Dear Coach: My high school baseball coach has named me captain of the team. What exactly does a captain do?
Dear Leader: Consider yourself honored. "A good captain is tremendously valuable," says Greg Hamilton, coach of the Canadian national baseball team. "A captain doesn't have to be the best player on the field. He needs to be someone who provides leadership and is a conduit between the players and the coaches." That's a pretty vital role in a team sport, in which communication is essential. "A quality leader isn't going to be afraid to be candid with the coaches "says Hamilton. "He also has to have the respect of the players, because sometimes he has to be very direct with them about their performance."
Dear Coach: At what age can a young pitcher start throwing breaking pitches?
THROWN FOR A CURVE
Dear Thrown: Age is only one factor in determining when a child is ready to try the curveball. "For safety's sake, we say 14, and that's for a kid who has been pitching for at least three years," says Lyle Micheli, director of sports medicine at Boston's Children's Hospital. " Little League elbow can do permanent damage to the joint." Kids who are ready to snap off a curve should start with three training sessions a week, each consisting of no more than 15 breaking pitches. Remember, when in doubt, go slowly. "A young player should not be throwing more than 300 real pitches a week," says Micheli. "Don't just count the innings pitched."