Coach Pitch: Pitchers....
Techniques: What do you use? How far from the plate? On a knee or standing? Full throwing motion or throwing darts? Ive seen a lot of different methods and used a few with different age groups. All I know is that it is easier to throw hard strikes from 60'6" than it is to throw strikes to a kid standing 4' tall from 30'....
You need to create a ball path angle that is appropriate for their height.
I can't stand seeing games with 5-6 year olds with a dad pitching standing up. Thats like a Barry Zito curveball (well..old Barry Zito).
If the kid is 4 feet tall, the path should be somewhat equal to it. If I'm throwing BP to a kid that is under 10 years old I always either throw from a chair or from a knee.
Also try to create a true pitch angle. Straight. No lob or slow pitch softball type angles. That doesn't help.
Last edited by CoachL4; 05-13-2009 at 02:11 PM.
Whatever works. One of the most embarrasing days of my life was when my assistant coach who I relied on to coach pitch couldn't make a game. I'm like you. I can throw BP all day at 60' or even 46' (prefer 60') to kids who can handle my 75%er. Put a 7 or 8 y/o in there that's not my kid and I struggle mightily.
Originally Posted by hitnpeas
A few years back our league started our CP division in district tournaments. From then on, they adopted tournament CP rules, which disallowed pitching from a knee.
I'd agree that it's better, but I don't think it's the most important thing to give CP hitters success.
The biggest problem CP hitters have is from coaches who are afraid to throw straight. They try to lob the ball over the plate, which causes it to dive through the strike zone (if it crosses the plate at all). This is an hard pitch for an accomplished hitter to hit.
The result is that they naturally try to swing up at the ball, matching their swing plane to the plane of the ball. Usually dad, or another coach will tell them to "swing down," setting the stage for certain frustration.
My advice is to practice throwing until you find a speed that is smooth enough to carry the ball fairly straight. It takes some practice to get it right. You're actually better off if you can get further back, but this makes it harder to throw a pitch that doesn't look too hard or succumbs too much to gravity.
I say "look too hard" because that's the real crux of the issue. You could just throw a decent pitch at about 40mph and the kids would speed up their bats to hit it. But their parents would glare at you every time a kid struck out. You have to look for all the world like you're trying to float that ball over or else.
I've also found that showing them the ball tends to help them hit it, so I suggest that you windmill the ball around in a steady motion, getting your hand up high and releasing out in front. I've practiced it enough so that pitching with this motion generates a pretty stable and reproducible speed.
Even with older kids, lofting my hand high in the throwing motion tends to make it easier to get back to contact in BP.
The only other piece of advice I will give is don't try to adjust your throw to a kid's swing. If the player swings low, or stands on the plate and casts way outside, don't try to aim for where you think his bat is going. Just move him back into his stance at the plate and try to throw big fat strikes.
And have fun!
If I have a catcher for a target I can throw a pretty good angle to 8-11 year olds from 40-45 ft. Without a catcher I am hopeless.
Thanks for the input.... I've pitched in our CP league before, but recently turned it over to another Dad that does a great job. He isn't going to be there tonight, so I've got pitching duty. Pretty much my technique is to hold the ball straight out in front of me with my throwing side foot on the rubber. I take on step and attempt to push/throw the flatest pitch I can. I may try to get the arm up a little instead of pushing from my shoulder area, but I found that due to their height, starting a little lower helps me keep the ball down without having to throw it too hard. I think we throw harder than any team in our league, and our kids hit the ball well. 4-0 so far. Hopefully I can chuck a few strikes and give the kids a chance tonight. Wish me luck....
Further back is better.
On knee, if you can throw consistently and get out of the way.
I'm managing my son's coach pitch team this year. We only have one game left. Of the four teams I'm the only one that throws underhand. I throw pretty relatively fast with very little arc. I find it comes in at a better angle. I feel bad for some of the kids trying to hit a ball thrown from a grown man 40' away standing up. The ball's coming down at such a sharp angle that they end up dropping their hands and swinging up at the ball. It may not look as "manly" to throw underhand as a coach, but the last two games we used a pitching machine to get them ready for next year, and my kids seemed to adjust much better than the other teams' hitters. I think this is due to being used to the velocity and trajectory of my pitching. If you don't want to pitch underhand I'd recommend pitching from one knee. The only problem is trying to get out of the way on hits up the middle.
Yep, that be me. Although I do have better luck when I am working the kids on hitting the outside pitch and going with it.
Originally Posted by baseballdad
I'm in my second year coaching my son's coach pitch team. I've pitched both years.
I get about 2/3 between home and the mound and take a long step to get me low and toss it from out in front of me. The ball comes in a decent angle (not exactly straight but that's almost impossible throwing as slow as you have to in order to not strike out half of you own team) that doesn't have too much of an arc on it. The best thing...I can pretty much toss it to any spot I want. It's almost like I'm throwing darts...only trying to get lower with it and tossing it from chest level.
In almost two full seasons, I've probably only been responsible for a kid striking out (a bad pitch with two strikes) maybe 4 times. If you can throw constanst strikes (cause 6-7-8 year olds are swinging at just about everything) then, you'll have success. If you can't find the strike zone with extreme regularity...then, your kids are gonna struggle.
With this system, weak hitters have a better chance at making good contact, and strong hitters hit lots of line-drives and very few fly balls (which some coaches like cause the outfileders won't catch 'em, but I'm too much of a coach to hope kids hit the ball high.)
Remember...even when they move up to kid-pitch at 9 years old, the ball's not going to come in exactly straight with most if not all pitchers.
This is similar to my style. Almost like dart throwing.
