11 year old, new to pitching, needs advice.....please ; )


#1

Hello Gents,

My son a few weeks back had a problem with his elbow. Now all seems good, possibly due to quitting some exercises that may have put a strain on his elbow.

Here’s our starting point, taken today Sunday March 14th. Any basic advice or advanced for that matter, would be greatly appreciated.

edit - yes, he should have been wearing cleats…next time. ; )


#2

Hi Guys,

Sorry for being so impatient, but I am really hoping someone can comment. I am a total babe in the woods with pitching and I just want to do the best I can to help my son avoid injury in the future. it pains me to think that he could be on the brink of hurting his arm again. Every time I see him throw I worry that he is doing something primarily wrong. But since I am so clueless I feel paralyzed to tell him to do anything, because it could be bad advice.

We’ve looked at the Picture Perfect Pitcher book which has been most helpful. But I am having a really tough time learning about sequencing and more over what things should look like. Also it is one thing to pick out mistakes and yet another knowing how to fix them.

Any advice would really go a long way. I simply don’t have the resources to get him lessons at the moment. It is my true hope we can get some advice from you guys here on the forum.

Respectfully,

Zeninfinity


#3

Zen who has been coaching him so far?
It looks like he uses a combination of momentum pitching and hyper pronation. I am not a big fan of forcing a natural arm movement further than the arm naturally does, so I would steer him away from that. I recommend just letting the arm do it as it would, the arm will pronate naturally. I don’t think anyone here can injury proof your son by advising on the vids. The best protection is proper/not over conditioning (I mean to fatigue or beyond too many days a week, a second sport is a great conditioning tool). Throwing with as much regularity as he can (Daily catch is do-able but think in terms of as many opportunities a week). Mix in long toss, flat ground form work and bullpens. Work to keep his hand “behind” the ball, particularly with momentum pitching because if the hand is outside the ball and he loses control by slipping (See tennis shoes on a soft sandy mound) he will certainly stress the livin dookey out of his shoulder.
It likely wouldn’t hurt to either get or continue to get lessons, momentum pitching requires solid balance and timing, be vigilant. As to not being able to afford the lessons…save up. Two or 3 quality lessons should be in the $40 to $60 a pop range, have him cut some grass, help an old person…get him involved in working for his future. The big part is the conditioning and throwing as much as he can.


#4

I am just a Dad and trying to learn also so take everything I say with a grain of salt. First of all, I think he looks pretty good. I love the way he pronates his hand and the end of his throw, that should help his elbow. It look like he is bringing his body to his glove and again that is good. I don’t like his setback(it is too long) as that may effect his balance.

Having seen the presentation at the pitcher’s bootcamp(Wolforth) of Phil Donley and Eric Cressey, I am thinking that strength and flexibilty are very important to prevent injury. The Combat Pitcher by Wolforth, Steve’s Tough Cuff, and Cressey’s Access and Correct are good places to start. Eric Cressey also has a lot of good and free info on his website including an article on Kid’s pitching.

www.ericcressey.com

Hope this helps.


#5

JD, Slew,

Thanks for the comments! He’s really had no formal coaching, just the local LL coaches, all which have told him completely different things.

I have finally decided that I need to get more involved because the advice he has been getting over the last 2 years have been all over the map. I have now learned that the “arm slot” should be a natural occurrence, we spent 2 seasons ago trying to throw completely overhand, over the shoulder, because a coach insisted that is the way it is done. We burned countless hours trying to do a movement that was completely unnatural to my son.

Bottom line, since my son is not the start pitcher, no coach has really given him the time of day…and I don’t know how.

My background is judo, and as a kid I got gold in the Pan Am games and won the nationals a few times. Judo’s main goal is “maximum efficiency with minimal effort.” Timing and technique is everything, if you want to flip someone over your body flat onto their back. If you time things right it’s like magic, they guy flys over you with very little effort and comes smashing down to the ground.

As you can see in the first few clips some of these guys catch their opponent close to the exact right time and up and over they go… with ease. Others are purely using power and strength and muscle a guy over, not the point of judo. Clean, fast, swift technique with perfect timing is what it is all about to me.

Quite frankly I see all sports this way and pitching is by far the one you want to get as right as possible or you risk injury. We’ve already had a close call and it completely freaks me out. So my choices are 1) Have him quit baseball 2) Get it together and figure it out.

