11 year old - I would like some feedback

I’m looking for some feedback on Shawn’s pitching. He’s 11 years old and is 5’ 3, 105 lbs. He throws hard, but isn’t too consistent with his control. I noticed that he was opening up and landing his plant foot towards the 1st base side of the mound, so I used some chalk to give him an indicator as to where to land his plant foot and it seemed to help. When he is on, he is really tough to hit; but when he is off, the batters won’t even attempt to swing. In the videos, he’s only throwing his 4 seam fastball. He throws mostly a 4 seam fastball and his main out pitch is a cut fastball that he throws in on the hands to right handed batters. He also throws a Circle Change and a Curveball, but only to keep hitters off balance.

Here are some videos of him from the front, side and back. He pitches exactly the same whether he has a batter at the plate or no batter at the plate. In these videos, his control was pretty good, so maybe the plant foot was part of the problem. On the Front and Side view videos there is some slow motion video towards the end. He tells the camera the location of each pitch on the Front and Side views.

Let me know what you think and if there are any drills you can recommend to help with his mechanics.

Thanks,

Hep

The first thing I would work on is firming up his stride leg on landing. Any lower body power that he may have developed prior to striding is not being transferred into his upper body because his front knee is bending so much. It’s good to have a nice soft landing with the stride leg, but it has to firm up and deliver the forward momentum up the leg, through the glove side hip, creating torque in the trunk, etc, etc. Firming that front leg up will also help him stabilize and not fall off to the first base side so much. Good luck and keep us posted on his progress.

oc2Viking,

Thanks for your comment. I was a little concerned about his front leg bending too much, but then I saw some videos of other pitchers that did the same thing, so I just figured it was a matter of preference. I think I would prefer him to have a straighter plant leg, so what are some drills that I can implement to help him straighten that plant leg.

Thanks for the input.

Hep

He is very linear, I would suspect his accuracy failing as he tires, that chalk line is exactly right, if he isn’t on line, neither is his delivery. As he gets more fatigued he’ll fail at repeating his footstrike which will always negatively affect accuracy.

Thanks for the input JD.

I just need some clarification, what do you mean by too linear and why is that a bad thing?

His arm is in great shape and he was able to throw the max pitch count for his age on a couple of occassions this season, 85 pitches. If he was on to start the game, he uusally finished strong. If he was off to start the game, he had a hard time righting the ship. I never really saw any signs of fatigue.

I think his incosistancy had more to do with not enough time on the mound. We would do bullpen sessions off flat ground in the backyard before work (for me) and school (for him), but there wasn’t a lot of chances to get on a mound, mostly game situations.

Once again, thanks for taking the time to comment,

Hep

I said;

It is a method of delivery, not bad good or indifferent, it can be worked with but eventually he’ll develop some seperation and include torso rotation with linear movement which is a mature pitchers delivery. I think this is what OC was trying to get to about the softening on the front leg, as bringing it to firm -er will get the torso something to leverage rotation with, as he develops rotation his timing will alter and he’ll need to reclaim accuracy again. Footwork is critical in every delivery method…it is also a great “waypoint” to see if he is getting tired, look for repeatability.

He is doing a good job right now lots of good and upside.

JD,

Thanks for the clarification. Could you give me an example or a link to some video of a linear pitching style compared to the alternative? Along with his plant foot being more in line with the plate, he’s worked on pulling his glove side in, instead of doing a sweeping across motion. I think concentrating on his glove side in conjunction with his foot plant will allow him to gain more control.

Is there anything he can do to work on straightening out his plant leg?

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Hep

as far as straightening the plant leg - it’s just a matter of him concentrating on doing it. I don’t really know of any particular drills that reinforce the concept. Again - he wants to land softly, but he needs to firm-up the leg before it starts bending. This doesn’t necessarily equate to straightening the leg. It can still be bent a little, but the leg needs to be able to push back on the glove side hip to fully open the hips. One thing that will help with this is doing lots of lunges and getting a feel for what the legs muscles have to do in order to support the body in that position.

I don’t normally post in the pitching mechanics section. I taught my kid to pitch at the age of seven and he went on to the college level but I made plenty of mistakes along the way because it’s the nature of pitching that practice reinforces both the good and the bad. You don’t get to erase the muscle memory. So there came a time when I started looking for someone who knew how to teach effective mechanics and who could be there to take inventory on his progress. I would have gotten that coach earlier if I had known how hard it was going to be to break bad habits.

