12 yr old pitcher

We went to Ron Wolforth’s camp last weekend, and just wanted some feedback on my son’s mechanics (he’s been trying to improve his decel and glove side…fastball currently tops out at 72 mph):

I like the first motion into the top of the lift. He is rotating a bit back, but his weight is still in front of the rubber giving him good forward momentum, and he’s leading with his left hip. So, even with seeing a bit of his back, I don’t think it’s negatively effecting him. His stride line appears to be right down the middle. If he’s not getting back to the center line, perhaps look at eliminating his backward rotation during the lift.

I would really like to see a front angle of this delivery because there are a few things that are difficult to pick out at this frame rate from the side.

The things I’d want to look at from the front are his shoulder and hip relationships as he strides and strikes. From this video it looks like his hips and shoulders are relatively synced which means he’s not waiting for all the energy from his lower half to translate up into his shoulders. My best guess from this video is his shoulder rotation is somewhere in 45-60 degree range in relation to his hips. I could be wrong here because the angle is bad for me to pick that out properly.

I wonder if anyone else is seeing the same thing. If it’s possible to get a forward angle, that would be great. Then I’d know if I’m seeing what I think I am.

His arm speed does appear to be above average for his age. He’s very quick from foot strike, which can support my feeling that he may not be reaching full shoulder torque.

My son was 12.5 yrs old when he was throwing 72-74 mph and there was no one else in his league throwing his speed. Most of the kids in the 12U that I watch pitch in our town are in the 55-68 mph range. The biggest challenge is finding a kid who can catch a pitcher properly that is throwing over 70 mph at 46-50 feet. Lots of pitches that should be handled, glance off the glove and go to the backstop…but that’s another topic.

If he’s not currently getting full hip/shoulder torque, he should be able to get 3-5 more mph out of that adjustment alone. He’ll be shooting BBs at that point.

Since you mention his glove side, it is a bit back. It should be out over his left foot. Ideally, he should be getting that glove side elbow out in front of his torso at release. One thing you can do is put a 1 or 2 pound hacky sack in his glove when he throws. If he’s balanced over his lower half properly he won’t notice it, but if his balance is off, it will really get his attention. Check out Tom House’s towel drill. It may help him with what the camp is trying to achieve.

Great point re the angle. I may try to take some video from a more head on perspective.

I tried to isolate three consecutive “hip to shoulder separation” frames here, but it’s still kinda hard to see at this frame rate and at this angle:

Also, black shirt may not be the best choice for trying to see hips and shoulder sep :wink:

The third frame shows a little something that may be a contributing factor to the less than optimal hip/shoulder torque. If the hips can’t open when they want to, you can’t get max torque. The stride may be preventing a few degrees of torque. He looks like he starts with the ball of his pivot foot in the middle of the rubber. His stride looks a bit closed. His foot angle is good at approx 30-45 degrees to the stride line. The placement of the foot seems a bit right of center at this angle.

A forward angle would be very telling, but it seems that he’s a bit closed. The reason I say this even with the bad angle is another sign that the stride is a bit closed is how he’s arching is back into a reverse C and his head is sort of laid back. This is a very common compensation for a closed landing. The body is naturally trying to balance itself by getting weight (the head is the heaviest part of the body) heading back toward the target line. A piece of white athletic tape on the floor running down the target line would be a good visual aid.

I took an overhead video the same day. I was more looking for his release point, but I didn’t get it all in the frame, so I had forgotten about it. Anyway, these frames might be interesting for purposes of seeing hip to shoulder separation.

One thing is clear…I need a better video camera or better lighting (and I’m not so good at drawing lines).

Slo mo overhead:

Isolated frames before and at footplant:

I wonder if the temporary mound indoors (landing on a flat, concrete surface) causes some issues height-wise and landing-wise. Compared with this outdoors sequence from 7 months ago:

Outdoor sequence is much better. I think you are right that the issue is that mound. It’s like a pretty steep drop down to the concrete. Can you fill us in on what happens at the Wolforth Ranch and what you guys learned there?

It was our second time to the Ranch.

