Citrus Park Victorious!
A team from Citrus Park Little League in Tampa, Florida just defeated a team from Mobile, Alabama to advance to the Little League World Series . The league has only five majors teams in it to pick from. What did they have that Mobile didn’t have? Pitching! Pitching! Pitching!
Mobile was averaging 1 home run every 5.5 at bats during the regionals! The total home runs tonight? -0-. Neither Little League had EVER sent a team to the World Series.
Pitching Rules Have Changed the Dynamic
I have written about this before, the new pitching rules have completely changed the dynamic of the Little League World Series. Pitch count limits and mandatory rests mean that every team will need to rely on their 4th, 5th, and 6th pitchers. Gone are the days of pitching 2 pitchers until their arms fall off. Gone are the days of 15 strike out games.
Want to get your league to the World Series? Start working pitchers now!
Weekly Practice Schedule
When should you be working pitchers? During the regular season w/ a minimum schedule of:
-Every Practice at least 3 pitchers from each team should be working
-At least once a week every team should hold special pitcher/catcher practices
-Pitchers should have individual coaches that work with them once a week as well
These are minimums! Of course, you should watch their arms as well!
When game are on you should stick to this schedule for a pitcher and work it into the schedule above:
Day 1-Game Day Pitching Ice Arm immediately
Day 2-Day off after game day
Day 3-Soft throwing next day ending w/ long toss
Day 4-Pitch again, or hard throwing if not pitching
This is a good 4 day rotation, but remember, alway adjust depending on whether you pitched a game or simply practiced.
Watch the arms!
Sore arms are normal. The key is determining whether it is just normal muscle soreness or joint/tendonitus soreness.
My Limited Knowledge
The Washington Redskins trainer used to visit us each year at my prior league. He would point out that the reason arms are sore after throwing is that tiny tendons in the muscle are being broken when you throw and that creates soreness. The best way to cure this is run after every practice. This delivers oxygen to the muscle and speeds the healing process. Also, icing immediately to stop the micro swelling is very important.
If the soreness is in the muscle meat part of the arm that is normally not an issue. It needs a little rest and it will be fine. ANY soreness in the elbow or shoulder should be IMMEDIATELY looked at. If you take the point of your finger and apply a little pressure to the joint of the elbow you should get a flinch from the player. BAD SIGN! Stop immediately and see a doctor! If you raise the arm and apply a little pressure on the shoulder or have the player resist your pressure after he makes a fist similar to boxing, and you get a flinch, BAD SIGN! Stop immediately and see a doctor!
The main thing to take away from this year’s world series is Develop Your Pitchers!
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I am Honored
I am honored to announce that today a parent requested that I provide individual training for their child. I will be teaching her pitching and helping to develop her delivery, release, and general growth as a pitcher . She has a good core to start from and she is a hard worker. I am honored that they feel I can help her develop.
Soliciting More Clients
This is a natural extension of this blog and I would consider accepting additional clients. If you wish to discuss individual training and work out a schedule to do so, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will hash out the details.
I look forward to working with you!
How many of you feel a personal coach is an effective way to advance your career?
Image by Tony the Misfit via Flickr
Tonight we played in the championship game of our Tournament of Champions tournament. We came out of the loser’s bracket so we had to be a very good opponent twice before they beat us once. This would have been a major feat, but we were up to it.
We started out good, up 5-1, but I knew that was not enough. They had pitched their ace in the last game to assure they stayed atop the winner’s bracket, so she was not available. The pitcher they pitched was very good, but we usually kill good pitching. Unfortunately, our bats went quiet.
We didn’t hit solid and they have good defense, so we were unable to produce enough runs. We lost 8-5. We should have scored at least 10 or more, but unfortunately, we did not.
Relying on hitting to win games can be fun, but it is a recipe for disaster. Great hitting like we have will fail you much faster than great pitching. Give me a team w/ great pitching that can’t hit any day. All I have to score is a few runs then. When we have to score 10 every game to win, it is difficult.
Oh well, it was a fantastic season, we won our League’s top team title for the second year in a row and played in the tournament of champions championship game for the second straight year. That is something to be very proud of.
My first season coaching these very girls we were 0-18. The last two years we have played the best in our district and found ourselves in the championship each year. I am proud of what they have accomplished and look forward to next year!
What is the proudest you have ever been on a field?
More than One Way to Skin a Cat
There is a lot of controversy out there about teaching pitching to children. First, there are a number of ways to skin a cat, and I don’t portend to be the end all be all for pitching. I do have 18 years experience teaching pitching to young children though and have tried a number of different methods to teach them.