So what I’m getting to is this. There are some great resources in this forum who will help get you steered in the right direction but they can’t be there to see daily progress and make instant changes like a personal pitching coach can. In addition to seeking guidance on this site, consider finding a personal pitching coach, one you trust and one with proper credentials.

A second recommendation, and you might think I’m nuts to suggest it but I would sign him up for a wrestling program or a marshal arts school for the development of his balance and athleticism. When I was playing baseball, I had a friend who was quite clumsy but loved to pitch. He got his chances but had a hard time with consistency. When he showed up for high school practice as a freshman and tried out on the mound, I was shocked at the improvement in his pitching. I asked him what happened. He said his mom signed him up for a dance class over the summer. He swore he’d kill me if I told anybody. Never said a word, until now.

And now, back to some advice on mechanics.

:lol: :lol: :lol:
This from a retired Penn. State Policeman :wink:
I know when he went to marshals school they also taught him how to shoot folks and pummell the helpless with a mag lite…but hey thats another story… :smiley:
Now when I had my son learn some martial arts :lol: …it was a tremendous boost on every aspect of his baseball life (Came in handy in a surely travel squad environment too…they didn’t want much of a guy who broke concrete blocks at 12 and was the Ga. State Champ, Fla Silver medalist and faught in the Jr. Olympics at the old Metrodome 8) ).

As to the linear question, I’ve been wracking my brain as to the best way to get this idea across to you…one name pops into my head…Paul Nyman and SetPro, Paul has some great animations out there showing trunk rotation and contrasting it vs a linear approach…I’d just ramble and confuse I’m afraid…oops…might have already.

I agree that he needs to firm up his stride leg. As it is now his soft landing, a good thing, without firming up the leg is preventing him from allowing his hips to rotate open, keeping him more linear. It’s almost like the lack of rotation in his post leg is slamming the door on rotation of his hips and torso.

Watch the videos, concentrating on his finish. His post leg never really finishes it just kind of folllows straight forward with an awkward step never really landing in the same spot twice.

I definitely agree with JD about being very linear. In the clips, you can see that he has significant forward movement towards homeplate after he releases the ball. This implies that he isn’t converting that linear movement into rotation around the front leg. I suggest working on getting better rotation into foot plant and working on getting better rotation around the spine instead of pushing forward with the arm.

Thanks for all the input!

I met up this weekend with my High School coach and he noticed the linear movement towards home as well as a few towards third base and a few towards first base. His belief is that his balance when he finishes the pitch is way too forward, as many have suggested, but he also noticed that his back foot would drag sometimes (bad) and would come up, with cleats pointing to the sky (good) other times.

He also felt that his lower body was moving fine (leg kick), but his upper body, mostly the hands, weren’t moving at all. He would like to see the glove and pitching hand move up as the knee comes up, during the wind up, as well as come down as the knee comes down. Right now his hands are static until the knee starts working its way down.

His main concern was the balance, so he has Shawn working on a 4x4 balancing on his plant leg as his hands and lead leg move up and down. Also, he wants him doing dry drills without a ball working on his balance through the wind up and holding his finish and slapping his rib cage on follow through, making sure that his back foot is pointing cleats to the sky and then landing in a balanced fielding position instead of falling off to either side or straight forward.

I will post some video of his progress after a couple of weeks of doing the drills.

Thanks for all your help,

Hep

I think this pitcher lacks momentum toward the plate. From peak of knee lift, he lowers his knee, opens the front leg and just steps forward without his center of gravity moving forward much. This probably contributes to the linear appearence others have commented on. Getting the hips moving forward faster will have then effect of opening the front leg relativel later which should help maximize rotation. It should also help with balance. Moving too slow down the hill is like trying to ride a bike too slow - makes you wobbly.

I don’t have a concern with the front leg. The knee angle at front foot plant is fine. There could be a strength issue but I wouldn’t alter mechanics for that. Better to do the lunges that OC mentioned.

The only other thing I might address is that he looks to have a small postural shift (leans back towards 1B) as he goes into knee lift. This indicates a lack of core strength to stabilize posture with that knee lift. This can easily be addresses by adding a little more bend at the waist and knees to start him in a posture where he has the strength to stabilize. This, combined with moving faster, ought to help with balance through the delivery.