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Thread: How do you handle kids that want to pitch and catch?

  1. #1
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    How do you handle kids that want to pitch and catch?

    How are coaches generally dealing with kids (8 - 12) that like to catch and pitch? ASMI's recommendation seems to be that players should not catch and pitch in the same season. What's the expectation for this age group where kids should be learning every position?

    Obviously you don't want to have a kids do both in the same game, but are you letting kids catch between starts? If so are you giving him extra rest between starts? In this case figure that there is stealing.

    Adam

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    From what I have seen (10U), a lot of coaches will have kids pitch and catch in the same game frequently. It is a depth issue in our small town. My own son did it in a couple games, but he eventually settled in to catching only because the other decent catcher on his regular season team broke his arm. Fortunately when he played all-stars there was enough pitching depth that he did not pitch at all and was primarily catcher and outfield. He was disappointed that he did not get to pitch at in all-stars though. Next year I expect he will primarily pitch and hopefully won't have to catch much.

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    No catching and pitching in the same season? I'm no expert, but that seems a bit overkill don't you think?

    For ages 8-12 I try not to let them catch/pitch in the same game, but definitely will let them alternate if needed. I coach in LL so there are 'X' days rest for pitchers - if Johnny pitched last night and I have game tomorrow morning, then I may need him to catch as he is my second/third best catch and my catcher is my second/third best pitcher. Additionally, LL says no pitching in the same game you caught if you catch more than 3 innings (no going from pitcher to catcher after 40 pitches). I think this is reasonable.

    At this level I don't think you are putting that much stress on their bodies if you mix it up each day. Of course, this is if you only play 2-3 games a week. If we're talking travel ball and you play 4 games in a weekend and some scrimmages during the week, I might have a different answer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamInNY View Post
    How are coaches generally dealing with kids (8 - 12) that like to catch and pitch? ASMI's recommendation seems to be that players should not catch and pitch in the same season. What's the expectation for this age group where kids should be learning every position?

    Obviously you don't want to have a kids do both in the same game, but are you letting kids catch between starts? If so are you giving him extra rest between starts? In this case figure that there is stealing.

    Adam
    Great question, and one I am consistently looking for a good answer on. Namely because my son is both the best pitcher and best catcher on the two teams (LL and TB) he played on this year.

    I am aware of the ASMI recommendation and am drifting (rather quickly) toward that direction.

    I am trying to figure out how many "Innings Caught" equal an "Inning pitched" in order to try and quantify the situation, as to be able to manage kids that do both. From what I can tell/guess (for age 10U), 2-3 Innings Caught = 1 Inning Pitched. Our games average about 22-25 pitches per inning. So that's about 18 or so "throws" per inning for the catcher. So, I'm guessing that the 36-54 "throws" equate to 22-25 "pitches". I have no idea if it's accurate, but would love to hear input from others.

    Here's what my kid did in LLAS (which is moving me quickly toward the "catchers shouldn't be pitchers" opinion).

    Friday - 6 Innings Caught
    Saturday - CG SHO (6 IP, 69 pitches)
    Sunday - 6 Innings Caught

    We won Districts (Best of 3) in part because of his pitching and zero runs scored via WP/PB and no SBA.

    In Sectionals he pitched one game, caught the other. We were eliminated.

    In a LLAS tournament the following week, He pitched the championship game and had control problems (He averaged 67% strikes for 60+ IP total this year). We were thrilled because the plan went exactly like it was laid out, we had him for the max pitches/IP in the championship game.

    On the way home, I simply asked him what he thought was going on in regards to the control (I could tell he was disappointed that he let the team down).

    His answer floored me, "I caught 4 innings in G1, 4 Innings in G2, and 3 Innings in G3. Then I pitched G4." G1 and G2 were on Saturday, G3 and G4 were on Sunday.

    I profess to be "all about" pitcher safety and, even as his dad, I didn't realize he had caught so much that weekend. So he caught 11 innings and then pitched, following 2 weekends where he both pitched and caught a lot.

