10 yo pitching mechanics - feedback welcome


#1

Hello folks,

My son is preparing for his second pitching season, and has gone through long off-season workout with three pitching clinics, and since January he is preparing with his team for the new season. We are practicing pitching in our basement every other day, while in between he is working with light weights (1 lb) and elastic tubing on strengthing his shoulder muscles.

In attached link, you can see his preferred delivery (full find-up). I would highly appreciate your comments (both positive and negative), and suggestions how to improve on certain motions during delivery.

Thanks, Dragan!


#2

Hey, this guy has some serious mechanics happening. Good job. Nice rotation, well balanced. Now, a couple of suggestions.

His “rocker step” with his left foot in the windup is forward. As he gets older, or in tournaments, he might get called for a balk. The rules state that you can take one step back and one forward. Depends on the ump at this level.

Another thing the forward step does is force him to stop that forward movement of his centre of gravity with a momentary pause, then go backward to get up to knee lift where he has another momentary pause, then throw. Try to eliminate the pauses. Get his left hip going toward the target no later than at the top of the lift. Don’t fall for the “pause at the balance point” cue that so many coaches recommend. What purpose does it serve other than to stop movement? Due to that pause at the balance point, everything that preceded it is just for looks. You might as well just start at the balance point. It just negated everyting that came before.

Many people say that, at this level, you should stick to the stretch rather than the full windup because it simplifies things. This might be true but I think this kid can handle the windup. He’s doing very well already.

His glove side should be worked on a bit. It turns over and drops early. Actually, it never really gets up at all after it drops with the hands breaking out of the glove. It sweeps at hip height and stays down there. It turns over early which has the effect of pulling the front shoulder open with it. Early. Watch some of the videos in the library on this site for lead arm action. Chris and I have been having a running debate about the oft recommended “point the glove at the target cue”. I really dislike this one. I prefer what guys like Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens or Kevin Brown do with the elbows. These are all to be seen in the library.

He’s sweeping the ball hand down and back behind his body before arcing it up in back. I would suggest that he get a slight bend in the elbow at about 7:00 when looking at him from the 3rd base side. Then he should lift the forearm up instead of circling way back behind him and up. Again, the library would be a great place to research what the pros do.

Lastly, he’s really sticking a finish position here but I’m afraid for his safety with his glove back by his hip and his head out front like that. Get his glove tuck to be to his chest, not his hip.

All in all, he’s looking quite good but some small adjustments will do him well. Nice job.


#3

I generally agree with dm so I’m going to copy his post to drive my comments…

Agreed. You can tell the kid has been working on his mechanics.

I see that move used quite a bit and it never gets called as a balk. It’s the move that the varsity coach teaches at my kids’ high school. It’s also the move my younger son uses. It’s never been called a balk. But one suggestion is to have him stand at an angle facing the 3B side a bit instead of squared up to home plate. This will shorten up that initial forward step and make it less noticeable.

The forward step, if it is small, is one way to reduce inappropriate movement at the start of the delivery. There was a time not too long ago when we valued that over the step to the side or to the rear. These days we tend to be ok with the step to the rear as that is a way to generate more momentum. However, generating more momentum carries with it other demands - specifically increased strength and flexibility. So I’m not so sure the small step forward is a bad thing for such a young kid.

I agree.

Remember, for a kid this young, the glove weighs more that the ball and it’s worn on the weak arm. So it may take more work to stabilize the glove arm than the throwing arm. But he should still try to start developing the habit.

I’m not one to mess with the throwing arm unless I see something blatantly wrong and I don’t see that here.

I agree with the safety concern. But I would refrain from saying there should be a glove tuck to the chest. Instead, the I would say the glove should simply finish in front of the chest. I actually think this kid does a good job of getting the glove out front and bringing the chest to the glove.
He just needs to finish with the glove more up and in front of his chest.

Ditto.

One last comment that I would add is that the kid seems to bend toward the target at the waist. It’s sort of a “cartwheel” move where there isn’t much separation between hip and shoulder rotation. And that has the effect of causing a posture change late in the delivery. I’d like to see him keep his head more upright and to rotate the hips around first followed by the shoulders second.


#4

Hi dm and Roger,

Thank you very much for valuable comments. I agree with your comments except for small reservation for the rocker step.
We both (my son and myself) understand the importance of building momentum, and we are already working on implementing rearward rocker step, and can tell you that ball velocity has increased noticably. His front leg lift is now shorthened to the weist height and lead leg is not that closed as before. My only reservation with rearward rocker step is maintaining his ballance during the second phase (lifting the lead leg) since the quality of the mound at his level of competition deteriorates very fast, so that ballance leg is very often burried into the deep and uneven hole, which could cause shifting his ballance to the left or right.

