What Pitches Should a 12-Year-Old Throw? Pitching is a fundamental skill in baseball. It refers to the ability to throw the ball from any point on the pitcher’s mound toward home plate, attempting to prevent batters from hitting it. The key word here is “attempting.” In this blog post we will discuss what pitches a 12-year-old should throw and how they can improve in order to be successful at stopping batters in their tracks.
A twelve year old should be a little more concerned about mechanics and control rather than speed. The best pitches for a 12-year old to throw would be a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball and change up. These pitches are easiest to learn because they have the most movement.
What Pitches Should a 12-Year-Old Throw?
It tops the list of pitches because it’s the easiest. When throwing a fastball, you need to let go of the ball with little spin so that it doesn’t curve too much. The best way to throw a fastball is straight on and as hard as you can.
And for a 12 years old the four-seam fastball is the easiest pitch to learn. You grip it by placing your index finger on the top of the ball and pushing down with all fingers, keeping your thumb up.
To throw a fastball
- You need to let it go at the right moment and hit the target.
- The grip depends on the person throwing the pitch; some people hold fastball with their fingers over top of an horseshoe shape where there is a small slit for your middle finger, and others put two fingers through the hole (the index and ring finger) and let them rest against each other until they release them when they throw.
When throwing a fastball
- Step into your throw with your arm extended behind you then pull forward as fast as possible.
- Keep your wrist straight and release high up on the ball (closer to one end than the other) so that it comes down like a plane’s nose towards its destination.
- It should go straight for six to eight feet, then curve in one direction or another depending on which way it is supposed to go.
Fastball can be replaced by a Two-seam fastball if you find the former too difficult. A two-seamer has more movement than a 4-seamer (the most common type of fastball) but doesn’t go as fast.
The grip for a two-seam fastball is the same as a 4-seamer, but instead of letting go with your middle finger on top of the ball, you put it through the hole and let all four fingers rest against each other until you release it when throwing.
To throw a 2-seam fastball
- Step into your throw with your arm extended behind you then pull forward as fast as possible while making sure to twist your wrist inward so that all four fingers are facing down towards the ground.
- Keep twisting all the way up until you release — this will give the ball more movement.
- Just like a 4-seamer, follow through really high up because that’s what makes it curve in either direction once it reaches its destination.
Just like a 4-seamer, you need to make sure your arm is behind you when throwing. So the motion of your arm would go along with what I said in the paragraph above – twist at your wrist, follow through really high up and step into it with your arm extended behind you.
To throw this pitch, use three fingers instead of two (pointer finger and middle finger). Make sure the ball is on the inside of your wrist. When you throw the ball and release, your fingertips should be facing down and away from the catcher. The ball will float and drop as it approaches home plate.
To throw a Changeup
- Resting the baseball on the thumb and pinkie, grip it with the index, middle, and ring finger.
- The goal is for the ball to slip from the hands. A loose grip on the ball will cause it to dangle, making it susceptible to being hit.
- With the same arm speed and throwing motion as the fastball, sell the pitch.
- The change-up’s success stems in large measure from the fact that it is a change-up. It will seem to glide like the fastball as it leaves the hand, but it will move considerably slower.
Basic Exercises and Training Drill
At the same time, there are many youth baseball players who utilize the fastball as a primary pitch and utilize the change-up as a secondary pitch. Change-ups can be thrown in a variety of ways.
For example, youth baseball pitchers may want to throw a split-finger change-up where they pull down on one side of the ball or a palmball change-up which is gripped from underneath. Most pitchers will have good results from what they consider their ‘normal’ change-up grip.
The different types of grip for this pitch include:
- Cross-seam change-up – Place your index and middle fingers just below the horizontal seam on top of the ball, but place your ring finger between two seams.
- Two-seam change-up – Place your index and middle fingers just above the two seamed areas on top of the ball.
- Circle change-up – This throw works best for players with larger hands. Instead of resting the index and middle fingers on top of the ball, you make an ‘OK’ sign with your fingers. This grip maintains the friction on the ball in addition to the three-finger grip. Increased grip has some undesirable consequences on a baseball, which can be confused with a slide-change. (Source: Baseball Pitching Tips)
- Three-finger change-up – This is the grip for individuals with smaller hands. While closing the remaining fingers over the ball, place the baseball on your thumb and index finger. When throwing, use the same arm speed and direction as you do when throwing a fastball. The additional pressure on the top fingertips results in drag, which causes the ball to fall as it approaches the batter.
Pitching Guidelines for 12-Year-Olds
To avoid injuries, pitchers in Little League Baseball are limited to only 10 pitches per inning. This rule applies for all players up to age 12. By the time they are 13 or 14 years old, pitchers are allowed to throw up to 50 pitches in one game.
They may also pitch in no more than two consecutive games without a day of rest in between. Once they turn 15, arm care is still important, but pitchers can once again throw up to 100 pitches per game without needing extra time off.
Common Injuries while Pitching
When young athletes don’t give their bodies enough time to heal before pitching again, they are at high risk of injury. The most common injuries for 12-year-old pitchers include shoulder pain and elbow tendonitis (swelling in the “flexor” tendons).
- Shoulder Pain – The shoulder joint is made up of bones, muscles and tendons. When these elements become too worn down from being overused by pitching, they can hurt or even swell up.
- Elbow Tendonitis – The elbow has four main tendons that attach the bicep muscle to the forearm bones. Tendons are a lot like rubber bands—overuse makes them stretch out and weaken. If this process continues, the tendon becomes inflamed and may tear completely off.
If the arm is overused while young people are still developing bone strength, it can cause more serious problems like cartilage damage or even fractures. Overstressing shoulders and elbows during teenage years makes it difficult to control pitches in adulthood. Parents should make sure that children use protection when playing sports.
Preventing Pitching Injuries
One way to protect young players’ arms is by providing them with protective gear like chest protectors, leg guards and helmets. While they might look strange, these products can help prevent severe injuries like concussions.
For young players who are using lighter balls in practice, it’s important to follow proper throwing technique. Parents should teach their children that the best way to pitch is by moving your entire body through each throw rather than just swinging the arm across the body.
This creates more momentum for pitches and reduces stress on their arms. If you are looking for more information on pitching safety, talk with a pediatrician or other healthcare provider about available exercises that build up arm strength without putting too much strain on developing bones.
Parents’ Role in Injury Prevention
As parents, coaches and fans cheer Little League® baseball players on to victory! While enthusiasm is good for both athletes and the audience, it’s important to remind young players that they should always listen to their bodies. If a player is struggling with tiredness or fatigue during a game, there’s no shame in calling the play and going out for a substitution.
A fastball with good arm speed and proper follow-through. Remember to use the same motion as when throwing a fastball, but apply pressure to your thumb and index finger.
Also be sure to protect your body with gear, and consult with a pediatrician or healthcare provider for strengthening exercises that don’t overstress young bones. Happy pitching!