BY Matt Schissell (@shizzpeace13)
It’s that time of year again– the end of summer. Kids are going back to school and summer baseball seasons are over except for those lucky enough to play in the Little League World Series. The Little League World Series (LLWS) is fantastic. It promotes the game of baseball to a younger crowd and gives participants some memories they’ll never forget. One of the biggest issues with youth baseball today, including the LLWS, is pitching. It may be an old-school thought process, but 11-13 year old kids should not be spinning off curve balls every third pitch even if it leads to a ridiculous 16 strikeouts. While it may seem harmless at the time to the people who don’t understand baseball, kids’ arms aren’t fully developed. Their bodies aren’t made for that kind of use. This isn’t the player’s fault, and coaches and parents often just don’t know any better. Throwing curveballs and sliders with undeveloped muscles creates bad throwing habits and can lead to injuries later on in a player’s career. At this age the only off-speed pitch that should be thrown is a changeup. Developing a quality fastball with proper mechanics and a good changeup can carry a young pitcher all the way to college, and allow them to dominate younger competition. Instead of focusing on quality off-speed pitches, little leaguers should focus on the intent of their pitches (mainly fastballs), putting their whole body into every pitch, and creating momentum towards the plate. At the end of the day, an undeveloped body is unable to properly execute a curveball without creating bad mechanics, bad habits, or even injury.