Pitching… Most likely the hardest thing about the game known for constant failure – baseball. It is the most precise thing I have ever had to do in school or sports. Are you frustrated with pitching, or know someone who is? If so, you are not alone. I am going to share with you my experience in the “art” of pitching.
I first started pitching when I was nine years old, the minimum age a kid can pitch. The very first time I pitched in a game, I felt terrified. I was in control of the game and that can be very scary. I felt very awkward up there on the mound, with everyone staring at me and the knowledge that I could easily lose the game with just bad pitching. As it turns out, we lost that game, horribly. I had walked most of the batters and was only saved by the five batter per inning maximum. I felt discouraged, and did not really want to do it again ever. As I pitched more though, I got a bit better and my discouragement went away game by game.
When I turned eleven, I joined my first select (travel) baseball team. The only reason we even considered joining the team is that I could throw hard which I had always been able to do. Fortunately, our decision paid off and I joined the 11U Outlaws AA team playing a year up for my age. I started taking lessons from a former pitcher named Brandon at our local D-Bat. Under his tutelage, I began to get better, and my mechanics more sound. But even so, I did not play a lot on the Outlaws, batted last, and almost never pitched. My discouragement started to creep back. At the end of my first season with Outlaws, they disbanded which came as a shock to my parents and me.
Famous Pitching Quotes
- My pitching philosophy is simple – keep the ball way from the bat. – Satchel Paige
- Good pitching will always stop good hitting and vice-versa. – Casey Stengel
- It’s pitching, hitting, and defense that wins. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable. – Joe Garagiola
We began to search for a new team, and fortunately, we stumbled upon the 11U Desperados AA team. We joined this team and I quit going to D-Bat for lessons, instead being taught by Coach Spencer of Guyer High School. I learned a lot from him and my pitching improved dramatically. Despite my new skills I still did not pitch very much on the Desperados, but my hitting and fielding improved greatly. During my second season with the Desperados, I started to take lessons from Melvin Harper, coach of the 14U Majors Desperado team. Under his tutelage, I took my pitching to a whole new level in terms of speed, accuracy, control, and mechanics. I approached my coach about pitching more in games and specifically during Sunday games. He decided to give me a chance and let me pitch on a Saturday game for three innings. I smashed the other team’s batters. I ended the game with no walks five strikeouts. My coach came up to me after the game and said, “You said you wanted to be a Sunday pitcher, well that’s how you do it.”
I finished out the season with much more pitching time and experience. My dad and I were quite content, but felt that the level I was at was too easy for me. We left the Desperados on good terms and joined the 13U AAA Warriors, with me playing a year up for my age again. Over the course of the winter before our first season with the Warriors, I began to take lessons from a former pro-ball player named Garrett Patterson. My pitching level sky-rocketed. When I pitched my first game of the season with the Warriors, I threw a full game, five inning no-hitter. I was extremely pleased with my performance. The next week my elbow was extremely sore and worried myself and my parents. The pain passed and we thought it was because we went too far too fast. But I kept noticing that whenever I was warming up, or had had a long break between pitching innings, that my arm would stiffen up and my elbow would hurt. My parents decided on physical therapy. Thankfully, my arm was not seriously injured and only needed a few weeks of therapy. At the end of the season I ended up being one of the top pitchers on my team, which was all thanks to hard work and practice.
NOTE: Make sure you take care of you arm! If you really love pitching don’t damage your long term pitching for short term pitching if you have pain. And, always ice ice ice…
After big end of season AAYBA tournament, I decided that I wanted to play more baseball and guest played for my pitching coach’s team, the 12U AAA Prosource Athletics. I really liked the players and also the coaches. We found out that the Warriors had disbanded and we naturally decided to join the Athletics. In the fall season of 2013, we had our first season with the Athletics. I pitched a lot and had a very successful season pitching-wise. At the end of the season, I pitched our last game against a super good majors team. We played them twice with me pitching half an inning in the first game on Saturday and three innings on the first game on Sunday. We lost both times, the first game’s score was 7-3 while the second game was 4-3. In the second game, they hit me three times while I was pitching. Once in my pitching hand, once in my left shin, and another time in my right thigh. Even so they had no earned runs on me in the game and with that end to the season I was very satisfied.
With the end of my first season with the athletics, a new one is about to begin. I am looking forward to our next season in the spring.
My pitching journey is like a lot of kids who want to play baseball – its been full of ups and downs. There have been times I wanted to quit and times I felt on top of the world. Two key lessons I have learned is to be sure and take care of your arm and the second is to find a good pitching coach. I hope I have opened your eyes a little bit more to the difficulties of pitching.
Pitching Drills: Stride Drill for Consistent Pitching Delivery
A Little Drill I have my Pitchers Do ~ Throwing Strikes Under Pressure
Pitching Mechanics – increasing velocity using your legs and hips