Why Kids Are Afraid to Pitch

Ask the Coach

coach john peter also known as jp from baseball tips - baseball mental toughness

Terry asks:

What is the main reason kids are afraid to be a pitcher? Is it being the main focus in front of the crowd? Or is it being afraid of throwing balls and strikes with an umpire and worrying about hitting batters?

Coach answers:

The simple answer is to say you’re 100% right with all three causes.

Humans of any size and any age deal with confidence and fear of failure one way or another. At younger ages, we all have a lack of what we know as experience and that lack breeds insecurities and fears. Now add the physical part of pitching where you are standing in the middle of the action with everyone seeming to be yelling at you and yeah…it can be incredibly uncomfortable.

We watch Big League pitchers walk guys and lose the strikezone, so imagine the mindset of a 3, 4 or 5 ft. tall pitcher out there… It’s a tough deal and one where the big people (parents and coaches) need to be the guide and the comfort that these players desperately need before they ever pitch their 1st game for you.

The Risks And Rewards Of Pitching Should Be Taught

When we ask young players to pitch, they need to know that we feel that they can succeed and that we do not expect them to be perfect and they shouldn’t either!

Putting a kid on the mound with no direction can take a kid out of the pitching picture in one inning, so taking a quiet few minutes (preferably more than once ) with their understanding that just doing their best to throw strikes and allow their team to make plays is all we can ask.

When you pitch you can hit the batter, throw a wild pitch, give up a hit, etc. But of course, you can throw strikes and get outs, so there is alot of reward for the risk.

Kids who are taught and who can accept (if not understand) that failure sometimes happens, are off to a good start.
Kids that are taught that sometimes, good hitters will hit good pitches and that not all pitches are good pitches will be able to let things go a bit and move on easier.

Can A Kid Learn Baseball Mental Toughness?

Yes, they can though we should refer to it in kid-speak.

  • Let’s just call it trying hard and doing the best they can. Confidence that comes from knowing that we will still love them regardless of the score, and that we know will do their best. 
  • And, that even after a bad game, they get to try again some other day because… nobody’s perfect.  
  • And, we think they can be good at this if they keep trying to help their team win game after game!

Strong mental make-up is usually a learned trait and can be developed like any other aspect of a young child’s mind.
Good pitchers have good mental make-up so let’s help them to learn this. They need to know that the more they do this and the more they continue to learn, the more the opportunity for helping their team win and the more fun they will have. They also may need a good hug & a simple ice cream cone after a tough game WITHOUT A GAME REVIEW! 

The 3 Types Of Pitchers And The Outcomes Of Their Performances

  1.  Pitchers Who Cause You To Win – at younger ages, they tend to be the hard throwers who toss enough strikes that they take the other team completely out of the game
  2. Pitchers Who Allow You To Win – they throw fastballs for strikes and force the batters to swing and the umpires to give them the birder strike calls because of their consistency.
  3. Pitchers Who Cause You To Lose – these guys are not throwing many strikes and instead are forcing young catchers to make tons of great plays which usually leads to a game full of passed balls, walks, long innings, and  hit batters (which are also tough for pitchers to handle.) 

One of my old coaches told me:
From my experience, I believe that kids do not want to pitch because they don’t want to be responsible for every single batter and, quite honestly, pitching is the hardest position to excel at.

I would never force a kid to pitch if he did not want to because that just adds to all the negative things that are possible and if it’s not a positive experience he will quit pretty quickly.

And Finally…. my worldly advice for pitchers on how to quit giving up hits & home runs

Quit pitching! lololol!

Remember, the great hall of fame pitcher Greg Maddux once said something like ‘I only have my A-Game once a month’. Talk about baseball mental toughness! The other games, I guess he just battled… incredible!

Keep reading and keep learning. I hope this helped you.
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