My son has always been really streaky on the mound. When he is on, he throws really hard and pounds strike zone. When off velocity is okay but is very wild and has hard time getting thru innnings. He is small and a good athlete who plays all sports pretty well. I have noticed the games that he threw really well that he was rotating his shoulders early to the point where at front foot strike his chest was nearly facing home instead of towards 3rd and he was staying stacked really well. In the games where he was awful he would not stay stacked kind of leaning towards home, but would keep his shoulders more closed. However he would then contort his body with alot of tilt to throw and results were terrible. I think maybe the reason he needs to start his shoulder rotation early is he may lack the core strength too delay it yet. My question is this. Should I allow him to throw with the early shoulder rotation? When he did he threw very hard and accurate, one of the better pitchers in league or keep telling him to stay closed as long as possible like all the pitching gurus say and let him struggle until his body develops more? My fear though is that if he continues to try and stay closed and struggles he may not want to pitch and maybe even play baseball and just go to the next sport. That is unfortunately his personality. He knows he is good at other sports so if the one he is playing is not going well he will just stop playing and go to the next sport.
Not knowing much about your son (age, by small do you mean stature or muscular, etc), I will keep it brief. Coaches are correct in that the “hip to shoulder separation” (Top side closed) along with using the trunk moving forward during delivery is really the proper way and takes a time to learn. Core strength, hip mobility & Leg strength/power is key. Control issues are probably because his body is not used to this change in mechanics and he doesn’t really know where his arm/ball is in all of this. I would say that he needs to accept that this is a learning process and needs to be patient - not to be rushed. I would not try to change or play with mechanics during a game. keep changes to the bullpen for now, then move to simulated games in the pen. The one thing to be wary of is the early trunk rotation can put a lot of extra stress on the arm (shoulder & elbow). My background is: Pitched through college, worked in MLB for almost 2 decades and have been a pitching coach for JH & HS (cause I love it)
A good start would be to video your son, maybe even try to capture a side-by-side. Although physiologically, he is still maturing, his kinetic chain can still be strengthened. Eyeballing variations, and nuances can be tricky. If his shoulders square, prematurely, his hips no longer can activate the final whip. An important observation is how bent his landing leg is, when his torso turns. If you can video him and see the leg brace and chest turn, in unison, there is a fair chance he is completing the kinetic chain, successfully. Also, note, his arm slot when the whip over the front leg occurs. Velocity is relative. I use my radar gun with my pitchers, 2 times a year: mid to late February, as a baseline. And with proper work and conditioning; the increase, hopefully, by mid-May. Throughout the Summer variations occur. We don’t gun, unless there is a step-up from injury.
Actually I have side view slow motion video of most of his games. I don’t feel comfortable posting it in a public forum because he is 11 and I don’t want to be known as that dad, but I could post them in a private location and DM you links to look at them. I could post the good games when he threw hard and accurate next to the bad games. I would be super interested in getting your opinion. Jstharp2654 and kingscountybb, would you both be willing to give me feedback if I did so?
Suggest finding a local pitching coach to analyze and work on his form. Sure it’s not cheap…but if you think about big picture its worth it.
My son early on would always step out/left in the batters box. 8 lessons with a hitting coach broke him of his bad habits and he continues to love the game.
As a dad I’ve learned I can help him conduct practice…but leave “coaching” up to those who have the deeper knowledge and skill.