Teaching Little Leaguers, 2

=== Taking It To the (non-)Mound ===

Assuming that your child gets very good at long toss, it's not hard to sit down in a crouch and just get him to take the same motion into a pitch with the following 10-year-old checkpoints:

  • Modest knee kick, but get the baseball cap high in the air
  • Step straight towards dad
  • Use your sidearm long-toss throw
  • Throw the ball *through* dad's upper body
  • Finish nose-to-leather


And then practice, reps, and fun are going to have your son miles ahead of all the other poor little kids who are doing high school drills and having their dads make them remember 32 elbow-and-front-hip checkpoints.


=== Resource ===

For initial reading, DrMikeMarshall.com -- who emphasizes the CL --

And when your son is ready for professional instruction (about 13-15 years old) get somebody who isn't madly in love with tinkering.

Like in the picture above, the boy is getting ready to lean back as he throws, but do you address this?  It might do more harm than good.  The personalized, detail instruction -- if it's not going to confuse the boy -- is a much trickier subject.  Long toss corrects lots of these little things automatically.


The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey puts a coach's head in the right place. 

Even for adults, but especially for children, the brain needs to process just a few simple things, in positive terms.  Your son might be able to remember, "step straight at the catcher on this one."  No way in the world the thought "don't lean back" helps anything.  :- )


=== Set the Bar Low ===

When he pitches in a game, many of his best pitches are going to be hit.  :- )  That's great. 

Occasionally he'll give up a smoked line drive, see three kids round the bases, as the ball is booted around .... and he'll need a clear, firm voice from the dugout (or the stands) GREAT PITCH SAM!  RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE, GREAT VELOCITY, SAME ONE AGAIN DUDE!

A child's goal isn't to miss bats.  It's to throw as many strikes as possible with a comfortable, brisk velocity.  Make sure, again and again, he understands about luck. 

If he's throwing strikes at a crisp velocity -- and he will -- he'll be one of the best pitchers in his league.  (11-year-olds take lots of swings and misses at 50-mph fastballs right down the middle.)  Just teach him to laugh at bad luck, tell him about how many people are ooh'ing and aah'ing at his form, tell him about how you could never throw strikes like that at his age (and maybe can't even now!), and grab a pizza later.


Little League managers:  if you have 2-3 pitchers like this, and you teach five kids to gather a ground ball into their tummies, and 3-4 outfielders who like long toss, you'll be in the playoffs. 

A lot of times, most the time, we see LL coaches come out there in minor-league coaching gear, clipboards and radar guns and the whole nine yards, and coach children as though they were coaching men.

Winning in Little League is simple.  Not easy: simple.  We ain't at Safeco out there.



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