Ask this type of question in youth ball circles and heated opinions are going to be coming in hot. But the issue might be the question doesn’t make sense … because the answer may not be one or the other, but more of a “when”.
In the context of playing in a game or in a team practice, I can promise you a very large percentage of youth coach cares about accuracy. This makes sense because team coaches are concerned about winning a game. In youth ball, making the fewest errors in a game almost alway results in a win. The kids should want to win a game. Moms and dads want their kid to play error free during practices and games. You will never hear me say winning a game shouldn’t matter to a coach, to a player, or to parents.
But let’s not pretend being able to throw a ball relatively fast is a very good thing. In fact, it is a difference maker between youth to high school – from high school to college. Anyone telling you velocity “doesn’t matter” in the big picture is simply wrong. It is true a 12 yr old kid can be successful “just throwing strikes”. It is also true that a very large percentage of those same kids can’t be an effective pitcher a season or two later because of the increase in distance of the mound to the plate. It is also true that a big drop in youth baseball participation occurs when they move up to the “big field”. The main reason for this drop off is not the lack of baseball knowledge or lost love for the game. It is because they can’t throw the ball fast enough or far enough to play effectively on the big field – so they quit.
Good news! Developing the ability to throw faster is profoundly trainable … even for moms and/or dads of a youth player that are willing to put in some assistance. Here are the basics of a 2-3 times a week for 3-5 week throwing process from USA baseball:
- Players should start out throwing at short distances and gradually increase distance and intensity of throws over the course of each session and during the latter weeks of the progression.
- Playing catch or throwing with a purpose to gradually warm up and increase your throws in terms of intensity and distance
- Always gain forward momentum toward target with a crow hop at relatively longer distances
- After reaching that maximum distance at which the player feels comfortable, make ten throws at that distance before gradually moving back toward your target area
- Avoid throwing on consecutive days
This can be done with a throwing partner (mom or dad?) or against a wall, fence, tire hanging from a tree, whatever. Just throw with the intention of throwing “fast” for 20 – 30 throws after warmup throws. Accuracy is not matters most here, throwing with relative intent to throw fast is what matters.
Oh, you prefer a more full-blown researched process with examples of exercises and distances thrown? And you want a demonstrated result that an increase in velocity can be trained as compared to a controlled group that just “grew into velocity”? Oh, and you want that for free? Here ya go:
What if we worked on increasing velocity during the off-season? What if we did this during the 3 – 4 month minimum break from playing youth baseball games as recommended by USA Baseball and recommended by college and professional coaches as well? Food for thought.
Now, what if after increasing the speed a player throws after training for 4-6 weeks you then shift over to more traditional “accuracy” type throws? Like just play catch for a week or two. Maybe aim for a spot at varying distances? Do you think that maybe a player could increase their throwing velocity AND accuracy over a period of 2 – 3 months? Hint – this kind of result happens more than most think and it occurs at all levels if you train accordingly.
So maybe developing a player to throw faster and accurate is possible but it’s gonna take more time than a weekend, a single lesson, or one drill.
Stay thirsty my friend.