So I am trying to figure this out on the most basic level. I think I get the use of the hips and not “opening up” too soon. And I most definitely get using the whole body and not just the arm.

At this point I have just told my son to do what he feels comes most naturally to him, so this is the technique he feels most comfortable with at the moment. What he was trying to do in the clip was 1) “Equal and opposite elbows” 2) Staying sideways as long as he can, open up lead foot to home plate just before landing (to initiate hips) 3) Come up on toe after lead foot lands 4) Drag the back toe

As we all know, telling a player to do too many things at once usually ends with a confusing result. So I am trying to keep it simple, but really am only guessing. Which I think is really dangerous.

This is the technique he says comes most natural to him. Should we scrap it and do something else? Or is there tweaks we can do to make it work?

Again guys, thank you sooooo much for your input. All comments and advice is totally welcome from this clueless dad.

With respect.[/youtube]


#6

What kind of exercises was he doing? An eleven year old kid has an undeveloped body. There aren’t too many appropriate pitching exercises for a kid that age.

Does he use the same arm slot when he “throws” the ball AND when he pitches the ball?

Brian


#7

Hi Brian,

Yes, I think the offending exercise was the wrist roll up bar, which someone suggested could have tightened up his forearms and thus stressed the elbow. Or maybe even chin ups, which he could only do with some assistance. Whatever the case we are sticking with plyometrics until he gets older.

Bottom line, he isn’t a very strong kid and needs to develop a nice solid base…in time.

I am not sure about the arm slot; pitching vs fielding, but see no real differences with the naked eye. I will shot some video of him fielding sometime soon to do a comparison.

But can we improve what he is doing now? Or should we go another route?


#8

My son started karate when he was 3 because his older brother did it. It seems to have helped his flexability and control/explosion of his hips from all the kicking the heavy bag.

I would look at Steve “The Pitching Manual” for age appropriate work outs.

http://www.thepitchingmanual.com/

Also, Wolforth has a workout program for younger kids.

http://www.combatpitching.com/

Enjoy the journey


#9

I used to coach kids that age and really tried to keep things simple. We always had very good pitchers.

The first think I did was find kids on the team with above average velocity and good accuracy. Identified their natural arm slot by watching them throw the ball across the infield.

I then taught them how to pitch out of the stretch only. Insisted that they throw from their natural arm slot.

The reason was simple. It was much easier for me to identify a problem and fix it with less stuff going on. “Maximum efficiency with minimal effort”.

My son is a junior in HS and still only pitches from the stretch.

Here’s a video of him pitching a bullpen when he was younger.

“Maximum efficiency with minimal effort”.

You mentioned your background in judo. That should help you with your son when he gets older. My boy works out daily with an MMA fighter. They do five different, one minute drills, for five minutes and then take breaks. They do this seven times during gym. That’s 35 different one minute MMA drills each gym class.

His innings on the mound average less than 5 minutes, so he’s hoping this MMA training is simulating brutal 7 inning game conditions.

Brian


#10

Ok, for sure I will pick up the Steve’s book as a point of reference and as a show of respect because he hosts this fine forum. Thank you Steve, really from the bottom of my heart. I’d probably be in the looney bin if it wasn’t for all the cool people showing support on this forum.

So now that I have read the comments you made a few times, what do you mean by “hyper pronation”, where is this occurring (time in video please)? And did I read it correctly that Slew likes this motion? As far as I know, my son is not trying to do anything particular with his arm. Perhaps this is a defense mechanism from the previous elbow injury?

Slew, what do you mean by “set back”? Is it when he is moving forward and he is leaning back quite a bit? Should he be more balanced?

NOTE - I could care less how fast my kid pitches. I am not looking to increase his velocity or for him to do any fancy pitches. I just want him to develop a nice solid throwing technique. That’s it.

So are there any glaring things he is doing that may injure his arm? Or is he ok for his age and I should just chill out?


