With the postseason in full swing — and Braves, and especially Dodgers fans, in mourning — I came across a GREAT quote from Gerrit Cole’s first pitching coach, Zak Doan, which I think is a terrific reminder for players and parents.
Given the number of tournaments and showcases that are now ubiquitous in our nation, the real question has to be this: To what degree does participating in tournaments between the ages of 8-14 really have to do with the long-term benefit of working on developing your skill set?
Here is Zak Doan’s quote about how they handled this question:
If the best pitcher in baseball right now had, as a young player, a goal of focusing on his own throwing program and didn’t care about winning an obscure tournament in Camarillo, Santa Barbara, or Huntington Beach, then it’s probably wise to pay attention to what the best players in the game did growing up and follow their lead.
There will be plenty of games played in a ballplayer’s career. However, there is always time to work on different aspects of your child’s game.
Ask yourself this question: Would it be better to play 3-5 games a weekend and, as a shortstop, get 6-8 balls hit to you a game with a total of up to 30-40 for the weekend (even less as an outfielder) OR spend three days over a weekend taking a minimum of 100 ground balls a day where the ball is hit directly to you with specific situations and focus on improvement that way? Most people will take 300 ground balls in a weekend over 3 days of playing 3-5 games in terms of strictly development purposes.
The same idea applies to pitching. You can long toss for 2 days over a weekend and work on your arm strength rather than pitch the maximum number of pitches in tournaments over a weekend, which would total maybe 100-120 pitches in all of the games. If you add in all the warm-up pitches, you’ll get closer to 200 pitches.
Don’t get me wrong, playing in those games is fine and fun. There are many lessons to be learned about being part of a team and listening to coaches who are doing their best to teach you the finer points of the game. But the long-term effect may not be the best thing for your player as you work on specific parts of your game. And that includes hitting.
Here at Throwzone Academy, we always have your player’s best interests in mind. It hurts both Warren and I when we hear about a player who just started pitching with his new team and is then sent out for 3 innings and 90 pitches. The player doesn’t understand why his arm hurts, but we see this a lot. Forget that the coach “needs” him or they were missing players. We, as your teaching coaches, have to insist that we can help you navigate through the dealings with coaches for the sake of your child’s arm health.
Our weekly classes deal with these matters and can help ensure that a healthy arm is top priority each and every week.
Yes, velocity is a big deal, but forget what coaches say about how they would rather have a strike thrower. Of course they would, but someone who throws hard gets away with mistakes more than a thrower with less velocity. Take what happened with Walker Buehler in Game 5. The Nationals couldn’t really do much with him, but as soon as Kershaw came in with less velocity, Nationals hitters feasted on him, sadly.
Ask us about our 7:30pm classes and let’s talk about whether those might work for your ballplayer in terms of velocity enhancement. Plus, before you know it, the holidays will be around the corner and our Holiday Training camp will be ready to go. Look for details soon about that!
Until next time…