    The issue is that kids that play both catcher and pitcher are doing so because they have rocket arms, and coaches want them at both spots because they are so valuable. The problem is that overuse/abuse is so ripe with the situation. Catching after you pitch is not a "day of rest", and catching before you pitch, means that even with pitch counts you're likely going to be fatigued sooner than you would be if you playing 1B/3B instead of C.

    I had talked about this all year with our coaches/board, and in a TB DH, one coach pointed out to me that the kid who threw 115 pitches against us in G1 (10U) was the catcher in G2.

    In LL and TB, the "throws" back to the pitcher are not lobs, they're quick, fast/hard throws to prevent runners from doing anything goofy in between pitches. So, that's why I'm trying to see how many "throws back to the pitcher" (innings caught) might equal an inning pitched.

    Really interested in what others think.

    He won't do both this fall (6th Gr BB) or next year.

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    Circle,
    In LL they have the rule that if you pitch 41+ pitches in a game you cannot catch in the same game. If you catch anything more than 3 innings (i.e. one pitch in the 4th inning) then you cannot pitch in same game. I think this is a good rule for players regarding one game.

    Now if you are playing in multiple games each weekend then I feel you should modify this to avoid fatigue. I would agree with your assessment of X throws back to pitcher = X-10 or 15 pitchers. I don't know if there is a perfect number as each player is different and fatigue sets in differently. Also, if you catch on Friday night and your pitcher is spot on (minimal blocks, no attempted steals, etc...) then it may be safe to say your catcher didn't exert too much energy and can pitch on Saturday. But if they caught all 6 innings in blistering heat and were chasing balls all over the backstop and throwing runners out every inning, then perhaps its not a good idea to pitch them the next day.

    I think its relative to the player and the situations.

    I think the hard part is figuring all this out when you play spring ball (LL, Pony, CR league, etc...) and travel ball - where you may have a total of 5-7 games in a week, with 4 of those on a weekend. Here you may want to really regulate what you do.

    I don't know if its necessary to stop one or the other for a whole season. That might be a little too much at the preteen level where they should be learning all the positions. Unless the catcher really loves catching and does not like pitching or vice versa.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbolt_2000 View Post
    Circle,
    In LL they have the rule that if you pitch 41+ pitches in a game you cannot catch in the same game. If you catch anything more than 3 innings (i.e. one pitch in the 4th inning) then you cannot pitch in same game. I think this is a good rule for players regarding one game.
    Yes. I think the rule is decent.

    I would like the LL go one step further and say that a pitcher cannot catch during their mandatory rest days. Catching is the complete opposite of rest.

    I don't know if there is a perfect number as each player is different and fatigue sets in differently.
    There's not a perfect pitch count number either, but we set a reasonable one and coach with it.

    I think its relative to the player and the situations.
    In reality it is. However, so few managers/coaches see the reality of their situation. We very often see the "rosy side". Where if we saw another coach doing the exact same thing we'd be thinking "what the heck is that guy doing?".

    I don't know if its necessary to stop one or the other for a whole season. That might be a little too much at the preteen level where they should be learning all the positions. Unless the catcher really loves catching and does not like pitching or vice versa.
    I think the argument could be reversed, that due to the age level it's even more important for catchers not to pitch and vice versa.

    I will say this, if we're just talking about LL only, I don;t have major issues with players that both pitch and catch. The problem then gets to be at All-Star time when many games are played on back-to-back days at a time of the year when they've already pitched a lot.

    I'm also at the point that I think LL should tell kids to choose between LL and TB. The way the safety regulations are set up, they're just destroyed by kids pitching in multiple leagues at the same time.

    More and more I am realizing that we all think we "manage" things very well, but if we were shown the compiled data we might be shocked to learn just how often we do certain things. I would love to be able to show coaches some data and see there reaction and then be able to inform them "This is the data from your team".

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    Quote Originally Posted by CircleChange11 View Post
    Yes. I think the rule is decent.

    I would like the LL go one step further and say that a pitcher cannot catch during their mandatory rest days. Catching is the complete opposite of rest.



