The importance of pitching in baseball, and especially youth baseball, can’t be overstated. A pitcher can derail a week of practice in a walk-fest, sending the fielders into a bored semi-slumber. A dominant pitcher can make the worst coach look like a genius. At the very least, you have to have a pitcher make a pitch on every single play, so that alone should prove the position’s importance.
Many coaches wonder, how many pitchers should I carry on my team? My answer to them is a question: How many players do you have? That’s how many pitchers I think teams should carry. If they don’t have that many pitchers, then I think it’s only right to train that many pitchers.
As boys get older, some will realize they do not want to pitch and some will just be too scared to pitch from past experiences. Even with these kids, I think it’s best that they retry it every once in a while, even in a game here or there. If a player decides he doesn’t like pitching, then maybe he should stop for the rest of the season but give it another try the following season.
With the right amount of practice and teaching, a player of any age can become a decent pitcher. The only excuse not to teach pitching to everyone is that you’re trying to win, and to me, that’s trying to win the wrong way.
This doesn’t mean that you have to immediately go and send every kid on your team to the mound, but it does mean they should be given them same opportunity as others to learn to pitch. If they put out the exact same effort as your star pitcher, why don’t they deserve the same chances in practice to work on it? It’s hard to find time in practice to work with everyone, but with enough assistant coaches and/or some optional practices, it’s possible to have everyone practice pitching. The opportunity would be the practices and extra practices, they choose whether or not to participate.
When it comes to getting everyone in the games, there are a few things you should keep in mind. If a pitcher cannot throw strikes, it’s unfair to the rest of the players that have to watch player after player reach first base on a walk. However, certain leagues limit runs per inning and certain games will present an opportunity to give players chances to pitch. The best coaches will use these opportunities wisely to benefit his entire team.
There might be players on your team that don’t even know if they want to pitch or would enjoy it. If you give them the opportunity, they might find a love for it and work on it at home. You could develop your next ace just by giving him a small chance and him going home and perfecting the art of pitching. You might find a flamethrower that hits the target in someone you never expected. You might give the kid a memory that last their entire life: the day I got to pitch. You’re there to teach baseball, teach all of it to all of the kids.
In tournaments, the size of a pitching staff can quickly become a problem. If you get to a 4th game and beyond, it’s highly likely that more than half of your players have pitched. If not, you might be throwing them for too many pitches. If the tournament lasts beyond that, having less than 8 pitchers could be a problem. If you had a roster of 12 pitchers, tournaments would become a breeze. In some tournaments, pool play only matters for seeding, and everyone gets to play in the bracket. These games are a great time to give players opportunities where they usually don’t receive them.
Every kid deserves a chance at baseball. Be the coach that fully gives that to them.