#11

On second 58 it is an example of complete pronation, pronation is good, it’s naturally where the arm goes, it just looks to me as though he’s trying to force it further than I “normally” see, if that is the case, likely he’s had some sinking movement on his fastball (Sinking movement is usually moving down and in on a right handed batter from a right handed pitcher)…again not a bad thing at all, the only concern I would have is if he is overly forcing the pronation (Generally an accidental screw ball will happen)…not bad if you mean to but for an 11 yr old not the focus I would orient to. Also the down side my be straining the shoulder with hi usage or maybe some location issues. This is another reason for a guy on the ground to take a look. I mean bare minimum he’ll see him for an hour…we get 1 minute. I mean gosh it’s high school season, take him to a couple of games and have him watch some bull pens (That sort of learning has a very minimal cost but high potential value), you can be creative. Shoot if a coach is standing around your son might even get to ask a couple of questions.


#12

Do you mean at 38 seconds? 58 is the total length of the clip.

Ok JD, point taken about going out and seeing some higher level ball.

I mean no disrespect, but who’s to say the local high school or college coaches know what they are doing? Of course they know a lot more than I do, but who says they truly have real expertise and moreover, who says they are good teachers? Again, it’s real easy to pick out flaws, it’s a whole other deal to teach successfully/efficiently/effectively the proper movement. I would suggest there are great coaches that are horrible teachers and vice versa.

I know I am starting to sound like a jerk, but from experience I can say when I started my training with judo I was with a certain instructor that was a lot of fun and basically went no where. I went to a tournament ( and got wailed on ; ) but yet another instructor told my mother I had potential and wanted to train me. Within 6 months I was state champion, then in 8 months East Coast Champ and 18 months later 2nd in the country. With the right instruction and training I went from a kid who got clobbered at teenie, tiny local tournaments to a national elite level player. In short, I was extremely lucky. In all honesty I can say I owe it all to my teacher or in judo, “sensei.” I was the same kid, sure I trained harder, but this guy knew exactly what to do. So what I am suggesting is, a good teacher is everything.

With that said I am totally gun shy of the “local guy” with no proven track record. I would much rather take my chances on the internet because the talent pool is much larger. But then again I have no expertise, so in many ways I am sort of hoping to randomly get lucky.

Ah yes, the journey begins…

edit btw JD, thank you for all the input and comments. Your comments are very educational and are helping me inch closer to having a deeper understanding. Again, my hats off to you.


#13

Because you take the time and get educated…I wouldn’t ever recommend you spend your hard earned money without first making sure it be well spent. Particularly given the statement about not being able to afford it. If you leave it to woulda coulda and shoulda’s you’ll never. Certainly there are good and bad…same here on the net…we have had some doozies come on and say some stuff :shock:
I suggest you turn over all the rocks and see what wiggles out.
Just a kindred kind of a side note…my son was the Ga. State Champion and Florida State runner up in Tae Kwan Doo and fought in the Jr. Olympics in the Metrodome, I consider it for a pitcher an absolutely fantastic second sport for conditioning purposes.


#14

Zen,

I agree with JD in that it looks like your son has been taught momentum pitching. But I can’t really tell about the hyper-pronation thing (JD must have been able to stop the YouTube video at just the right spot) but he sure pronates a lot after ball release (not that that is a problem but that it could be an indicator of conscious pronation prior to ball release).

So is any of this of concern? Maybe. One possible concern about the pronation thing is that it also looks like (a front or rear view would be good to see) he might be shifting his posture in order to achieve that pronation (if he’s really trying to pronate). If this is what is happening, then he is trying to pronate to much. Pronate only as much as is comfortable and without having to alter posture. American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) did a study that showed a significant increase in forces on the elbow from slight posture shifts.

One other possible concern regarding the momentum pitching thing (again, if that’s what he’s doing) is if he gets moving forward so fast that he doesn’t have the timing to get closed off and maximize the benefits from hip and shoulder separation. In that case, he could be using the arm to make up for the suboptimal use of the body. I don’t really see this in the video but since you said he’s had a sore arm I thought I’d point it out. Anything that can put extra load on the arm has to be suspect when dealing with sore arms.

By the way, you’re right on track with your “timing and technique” comment. Pitching has elements of both although technique gets a lot more focus than timing. Unfortunately, timing is equally important. Good technique with poor timing can increase chances for injury.


#15

No, no special YouTube skills, just an inability to describe with brevity what you so aptly did in that paragraph. This is what I was driving at.


#16

JD, Roger,

Awesome stuff! Thank you so much. I have a lot of reading and research to do!

