Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Pitcher Pointers to Peruse

There are darn near as many pitching instruction books, gurus and experts as there are swing doctors for golfers.

So, how do you cut through all the hub-bub and get your son or daughter the best information and instruction? We did a lot of research initially, especially after hearing one too many youth coach say something like "rock and fire" or "bring the heat!."

Truth be told, most youth coaches know bumpkiss about pitching mechanics, and are more interested in velocity than longetivity of the arm throwing the ball. There is SO much more involved, including proper use of feet and leg drive, balance, breathing and finger/wrist movement. The throwing arm should act more like a whip than a cannon, and should be driven by a complete use of the body.

Since so much is put into "throwing hard," we felt it important to help you get a little more know-how about rotator cuff damage. To get a good primer on the subject, visit All
Star Pitcher
and see his charts on the muscles, tendons and joints involved. If you choose to buy the program he sells, so much the better as information like this is cheap compared to the potential heartache and medical bills resulting from bad motion and technique.

AND, to get to our original point, it is VERY important to see an expert instructor on pitching. Not necessarily a pitching instruction clinic (where sheer numbers preclude your son or daughter from getting individual attention needed. We sought out pitching instruction that would also address mental aspects of the game. You often hear commentators talking about pitchers who make the transformation from "throwing" to "pitching," and how much more they now understand the game. We wanted that early.

Our solution ended up being Ray Burris, and Shane Davenport from Ray Burris Academy. Ray is former MLB starter who worked his way through the bigs in a 14 year career in mid 70s and 80s. His approach gets in kids' hearts as well as their minds, and helps them understand accountability of performance.

He also helps them save their arms by showing them how to understand what they're feeling during set up and delivery. This "feeling" keeps motions on track, and emotions in check as they work what they know to be correct for playing the game.

While there are plenty of able instructors out there. Our site, TexBall showcases instructors year-round, but we tend to work word of mouth from what we know. We can strongly recommend what Ray and Shane have to offer.

And, one final word: if your pitcher is 8-14 years of age and needs ice after an outing, GET SOME INSTRUCTION. He or she is throwing too hard or there's a fine-tuning that could be critical to his or her future success and safety.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Get certified copies of birth certificates

Parents of tournament, traveling and select teams throughout the U.S. are constantly needing to put together packets of valid copies or original birth certificates for players.

Obtaining additional certified copies from your state government is relatively easy and inexpensive.

In Texas, go to to get instructions. To search for your state's directory Click Here

Stay tuned this week as we deliver our two part series on youth pitcher safety.

Congrats as well to the Hawaiian LL team for such a stellar Little League World Series. We called them winners after 1st televised game, and even call the solo walk-off shot at championship game. Nice to be right occasionally.

Friday, August 26, 2005

A Call to Arms -- Save Your Pitchers

Much has been written and spoken in various sports media forums this past week regarding the use (and abuse) of breaking-ball pitches by 12 year-olds in the Little League World Series games.

And, the sheer number of pitches thrown has also been a hot topic.

Bottom line? Kids are being glorified for doing two things all parents and coaches should prohibit: throwing breaking-ball pitches (curveballs especially) and enduring excessive pitch counts.

In a blog to follow this week, we'll address some startling statistics on wear and tear, surgeries and burn-out rates plaguing youth players, but today let's sum up.

1. Regardless of their biological age (vs. chronological age) 98% of these pitchers haven't finished growing. Their growth plates haven't yet sealed up in those precious arms. The more torque put on those elbows and shoulders, the more likely they'll end their career under a surgeon's knife. And they'll do so long before they reach high school.

At their age, even properly taught curveball pitching poses too large a risk to the players. Throw a change up, a circle change, a two-seam fastball and a four-seam fastball instead.

2. Again, despite some of these players looking old enough (and big enough) to have their own kids in the stands, they are throwing too many pitches. Think Kerry Wood -- the often hobbled Cubs hurler was so over-pitched through his youth and high school days that it's a wonder he has anything left. He's certainly not the type of "fresh arm" many pro scouts are looking for these days.

Jamie Reed, head trainer for the Texas Rangers recently shared two facts with us. He said that draft talks often center on looking for pitchers that BEGAN their pitching careers late in high school or early in college. He also said that pitch counts over 75 pitches per week increase risk of injury 35%.

Think of running a cord over the edge of a wooden board. Back and forth, back and forth, and you have a good simulation of what's going on in the pitchers shoulder. Too many reps at full effort equals damage and wear that cannot be undone.

So.... If you're hopeful that your son or daughter can persue their sport long past their 14th birthday, the time to start guarding their safety is now.

And, as unpopular as that may be, especially in light of the glorious world stage ESPN is providing this great game, you as a parent must be prepared to take a stand. Let your coach know you will not allow breaking ball pitches, and that you intend to limit your pitcher's workload to 50-60 pitches per week.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005 - New Hall of Famers frustrated by lack of respect for game - New Hall of Famers frustrated by lack of respect for game: "New Hall of Famers frustrated by lack of respect for game
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. � When Ryne Sandberg flicks on his TV set to watch a baseball game, what he sees turns his stomach. Whatever happened to playing the game with respect, with dedication and passion? Whatever happened to the game he's loved since he was a toddler?
Sandberg can't answer the question. Neither can Wade Boggs.
But as they were inducted Sunday into baseball's Hall of Fame, they refused to sugarcoat the absurd behavior of today's highly paid, pampered, selfish players who show little respect for the game and its fans.
I applaud the newest Hall of Famers for being so bold. I detest the actions of many of the current players who should get down on their knees and kiss the earth because of the golden opportunities the game provides them.
What better forum than Hall of Fame induction ceremonies to sound the alarm.
Wonder if Manny Ramirez or any of the other enormously talented players who masquerade as major leaguers were listening? Just the other day, Ramirez refused to play, even though he was needed because " - Hawaii sluggers make star turns at Little League series - Hawaii sluggers make star turns at Little League series: "Hawaii sluggers make star turns at Little League series
By Genaro C. Armas, The Associated Press
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. � Dante Bichette Jr. is certainly making a name for himself at the Little League World Series.
Unfortunately for him, Michael Memea and the other West Oahu sluggers are turning star performances themselves in South Williamsport.
West Oahu of Ewa Beach, Hawaii, jumped out to an early lead thanks in part to Memea's second homer of the series en route to a 10-0 win over Bichette and his Maitland, Fla., teammates.
Both teams have clinched berths into the next round of the 10-day tournament, though West Oahu's imposing lineup of big boppers and aggressive baserunners makes them a favorite in the U.S. bracket.
Also Monday, Mexico shut out Russia 7-0; and Japan defeated Venezuela 7-4.
Bichette was one of the few bright spots on the day for Maitland, getting two of the four hits off West Oahu ace Alaka'i Aglipay and continuing his stellar performance in the tournament.
On Friday, Bichette struck out 11 batters and hit a three-run homer late in a 7-3 win over Davenport, Iowa. On Saturday, he started a two-run first-inning rally and added an insurance run in the fifth with a solo homer to defeat Newtown, Pa.
Both games were played in prime-time in front of a national television audience.
He's even sharpened his post-game interview skills, thanks to some help from his parents while traveling to Pennsylvania.
'I wasn't very good at it,' he said. 'I just said some one-word answers.'
Bichette's father, who is a coach for Maitland, has some experience in the spotlight: Dante Bichette hit 274 home runs during a 14-year major league career.
With similar faces, the Bichet"