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Sparks Journey from Little League to College

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  • Originally posted by jojab
    I would suggest, however, that you should be careful not to tip-off what is coming. Meaning, if he is changing something in his delivery to throw different pitches eventually (the higher you go) the hitters will figure this out. I'd suggest you have him throw it using the same mechanics/motions as his four-seamer but experiment with the grip/pressure to see if he can duplicate the movement and slight velocity reduction that way.
    Thanks for the suggestion. I do not think he is changing his motion any during a game. He is very effective in mixing up his pitches (2 & 4 seam, cut fast ball and change up). The league (13/14) he plays in is very competitive and when he is on, he seems to get a lot of pop ups and ground balls. That suggests to me the batter are staying off balance? He also does apply different pressure on the 2 seam depending on which way he wants the ball to break or move. Do you think he could be over gripping when he is trying to throw it as hard as he can? If so, how do I get him to relax the grip/hand but keep the speed?

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Sparksdale
      My boy worked his tail off.

      The gun inspired my boy to work hard and to do as good as he can do.
      Thanks for sharing that - very well said.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by dw8man
        Do you think he could be over gripping when he is trying to throw it as hard as he can? If so, how do I get him to relax the grip/hand but keep the speed?
        Sounds like he is doing fine as is.

        When gripping the ball tighter you would expect it to slow down the ball rather than having it speed up. It sounds to me more like by taking something off of it that the ball is slowing down and thus has more drop/movement to it. I think you need to just have him continue to experiment with it like you are. My point was that he shouldn't just be slowing down his arm to get the effect he is seeking.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by jojab
          I'm sure you have told people point 1. Have you ever told a kid who was age 10 through 15 to slow his fastball down (and I don't mean just to change speeds on a hitter)?
          We want our pitchers to throw as hard as they safetly can.

          Every time I've seen a parent at a game with a gun it prompted a "who can out-throw who free-for all" with kids doing all kinds of bad things to get an extra MPH. An eleven year older pitcher throwing 50 versus 55 doesn't mean a rat's a$$ if he's throwing the best he can safely. The guns bring no value to the player and is usually used by parents with too much money or who want to brag about Little Johnny.

          The guns only allow scouts to compare a pitcher against an open field. Measuring a kids arm at eleven teaches him nothing.
          "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
          - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
          Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Encinitas
            So that they can pay money to have someone find Balance Point and get to a circle up, high cock position? Better for Johnny's dad to learn what he can and teach his son to throw the hell out of it like Linecum. What Pitching teacher would teach the mechanics he uses?
            This is part of the problem.... Comparing what the average LL player should be doing against the 2006 Golden Spikes Award winner can be problematic. I would rather teach the 11 y/o how to establish a good work ethic, or how to focus on basic skills and drills versus, "Go out there and throw the hell out of it like Linecum."
            "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
            - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
            Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Jake Patterson
              We want our pitchers to throw as hard as they safetly can.

              Every time I've seen a parent at a game with a gun it prompted a "who can out-throw who free-for all" with kids doing all kinds of bad things to get an extra MPH. An eleven year older pitcher throwing 50 versus 55 doesn't mean a rat's a$$ if he's throwing the best he can safely. The guns bring no value to the player and is usually used by parents with too much money or who want to brag about Little Johnny.

              The guns only allow scouts to compare a pitcher against an open field. Measuring a kids arm at eleven teaches him nothing.
              You still can't answer my question, can you?

              Here is what I find interesting about your comments. By your own admission, scouts use radar guns to pick kids out if a crowded field. Now, do you think the scouts after reading the radar guns will select the pitchers throwing 83 to 85 mph but with exceptional control or the ones throwing 95 mph?

              Yet you have no interest in using a radar gun to train your pitchers? You have no interest in using a tool that might motivate little Jonny to want to throw harder. No -- we don't want little Jonny throwing harder. He might hurt himself.

              Comment


              • Opinion

                Originally posted by Jake Patterson
                We want our pitchers to throw as hard as they safetly can.

