Although much of the instruction on this website is geared toward older pitchers, we get quite a few parents of young pitchers looking for youth baseball pitching instruction. At 8 years old, I would recommend you not focus on pushing hard in order to smoke it in there. Take a more holistic view of this.
At 8, I would focus on overall mechanics that are repeatable. This is a total body effort and focusing on one thing can result in something else being neglected with negative results.
Are you familiar with the whole concept of the kinetic chain and the transfer of momentum from large body masses to small ones? It all has to be put together into a unified whole. At 8, if he's thinking "rip it", the "whole" will break down. Variable results would not be unexpected. What about timing of the parts? Is he focusing on the arm to throw it hard? Not that the arm's not important but he needs to get used to the entire chain happening effectively. You want him to start with what will take him farther in his pitching life. If he doesn't have repeatable, efficient mechanics overall, he won't have lasting consistency. Motor learning researchers typically state that a "reverse progression" approach to acquiring complex motor skills is the most effective. Start with the end, or goal, in mind (arm action to throw the ball) and gradually add what comes before (shoulder rotation then trunk flexion then lower body). Taken as far as one can, don't let him add the next component until he's "mastered" the current one. Always finish with the "goal", that being to throw the ball. This way, he'll always be doing something he's adept at. Forward progressions (starting at the beginning with drills for those items) result in a kid doing things he's not really mastered yet. Reverse progressions avoid that.
Additionally, you should not focus on one thing, such as pushing off or throwing hard, without keeping it in the context of the "big picture". Repeatable mechanics and practice of them will result in the control he needs. It's just not overnight.
Have your son work with a pitching coach. You can go along. Listen and learn, but do not say a word. What you will find is that the most successful youth pitching coaches talk gently and spend more time watching and listening. The few words that are said are very powerful. I learned a lot from the experience; probably more than my son. We now work together and the most rewarding part is not my son's successes on the mound but the joy of spending time together.
Helpful Youth Baseball Pitching Instruction Drills
with a little guy (8 yr old). the best first lesson i have found is putting them in a batting cage with an atec pitcher's target attached to one end and a bag of 25 to 50 good baseballs to throw into the target. with a running start (and i mean running), have them throw the ball into the orange outlined strike zone at full speed. have them release the ball from 10 to 15 ft from the target. when they can consistently throw 8 to 9 of 10 pitches into the target.
when they can do this and control their body moving this quickly throwing the ball at a target, they are way down the road in the right direction in my opinion. this is the first throwing i do with any new student. especially a little guy.
if this is helpful we can talk about additional things working from this base.
as stated by someone earlier, have fun. and as terry kennedy says on xm radio 175 with rob dibble, when working on pitching mechanics, don't forget to throw the ball.
i wish you all the very best and hours of fun with your sons. encourage always. stop bitching and start emphasizing what they do right. then maybe they'll let you work with your grandchildren.
What do you think?
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