10-y-o Moving from Stretch to Windup

It’s been 8 months since I posted a video of this guy, who is now 10. I was advised to work on posture and stabilizing the glove side. He’s made progress on that, though he still has a way to go. But the results have been good - he had a great LL season, pitched a lot, and was elected to our 9-10 tournament team.

His strength right now is very good location. Velocity is only average among better pitchers his age. For fall ball we’re taking the advice of a fellow coach and transitioning from stretch to windup in order to build a little more momentum and also hide the ball better. So the main point of the posting this video is to get any pointers on maintaining the good things about his mechs, eliminating the flaws, and using the windup to help get better pace on the ball. There are two pitches from the stretch, then a bunch from the windup.

Thanks in advance to all.

jeez, quaff–your son looks outstanding! Keep him doing what he is currently doing, make small tweaks only when (if) he drifts out of his current excellent looking form, and wait for puberty. You might also want to look into some pitcher-specific conditioning routines that you and your fine son can have some fun doing together–isometric stuff like prone holds, and also some work on the usually-neglected triceps–just start doing regular triceps push-ups (make it a game between you).

Please, please, please–do not be concerned if his velocity is “average” at 10 years old. In fact, if you really want to know…I think you should be very glad that he is not a 10 yo “superstar” or “stud” that every youth league coach wants to overuse on the mound.

During the ages 10 - 13, hard-throwing young pitchers are often greatly over-valued by coaches who want to win games above all else. They often do win games by ‘riding their best horses’ into the ground, but that is also very often a dead end for the kids themselves. There is almost no pitcher-specific conditioning for most young pitchers with immature bodies; however, the really good ones are often used as if they were mature adult athletes. It’s a shame when that happens.

Thanks, laflippen, for the very kind words. I will take to heart what you say about velocity. Time will tell how he develops, and I’ve seen how much location is just as effective. I’m actually more concerned about coach and/or peer pressure to throw breaking stuff. We saw a lot of good 9-11 pitchers during our own LL tournament and watching games played by the 10-11 team, and EVERYBODY was throwing curves and lots of them. One kid on our 10-11 squad threw probably 33% fastballs, 33% curve-ball, and 33% change. (He was very effective until he hung two in a row to big hitters.) My son has gotten a pretty good handle on his circle change and I’m hoping that will be enough to keep him and his coaches happy for now.

Good point about the studs. We know a couple kids who play year-round travel ball and have had arm problems as a result. Both my sons will play fall ball, but it’s a rec program where everybody pitches and innings are very limited, then we’ll have 4 months off before baseball begins again. In the meantime a little off-season conditioning sounds like a good plan.

Hey quaff,

I’ve got a mixed response to the breaking ball issue.

On one hand, youth baseball discussions about breaking balls are very often exercises of slathering myth on top of uneducated opinion on top of pure baloney (and I’m not just talking about typical kids’ level of knowledge–many adult coaches apparently cease to try to learn anything more about this subject after someone convinces them that the curveball is the bane of youth arms and shouldn’t be thrown by any pitcher under the age of ___ (choose an arbitrary age here).

Here are some of the things my kid’s coach taught me when the boy was 10 years of age:

  1. Most kids who love to pitch will eventually start to experiment with breaking balls whether you want them to or not. Left to their own devices, they will almost certainly get it wrong because, let’s face it, most other kids and many adult coaches at youth level baseball have no clear idea of how to throw quality breaking pitches.

  2. Well-conducted research from the ASMI (Andrews & Fleisig–these guys also happen to be Advisory Board members of House’s NPA), which was carried out expressly based on the hypothesis that there would likely be a direct correlation between youth arm injury rates and the use of breaking pitches, actually failed to show any such correlation. Fortunately ASMI is a responsible group of honest people and they published the facts of their study, and the correction of their hypothesis in the sports medicine literature. As far as potentially injurious stresses on the arms of young pitchers…they found that the #1 most stressful pitch is…wait for it…wait for it…the fastball. Curveballs are only slightly more biomechanically stressful than changeups. The only clear correlate to injury rates among youth pitchers is overuse. Which pitchers get overused the most at very young ages? You’ve got it: Johnny Stud, with his blazing fastball.

2b) Outside the scope of the ASMI study, House believes that injury rates probably also correlate to lack of pitcher-specific conditioning–especially conditioning of the often-neglected decelerator muscle groups.

  1. When any overhand pitch is released the hand/wrist/forearm must pronate–that is an anatomical fact of life. Young kids often mistakenly believe that a curveball needs to be released with a “turn the doorknob” twist of the wrist to get the correct spin…nothing could be further from the truth. “Turning the doorknob” makes the hand/wrist/forearm go into supination during the highest-speed part of the delivery–just at the time when these body parts are going to need to reverse course and pronate. This is a formula for eventual disaster.

  2. A properly thrown curveball is one with hand/wrist/forearm pre-set for a “karate chop” release made straight toward the target. There is no twisting or ‘turning the doorknob’. As the ball is released from a firm ‘karate chop’ toward the target, the hand/wirst/forearm will naturally go into pronation without undue stress.

  3. My son is 14 1/2 yo, and has been throwing a slider from his sidearm delivery since 10 years of age. I’ve watched pitch counts and pitching frequency (how often he was used) pretty carefully, and we’ve always enjoyed working together on pitcher-specific conditioning, mechanics, etc. Despite having pitched some nice youth-level games (from this season a 7 inning 1-hitter to win a PONY tournament semi-final comes to mind) he has never had a sore arm from pitching. There might be some good luck going on there (and we are grateful for it), but we try our best not to rely on good luck as a strategy.