                Every time I've seen a parent at a game with a gun it prompted a "who can out-throw who free-for all" with kids doing all kinds of bad things to get an extra MPH. An eleven year older pitcher throwing 50 versus 55 doesn't mean a rat's a$$ if he's throwing the best he can safely. The guns bring no value to the player and is usually used by parents with too much money or who want to brag about Little Johnny.

                The guns only allow scouts to compare a pitcher against an open field. Measuring a kids arm at eleven teaches him nothing.
                Jake, I respect your opinion and agree with you to a point. But God as my witness it isn't like you explained....at least not where I live. It's nothing at all like that.
                During the All-Star game I had the gun up in the stands and very few people even noticed I had it. It's not like I clocked some kid and then ran around screaming "my boy throws just as hard!" It was nothing at all like that. AGain, I never EVER took the radar gun to practice....not once during the entire season. I never took the gun to games during the season. But I admit during the all star game I wanted to see how fast the best pitchers around my area pitched....I just don't see the big deal. My goodness I just don't get it.

                Now if I had that gun and I went around and relied on it and used it as the "primary" tool for my boys pitching or any other kids pitching then I could understand what you are saying. 95% of the time the gun stays at my house and is never taken out of the case. I still have the same batteries in it that I put in it when I bought it.

                I just don't understand everyone getting in an uproar over a darn Radar Gun. It's not that big of a deal.

                I'll give you an example. There is a kid on the 12 and 13 year old team that I clocked at 65mph (His mother asked me to clock him). He is every inch of 6' 2" and has one of the better arms around here. Not only does he get beat just about every time he pitches but he usually gets hammered. He pitched the second game of the all star tournament and lasted less than thee innings. He can't throw a strike to save his life. The gun showed him that he was throwing hard but when he lets the ball go he has no idea where it is going....not a clue. He is now working on better mechanics. Did the gun hurt this kid? If you say yes then tell me how? He was already doing pourly. We had him throw a few pitches at 65mph and then more at 57 to 59 (give or take). He started throwing much better when he took speed off the ball. Now he knows he can't throw 65mph without doing more work and getting better mechanics. He also knows that when he throws 57 or so that he throws more strikes.

                The gun isn't used to see who can throw harder it is used so the kid can throw "smarter".

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Jake Patterson
                  This is part of the problem.... Comparing what the average LL player should be doing against the 2006 Golden Spikes Award winner can be problematic. I would rather teach the 11 y/o how to establish a good work ethic, or how to focus on basic skills and drills versus, "Go out there and throw the hell out of it like Linecum."
                  My guess is that Linecum's dad didn't share your same views.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by jojab
                    You still can't answer my question, can you?
                    I have....
                    Here is what I find interesting about your comments. By your own admission, scouts use radar guns to pick kids out if a crowded field. Now, do you think the scouts after reading the radar guns will select the pitchers throwing 83 to 85 mph but with exceptional control or the ones throwing 95 mph?
                    We're talking about regular season 10-15 y/o youth players. Not seniors in high school trying to make the pros or college. Big difference.

                    Yet you have no interest in using a radar gun to train your pitchers?
                    The guns are not training aids. They're a measurement devise and yes I do use them.

                    You have no interest in using a tool that might motivate little Jonny to want to throw harder.
                    Good training, reasonable goals and the desire to improve provides motivation not a measurment devise. What's a good number for a ten y/o? What kind of gun are you using - a slow gun or a fast gun? Where are you measuring? The release point, mid point, at the plate?

                    Like I said above I have no problem using them when the pitchers are biologically matured. I used them in HS and that was only so I could fill out a scouting report and to track relative improvement.

                    No -- we don't want little Jonny throwing harder. He might hurt himself.
                    Don't paraphrase my comments. I stated "We want our pitchers to throw as hard as they safetly can." I would be suprised if you disagree with this.

                    At the 10-15 y/o range the emphasis should be skill development not speed. Speed development is NOT linear. How fast they throw at 10 is no indication of how fast they will throw at 16 or 20. Too many other factors come into play like physical development, height, injuries, training, weight, bone and muscle mass, growth plates, flexability, genetics, etc.. How well they throw at 10 can be a determining factor. I am saying concentrate on the later.

