Youth Pitching Speed
By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
Velocity is not the most important factor for youth pitchers. If a young pitcher can't throw strikes, the strongest arm in the world will not help them. Being able to throw strikes at a young age is what makes youth pitchers successful.
If a youth pitcher can throw a strike 60% of the time, they are considered above average. Young hitters have a hard time hitting against pitchers and it takes them a few years to develop a "hitter's eye". Being able to throw strikes a majority of the time will give most youth pitchers a good chance to succeed.
When I was 9 years old in Little League, the best pitcher in the league was a guy who did not throw very hard. Instead, he threw more strikes than any other pitcher in the league. He only walked 1 or 2 batters in a game... a feat that few 9 year old pitchers could accomplish. In a 6 inning game, it was common for him to strike out 10+ hitters. The hitters simply are not good enough at the younger ages to hit youth pitching.
When I was 12 years old, there was a pitcher on my team who was throwing 70mph, which is very fast for that age. However, this pitcher could not throw strikes consistently. He regularly walked 2 or 3 batters per inning. The excessive walks would always seem to come back to hurt him. Even though he had the strongest arm in the league at the time, he did not have much success on the mound.
Youth pitching speed is something that should not be obsessed about. It really doesn't matter if a young pitcher has a cannon for an arm if he can't hit the strike zone. A pitcher throwing 20mph slower who can throw strikes will have much more success.
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