I am confused by the comment that overload training should be limited to kids 13 years or older. I have really bought into the idea of overload training, am planning on using your pitching pyramid, have purchased John Bagonzi's book and have received an email response from him telling me what weighted ball I should be using with kids on my 11 year old team. Several parents have asked for articles supporting this program and now your article is saying not to do this with younger kids. Can you please clarify for me?
AThe problem with using age as a guide for anything is that kids don't mature at the same pace. As we do explain on WebBall, most research indicates that muscle mass is not retained significantly until after puberty (which of course happens at different times with different kids - anywhere from 12 to 14 for most).
I have seen exceptions to that rule, but it should not be expected. Also growth plates in bone - at elbow, shoulder, knees, etc, do not fully solidify until as late as 16 or 17. So even if the muscles can handle it, unseen deformation could occur.
What you do with your own kid is up to you, but what you do with other people's kids had better be with their parents informed consent.
That said, I would rather youngsters do tubing before weighted balls. But in either case there may be positive gains with regard to feedback/correction but that does not mean it is without the possibility of risk. The point is, unlike some websites out there, we strongly believe that weighted balls and overload training are very effective - that's why it is also to be used with proper guidance.
Keep in mind that WebBall talks to all ages - just because we have a program on the site, it may be intended mostly for 16-20 years olds not for 8-11 year olds. We try to make the distinction clear when we can. I also want to suggest that your goal for your own son should not be to push him into being a pumped-up star at 12. What you want is a) to see him still able to play ball at 14 or 15, b) to have some good college prospects at age 16 or 17, and c) to be seriously looked at by pro scouts at 18 - 22.
A little patience now could pay dividends later.
In 1988 a physical education teacher told me about the two types of
muscle fibers present in muscles and that either one could be activated depending on the task at hand. For speed, preparation should be done with light resistance, so I applied this to my baseball swing. While in the on deck circle, instead of using a weighted bat to swing with i would swing my regular bat while holding the fat end. This seemed to increase my speed and quickness and improve my hitting. Do you have any information as to if this should have worked or do you think it was psychological on my part. I'm inquiring because i'm getting involved with coaching and do not want to instruct players if this is bad information.
AWhat you describe are ballistic underload swings - which can work as part of a pyramid (overload/underload) program but probably not enough by itself. Swinging with the weights or power fins helps lighten the effective weight of the bat once you are at the plate (theory) - so that the game swings seem easier. Your underload idea may actually help speed up your technique and so works best as the final part of your on deck prep. So by itself, perhaps not, but as part of a routine, it could be a help.