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Sparks Journey from Little League to College

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  • Sparks,
    Great update. Do you have any clips of him playing???
    Glad the DVD helped. For everyone else this is CatchingCoaches' DVD... great piece of work.

    Keep us posted.

    Jake
    "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


    • Why in the hell would you put a radar gun on a 10 yo?? Are you trying to get him to throw so hard his arm blows up?? None of it really matters until after puberty, anyway. AMSI or AAOP did a poll of MLB pitching staffs, and a large majority of them did nit even begin pitching until they were in HS.
      Use your eyes-does the kid have a good arm or not? Does the ball generally go kinda where he wants it to? I love it..my 10 yo made "quality" pitches.

      Comment


      • Why in the hell would you put a radar gun on a 10 yo?? Are you trying to get him to throw so hard his arm blows up?? None of it really matters until after puberty, anyway. AMSI or AAOP did a poll of MLB pitching staffs, and a large majority of them did nit even begin pitching until they were in HS.
        Use your eyes-does the kid have a good arm or not? Does the ball generally go kinda where he wants it to? good enough, then.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
          Sparks,
          Great update. Do you have any clips of him playing???
          Glad the DVD helped. For everyone else this is CatchingCoaches' DVD... great piece of work.

          Keep us posted.

          Jake
          Jake,

          I don't have any clips of him playing. I have an old Cam Corder and to be honest I stopped recording him a long time ago. I found that I couldn't watch the game and enjoy him playing if I was having to worry about getting a good shot.

          I guess every kid has a great tourney, this was my boy's week to shine. I'm sure next week another kid will have a great week, and I really hope they all do.

          It's sad that we did so bad in the tourney but when you are playing good teams you can't make errors. We had one kid make 5 errors in one inning...it was aweful. The ball just seemed to find this kid and he kept messing up. I felt really bad for him.


          Sparks

          Comment


          • I can't tell you how proud I am of my boy. His game is at a level that I never dreamed he could play. I mean when you hit .769 against great pitching and also play stellar defense.....well, I just can't believe how he has played.
            Hey, we're proud of him too. Thanks for filling us in.

            Not to take any shine off the event, but did he 'pick up' the kid who had the five errors? Then I'd really be proud of him.

            I realize it's not chickenfeed, but for about $120 you can find digital cameras that have 30 fps digital video. You don't have to record the whole game, but maybe an at-bat or two as a benchmark of where his swing is. At this age, you'd be amazed at what weird stuff kids can introduce into their swings that you may not notice with the naked eye.
            sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

            Comment


            • This weekend

              This weekend my boys team is going to play in what I think will be the hardest tournament we've played in to date. For one thing, we are the bottom seed going in and all of the other teams are "major league" teams (my boys team is AAA and I think we should probably be AA). It's not that these teams are just major teams, they are probably the best Major teams in our state.

              Also, the first team we play this weekend is going to be against the team that my boy tried out for last year and they turned him down. My boy does have a little extra motivation for this tournament but my fear is he might put to much pressure on himself. I keep trying to remind him to play his game and don't try to do anything different than he has done all year.

              Last but not least this tournament is crazy. It's a wood bat tournament. Yeah, you read that right, a wood bat tournament for 11 year old kids. I didn't even know they had tournaments with wood bats for kids? Of course we don't have a wood bat (neither does the coach) so we went and bought my boy one. It's a cheep wood bat but he hit pretty well with it today. He is jarring his hands though and he gets really upset when he hits the ball off the end of the bat and it jars his hands. I know this hurts like crazy but I don't know what can be done to prevent it from happening. He doesn't like to wear batting gloves.

              Anyway, we'll see how things go this weekend. I just hope my boy plays "within himself" and doesn't try to do too much. I reckon that is easier said than done though. The worst case is he may have an "off" tournament but he's been playing so good in the in the last few tournaments maybe he'll be able to handle a set back. Then again, maybe he will continue to do well...you never know. This tournament is in our hometown so all of his family and friends will get to see him play travel ball for the first time...he's really going to have a lot of pressure on him. I think he can handle it though.

              Sparks

              Comment


              • Wood bats have smaller sweet spots. That's why it's good to practice with wood bats. The hitter has to focus on hitting on the smaller spot. When the hitter hits off the handle or the end of the wood bat it tends not to feel good. Hitting off the handle often breaks the bat.

                As for pressure, it is what the player makes it. He has nothing to prove to the other team. He's not even playing the other team on a pitch to pitch basis. He's playing the ball whether it's pitched to him or hit at him. He has nothing to prove to his family. He should enjoy playing the game.

                Comment


                • Update:

                  I hope Jake will not get me for posting about something other than Baseball but I have some good news I wanted to share with all of you regarding my boy.

