Youth Pitching Instruction For Ages 7-14

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Steven Ellis headshotFormer pro pitcher
Steven Ellis

Did you know?

According to Little League Baseball, there about 2.3 million little leaguers in the U.S.

Yet, only 14.2% will go on to play baseball in high school.

Only 1.7% will play college baseball.

And every year, just a little over 1,200 total players from both high school and college will get drafted by an MLB team.

Here's the deal:

It's no secret that just about every serious youth pitcher wants to become a major leaguer one day.

The reality is that most of them won't.

Yet it's usually not for one's lack of desire or love of the game...

In fact, many young kids are deeply passionate about baseball.

But in my experience, the main reason most kids don't advance to the next level is because of this:

Most players lack the basic skills and fundamental knowledge for how to play the game.

I see it all the time in Little League and high school baseball. And I even see it in college.

But for Little League pitchers in particular, this usually means that despite a parent's or coach's best intentions, most kids aren't getting good instruction, learning proper pitching mechanics, developing mental toughness, or taking care of their arm starting at an early age.

Little League pitcher image Pitching mechanics are considered by most to be the foundation of pitching. Without solid mechanics, pitchers struggle with their control, add additional stress to their arms and never maximize their velocity. (Photo by Rob Hurlbut)

Poor pitching habits and techniques formed early are the leading cause of sore arms, arm injuries and unrealized potential.

That's because every improper throw reinforces into muscle memory incorrect movement patterns, which makes it far more difficult to correct mechanical faults down the road.

That's why I believe:

Good habits formed early make all the difference.

Welcome to my website.

My name is Steven Ellis, and I'm a two-time MLB Draft pick and former pitcher in the Chicago Cubs organization.

These days, I'm a parent and youth baseball coach just like many of you.

The primary intent of this site is to help the youth pitcher get started on a positive note and continue to improve his pitching ability with practical tips and solutions to learn the fundamentals of pitching—and have more fun on the mound.

And I'm truly honored that so many visitors have said, " is the best and most comprehensive instructional resource available anywhere" for parents and coaches of youth pitchers.

Whether it's a recommendation from Major League Baseball's Pitch Smart initiative, which regularly links to my youth pitching articles and videos like this:

MLB Pitch Smart tweet image

Or it's one of the dozens of emails I get every week from coaches in Little League Baseball, USSSA, Super Series, AABC, Pony, Babe Ruth, NABF, AAU, Dixie, Cal Ripken, YMCA, American Legion, CABA and the Youth Majors like this:

Little League coach thanks image

It really means a lot to me to know that my exclusive little league pitching tips and insights are helping others learn how to pitch.

When I talk to baseball parents about helping their son improve his pitching, most want to know essentially one thing:

Most parents want to know how they can be their son's best pitching coach.

I'm amazed every time I'm at the ball field—or at travel tournaments, or at youth All Star games, or at regular season games, or even watching the Little League World Series on TV—when I hear coaches constantly saying things like:

"Just throw strikes!"

"Come on now, focus!"

"Don't walk this guy!"

...and a ton of other completely useless instructions from the dugout.

Believe me, nobody is trying harder to throw strikes than the pitcher, and he's focusing the best way he knows how.

Little League pitching imagePitching mechanics are simply about moving the body through space using proper timing in a well-balanced and controlled manner so that the pitcher lands and gets into a consistent throwing position. Getting to the proper throwing position will be the determining factor in how much power he will be able to generate. (Photo by Steve Allen)

Just last weekend, I heard one Little League coach with two separate pitchers in the same game say:

"If you walk this kid, I'm taking you out."

Well, what do you think happened?

That's right, both pitchers walked the next kid and, frankly, they weren't even close to throwing a strike.

Maybe kids need to be motivated to focus that way. Or maybe not. Every coach certainly has a different style.

But one thing's for sure:

Kids need to be told useful instructions to make the necessary adjustments they need to make in order to be successful—not stating the obvious like:

"C'mon, you're not throwing strikes!"

As a coach or parent, you can help your pitcher change his thoughts if he's struggling on the mound...

You can help him slow things down. Or change his routine. Or make a mechanical adjustment, like moving his starting stance on the rubber. Or think about something else to break the mesmerism of missing the target.