                    We do this year after year and I have yet to hear a professional youth pitching coach feel that guns are a good idea for youth pitchers. In a previous post I stated At last year's clinic we had over 200 coaches. Our surveys showed that fewer than 10% had any quality training as a baseball coach outside of our clinic. None (with the exception of my clinicians) had any experience teaching how to pitch properly. Is your area any different?

                    Sparky,
                    I have no problem taking it to a game and descretely gunning your grandson - only if it has some purpose. If you are using the numbers to adjust what it is you are teaching him then gun away. If you're gunning for the sake of gunning then there is no value added.
                    Last edited by Jake Patterson; 07-07-2006, 04:00 PM.
                    "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                    - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                    Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Jake Patterson
                      I have.....
                      My question was: Have you ever told a kid who was age 10 through 15 to slow his fastball down (and I don't mean just to change speeds on a hitter)?

                      Originally posted by Jake Patterson
                      We're talking about regular season 10-15 y/o youth players. Not seniors in high school trying to make the pros or college. Big difference.
                      So, when little Jonny is a senior your'e going to bring out the radar gun and start working to increase his velocity?

                      Originally posted by Jake Patterson
                      The guns are not training aids. They're a measurement devise and yes I do use them.
                      They are a measurement device that can be used while training a young pitcher. Sounds like a training aid to me.

                      Originally posted by Jake Patterson
                      Good training, reasonable goals and the desire to improve provides motivation not a measurment devise. What's a good number for a ten y/o? What kind of gun are you using - a slow gun or a fast gun? Where are measuring? The release point, mid point, at the plate?
                      How the heck do you know what motivates a particular kid? Are you saying that if a kid is training to pitch and he wants to beat his average time on the radar gun that he is not motivated to do so by the reading on the gun? Sounds like Sparksdale's kid might tell you otherwise. He's currently working to reach 55 mph.

                      Originally posted by Jake Patterson
                      Like I said above I have no problem using them when the pitchers are biologically matured. I used them in HS and that was only so I could fill out a scouting report and to track relative improvement.
                      And what do you base that emprical evidence on?

                      Originally posted by Jake Patterson
                      Don't paraphrase my comments. I stated "We want our pitchers to throw as hard as they safetly can." I would be suprised if you disagree with this.
                      And somehow if a kid knows he is throwing 57 mph, it is suddenly unsafe?

                      Originally posted by Jake Patterson
                      At the 10-15 y/o range the emphasis should be skill development not speed.
                      Just lob it up there and hit the corners, son.

                      Originally posted by Jake Patterson
                      Speed development is NOT linear. How fast they throw at 10 is no indication of how fast they will throw at 16 or 20. Too many other factors come into play like physical development, height, injuries, training, weight, bone and muscle mass, growth plates, flexability, genetics, etc.. How well they throw at 10 can be a determining factor. I am saying concentrate on the later.
                      Yes, we don't want the kid to learn how to throw hard at 12. Let's wait until the day before the scouts show up to have him focus on that.

                      Originally posted by Jake Patterson
                      We do this year after year and I have yet to hear a professional youth pitching coach feel that guns are a good idea for youth pitchers. In a previous post I stated At last year's clinic we had over 200 coaches. Our surveys showed that fewer than 10% had any quality training as a baseball coach outside of our clinic. None (with the exception of my clinicians) had any experience teaching how to pitch properly.
                      Were all these professional youth coaches trained by you? I'm sure we now have 200 amatuer coaches per year that attended your clinic that have heard radar guns are a bad idea for kids.

                      Originally posted by Jake Patterson
                      Sparky,
                      I have no problem taking it to a game and descretely gunning your grandson - only if it has some purpose. If you are using the numbers to adjust what it is you are teaching him then gun away. If you're gunning for the sake of gunning then there is no value added.
                      So, you're okay if Sparky uses the gun as a training aid to adjust what he is teaching? Wait a minute, you said radar guns weren't a training aid. They were a bad idea for kids 10-15. You're not giving Sparky bad ideas on how to train his grandson are you?

