Youth baseball has changed a lot over the years, and it seems things are moving more and more towards professionalism every day.
With the rise of travel ball, big showcases and tournaments, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we’re dealing with kids here, and when it comes down to it, the game is supposed to be fun.
I’m a firm believer that the number one goal for kids playing baseball at the Little League level should be having fun and developing a love for the game. Kids can put a lot of pressure on themselves as it is, and misguided coaches and parents can easily take the fun out of the game and turns kids off to the sport.
This is something I know from experience… when I was 11 and 12 I didn’t even play Little League. Tough coaches and high expectations had taken the fun out of competing. I never stopped loving baseball though, and thankfully, with the guidance of understanding, encouraging parents, I got back into it when I was 13 and never looked back.
So with all that said, and baseball season nearly upon us, I thought I would share some of my lessons for Little League pitchers looking to become the best pitchers they can be.
39 Lessons for Little League Pitchers
1. Always throw with a purpose.
2. Warm up to throw, don’t throw to warm up.
3. Keep your head up. There are few things worse than moping on the mound.
4. It’s okay to fail.
5. Everyone has bad days… It’s not about getting knocked down, it’s about getting back up.
6. The harder you work, the tougher it is to quit.
7. Pick up your teammates.
8. Don’t call out your teammates when they make an error.
9. Focus on what you can control… your next pitch.
10. You don’t need 16 different pitches.
11. Control your breathing. Slow, relaxing breaths can help you stay calm and focused.
12. Every pitcher is different – develop your own style.
13. Keep your self-talk positive (read more here).
14. The ump is not out to get you.
15. Any day you get to suit up and play baseball is a blessing.
16. Always eat a good breakfast.
A visit to Ireland a few years back convinced me
of this… The Irish know how to do breakfast.
17. See the pitch in your mind before you go into your motion. Give yourself a mental blueprint.
18. Don’t try to strike everyone out.
“I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it.” – Sandy Koufax
19. Attack the strike zone.
20. Listen to your arm… don’t fight through soreness, it’s the only pitching arm you’ve got!
21. If your arm is sore, tell your coach.
22. Dream big!
23. Play catch more, pitch in games less.
24. It’s not all about mechanics – it’s tough to throw strikes when you’re worried about where your elbow is.
25. It’s okay to get angry or frustrated… Breathe and let it out before making your next pitch.
26. Treat your coaches with respect.
27. Coaches… treat your players with respect!
Like how I snuck that one on there?
28. No pitcher has ever been perfect every time out there… just do your best.
29. Don’t be too cocky… the best pitchers know they can always get better.
30. Focus on your target… If you’re worried about hitting the batter, and your eyes are looking at the batter… you’re going to hit the batter!
31. Have a mantra… something like, “Good, low strike here.”
32. Field your position. Once the ball leaves your hand, you become another fielder.
33. Practice your delivery until you can repeat it with your eyes closed.
34. Focus on the process, not the outcome… success will come from making good pitches.
35. Keep it simple… work fast, throw strikes.
36. Watch more baseball! You can learn a lot from watching major league pitchers work.
37. If you can’t command your fastball, don’t waste time working on 3 different off-speed pitches.
38. Respect the hitter – don’t show him up when you strike him out.
39. Study the game… there were some pretty great pitchers that came before you. Learn from them!
Would love your thoughts. Any you think I missed?Share