This article refers to the initial training of the pitcher, the first step.
First we must agree that separation of the arm must occur and the arm must be back to properly throw over the top. This we can all agree on, how we get there is open for debate. To look at this objectively, we must first look at how we teach them to throw in the first place.
Step 1: Put them on a knee w/ their arm back
Step 2: Have them throw across their body
Step 3: Have them stand up sideways, separate and throw w/ thumb first to thigh, then the sky (and back)
Step 4: Have them step and throw
This is a quick synopsis of just about every Little League Coach’s first practice around the league. (or at least it should be!)
Then we step aside, and have them throw. What happens? They stop getting their arm back almost immediately! If we all had a dollar for how many times we said “get your elbow up when you throw” or “get your arm back” we would all be rich! We, of course, are all volunteers so we are all broke! But we know how they should be throwing! lol.
Avoid Arm Stress
At the younger ages, during the initial development of their pitching, they almost always don’t get their arm’s back. This means they are not throwing over the top and they are actually incurring undue stress on their arms. Therefore, the initial focus has to be on getting their arms back.
The way to accomplish this is to have them stop at their balance point. Then get their arm back bent at a 90-degree angle with their palm pointed towards center field. Once in this position, have them throw to the plate. They will instantly improve their velocity and accuracy.
Here is where the controversy comes in.
The fact is, you want them to lock at the top and the bottom and separate while falling towards the plate. This is true, but this step comes AFTER they learn to get their arm back. Failure to initially teach them to get their arm back in the first place will result in them always throwing w/ what I call “Dinosaur Arms” (Tight, unextended arms). Minor league coaches should focus initially on getting the pitcher’s arm back, then having them separate later.
Success the Greatest Teacher
I have had very much success teaching this way. If you don’t teach them to get their arm back first, they struggle to learn it later. If you teach them to get their arm back at a young age, transforming the point at which they actually separate is easy for them to comprehend as they get older and the transition is easily made.
Failure to teach them to get the arm back in the first place risks injury and undue stress at a young age.
Do you have a trick to teach a young pitcher to get their arm back? If so, please share.
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Tonight I spent most of the night preparing my resume for submission to the SmartMoney Magazine reporter to help her understand my qualifications for the interview she is doing the story on me about. This is after we got back from a 19-5 trouncing of one our our softball competitors. Not that we are that great, just the way the game worked out.
I preach and preach about how pitching is the most important part of the game, and without a doubt, it definitely is. But, unfortunately, we have very little of it. Well, that is not entirely true. We have quite a few girls that can throw plenty of strikes, we just have no dominant pitcher. This is causing us to develop quite a few.
I guess in the long run this will be better. We shall see. We had three home runs, a triple, and two doubles today, so hitting is not an issue. We can post runs, and we are starting to gain confidence. Our fielding is great and we can really whip the ball around the field for outs, hopefully our pitching will be “just enough” to get us by. We shall see.
How do you work your pitchers if know you have no studs? Post a comment below and let us know about it.
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Today started at 8AM, uggg, an alarm on a Saturday morning! Then an hour’s drive to our first game. A major softball game against what was essentially a minor team. We won easily.
Then a trip to Sports Authority, a lunch w/ my lovely girls at Smokey Bones and off to my son’s minor game. We had to come back in the last inning five runs just to tie at 16-16. Whew, what a long game! We are struggling hitting, but I think that is because nobody will throw is any strikes. I guess we shall see. Our pitching struggled a little tonight also, which is unusual.
I have a series of articles coming up over the next few months that address a number of topics such as drafts, substitutions, pitching, hitting, and much much more. Anything you would like to see addressed? Let me know.
Did you have a long day? What did you do to keep the kids focused? Post a comment below and let us know about it.
When my friend and I began the minor’s season we knew that one thing ruled above all others. PITCHING! It makes or breaks a team. With the new Little League pitch count rules, each team needs at least 3 pitchers a game in minors. In the long run, this is not a bad thing. We are developing many more pitchers that we ever have in the past. But, in the heat of a game it can sometimes be tough to find someone that can throw strike. Much less anyone that can hit locations and have a little speed.
Knowing this up front, we chose to select pitchers above all else. Nobody can get two or three studs on a team, but with one stud and four or five consistent strike throwers, you can go a long way! This is where the draft strategy came into play. We don’t hit the best, we don’t field the best, but we definitely have one of the best pitching staffs in the league. And what do we all know? Good pitching stops good hitting EVERY TIME!