                      Jake - I hope you don't take my comments the wrong way. I'm poking some fun at your comments in an effort to get you to really think about what you are saying. Sure, conventional wisdom, baseball knowledge, stuff we've heard or what ever you want to call it seems to suggest radar guns for kids are silly. I used to think the same way. Now I have two radar devices and I use them in training my own kids and the kids I coach.

                      I find that they help us in a number of different ways, including providing some motivation to throw harder and also with how it impacts their pitching speeds when experimenting with different pitches. So, little Jonny now knows that his fastball is in the 55 mph range and that circle change we've been working hard on dips and tails and is in the 48 mph range. Little Jonny thinks that is cool stuff! Little Jonny is having fun while working on his pitching.

                      Seriously, the kids enjoy it and when I don't bring it out, they ask for it.

                      Comment


                      • Jake,

                        No I am not a pitching coach and I will concede to your wisdom. I'm sure you've forgotten more about baseball than I will ever know.

                        My point is I see your point and I 100% agree....but I also see the other side.

                        Hey, I don't know how to teach other kids. All I know is the radar gun really lit my boys eyes up and it made him work torward a goal. Could I have motivated him otherwise? I honestly don't know.

                        All I know is what works for my boy.

                        As far as the speed for a 10 year old? Does it matter? I 1000% agree with you there. I had one kid on my team that I swear couldn't throw over 25mph but he got hitters out. It was amazing how the kids would swing and miss his slow pitches. I also saw in the tournament how pitchers who threw 53+MPH would get lit up by the hitters. In the end speed isn't everything but it doesn't hurt either. But if a stupid radar gun gets my boy in the backyard and out of drugs and out of gangs then in my opinion it's worth it.

                        You should have seen my boys face the first time he hit 50mph. He had been working so hard to achieve it and when he finally did his eyes lit up and my heart melted. Those are memories you can't buy in life.

                        I will also add that my boy throws 50+ and throws strikes. He doesn't do crazy stuff to try and get faster. He goes through the five steps that we learned on Cal Ripken's video for pitching mechanics. He never ever tries to throw hard without throwing strikes. As a matter of fact he and I both have learned that he throws harder when it is a strike. Now there is a leason about pitching that I couldn't have taught him without the gun (well maybe but I'll take him learning it anyway he can).

                        Peace,

                        Comment


                        • Sparks,

                          I'm glad the 2 of you have enjoyed your time and the gun - at home. The only reason I ever brought it up was bcuz of the games and what I thought could be perceived by travel team coaches. As I said, I too have a gun and take it out a couple x per year at home to see where he's at. I agree w/ you that it's a nice tool.

                          Hopefully no hard feelings from this thread. I really was just trying to answer your question.

                          I wish you luck and sure hope your grandson gets to stay w/ you; you obviously care deeply for him and I admire your bond.

                          Good luck,
                          Mike

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Sparksdale
                            Peace,
                            Peace......
                            "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                            - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                            Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                            Comment


                            • I'll clear up a few points and then drop it. You obviously believe in what your are doing

                              Originally posted by jojab
                              My question was: Have you ever told a kid who was age 10 through 15 to slow his fastball down (and I don't mean just to change speeds on a hitter)?
                              Yes.

                              Were all these professional youth coaches trained by you?
                              No -(You give me way too much credit) I bring them in as professional instructors. Check out www.americasgame.com these are the same people who put together the World Baseball Convention. One other pitching coach coached 14 years in college and professionally for the Worcester Tornadoes another coach coaches college at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, another owns her own softball fast pitch teaching company. This year we had several sessions on Little League Elbow and Little League Shoulder by Certified Physical Therapists.

                              Now I have two radar devices and I use them in training my own kids and the kids I coach.
                              I am sure you are doing what you think is good for your son.

                              I spoke with Dick Mills via Email and he stated: "It really doesn't matter how fast a youth pitcher pitches since that is no indication of how he will pitch in the future. Hard throwers at the Little League level will not necessarily throw hard when they get to high school. Late developers with better skills will normally bypass the early developers."

                              Over my 20 years I have found the above to be true.
                              Good Luck!
                              "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                              - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                              Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                              Comment


                              • I think guns can be used effectively.

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