, he doesn't have any other kids close by to play ball with, and I think he gets tired of playing with he old man. Once the season started, he's gotten fired up again.

My goal is to teach him, and to help him be the best that he wants to be. I always tell him that he isn't playing for me, he has to want to do it. But when he signs up, he has put his work in. I hope that, through sports he learns a life lesson that he can accomplish whatever he wants IF he puts his time in.

Thanks for the welcome and for the advice. I am helping coaching his team, so I'm sure I'll be "coming to the well" often. Take care, Dan
I concur with BUM. Let him have fun and learn how to throw strikes. Don’t pitch too much at this age. The only other thing I would add for this age is to learn “balance”. Learn to balance on one leg on the mound, learn to take a small step back at 45 deg to get started in a balanced way - staying over his center, have a balanced follow through. Many pitching related problems develop from the simple problem - a lack of balance. Beyond this it is too much and too soon.

He pitched 2 2/3 last week. I was too busy to write anything down, but he only gave up 2 runs, and I think he struck out 5 or 6 and walked 2. Got a pop up back to him. He had a few good defensive plays behind him too.

2 days ago, he kept asking me if he could throw from the wind up, so I told him to go ahead. He's still throwing a lot of strikes and I noticed that he throws harder from the wind up. He pitches tomorrow and I told him to go ahead with it unless he can't throw strikes. Go back to the stretch if he starts getting in trouble.

He's been working on stepping straight and has made improvements on that...

I'm proud of him. He puts his work in and it shows. I don't mean to sound like I'm bragging like he's the next Nolan Ryan..... I'm just happy that he's learning the life lesson that hard work will pay off, and he's having some success and fun with it.

He's having a bit of a struggle with hitting lately... I'm scratching my head on that one....

Thanks for all the help and advice.
Congrats Dano. Nothing wrong with bragging. We all do it. It's nice to do it on this forum so you don't alienate your friends sometimes. Keep up the good work. I see my son now as a freshman pitching varsity and think back to those younger days and my mind can't fathom it sometimes. We still have some pictures up of him pitching when he was 9 or 10 years old.

Anyway, congratulations. Enjoy the time. Baseball is a bond between father and son that, to me is pretty cool.
Let him have fun and let him guide it. My 13 year old pitched one inning when he was 9. He hit the first two batters in the head and didn't want to pitch again the rest of the year and we let it go.

At 10, he started working on it. He worked on it but didn't want to pitch in games. Again I didn't push him and then toward the end of the season we played a tournament and we were in need of a pitcher. He said he would do it. He struck out the side and pitched 2 more innings with no runs. He became confident and excited about it.

At 11 he pitched more, started enjoying it but still prefered other positions.

Last year he became our #2 pitcher on Sundays for his 12u team. He came up to me this off season and said that he wants to be a pitcher. I said he has been doing a good job, he said no dad. I want to be a pitcher and would like to commit to lessons.

He has been doing lessons for 4 weeks now and loves it. The moral of the story, let your son dictate what he wants to do.

You're 100% correct. I've always told my son that this is his decision, but I have to admit that I have had to make him go out and practice a couple of times. I told him that his head coach (who he played for on 2 other teams) and the team itself, is counting on him to do what he knows he's capable of, and that if he wants to coast, he can play YMCA ball or he doesn't even have to play if he doesn't want to. I told him he has to do it for himself, not for me, I'll love him just the same no matter what. But, if he wants to sign up, the he needs to follow through and work on his skills in between team practices.

Maybe that sounds harsh, I certainly don't want to burn him out, or be "that Dad" (we all know what I mean) I don't feel like I am though, because he asks to sign up for every baseball camp, go try out for tournament teams, etc. He always gets pumped up after he does well in a game, and then wants to practice even more. He also gets excited when other kids come over for some ball.. I think sometimes he gets tired of playing with the old man:-)

So yeah, you're right and I need to keep that in check. Thanks for that, Really.

He is good at it though. He pitched great tonight again. I'm proud and I told him so.

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