                  The court process is now over and my wife and I will be able to make sure my grandson has a healthy and good life. He will continue to live with us.

                  We've been out of baseball for several weeks now and my boy is itching to play again (I must confess I'm missing the game as well). Fall ball starts soon and it will be great to finally start a season of baseball/sports and not have to worry about the court situation.

                  Sparks

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Sparksdale View Post
                    I hope Jake will not get me for posting about something other than Baseball but I have some good news I wanted to share with all of you regarding my boy.

                    The court process is now over and my wife and I will be able to make sure my grandson has a healthy and good life. He will continue to live with us.

                    We've been out of baseball for several weeks now and my boy is itching to play again (I must confess I'm missing the game as well). Fall ball starts soon and it will be great to finally start a season of baseball/sports and not have to worry about the court situation.

                    Sparks
                    Congrats Sparks. Best post I've read all night.
                    "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'm going to reply before I read any of the responses. I don't like the radar gun. I hate that on opening day our league has one of those baseball instruction places to our field inviting players to gas it up without warming up. Let's see how quick we can blow our arm out. Call me old school, but I can see how hard a kid is throwing with my own eyes. I can also see if he's hitting his spots and if his ball moves. Velocity only comes into play after control and movement. The radar gun has it's place, like to see the differential between FB and change up. Of course, I know what my 10 y/o throws velocity-wise, but I'm not pulling out a radar gun for every side session. We had a birthday party for him at that same place that brings out the gun on opening day, and I'll probably see what he throws (after a proper warm-up) every year.

                      Now, I do notice that when the scouts come to see the high school "prospect" all of the guns come out of their case.

                      You wanted to know if 50 was good, average, or whatever. We are here is Central Florida, so it might not be a good indication for you, but I would say that would be about average to slightly above-average for league ball and below-average for travel ball here.

                      Comment


                      • reply

                        Originally posted by norseman_44 View Post
                        I'm going to reply before I read any of the responses. I don't like the radar gun. I hate that on opening day our league has one of those baseball instruction places to our field inviting players to gas it up without warming up. Let's see how quick we can blow our arm out. Call me old school, but I can see how hard a kid is throwing with my own eyes. I can also see if he's hitting his spots and if his ball moves. Velocity only comes into play after control and movement. The radar gun has it's place, like to see the differential between FB and change up. Of course, I know what my 10 y/o throws velocity-wise, but I'm not pulling out a radar gun for every side session. We had a birthday party for him at that same place that brings out the gun on opening day, and I'll probably see what he throws (after a proper warm-up) every year.

                        Now, I do notice that when the scouts come to see the high school "prospect" all of the guns come out of their case.

                        You wanted to know if 50 was good, average, or whatever. We are here is Central Florida, so it might not be a good indication for you, but I would say that would be about average to slightly above-average for league ball and below-average for travel ball here.
                        My boy hardly ever even wants the Radar gun anymore. He's 11 years old now and throws 58. I think that is probably average but that is just fine. He's now become a very good catcher and I really get a kick out of it when he throws runners out. He is still pretty small compared to the other kids at 4'10" and 91lbs I think it's pretty amazing that he can throw a ball 58mph. He does play travel ball now and it seems many of the kids are bigger than he but I've yet to see another 11 year old throw faster than 60 (in a game).
                        Finally, it took me a while to get used to it but I finally learned that unless a kid can throw strikes it doesn't matter if he is 11 and can throw 70mph. My boy lost the strike zone last year and as a result he pitched only 4 innings the entire travel ball season. When he did pitch he did well and I really don't understand why the coach didn't pitch him more but he is the coach and it is his team. I figure my boy has the rest of his life to decide if he wants to be a pitcher or not. Right now he is learning the fundementals of the game and I find that to be far more important than how fast he throws.
                        I will say this though....there was a time when the radar gun got my boy off the video games and in the backyard. He always wanted to hit a certain speed and he worked his tail off to try and reach it. So I will say that the radar gun did help him find a love for the game and the added advantage of working hard for a goal.

                        Sparks,

                        Comment


                        • Sparks, if you think Jake is going to get on you for posting that bit of good news, you don't know Jake. I don't know what provoked this final bit of good news, but the result seemed inevitable when the judge found that the Social Services people weren't being forthcoming with all the information they had, in order to hide their past ineptness. And, it's difficult to imagine that any court official being unable to see your unwavering, but balanced, devotion to the youngster. Believe it or not, the justice system usually gets it right, or something close to it, but it may take awhile. Congratulations! I've sent you a PM about it.
                          sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

                          Comment


                          • Finally

                            Finally baseball is back. We have our first practice tomorrow and I must say my boy is excited. He's really missed baseball (I must admit I've missed it as well.)

