Saturday, September 20, 2014

When to start switch pitching

Some parents who have seen the video of Pat Venditte switch pitching, ask:

What is a good age for my son to start throwing with both arms?

7-9 years old is a good age to start throwing with both arms.

Many switch pitchers start throwing with both arms as a toddler, but they often have poor throwing mechanics when they get older. Poor throwing mechanics can lead to arm injury.

Players who learn to throw with good mechanics with the dominant arm, can have success throwing with the other arm with proper training. Learn throwing mechanics from a pitching coach first, then work on the throwing motion at home - doing mirror drills.

Does my child need to be ambidextrous to throw with both arms?

No. You don't need to be ambidextrous to begin throwing with either arm. This skill can be learned and most of the current switch pitchers are not ambidextrous - but right-handed.

Stick to throwing a baseball -
Teaching a child to write with both hands, or throw a football with both arms doesn't help a kid to pitch with both arms (I have tried this and it was a waste of time).

The Pat Venditte Effect

Minor league switch pitcher Pat Venditte, started training when he was a toddler, so some parents think this is the way to go. Start training them really young, work them hard and they will be successful. The training strategy worked for golfer Tiger Woods and seems to be working for Pat Venditte.

It's not necessary to start throwing with both arms as a toddler. Some parents discover that their 2-3 year-old can throw a ball with either arm, but this is very common and does not mean the child will be ambidextrous when older.

From my experience, I found that it is best for a young player to learn proper throwing mechanics before attempting to throw with the non-dominant arm. I think it is better for a kid to spend time learning to switch hit first.

Learn to switch hit first

Most of the switch pitchers could also switch hit when they were young. Switch hitters are fairly rare and valued in game situations, so I recommend that players start off with switch hitting before attempting switch throwing. The hitting practice helps with body coordination and hip rotation from both sides. Switch hitting is fun and it takes less work than switch pitching.

Only about 3% of all college players are switch hitters, but switch hitters are more common in the big leagues.

Sometimes, a right-hander finds that they hit better left-handed and lefty hitters often do well in youth baseball. Henry Knight is a natural right-hander who primarily hits left-handed in games (.500), but switches to hit right-handed when facing left-handed pitchers. He also can lay down a bunt from either side of the plate, which comes in handy during close games.

Switch pitcher, Drew Vettleson from Washington State, found that he hits better left-handed. He was drafted out of high school by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010.

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