As I start to get a clue (due to your excellent input) I realize now I am just being plain lazy and need to hit the books harder and come here as often as possible. Like most people, I wanted a quick and easy answer. I am now realizing, that’s not going to happen and I was being foolish, anything worthwhile takes hard work. “It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock-n-roll.” ; )

Regarding pronation, I don’t think my son is trying to do anything with his arm. However I think it is an incredibly insightful observation about the body possibly moving off to the side and the pronation is some sort of compensation for the irregular movement. I have to go out of town tomorrow and wont return till Sunday and am thinking since I have another camera, maybe this Sunday I’ll take 2 angels at once and sync them up. I also want to add my son said his arm felt great after he threw 30 -40 pitches on Sunday. Regardless, if there is a better way for him to throw and he is compensating for irregular movement, we need to address that.

Speaking of movement and video, I think I stumbled upon something last night and am hoping you could clarify. On the session on Sunday my buddy was catching for my son with one of those glove radars. As stated before, we are not looking to break any speed records here, but the goal is more “maximum efficiency with minimal effort.”

On the video I posted here my son clocked in at 53 mph and a previous pitch he clocked in at 49 mph. When comparing the video of the 2 pitches one thing really stood out. On the slower pitch he opened up his front foot while he was striding and on the faster pitch he kept his foot sideways right up until his front foot landed and just before it landed the foot swings open to point towards home plate. My amateur eye sees the front foot opening as the first movement to opening up the hips and coming up on the back toe as initiation of fully opening up the hips. Sorry I digress. So am I to assume that the delay of opening up that front foot is the way we want it, because it creates more torque?

I gotta say I find all this stuff extremely fascinating and moreover I feel video and slow motion is key to analyzing with any type of accuracy. If I didn’t video tape his movements, there is no way I would have picked up on the subtle movement of his front foot in real-time with the naked eye.

Separating the hips and shoulders seems like a much trickier affair.

Please let me know your thoughts on my analogy of the front foot opening up; am I off base?

As always, thank you!

edit - JD, regarding tae kwon do, I think it’s an excellent compliment to baseball. Flexibility, quickness (twitch reflexes) and most of all it’s a gutsy sport, not for the timid. I don’t know what kind of instructor you have, and whether he/she is a traditionalist or not. But I would strongly suggest your son researches the traditions of “the way.” What I am getting at is the “art and zen” of tae kwon do and to a greater extent baseball/pitching. It wasn’t till adulthood that I started reading up on this sort of stuff and I really wished as a kid I was taught more about it. I truly believe in my heart of hearts a deeper understanding of zen via sports will further your sons enjoyment of all his hard work and give it all much more meaning than, “go out there and win.”

Just a thought ; )


#17

[quote=“zeninfinity”]On the video I posted here my son clocked in at 53 mph and a previous pitch he clocked in at 49 mph. When comparing the video of the 2 pitches one thing really stood out. On the slower pitch he opened up his front foot while he was striding and on the faster pitch he kept his foot sideways right up until his front foot landed and just before it landed the foot swings open to point towards home plate. My amateur eye sees the front foot opening as the first movement to opening up the hips and coming up on the back toe as initiation of fully opening up the hips. Sorry I digress. So am I to assume that the delay of opening up that front foot is the way we want it, because it creates more torque?
[/quote]
Good observation. While there are no absolutes to any of this stuff, I think you will find that the majority of the hardest throwers do open the foot, hips and shoulders late. And their throwing arms get up into the “high c o c k e d” position late.

You are now hooked and will spend money and time pouring over this stuff until the wee hours of the morning - like me.

A little more tricky as the pitcher must take care of posture and balance as well as the glove side in order to be able to delay shoulder rotation.


#18

:lol:

Very true. Every video becomes a teaching moment.


#19

The trick is to keep yourself in check so you don’t overwelm your son. Pick your moments.


#20

Guys, once again, thank you for all your support!

Yes I will apply the Keep It Simple rule, not only so my son doesn’t get overwhelmed, but for me too. I am definately a one thing at a time kinda guy.

Yes there is no doubt I am hooked, but also realize my son is young and has lots of growing to do and there is no rush. Quite frankly I am more focused on him building a nice solid base overall with his body which I feel will develop in the next year or 2.

He’s just hitting puberty, so there are many changes happening naturally. The good news is he is finally getting some coordination, something he really lacked in the last few years.

Steady as she goes. Definately a tortoise situation, no need for rushing.