Originally Posted by hitnpeas
Our league mandates you have to throw from 43' and have to throw overhand. I'm 6'3" and unfortunately I can't find a shorter parent or coach that can throw one over the plate so I have to pitch. I throw the ball like a dart because its the only way I can get a lower release point with out throwing side arm (which I have tried). I throw just hard enough to keep the trajectory relatively flat. Which is a pretty good pace from 43'.
I ran into one of my last year players that moved up to kid pitch the other day and asked him how it was going. He said pretty good so far. He hadn't faced a pitcher yet that threw as hard as I did. He also said he didn't worry about getting hit as much now. I beamed about 3 kids a game.
that's quite a dart throw
43' is a long way away to do coach pitch...why don't they just back you up 3 feet and hand the ball to the kid behind you.
Originally Posted by coach scotty
I'd say I'm about 37', and I'm 6'4" so I know what your saying about height.
The thing that messes me up the most is when they put down dirt or "kitty litter" in the area that we throw and I'll slip when I plant my leg down when throwing. Irritating.
I think the key is to hold a four seamer and really make sure to get the ball rotating with the wrist flick.
I'm 6'3, and usually throw with a pretty high arm slot. I'm still having problems throwing to 9-10 year olds - let alone anyone younger.
I do the "throwing darts" motion for the most part to throw to them, even though it feels like I got my elbow caught in a bear trap when I am done.
I don't think that's a good idea. Not only is it dangerous for you if you're getting elbow pain, but the CP pitchers I've seen use that motion are less successful at getting hits from their kids than the ones who throw with a normal over-the-top delivery. It's just not as easy to read.
Originally Posted by ralanprod
The issue is in allowing them to see the ball, and I think it's easier for them to interpret its flight path if they see a longer motion. Throwing the ball like a dart does not help them develop the ability to read the ball out of the pitchers hand, which is really the primary goal of CP. When they move up to kid pitch, chances are they will not be facing pitchers who throw like that.
What I've done in the past is to hook up with a solid lefty coach who can throw at pretty much the same velocity that I do, and then I split the game with him so that the players get used to following the ball from both sides.
LOL. This brings back nice memories. I did just fine untill I tried to aim. Then watch out. I hit 5 kids one game and was humiliated. Next practice I called every parent out and found a dad who never played baseball but could lay em in there. We didn't loose the rest of the year! I have seen other coach's struggle in the past, but the "I am the coach so I am gonna pitch" made their teams struggle. I sucked at close range, and had no problem moving to a base coach. This dad and his son still play with us, and yes he still throws bp this guy is like a machine!
Originally Posted by coach scotty
I throw form a partial wind up standing, hold the ball up & then go from about 3/4 arm slot where for some reason i can drop a high percentage of strikes across the plate from about 38-40 ft. We have a cage in our backyard so i get plenty of practice throwing. This is for 9 year old kids & I try to throw with no arc & fast enough to challenge them.
Update: Last night went really well.... I stuck with the technique I had used in the past, and was able to groove pitches to the kids. Only hit one boy (my son) so I didn't have any parents giving me the stink eye. Our team hit the heck out of the ball including 3 HR's with only 2 K's issued, both by the same batter. He is new to baseball but gave it some good cuts. I went deep in the count on more than one batter, but for the most part, I felt good about the game. We put up 17 runs in 4 innings so productivity was there.
I still think throwing quality pitches to little kids is one of the most difficult things to master. There is a big difference between trying to strike out opposing batters while not worrying about plunking a few along the way and attempting to throw flat pitches down the middle to a kid standing 4 foot nothin.
Thanks to all for sharing your experiences.... Keep em coming!!
I agree - the pitches were better than what they would get if I pitched normally, but they still weren't a great option.
Originally Posted by AgentX
What you really need is a coach who is about 5 feet tall. My son is moving up a division in the fall, and some of the 12 year olds are close to my height, so I'll probably be able to get away from dart throwing.
9 year olds?
9 year olds still playing coach pitch? Or, are you talking about BP?
Originally Posted by benz99
Our kids are 7/8 and will be moving to kid pitch in the fall.... I believe some areas of the country have CP til 9 y/o. If I could find a league that would allow us to play CP this fall I would do it. I think it is better to get one more season of good pitching instead of the jumping into the walk fests I have witnessed.
Originally Posted by Marc
Wow. Coach pitch until they're 9 or 10? When I suggested coach pitching underhanded earlier I was envisioning 6 year-olds. Our LL does machine pitch for 7/8's then goes to kid pitch at age 9+. For kids 7 or 8 I'd move back and pitch overhand from 40' or so, probably 40-45 mph.
Sorry talking about batting practice, But i also did coach pitch last year it was kid pitch till ball four then coach pitch after that at 7-8
Originally Posted by Marc
I defiantly agree with you on these points. But if I release the ball from a normal position the ball would drop almost 4 feet before it got to them.
Originally Posted by AgentX
I should have described my delivery a little better though. I start with a normal delivery I just don't turn my body to hide the ball nor do I put it in my glove. Then when my arm is coming forward about the time my elbow is even with my body I drop it strait down in front of my chest and then finish throwing like a dart. It gives me a much lower release point but to the hitter still looks close to normal. Actually it unfortunately looks a lot like many of the young pitchers I have seen.
I never beam the good hitters. It's the ones that struggle or mostly the ones that just started to struggle for some reason. I end up looking at the kid to see if I can see whats wrong with their swing and as it often does we throw at what we are looking at. It's just one of the many reasons I hate being the pitcher. IMO it's harder to see flaws in the swing from the pitchers mound.
Originally Posted by bbb3601
Your right, we preach to our player all the time not to "AIM" there throws but just throw it. But when your down to that last pitch and you know they have to hit it not aiming it is hard.