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Son is good pitcher, but scared. Any words of wisdom?

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  • Son is good pitcher, but scared. Any words of wisdom?

    Hi All,

    So, we are two weeks from our first game and I have been working with my pitchers (LL 9-10). My son (10 y.o.) is a descent pitcher with good mechanics. When he and I work together he throws the fastball and changeup with about 70-75% accuracy, but when he is pitching to a batter he can't hit the strike zone for the life of him. His mechanics seem to go out the window and he just throws the ball away.

    I talked to him last night and asked him what was wrong. He said that he is scared to hit the batters and is afraid that everyone is counting on him to strike the batter out and that everything is on him doing well.

    I think this all stemmed from last year, when he pitched in the last game of the season. He wasn't much of a pitcher last year and this was his first game as one. It was the last game and we were definitely out of the playoffs so I let all the kids that hadn't pitched yet get out there and throw to a few batters each. He hit the first two batters, struck out the third and walked the fourth. He came out and the next guy went in.

    My son was very upset after the game and felt horrible for hitting the two batters. I explained that that is part of the game and that no one expected him to strike everyone out, but that he did get one strike out so that was something to be happy about.


    So, now we are here, getting ready for the games and he tells me that he is afraid to pitch in the games. He said he wants to but is just plain scared of the pressure. I tried to console him and tell him that he is a good pitcher and that he needs to think of it as a battle between him and the batter and if they hit the ball he has the defense to back him up. If he hits the batter, then we have the chance for a double play. I continued on for a bit to try and ease his worries, but I don’t think it worked.

    I asked him to think long and hard about wanting to pitch. I told him that he has other options on the field and that he doesn't have to pitch if he doesn't want to and that it won't hurt my feelings at all. He thought about it and said he wants to keep pitching but is still scared. I told him we would work on it.

    So, to all you experienced coaches and dads - any words of wisdom I can give him? Any thing I can work with him on to get over this fear and self imposed pressure? I only have about 4-5 pitchers without him and with the new LL rules with pitch count and rest days I really need him to pitch, but I am not going to make him and make it worse. Any ideas???

  • #2
    He needs to focus on the catcher only. He must ignore everything else. For practice bullpens you can place an adult (with padding, natural or otherwise) in the batter's box.

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    • #3
      Don't let him pitch till you teach him how to protect himself


      drill
      Yogi Berra was asked by a reporter "How do you catch a knuckle ball?" He came right back and said "When it stops rolling"

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      • #4
        Don't force him to pitch. It will push him further from pitching. He may not want to pitch. My son walked in the winning run in a 9/10 playoff game. He didn't want to pitch the following year. We talked about it for a while. I never mentioned it again. About halfway through the season he asked to pitch. He's been pitching ever since, into high school.

        The most important think in 9/10's is have fun. Nothing important regarding baseball is being decided in 9/10's. One of the best hitters on our 12yo LL all-star team and nearly made the high school team as a freshman, stunk when he was ten. A big slug from my LL when I was a kid was just big (6'2", 220) by high school and throwing 90+. He pitched in MLB for six years.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Drill View Post
          Don't let him pitch till you teach him how to protect himself


          drill
          Hi drill,

          He is more scared of hitting the batter than getting hit. He actually boasts about how many times he has been hit by a pitch or taken one in the chin on a bad hop. He can field cleanly and I am confident that he can protect himself, but he doesn't want to hit the batter on accident.
          Last edited by jbolt_2000; 03-06-2008, 11:36 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by TG Coach View Post
            Don't force him to pitch. It will push him further from pitching. He may not want to pitch. My son walked in the winning run in a 9/10 playoff game. He didn't want to pitch the following year. We talked about it for a while. I never mentioned it again. About halfway through the season he asked to pitch. He's been pitching ever since, into high school.

            The most important think in 9/10's is have fun. Nothing important regarding baseball is being decided in 9/10's. One of the best hitters on our 12yo LL all-star team and nearly made the high school team as a freshman, stunk when he was ten. A big slug from my LL when I was a kid was just big (6'2", 220) by high school and throwing 90+. He pitched in MLB for six years.

            Thanks TG - I am definitely not going to make him pitch if he doesn't want to. I do not believe in pushing kids unless they ask to be pushed. I had a long talk with him and told him that he does not have to pitch and that it would not bother me in the least if he wanted to do something else (he is also our second base man, backup catcher and backup outfielder). I told him that he can do whatever he wants (even though we need more pitchers, I did not tell him this).

            He has said he wants to pitch, but is just scared of the pressure and hitting batters.

            I told him last night that if he wants to continue I will be standing in the box and that if he hits me it will be ok. He laughed and said he would try again. We'll see how it goes I suppose.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by jbolt_2000 View Post
              So, to all you experienced coaches and dads - any words of wisdom I can give him? Any thing I can work with him on to get over this fear and self imposed pressure? I only have about 4-5 pitchers without him and with the new LL rules with pitch count and rest days I really need him to pitch, but I am not going to make him and make it worse. Any ideas???
              The ball will go where his eyes go. He has to focus on the target and let it rip (e.g. not aim the ball).