You and your son will likely come to treasure the off-season time you spend together–just the two of you–working together on conditioning, pitching mechanics, fielding, hitting, b.s.'ing, joking, you name it. I don’t know about yours, but our local fields are pretty much abandoned during the off-season so we get uninterrupted use of them on the week-ends. Those dad-and-son sessions are just a great way for you both to stay connected–and if you don’t start 'em up and make it into a habit before he becomes a teenager you might never know what you’re missing

Thanks for the info and perspective on breaking stuff. I do go back and forth on my thinking about that, and I’ll admit to being one of those dad/LL coaches who knows just enough to be dangerous, and who has jumped to conclusions on this issue without much direct knowledge or research. OTOH you’re quite right about how kids learn stuff - just playing catch with teammates and friends, my kid has learned 3-4 ways to throw a curve. As a result I have taught him the karate chop motion (though we call it football) and allow him to throw a few every bullpen in exchange for his promise not to throw the junk his friends teach him. He tossed a couple yesterday that for the first time had a really good hard break and had us both wondering if he should air it out in a game during fall ball.

Maybe I don’t have enough info make this conclusion, but my feeling is that LL pitch count rules are pretty reasonable, and that a kid who stays within them is fairly well protected, so long as he doesn’t do excessive bullpens or double up by playing for a travel team on the side. It’s anecdotal, but every kid I’ve known who has had arm issues has been a TT pitcher, and in most cases often done TT games during rec season. (I also think they’re wrong about the catcher rules. One of the hardest throwers in our league plays catcher for the first 5 innings of every game and then closes as pitcher; I woudn’t want my kid doing that.)

You’re right and very well-spoken about the bonding you do with a boy while practicing sports. We are usually out there doing a little batting and fielding during the rainy season. But more often you’ll see him running circles around me on the basketball court. And we’ve somehow transitioned from the time when I had to work really hard to allow my two boys together to beat me at foosball. Now either one can take me 6 out of 10. I’ll know I’m old when I realize that they’re letting me win.

[quote=“laflippin”]Hey quaff,

I’ve got a mixed response to the breaking ball issue.

On one hand, youth baseball discussions about breaking balls are very often exercises of slathering myth on top of uneducated opinion on top of pure baloney (and I’m not just talking about typical kids’ level of knowledge–many adult coaches apparently cease to try to learn anything more about this subject after someone convinces them that the curveball is the bane of youth arms and shouldn’t be thrown by any pitcher under the age of ___ (choose an arbitrary age here).

Here are some of the things my kid’s coach taught me when the boy was 10 years of age:

  1. Most kids who love to pitch will eventually start to experiment with breaking balls whether you want them to or not. Left to their own devices, they will almost certainly get it wrong because, let’s face it, most other kids and many adult coaches at youth level baseball have no clear idea of how to throw quality breaking pitches.

  2. Well-conducted research from the ASMI (Andrews & Fleisig–these guys also happen to be Advisory Board members of House’s NPA), which was carried out expressly based on the hypothesis that there would likely be a direct correlation between youth arm injury rates and the use of breaking pitches, actually failed to show any such correlation. Fortunately ASMI is a responsible group of honest people and they published the facts of their study, and the correction of their hypothesis in the sports medicine literature. As far as potentially injurious stresses on the arms of young pitchers…they found that the #1 most stressful pitch is…wait for it…wait for it…the fastball. Curveballs are only slightly more biomechanically stressful than changeups. The only clear correlate to injury rates among youth pitchers is overuse. Which pitchers get overused the most at very young ages? You’ve got it: Johnny Stud, with his blazing fastball.

2b) Outside the scope of the ASMI study, House believes that injury rates probably also correlate to lack of pitcher-specific conditioning–especially conditioning of the often-neglected decelerator muscle groups.

  1. When any overhand pitch is released the hand/wrist/forearm must pronate–that is an anatomical fact of life. Young kids often mistakenly believe that a curveball needs to be released with a “turn the doorknob” twist of the wrist to get the correct spin…nothing could be further from the truth. “Turning the doorknob” makes the hand/wrist/forearm go into supination during the highest-speed part of the delivery–just at the time when these body parts are going to need to reverse course and pronate. This is a formula for eventual disaster.

  2. A properly thrown curveball is one with hand/wrist/forearm pre-set for a “karate chop” release made straight toward the target. There is no twisting or ‘turning the doorknob’. As the ball is released from a firm ‘karate chop’ toward the target, the hand/wirst/forearm will naturally go into pronation without undue stress.

  3. My son is 14 1/2 yo, and has been throwing a slider from his sidearm delivery since 10 years of age. I’ve watched pitch counts and pitching frequency (how often he was used) pretty carefully, and we’ve always enjoyed working together on pitcher-specific conditioning, mechanics, etc. Despite having pitched some nice youth-level games (from this season a 7 inning 1-hitter to win a PONY tournament semi-final comes to mind) he has never had a sore arm from pitching. There might be some good luck going on there (and we are grateful for it), but we try our best not to rely on good luck as a strategy.

You and your son will likely come to treasure the off-season time you spend together–just the two of you–working together on conditioning, pitching mechanics, fielding, hitting, b.s.'ing, joking, you name it. I don’t know about yours, but our local fields are pretty much abandoned during the off-season so we get uninterrupted use of them on the week-ends. Those dad-and-son sessions are just a great way for you both to stay connected–and if you don’t start 'em up and make it into a habit before he becomes a teenager you might never know what you’re missing[/quote] I give this post five stars My Son does push ups Bicycle crunches jump rope and squats. I would also like to mention some of My Son’s best outings were when He said He was only throwing 70% as opposed to 100% the times He throws 70% He looks like He could throw all day Just My 2 cents. Patrick is a good Kid with a good Dad and He will be fine.