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Playing Pitcher and Catcher in the same weekend.

I coach a 9U travel team.  My questions is this should a player be able to play both pitcher and catcher in the same weekend?  My concern here is injury short term and long term as well as what is best for the team.  I have no shortage at either position but the players would like to do both.  At this point I have said no due to injury from overthrowing as well as overall fatigue as I expect alot out of both positions.  I believe if both positions are played correctly they should be tired.  What is everyone elses experience and opinion?

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Comment by David LeVine on March 26, 2013 at 7:05am

As the coach, your number 1 priority is the safety and well being of the player and not the team.  You are in charge therefore, you also have the ability to create permanent damage from overuse.  Since you do not have a shortage at either position, why in the world would you put a kid in danger?  How would you feel if next year he can't play because of arm damage?  Your decision to put him at both positions would definately be a contributing factor. 

 

Before anyone says it should be ok as long as the pitch counts are low, remember one thing.  These are 9 year olds.  How low would the pitch count need to be for it to be ok?  10, 20, 30?

Comment by Baseball/Softball Mom and Coach on March 27, 2013 at 8:25am
It's great that you're asking the question. Too many coaches don't. Catching puts a lot of wear and tear on young bodies. The ankles, knees, hips and back are all taxed not to mention wearing all that gear in 90+ degree weather. Given the importance of protecting young arms AND young bodies, I applaud that you brought it up and hope that coaches will put the kids safety first.
Comment by Mel Bowman on March 27, 2013 at 8:40am

I agree that players should not pitch and catch in the same weekend.  Further, although 9YO's are still exploring best suited positions, a player should not pursue both positions in my opinion.  Town ball is different than travel ball, but in general, be a catcher OR a pitcher, not both.  I would not develop my players for both positions and therefore would not play them in both.  It'd be hard to do that when they are 9 and still figuring out where they play best.  9YO teams are generally all about the pitching, so I'd probably develop that first if they want both and if I'm deep in catchers.  But remember that a team can have an everyday catcher, but there is no such thing as an everyday pitcher.  Meaning that, especially at 9, every pitcher should have a primary position, with pitcher as their secondary.  And every catcher should have catcher as their primary position, but shouldn't have pitcher as their secondary position.

Comment by Steven Desjarlais on March 27, 2013 at 9:13am

I think Mel is right on. Kids should not try to pitch and catch for their team, either the same day/weekend or even the same season. Don't forget all the reps needed in practice at each position. 9YO arms are not built for the stress of those positions as it is, and having them play both is irresponsible. 

Brandon, I'm glad you had the fortitude to ask that question. I was initially shocked it was even a question, but then realized that many coaches put winning and their own ego ahead of the safety of the kids. At least you appear to put safety first, so kudos. As for expecting kids to be tired at the positions, please just ensure you become an expert on your players when they begin to experience, not already are, fatigued. That goes a long way in preserving their arms for this season and seasons to come.  

Comment by Leo Trayner on March 27, 2013 at 10:28am
I agree with the previous comments. Im not a big fan of 9 y/o Travel Baseball to begin with, but thats for another topic of disc
ussion. If you have an athlete that pitches or catches and you have a surplus of both, you either pitch or catch that weekend. Thats a luxury compared to what some coaches have. Which is why Im not a big fan of this age group playing a Travel ball Schedule. To much throwing for to many games and practices.

I see no reason why you can't work on skill sets ( blocking,receiving etc) without throwing the ball back and forth.
Comment by Woody Beasley on March 27, 2013 at 10:38am

I will say that if you have a surplus of kids at each position and you are concerned about injury that you limit the kids to one position and limit their throwing as well.  I would say it is a decision that should be made on a day to day and kid to kid basis.  As they get older, you may find that they will better suited to play both in a given day weekend without risk of injury.  I say monitor closely, talk with the kids frequently and remember they are just kids and if ever in doubt rest their arms.  

Comment by STEFAN GOLDMAN on March 27, 2013 at 11:04am

Again, let me unequivocally state it is baseball malpractice.  I established a 16 team elite baseball organization 14 years ago.  All ages.  We see it all.  I coach an older travel team.  I go to a lot of hs games.  Unfortunately at younger ages the guys that have the best arms are the pitchers and catchers.  They want to do both. We prohibit this in our organization.  They can be trained as either, not both.  The classic story is of a catcher that had a division 1 scholarship but also a 90 mph arm going to close a game.  After catching it.  He blew out his arm, no scholarship, changed his entire life.  It happens more frequently than u can imagine.  It should be prohibited across the board...

Comment by Leo Trayner on March 27, 2013 at 12:56pm
This is one of my pet peeves with Travel Ball at this age. Who is the coach to say who is going to be pitchers, catchers, SS etc. in the future at this age group.
Yes, its usually the big kid at this age that throws the hardest. How many times do you see the once smaller kid become the better player/pitcher by the time he gets to H.S. Ball. Did we help that player by holding him out because of our perception and what we think is ideal as coaches. We are doing kids a huge disservice by deciding kids futures at 9 y/o. We need to be developing these kids to become multi-faceted within the game. That starts with positional skill sets and pitching mechanics for EVERY PLAYER!! Yes, it takes more time and more work. This is why I dislike Travel Ball at 9 y/o. It becomes more about winning ( which absolutely means nothing in my opinion) than being a fundamentally sound, well rounded baseball player.
Comment by BRANDON BULL on March 27, 2013 at 1:14pm

I share the same philosophy I work with all of the boys who want to learn the mechanics even the catchers.  That doesnt mean they will throw in a game yet.  You never know when they will physically be ready so why not start getting them mentally ready now.  I run my 9U team very developmental all of the boys work an infield and an outfield position even the pitcheers and catchers.  I am more concerned with teaching these young players how to play BASEBALL and having a ton of fun playing the best game in the world then I am at developing the best 8 year old pitcher or best 9 year old shortstop.  Like Leo said you never know what these boys are going to do as they grow but as coaches we can do our best to teach the game, keep them safe and make sure they have fun so they stay playing baseball for the rest of their lives.

Comment by STEFAN GOLDMAN on March 27, 2013 at 1:43pm

At age 8-12 the fundamentals and mechanics are similar for almost every position,, have fun, stay injury free,,hard to have fun on the bench, injured, or out for the season.  There is plenty of time to learn the mechanics of the right positions, in fact all of our guys rotate positions on most teams until 14,,,travel ball is not the culprit, its coaches that do not know the harm it can do to have a pitcher and catcher be the same in the same game or the next game without a significant rest.  Biomechanically there is 3x the torque on pitchers arms from the mound than from flat ground , so while the catcher has theoretically one third the torque from the same amount of throwing as the pitcher in the day, usually there is an altered throwing motion involved as well.  Thats why it is banned.  On our 17/18 yr old elite travel team we carry 4 catchers that play other positions as well,, but they are DH ing the day after catching.

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