At the end of the season, we will be playing a double elimination tournament to prepare our minor leaguers for the 9-10 year old All-Star tournament. This tournament will take place over the course of a week. Every team will need to go 6 or 7 deep in pitching. Hopefully we score enough runs to support our pitching. Then we will look like draft masters!
Do you have any pitching management tips to share? Post a comment below and let us know about it.
Both my softball and my baseball team hold pitching practice once a week. The improvement we see over the course of a three month season is phenomenal. Pitching is the most important part of the game and should never be ignored.
Stretch vs. Windup
This is a debate that I have going with a number of coaches in a variety of leagues. My opinion? Teaching the stretch position is lazy coaching. OK, there are exceptions to this rule, but very few. A few reasons why you would want to start from the stretch:
1. The kid is all over the place and hasn’t developed the motor skills to control the additional motions.
2. The kid has difficulty getting his arm “back” in the proper throwing position.
3. The kid’s head won’t stop bobbing and needs to be kept still.
Other than that, I can’t think of any other reason at a young age to pitch from the stretch. The fact is, in the first few weeks, a kid will definitely struggle from the wind up. In the long run though, throwing from the windup give them more power and helps them to keep their momentum going towards the plate. They have their whole life from age 12 up to learn the stretch position, now teach them to pitch properly from the windup and they will be better in the future for it.
Pitching from the windup is a natural progression if you have taught them to throw properly during regular practices. The two step throw lends itself to the windup position. Proper techniques are what baseball is all about. Teach, repeat, demonstrate, repeat, teach, repeat, demonstrate, repeat. My teams can finish my sentences because I stay on message at ALL times. This is essential to the sport and requires that I have a plan and technique that I am teaching.
The good of it all
All in all, the real key is proper technique and repetitive practice. So many times I see teams standing one the field in a line taking grounders. One fields while 11 watch. This is a horrible injustice to the kids. Most of our teams are at least competitive by the end of the season because we drill them to death. We make all drills games and then they are having fun and don’t even know they are practicing! Do it on the fly, make up a reason to get points for accomplishing something, they love it! Want them to run faster? Take out a stop-watch and make up times, they don’t know or care, they are just trying harder because it is a game, a competition. And isn’t that what we really want? Our kids learning to compete at the highest level they are individually capable of?
I don’t want to get too cocky, but our softball team, the Flames are very strong. Not only are they a very talented team, they are one of the funnest teams I have ever coached. They really are coming together and being around them is a joy.
Our first game was last night and I was pleasantly surprised. While I knew we had a good defense and very powerful hitting, our pitching was very suspect! Enter our new (for now anyway) star and team leader.
I have coached this girl for four years now. She is very talented but never really lived up to her talent. She didn’t like pitching, even though she had great potential, she didn’t like being hot, even though we live in Florida! She had little or no confidence and doubted herself.
I don’t know what happened this year, but she has come out of her shell completely! She is leading the team’s cheers and showing a level of confidence she never showed before. Confidence is a very shaky thing though and we will need to help her work through the difficult times she will inevitably face over the long season we have here in the south.
Tonight we held a light practice. FCAT testing is taking place in our county and this is serious business. During that practice this girl continued to lead the team. As we were leaving she asked me who was pitching. I told her I was planning on her. Her reply? “yeessssssssss”. A far cry from the one who didn’t care either way for 3 years.
Hopefully she will maintain this attitude as we march towards our top team championship!
Tonight was pitching practice. I combine my girls and boys for this practice and it works pretty well. We have balls flying all over the place. I am fortunate enough to be blessed with the best co-managers on the planet. My softball manager has been able to be there when the baseball coaches weren’t and visa-versa.
It is very good to have such great people surrounding me. They are managers in their own right. I am the assistant on the boys minor team and my assistant was a manager for years on the girls softball team. I really consider us all equals. We all have great knowledge and skill sets that compliment each other.
The progress both teams have made in the pitching department is amazing. Our first game we didn’t throw hardly any strikes on either team, and now we hardly walk any players. The progress the girls have made is awesome and the boys are developing such confidence.
It is important to hold special practices just for pitchers/catchers. It is tough to work them during the normal practice schedule and a separate day is required to provide proper instruction.
Again, I go back to the best lesson I ever learned, it came from a customer of mine who also coached softball. He said “I found that the team that practiced the most usually won the most, so we practiced the most”. So simple, yet so brilliant.