    There's not a perfect pitch count number either, but we set a reasonable one and coach with it.



    In reality it is. However, so few managers/coaches see the reality of their situation. We very often see the "rosy side". Where if we saw another coach doing the exact same thing we'd be thinking "what the heck is that guy doing?".



    I think the argument could be reversed, that due to the age level it's even more important for catchers not to pitch and vice versa.

    I will say this, if we're just talking about LL only, I don;t have major issues with players that both pitch and catch. The problem then gets to be at All-Star time when many games are played on back-to-back days at a time of the year when they've already pitched a lot.

    I'm also at the point that I think LL should tell kids to choose between LL and TB. The way the safety regulations are set up, they're just destroyed by kids pitching in multiple leagues at the same time.

    More and more I am realizing that we all think we "manage" things very well, but if we were shown the compiled data we might be shocked to learn just how often we do certain things. I would love to be able to show coaches some data and see there reaction and then be able to inform them "This is the data from your team".
    Count me among the shocked when I looked at year end pitching stats. We pitched 256 innings in spring/summer..125 of them between two kids and 165 between the top three. We didn't have he right attitude as coaches last year about spreading the wealth when developing pitchers. We will do a better job this year. At least our top two catchers never pitched and we had a pitch count of eighty.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamInNY View Post
    How are coaches generally dealing with kids (8 - 12) that like to catch and pitch? ASMI's recommendation seems to be that players should not catch and pitch in the same season. What's the expectation for this age group where kids should be learning every position?

    Obviously you don't want to have a kids do both in the same game, but are you letting kids catch between starts? If so are you giving him extra rest between starts? In this case figure that there is stealing.

    Adam
    I don't buy into ASMI's don't pitch and catch in the same season. I would like to see the research to back up that statement. Or is it just an assumption. I don't believe in kid's pitching and catching in the same day. My son had to pitch the 7th inning of a LL all-star game after catching six. His legs were shot in terms of pitching mechanics. He walked three and K'ed three. He could still throw hard. But he was all over the place due to inconsistant leg work.

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    I am trying to figure out how many "Innings Caught" equal an "Inning pitched" in order to try and quantify the situation, as to be able to manage kids that do both. From what I can tell/guess (for age 10U), 2-3 Innings Caught = 1 Inning Pitched. Our games average about 22-25 pitches per inning. So that's about 18 or so "throws" per inning for the catcher. So, I'm guessing that the 36-54 "throws" equate to 22-25 "pitches". I have no idea if it's accurate, but would love to hear input from others.

    Most throws from catcher to pitcher are lob tosses. When there's the threat of a delayed steal the catcher throws a little harder. To me there are two issues with catching and pitching in the same game. 1) Having legs after catching as I mentioned in another post and 2) making a hard throw as a catcher after pitching and cooling down.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by CircleChange11 View Post
    …I am trying to figure out how many "Innings Caught" equal an "Inning pitched" in order to try and quantify the situation, as to be able to manage kids that do both. From what I can tell/guess (for age 10U), 2-3 Innings Caught = 1 Inning Pitched. Our games average about 22-25 pitches per inning. So that's about 18 or so "throws" per inning for the catcher. So, I'm guessing that the 36-54 "throws" equate to 22-25 "pitches". I have no idea if it's accurate, but would love to hear input from others. …
    I don’t think there’s a direct 1:1 link where “X” innings pitched = “Y” innings caught, and I don’t know if its such a big deal anyone should even try to find one. The ASMI recommendations are there and based on what some of the most prominent people in the field believe, based on science and experience. If that’s not good enough for someone, then all they’re doing is rolling the dice with their son’s health.

    I know things have change tremendously since I caught back in the 60’s, but there’s one thing that hasn’t changed. Doing 100+ squats, making 100+ throws, and getting beat by errant throws and fouled balls like a red headed stepchild ain’t no ride in the park. It takes a tremendous toll on the knees especially, even though it may not look like it.