              If he focuses on the batter, he will tend to hitter the batter. He will also tend to hit the batter, or miss way outside, if he tries to NOT hit the batter.

              He has to ignore the batter and focus on the target.

              One way to practice this is by playing "Don't make me move the glove." It's just like it sounds. The idea is to focus on the glove and throw to the glove so the catcher doesn't have to move the glove to catch the pitch.

              Teach him to pitch low and away. It's a safe place to pitch and decreases the likelihood of hitting the batter.

              Finally, he is going to hit some batters. As long as it's not more than 1 every 2 or 3 games, he's normal.
              Hitting Coordinator for Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis.

              I also work with the pitchers who are dealing with injury problems.

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              • #8
                There are cutout hitters made of wood for just this problem. I would suggest looking into it.

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                • #9
                  We use a molded plastic hitter called The Designated Hitter. It helped teach my son to pitch inside without worrying about the consequences. My students think its funny when they hit the "guy".

                  http://www.thedesignatedhitter.com/home.html


                  -scott
                  "There are no miracles in sports. Miracles have been rehearsed hundreds of times in practice." - Scott Waz

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
                    The ball will go where his eyes go. He has to focus on the target and let it rip (e.g. not aim the ball).

                    If he focuses on the batter, he will tend to hitter the batter. He will also tend to hit the batter, or miss way outside, if he tries to NOT hit the batter.

                    He has to ignore the batter and focus on the target.
                    I agree with this 100%

                    I have my son focus not just on the mitt, but on a small spot in the mitt no bigger than a dime. The smaller the spot you focus on the better.

                    You also need to stress the fact that it is the batters fault that he got hit. LL rules say the batter must attempt to get out of the way of a stray pitch.

                    I tell all my pitchers its the batters fault for not getting out of the way.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jbolt_2000 View Post
                      He actually boasts about how many times he has been hit by a pitch or taken one in the chin on a bad hop.
                      This might help, if you can convince him that he is not going to hurt the batters that he hits, than he might not mind hitting a few. And, if he is going to pitch to the strike zone, he will hit a few.

                      Years ago, when I was teaching a little sister to pitch, I had noticed that many of our local boys couldn't throw a strike, but never hit a batter. Everything was outside. I have seen more than one 12 year boy burst into tears when he hit someone. So, with the little girl, I harped at every practice, "When you let go of the ball it's now the batters problem. If they don't want to get hit, they will get out of the way. If they can't get out the way, than they will quit playing baseball, but it's not your problem." She averaged a batter a game for the first year (including one kid three times in one game, she went to school with him and didn't like him, she may have been more accurate than I believed.) So, you have to teach him to be a little callous, if he is scared of hurting them.

                      Make him realize that everyone is going to walk a few batters, if he is scared of doing poorly. If your 10 year olds are like our 10 year olds than you should have plenty of examples of other pitchers that put batters on for free.

                      Focusing on the glove and practicing with something in the batters box are good practical practice ideas. Although make sure the object in the batter's box is not too hard, or it will deflect anything that hits it away from your glove and into your body/face. We tried using a big round metal garbage can once, only once, because it was the best thing available in the park. I stuck my glove out to the left and the ball bounced back past my ear.

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                      • #12
                        You could try one of these...http://store.linedrive.com/linedrive-bullpen-buddy.html .

                        I saw a coach using it with his pitchers a couple of weeks ago. He apparently didn't weigh it down with enough sand in the feet, so if the pitcher hit the thing, it went flying. If the wind blew hard, it would fall over. I felt bad for the coach for a few minutes as he was taking the whole thing seriously while his whole team was laughing. He gave up and just had a batter stand in the box. Of course the first kid he put in was a smartass and when the wind blew he fell over like the dummy.

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                        • #13
                          A few things I learned while coaching my son and other young LL'ers...

                          Not every kid wants to be a pitcher, so definitely don't force it. I equate pitching to being a QB or a hockey/soccer goalie; not every kid wants the added pressure or is able to handle the additional pressure of knowing the team is "counting on them".

                          It may sound "old school", but I have always told my son that when he's pitching, he owns the plate. In other words, it is the batter's responsibility to avoid the pitched ball when possible; if a batter is crowding the plate, that doesn't mean you have to pitch outside; and while you never try to intentionally hit a batter, sometimes it helps to be "effectively wild". I realize that these might be tough topics for 10 year olds to comprehend, but I believe that all pitchers need to be comfortable with the fact that hit batsman are just a part of the game.

                          A simple fix that seems to work for the younger pitchers; a RH pitcher who always seems to pitch inside to RH batters should toe the far right side of the pitching rubber. If you watch a lot of the younger LL pitchers, whenever they hit a batter, they have a habit of moving to opposite side of the pitching rubber from the subsequent batters. Based on arm angles and the pitcher's relationship to home plate, there is usually an inverse effect.

                          Hope this helps.

                          Twitch5

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