One area I believe that is often overlooked is mechanics at the youth/little league level. Let me first say mechanics are crucial at any age and any issues should be corrected immediately. That being said, I believe coaches have a tendency with youth pitchers to either make too many changes or none at all. This can allow pitchers to develop bad habits that become harder to break as the pitcher ages or the pitcher becomes too robotical in his delivery due to over overcoaching.
I believe both of these issues can be fixed in a very simple and easy way: Focusing On The Fundamentals. Many of you coaches may remember legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. If you know anything about Coach Wooden’s philosophy it was that he emphasized fundamentals every single day. He believed if a player mastered the fundamentals, s/he would be abound with confidence. I agree 110% with Coach Wooden. If pitchers are taught early on in their careers the very basic actions of the pitching delivery (hip drive, arm action, rotation, follow-through) then the pitcher can become much more confident in his ability, he can establish a “FEEL” for his mechanics so he can adjust when something is wrong, and he can keep his arm healthy.
For a youth pitcher, laying the foundation (mechanics) can set him on the path to success or to the doctor’s office. Every day I read about more and more pitchers in middle and high school having to have Tommy John surgery. If we, as coaches, can better implement proper pitching fundamentals then pitchers stand a much better chance of staying healthy and reaching their full potential. Once these fundamentals have been taught it’s important coaches reinforce them each practice and bullpen. These good habits will allow your pitchers to be more successful and pitch with less pain, which is something I believe all coaches want. Coaches spend hours hitting grounders to infielders and hitting fly balls into the outfield but rarely repeat the fundamentals of pitching to pitchers. Maybe if we did, our pitchers would be able to fully develop their skills and become the best pitchers they can become.