Studying a few Blue Jays pitchers (Holladay, Burnett, Lilly), I noticed that they build momentum mostly by rotation of their lead leg in second phase, almost towards the short stop position. This movement is in agreement with some of the pitching instructional videos (dr. Stockton), and I am just curious whether it is in collision with momentum build that we agree here. Or maybe, it is just additional ingredient that needs to be mastered. Let me now what you think.

As far as GS arm movement, I agree that we have to improve on it. I also noticed that from the separation, he keeps his glove pretty low untill the end of delivery. I am trying to make his arm tucked to his chest just about at the moment of landing of his lead leg during the third phase. I think that it can help him separate hips from shoulders, and also open his lead leg foot towards the catcher or slightly closed. Analyzing his videos I noticed that he stays pretty closed at the end of third phase, which causes him to bend body into bannana shape looking from catcher.
Please, let me know what you think.

In gereral, I agree that his mechanics is decent. He can throw regurarly bulpen of about 75 pitches during the season without or very little pain (fatigue). Now (off-season) he throws bulllpen of 50 pitches (alternates 5 stretch, 5 wind-up pitches). His control is pretty good, and last year during the rooky season, he threw a lot of strikes. This year he trusts that he will be much better.

Looking forward for your comments!

Thank you!

Dragan


#5

I agree, I’m very impressed w/this young guys mechanics… the 1 other thing I would add - which seems to be a common error w/younger guys throwing…

And its hard for me to explain this… when he throws, he dips the left side down, and the right shoulder/arm throw over the top… I would try to get him to turn the shoulders right to left more…

I could be wrong though…


#6

ebkcontainers,

I agree with your comment about bringing left shoulder pretty low. I think it is due to his GS arm staying pretty low during delivery. I believe if he manages to tuck his glove higher and sooner, it would help him.

I made frame by frame analysis of his delivery, and am wondering how I can share it with the members. It is MS Word document with inserted frames. Can someone advise how to share it with the members.

Thank you!

Dragan


#7

Dragan,

Yes, keeping that GS arm up should help that…

You can try using rapidshare.com to upload the file, so members can download it…

Lee


#8

Hi Lee,

Thank you for the advise for file download. Here is the link (hope it works):

http://rapidshare.com/files/21700025/frame_by_frame_analysis_16mar2007.doc.html

Thank you!

Dragan


#9

Nice sequence. I noticed a couple additional things:

(1) In frame 5, he is starting his stride and he is leading with his leg/foot. I’d suggest having him try to lead with the front hip.

(2) In frame 7, his stride leg is straight when the front foot plants. (1) probably contributes to this.

I think both of these contribute to what I referred to previously as a “cartwheel” movement. He should work to plant on a bent front leg. Leading with the hip will set him up to do that.


#10

Hi Roger,

We both know that leading with the front hip should be part of the stride, as well as landing to a bent leg. I think he is doing it, but probably not consistently. We are trying to pefect a several details during the delivery, and sometimes, some of them are missing. But, I believe with numerous repetitions, he will be OK.

As far as ‘cartwheel’, interesting thing is that during the pitching clinic that he went to this winter, instructor insisted that ball release should be ‘from the top’, not through the elbow leading arm. I found on several instructional videos that elbow should lead before releasing the ball. I am little bit confused here.

What do you think?

Thank you!

Dragan


#11

[quote=“Dragan”]Hi Roger,

We both know that leading with the front hip should be part of the stride, as well as landing to a bent leg. I think he is doing it, but probably not consistently. We are trying to pefect a several details during the delivery, and sometimes, some of them are missing. But, I believe with numerous repetitions, he will be OK.[/quote]
He is just 10 after all. In fact, I normally wouldn’t mention some of these things with a 10 year old. But your son seems to be advanced enough that he is not only capable of attempting them but he is also capable of comprehending them.

[quote]As far as ‘cartwheel’, interesting thing is that during the pitching clinic that he went to this winter, instructor insisted that ball release should be ‘from the top’, not through the elbow leading arm. I found on several instructional videos that elbow should lead before releasing the ball. I am little bit confused here.

What do you think?[/quote]
I don’t understand how one can throw a baseball without leading with the elbow unless they are either pushing it like a shot put or flinging it with an entirely straight arm. Both of those would be terribly inefficient ways to throw a baseball. The body is usually pretty good at finding the best way to do things.

