I’m often asked how old I feel a pitcher should be to start learning new pitches.
Age has nothing to do with learning pitches as it isn’t a skill that’s based on age, so read on to find out when a pitcher can start learning new pitches.
The ability for a pitcher to take her fastball and make it break up for a Riseball, or down for a Dropball, or curve out for a Curveball, or curve in for a Screwball, or go slower for a Changeup is based on a pitcher’s ability to change the direction of the spin of the ball and to control the speed of the ball’s spin.
Doing so requires the pitcher to control her hand when she’s releasing the ball – which means that in order for a pitcher to learn to throw different pitches, she must be able to control the exact position, direction and speed of her hand and wrist snap at the moment when she’s releasing the ball when her hand is traveling it’s absolute fastest.
Most young pitcher’s (ages 8 to 12) I work with still struggle greatly with being consistent on their release point in regards to controlling up and down and in and out. Sometime’s they’re able to hit their targets but often times they aren’t. So before a pitcher is really able to change the normal release point in order to create a different spin and ball direction the pitcher must first learn to be consistent with her control.
What’s consistent? If your pitcher can hit 12 different targets in a row then she’s able to start learning different pitches. The figure to the left represents 4 different locations in a strike zone; Up & In, Down and In, Up & Out, Down & Out. When your pitcher can hit the catcher’s glove in each of these 4 positions, 3 times in a row without the catcher moving her glove then she has enough control of her release point to start learning pitches.