As a young player with an over-powering fastball, why would you throw a Change-Up in a game? You would be throwing it right into the hitters bat speed and be giving him a better chance of getting a hit so it wouldn’t make any sense…RIGHT??
This is a trap, one that I fell into as a young player also. I worked on one in practice and remember having a decent one, but didn’t throw it often in games for the reason stated above. After I graduated HS, and moved on in Baseball, it became very apparent that my fastball wasn’t over powering anymore! So began the process of trying to find a change up that was comfortable in my hand, I could command and I had confidence in to throw in any count. This proved to not be an easy task as it took roughly 6-7 years to finally perfect it.
Fast forward to now, all young pitchers I work with, 9 years old to college, Change-Up Development is a part of each session and practice. Some make quick strides while others take a little longer. In season sessions always start with discussion about how their last game went. We discuss command, how they did with first pitch strikes, how many Change-Ups they threw with confidence and command, among other things. Most of the answers I get are either “None” or “A few.” When I ask why so few, the answers are usually either “They weren’t on my Fastball” or “I was behind in the count too much.”
Like I said, I fell into this same trap as a youth and found it difficult to overcome later in my baseball career. Now the question is, “How do we throw more in a game?” Communication and a belief in and commitment to development. The player and parents need to relay this message to their coach. The goal is to throw 2-3 maybe even 4 Change-Ups per inning (assuming they throw 15 pitches an inning). Pick pre determined counts that they will throw them in. Maybe an 0-0 count second time through the line up. Maybe you decide that each time, in a certain inning, they will throw a Change-Up every time they throw a strike with the first pitch. Maybe every time they get into a 1-1 count they throw a Change-Up. There are many options you can choose but the point is, there needs to be a plan. If you just say before the game starts that you want them to throw 10 change ups in a game, but lack a plan for how to make those 10 happen, the odds are that when that game is over, they will have not accomplished that goal.
Developing a Change-Up should be a high priority for all youth pitchers who have goals of playing beyond youth baseball. I know we are out there pitching to help our team win but we also need to keep in mind what our long term goals are. In a perfect world, the player, parents and coaches are all on the same page with this and work together to help our Dudes prepare for their future.