Your 10-12 year old players are no longer as pre-occupied with play like when they were younger. And, not to get you more excited about tweens, but things like fighting, lying, bullying, disrupting practice and goofing off are all NORMAL for this age range. Keeping them focused for 90 minutes will involve a lot of running and discipline, as well as careful and repetitive skills training.
Don’t let any of their posturing fool you, these kids need guidance, instruction, and encouragement more than ever. They crave competence and achievement and positive social interaction with adults and peers. They’re trying to find themselves, and even though they roll their eyes at you, they want nothing more than to find a way to shine as individuals.
None of these baseball students need to pointlessly injure themselves learning about velocity and arm care when it comes to throwing and pitching, so we think the following areas are essential for teaching pitching and throwing for ages 10 – 12.
Wind-Up vs. Stretch
Because the physical difference is so big with these moves, it’s paramount that your team knows proper pitcher positions. Even if a kid has no interest in being on the pitcher’s mound, they sure need to know the signs if they’re on base! There are some MLB players that favor the stretch most of the time, regardless of who is on base. You might break out some video examples to show some of the more celebrated pitcher leg kicks through history, and then give the kids steps to perform both the stretch and the wind up.
Shuffle, Throw, Follow
It doesn’t matter if it’s a grounder, a line drive, or a pop up, they’ve got to understand that in all aspects of the game, implementing Shuffle, Throw, Follow is mandatory. Instead of just barking orders about body line-up at them, get them involved in participating and encouraging good form with each other, this generates enthusiasm and great throws!
Pitchers covering first
Young pitchers need to fully grasp their responsibilities to infield antics, from fielding the ball, to covering first (and other bases) and backing up those bases. Engrain the habit of covering first base to pitchers so thoroughly that they have dreams of the sharp right side of the diamond! Work on mastering the stretch position and using patience and tenacity to fool team mates who try to lead and steal, and watch for balks.