As part of our “learning path” article series, today we discuss pitching and throwing for ages 13 – 14. This is where you might notice true and actual “teenage rebellion” on and off the field. You’ve got a case of the 7th and 8th graders. You’ve got one kid resembling a miniature version of PeeWee Herman, while another kid is 5’, 8”, has a five o’clock shadow… and both of these kids are the same age!
These kids may appear moody, uninterested or even angry at times, but trust us, they still need just as much care and consideration as when they were smaller, just don’t tell them we told you.
7th and 8th graders are easily influenced by their friends, which is an opportunity to tout out your team spirit speeches and group effort exercises. You’ll also notice that there’s a shift in thinking, an eagerness to learn, as well as the ability to think in abstract as well as concrete ideas.
Here’s where we think ages 13 and 14 will do best for drills and exercises.
You taught them the shuffle throw and follow, now keep doing that, but bigger! Emphasize generating momentum toward the target and following the throw. Their outfield defense responsibilities will have improved with age, they can throw farther and stronger. Remind them in a tough-love kind of way that the ball doesn’t get hit to one player in the outfield, it’s hit to ALL players on the field who are playing defense.
Refining Pitching Skills including Pickoff Mechanics
While fastball velocity is supreme, and fastball command isn’t far behind, young pitchers need to master change ups, and not just how to do them, but when to do them. You’ll also be able to show young pitchers the art of breaking balls, the cutters, sliders and curveballs that have been befuddling hitters for decades. Explore the nuances and details of pickoff mechanics with your pitchers and runners in dedicated groups.
Flat Work and Long Toss
Baseball is a leisurely game that requires great speed and accuracy, tell that to any lazy teenager that doesn’t want to do flat work (drills) and then make them do 5 minutes of extra practice to demonstrate your point.
These kids are growing, so make sure when you introduce them to your long toss program that it is comprehensive and individualized for each player. You’ve got such a variety of shapes and sizes of players at this age, preaching and practicing excellent arm, shoulder and elbow care is key.