Cues like “get on top of the ball” and “throw over the top” often cause kids to alter their mechanics in inappropriate ways. Quite frequently, these cues cause posture problems. Some experts make the throwing arm’s action the centerpiece of the entire delivery. Other’s, like Tom House, say the throwing arm action belongs to the pitcher so don’t mess with it. I fall into House’s camp on this issue so I wouldn’t mess with his arm slot.


#12

Hi,

There has been a while since I talked to you, although I am reading posts as much as time allows.
My son’s baseball season is slowly windind down, there are a few more weeks and it will be over (officially). My son has had pretty decent season, especially at the start of the season, when he had a lot of success in getting the batters struck out or ground out. A couple of time he has hit pretty hard, which shook his confidence a bit. Then I figuered how much catcher is important and his calling the right pitches and especially positioning the glove in those spots.
Now back to my son’s mechanics. We tried to make a few adjustment which can be seen in video and frame by frame analysis. I would like to hear your comments on his mechanics now versus previos, and let us know if we are going in right direction.
I see a few spots where we have to improve, like separating hips and shoulders, being more explosive towards the catcher (he seems to me pretty slow, not sure if I should expect more from his age, 10yo, and body frame), shortening his arm action (he needs to be constantly reminded, again not sure if I should insist much on it now). His fastest pitch recorded was 49mph.

Please, let me know of your comments.

Regards,


http://rapidshare.com/files/47000730/frame_by_frame_analysis_2007_08_05.doc.html


#13

He needs to grow about 24 inches, gain a hundred pounds and run sprints before and after school. KIDDING…man the kid looks good. Just keep working with him so he does not get hurt. Just be careful and make sure baseball is still fun and not a chore.

I like how he gets in proper fielding position after. You don`t see that with kids his age often.

Good Luck


#14

Not bad. A few things I would have him work on are:

(1) Starting stance is too wide. He has to do a big weight shift back toward 2B to get into knee lift. That can cause balance problems especially for younger pitchers.

(2) Head needs to be stabilized to eliminate movement side-to-side and back toward 2B. At the top of his knee lift when he starts forward, he has a big posture change back toward 2B. It looks like he is trying to get his hips going which is good. But we don’t want the torso to lean back (toward 2B). The head does stay slightly behind the front hip into foot plane but not far behind.

The trick will be to increase postural stability without eliminating explosiveness. Young kids often lack core strength so don’t press too hard. Just continue to work on it.


#15

Thank you both for comments!

I kind agree with comments about weight. He is really underweight for his age, but I do not worry about it now, although more pounds would help his pittching velocity and hitting.

About the Roger’s comments:

  1. I know about his wide starting stance and big weight shift forward and then back. Although it is not recommended, I think it makes him going and so far I have not noticed that it has affected his balance at leg lift.

  2. I think that your comments about head stabilization are correct, especially about his torso leaning back while leading with the hips. We recently started working on hips leading the move into landing position, and I see it is not perfect. We should start practicing that fence drill.

At this point, we are trying to focus on a couple things:

A) Improving on timing when his pitching arm in concern. I think that he needs to ‘shorthen’ the arm, which will allow him his chest to be square to the pitcher when releasing the ball. Another thing here are his shoulders which seems to be heavilly tilted at the release point. I am not sure if we should leave it as simply as his style of delivery (as some of the succesfull MLB pitchers like Roy Oswalt). Maybe shortened arm will help here as well.

b) His front foot at landing seems to be little too much to the 1st base side and too closed at the same time. Probably, the reason is not enough push from the rear foot, as well as his pitching arm going too far back behind, in other words not enough time to open. This couple things is causing his movement side to side during delivery (can be seen in front view on video). Again, I belive that short arm will help eliminating this problems.

It may seems like I am expecting and asking too much from him at his age, but at the same time when I am talking to him about these things, he understands his weaknesses, and agrees on what we have to work on. In short, he is very coachable. The only thing is that I should be right in my observations, and methods to improve on those weaknesses.

If someone has the comment of the above, and drills how to improve on the above, please let me know.

Thank you!

Regards,


#16

With kids this young I try to limit how much I have them work on. That’s why I mentioned only two things. But I probably should have mentioned one more item. His knee lift and lower body load seems a bit awkward. After the weight shift I mentioned previously, he lifts his knee and then rotates it back in what appears to be two distinct steps. I think it would be better if this whole movement were more fluid. Trying to rotate back once the knee is lifted creates a slight pause and could impact balance as well as momentum.