Youth Pitching Control
By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
Throwing a baseball hard or making a baseball curve isn't necessarily going make someone a good youth baseball pitcher. Control must be developed in order to pitch effectively.
Control comes from practice using good mechanics (like everything else, repetition doing something the right way leads to success). This requires focus and concentration during practice, which can be difficult for the young player.
The first thing young pitchers need to overcome is their inability to throw to the proper target – the catcher's mitt. Instead, they generally try to throw with reference to home plate or, more often, the batter.
Two things can be done to help them overcome this problem.
First, whenever a young pitcher practices or warms up before a game, the catcher should continually move the target around the strike zone (and occasionally outside the strike zone). This will increase the pitcher's attention to the mitt.
Second, the pitcher needs to assess where his pitch was in relation to the mitt and set goals for success and failure for his pitches. For example, a young player new to pitching might define any pitch within eight inches of the mitt a success. As he develops, he can change this criterion to six or four inches (or whatever).
This definition of success is very different from using balls and strikes (which is something under the umpire's control anyway).
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