    Pitching’s not a heck of a lot easier. It doesn’t require the same kind of physical commitment as catching, but the toll on the arm and shoulder can’t be matched by any repetitious, violent physical movement in any sport. Ignorance of parents is understandable and can be excused to some degree, but once parents have any kind of understanding about the forces taking place on their child and choose to ignore it for some kind of misplaced glory, it becomes as abusive as beating that child.

    All that aside though, there’s absolutely no reason to ever have any one kid do both because its in everyone’s best interests to raise the level of other players, rather than depend on one. Since it’s a team game, no matter how good any one player is, it still requires 8 others to play the game.

    I think you’re headed in the proper direction because you’re an intelligent person who values the expertise of those ASMI folks.
    The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by scorekeeper View Post
    I don’t think there’s a direct 1:1 link where “X” innings pitched = “Y” innings caught, and I don’t know if its such a big deal anyone should even try to find one.
    There is if we [1] decide what and how we're going to measure, and [2] we take an average for the style of ball being played (LL, TB, etc).

    We, as a group, don;t have the access to the technology we'd need to use to measure microfiber damage/fatigue, CO2 production, energy exerted, etc. But, regardless of what we decided on, we'd be able to see how many on average innings caught produce the same amount of fatigue/damage as th average inning pitched.

    Whether it's a big enough problem to research to this degree is debatable.

    Here's what i saw from a JH team today during a Tri-Header. Big kid at catcher caught 3 INN in G1 and pitched the last 3. In the next game (back-to-back), Big Kid caught 5 innings and was brought into the game to pitch the last inning with the bases loaded and 10-9 lead. He threw 45+ pitches as he walked 3, HBP 2, 2 errors, and a hit ... leading to a 14-10 loss.

    I, personally, think that's a big issue.

    The ASMI recommendations are there and based on what some of the most prominent people in the field believe, based on science and experience. If that’s not good enough for someone, then all they’re doing is rolling the dice with their son’s health.
    I agree. Just based on personal experience, I have not had a coach I respected question question the guidelines. What I have seen is guys that highly value winning at 12 and under ball say "Yeah, but those guidelines are really conservative aren't they", as they look to pitch the same 1-2 kids every game all year. Now, that doesn;t mean that description describes the guys in this thread that are questioning it.

    Until I have better data that suggests the ASMI recommendations of not pitching more than a 100IP per a calender year, not pitching and catching on a regular basis, etc are incorrect, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. For those that think they are bunk, I'd simply ask what data they are basing that opinion on?

    I know things have change tremendously since I caught back in the 60’s, but there’s one thing that hasn’t changed. Doing 100+ squats, making 100+ throws, and getting beat by errant throws and fouled balls like a red headed stepchild ain’t no ride in the park. It takes a tremendous toll on the knees especially, even though it may not look like it.
    Not just that, but TB has changed the landscape. In LL, there are far fewer SB's and plays where you need to guard against aggressive baserunning. For our TB team, there were a low percentage of 1-2-3 innings (like 12% IIRC), and a high numbers of SB (both for and against), so catchers are often throwing more snap throws back to the pitcher following pitches, and more throws to 2B. There are definitely not many "low stress innings" for a catcher, since baserunning accounts for so much of the offense. I will say that in LL, even LLAS, one strong throw to 2B on the "coming down" throw, pretty much ends the SBA's.

    All that aside though, there’s absolutely no reason to ever have any one kid do both because its in everyone’s best interests to raise the level of other players, rather than depend on one. Since it’s a team game, no matter how good any one player is, it still requires 8 others to play the game.
    I agree. When I look at our LLAS team, the kids that caught also played P/SS. The reason for this was because those positions are incredibly important, and the kids that tend to play them have strong arms and/or are big kids.

    My goal for next year is to find a kid(s) that is [1] willing, [2] can learn and handle the position of catcher, and took work with them on catching starting in January and have them catch the bulk of the TB innings ... while allowing the pitchers to P, and play an IF/OF position.

    When I look at the situation of having pitchers be catchers on a regular basis, I just don;t see the reward being worth the risk. I, personally, don't need to drain a kid or hurt someone's arm in order to say "Oops, I guess I was wrong about that."

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