Not every youth can become a Roger Clemens or a Tim Lincecum, but everyone can become a more complete pitcher - more consistent, more successful. Here are the four fundamentals of pitching that I stress to the younger pitchers I work with. But of course, they also apply to every level of play.
1. First and most important, you should
learn how to throw the baseball with your natural and proper motion. This includes
both your arm motion and your pitching delivery (stance, leg kick,
follow-through, and so forth). Your pitching motion is the
foundation of everything else. It is what leads you to your best fastball, sharpest curve, and finest
control. No matter how much you sweat and strain, you will never
develop your best fastball unless you first develop a proper motion.
2. Second, younger pitchers should try to develop strength
in your core, rotator cuff and lower body so that you can throw your best and most natural fastball.
Strength training will help you reach the limits of your natural
talent quicker. But it's got to be the right kind of pitching training (more info here). Additionally, the secret of pitching is to develop a good fastball first, and
only later, for the times when the fastball will be insufficient, to
develop other, less natural pitches, like the curveball or slider. I strongly recommend that you throw only fastballs until your teenage years. At that
point, you can begin work on other pitches starting with a changeup, and then breaking stuff.
3. The third fundamental of pitching is control. While you are developing your motion and speed, you should simultaneously be
developing your control -i.e., your ability to throw the ball over any
part of the plate, at will. The first three pitching fundamentals are intertwined: the development of any one fundamental leads to the advancement of the others. The more
naturally you throw the ball, the faster your pitch will be and the
easier your ability to control it.
4. The fourth pitching fundamental is so
intangible that it cannot really be taught. With time and pitching
experience, you should develop what I call "pitchability," which
is really your ability to pitch with a bit of savvy in all situations. Some say it is instinct. Others
claim that pitchability can be learned, that all it requires is a modestly
intelligent, willing, and attentive mind. The best you can do is to remain mentally alert and
receptive to experience whenever you are on the mound. For example,
when a batter takes such a hard swing at your pitch that he pulls your
best fastball into foul territory, your intelligence should tell you
that he will miss a slower pitch - so throw one.