                            My wife and I decided to sacrifice a little and we hired a pitching coach to work with my boy. He really loves pitching and he missed not being able to pitch very much last year.

                            His biggest problem was throwing strikes. My hope is this pitching coach can help him throw more strikes and maybe win a pitching job this year. So far he has had two lessons and this coach has pretty much (and rightfully so) changed everything I've ever taught him about pitching. Most of what I taught my boy was from videos. Now he is learning the right way to pitch.

                            He is 11 years old and he throws 60mph now. I've been watching the LL world series and I can tell that 60mph isn't all that fast anymore. Then again my boy is only 11 and many of the LL pitchers on the W.S. are 13. But 60 mph isn't really anything special.

                            In the end how fast he throws doesn't matter. He really needs to find the strike zone on a consistant bases and that is what we are working on. I will say, he hit 60mph for the first time not long ago and he went nuts. He's been trying to hit that mark for so long and he has worked his tail off to hit his goal of 60mph. When he hit it he started jumping up and down and screaming and he was so proud of himself. He did work really hard.

                            He doesn't have a goal for MPH now. His goal is to win a job pitching and he knows that he has to throw strikes to do that. He loves catching but he wants to pitch as well as catch.

                            Sparks

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Sparksdale View Post
                              Finally baseball is back. We have our first practice tomorrow and I must say my boy is excited. He's really missed baseball (I must admit I've missed it as well.)

                              My wife and I decided to sacrifice a little and we hired a pitching coach to work with my boy. He really loves pitching and he missed not being able to pitch very much last year.

                              His biggest problem was throwing strikes. My hope is this pitching coach can help him throw more strikes and maybe win a pitching job this year. So far he has had two lessons and this coach has pretty much (and rightfully so) changed everything I've ever taught him about pitching. Most of what I taught my boy was from videos. Now he is learning the right way to pitch.

                              He is 11 years old and he throws 60mph now. I've been watching the LL world series and I can tell that 60mph isn't all that fast anymore. Then again my boy is only 11 and many of the LL pitchers on the W.S. are 13. But 60 mph isn't really anything special.

                              In the end how fast he throws doesn't matter. He really needs to find the strike zone on a consistant bases and that is what we are working on. I will say, he hit 60mph for the first time not long ago and he went nuts. He's been trying to hit that mark for so long and he has worked his tail off to hit his goal of 60mph. When he hit it he started jumping up and down and screaming and he was so proud of himself. He did work really hard.

                              He doesn't have a goal for MPH now. His goal is to win a job pitching and he knows that he has to throw strikes to do that. He loves catching but he wants to pitch as well as catch.

                              Sparks
                              Hey Sparks,
                              Thanks for the update. I miss it as well and am driving my wife nuts.

                              I hope the coach you selected helps MiniSparks. As you have probably know from posts here properly selecting a pitching coaches is very critical to the long term health and effetiveness of a young pitcher. Some hints basic things to watch for in a good youth coach.

                              1. Safety and arm care is priority number one.
                              2. He has taught other other successful youth pitchers who demonstrated longevity and effectiveness.
                              3. He teaches proper warm-ups, stretches and exercises.
                              4. He does not teach pointing the ball to center field.
                              5. He uses film to analyze his training.
                              6. He teaches the cerebral part of the position.

                              Would love to see some film.
                              Hope this helps..
                              Jake
                              "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


                              • Jake,

                                Thanks for posting. As far as selecting a pitching coach...well, I don't really know. I called coach Lane at UNA and he recommended the coach my boy has. It is my understanding that coach Lane is one of the most respected college coaches in the country and the guy that is coaching my boy is one of his graduate assistant coaches (he also pitched for UNA under coach Lane). I think you told me in a private message once that coach Lane was one of the better coaches in the country so I guess I just have to put my trust in him. I wouldn't know a bad pitching coach from a good one.

                                My boy has only had two lessons so far. All we are working on is fastball strikes and changeup strikes. This coach does not recommend curve balls until a child passes puberty. I agree....it seems to me all pitches work off the fastball so a child must be able to throw the fastball for a strike before he can think about throwing anything else.

                                I don't have a digital camera but I do have this video that I took with my cell phone...you may not be able to see it very well. This was during my boys "FIRST" lesson. He still has a lot to learn but I'll tell you this....the video you will see here is a vast improvement over how he has pitched in the past. Remember this is his first lesson so if you see a lot of things wrong his coach sees them as well and they are working on fixing them.

                                Here is the video, I hope it works. I don't know how to post a clip on here so we'll see if this link works.
                                http://www.lamarcook.com/071707_21301.3g2


                                Sparks

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