Basically, you should say anything but, "Come on, throw strikes!"

That's why I constantly say...

Kids need encouragement and positive reinforcement at all times.

This approach is a far more effective strategy in helping young pitchers throw better, gain confidence and make noticable improvements than anything else I've found in my baseball coaching experience.

Little League hitter image Remember, just because a pitcher has good control doesn't mean his mechanics are good. Even with poor mechanics, many pitchers are able to locate the ball. However, they will sacrifice velocity to do so. With good mechanics, pitchers can maximize their velocity and still locate the ball with consistency. (Photo by Rob Hurlbut)

OK, so we know that motivating pitchers the right way is so important. But what about becoming a good pitcher?

Successful pitchers discover at an early age that of all the pitching strategies they can learn there are essentially three important skills that must be mastered first before becoming a dominate pitcher:

  1. Throw strikes

    Pitchers need to get ahead in the count and put hitters away quickly and efficiently in order to keep pitch counts down and their teammates/fielders behind them on their feet.

    Your son cannot walk batters; he must make hitters' swing the bat.

  2. Hit your spots

    Your son must have good command and control of his pitches. This starts with developing great pitching mechanics and a repeatable delivery, so that no matter if he's throwing a fastball or a change-up or using any other youth pitching grips—it all looks the same.

  3. Keep the ball down in the zone

    Most successful pitchers are control pitchers that keep the ball down, in the bottom half of the strike zone.

    Even if your son is still working on improving his pitching velocity, keeping the ball down in the strike zone is a recipe for more ground balls, more swings and misses, and more success.

Youth pitchers image The longer you wait to fix mechanical faults, the longer it will take to increase velocity or develop better control. Success now with poor mechanics is only short term success. Poor mechanics can lead to injury over the long term and a shortened career. You can have a strong arm and be well conditioned but without good mechanics, it's like throwing uphill. (Photo by Rob Hurlbut)

OK, so we know that throwing strikes is important. But what about staying healthy?

Here's what we know:

Over the course of a baseball season, a pitcher's arm is placed under a tremendous amount of stress.

The good news is, there are a few ways parents can help their son keep their arm healthy this season, so that he can keep making improvements without being sidelined with an injury.

  1. Make sure your son spends enough time and effort warming up and stretching out properly before pitching.

    Here are the best exercises for pitchers.

  2. Help him learn the fundamentals of throwing and fielding his position early and then remind him of them often as you evaluate his progress on the baseball field.

    Here are my favorite pitching drills and a throwing program for the youth pitcher that may be helpful.

  3. Teach him to know his limitations and to be patient about working within them.

  4. Help him understand the difference between a sore pitching arm and a hurt pitching arm.

  5. Pitching arm injuries can come from a variety of causes, from throwing too much to throwing the wrong way, to throwing too little in preparation for the season.

    Let the arm dictate when it needs rest or adjustment.

    That big game in which your son is supposed to pitch six innings won't seem so big in a few years when he can't use his pitching arm without pain.

  6. If your son's arm needs rest, encourage him to talk to his baseball coach or pitching coach right away. (Here are other tips for little league pitchers to keep their arm healthy.)

    And if you're a coach, you can adhere to these recommendations to protect your pitchers' arms.

Coaching Little League pitchers image Remember, the key to more velocity is good mechanics, a strong arm and a well-conditioned pitcher. Once a pitcher develops better mechanics, he will find that his control gets better almost instantly. And with good mechanics throwing becomes much more effortless and much more fun. (Photo by Nan Palmero)

How to create long-term pitching success

One of the keys then for long-term pitching success is to educate yourself on what are the common elements of a quality delivery.

Then you must understand which mechanical faults will hold you back and which pitching drills you can do to fix each problem.

There is no quick fix or magic bullet.

Like anything else in life, if you want to be successful you must know what to do.

And when it comes to developing or teaching quality pitching mechanics, you must know not only what to do, but why you are doing it...

...and finally, what the result will be that you are trying to produce.

The coaching techniques you'll find in my articles and videos and in my youth pitching program concentrate on giving every pitcher the mental edge and the latest in biomechanical techniques they need, at any age, to insure they learn how to throw harder, with better control while staying injury free.

And foremost to always have fun when they take the mound because they know they are in control.

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