The overarching focus is on being athletic and explosive with the lower half, leading with the hips, and being “connected.” There are a ton of stations with drills, ranging from weighted balls, medicine ball throws, jumps, bands, wrist weights, long toss, flexibity (thoracic spine, hip and ankle mobility), etc. and lots of throwing. He’s very much against long distance running, but instead is more into explosiveness.

Pitchers are also videoed (and Wolforth reviews each video with the pitcher in detail) to make sure they don’t have any issues that are likely to cause injury or inefficiency (inverted W, etc.) and to look at ways of improving mechanics. He’s a strong believer in throwing to improve, and feels that you can’t throw a lot if your mechanics are likely to cause injury. Proper deceleration (fully rotating and not working to finish in a fielding position) and pronation are also a big focus. Another focus was not to pull with your glove side.

Brent Strom also worked with pitchers on their change-ups and curve balls, some minor work on pick-offs, and went over the overall mindset and strategy for pitchers.

[Additionally, they all focused on the overall attitude of pitchers/athletes. He’s a big believer in hard work, and never quit attitude (for example, never say “can’t”…instead, say “it’d be a challenge” which my son really liked).]

Mcloven,

The camp sounds great. Can you discuss any of the separation drills or RW’s philosophy on how to enhance it?

On the second and third still it looks like your son gets good separation. Though his front foot is a little closed, which may prevent his hips from fully opening at front foot landing. Also, he isn’t bracing up on his front leg at ball release on the first video. Instead his momentum is carrying him forward. But again, that could be a reaction to the steepness of the mound. Any clips of him on a better mound?

Here’s a slo motion video from a few months ago off of the less steep outdoor mound…and not landing on concrete:

In the more recent videos, my son was trying to make sure to finish his rotation and use his body as a break and finish with his side to the target rather than finish square to the target, so I do think it certainly gives the impression that he was bracing less…though looking at it slowly most of it appers to happen after the throw and his front knee is pretty stable through launch.

Honestly the camp was fantastic. Very high level, hands on instruction, with a lot of “doing” rather than “watching.” I also liked the fact that parents were encouraged to stay and watch/ask questions (so you can reinforce everything when you get home). We learned just as much the second time as the first. The really work the crap out of the participants, but if you like pitching and improving, the camp is very educational, a lot of fun and well worth the $.

From what I remember, the biggest drills for separation/leading with your hips were the “hook 'em” drills (somewhat similar to the Herscheiser drill, using a decline, kinda like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSbP1np6fUk), as well as a bunch of athletic throws such as the “turn and burn” (very fast back peddle like a cornerback, and then turn and throw, which exaggerates separation), double plays (catch a ball and throw athletically, immediately on the move), and similar athletic throws where your hips will naturally open first to throw. There are also several med ball throws, running up and throwing a 4 lbs med ball against a wall…and throwing baseballs from a low height incline bench, with your lower half preset in the open position as if you’re throwing and using “connection” balls under your glove and arm, to make sure that your glove and arm are in the proper position.

Goof stuff, and nice job using video with your son. That kind of instant feedback can really be helpful in making adjustments.

Overall, looks great for a kid his age. Though I would say I see some pretty big timing issues, mainly with the lower half into ball release when throwing off the indoor mound. But my first thought was that steep drop-off might have something to do with it, and based on how good he looks in the outdoor video you posted, I’m inclined to think the mound is the main issue.

Early momentum, timing, drive and separation all look good to me, but he lands out over his toe and you see his front knee give rather than firming up and bracing. can see it best in this image you posted (last frame):

Don’t want your front knee getting beyond front ankle, and hips should stabilize and rotate. You can see in the video how his momentum carries him aggressively towards home plate. Just means some of that good momentum he built up in his stride isn’t being converted to powerful rotation.

This doesn’t look like as much of an issue in the shot taken outside, so may just be the mound (though you still see hips drift toward home a bit).

Hope this helps. Again looks awesome for his age, good stuff.

Thanks Phil.

Great point–I noticed the same thing regarding looking like there was a lot of “give” in his front knee from the overhead shot. Though, after looking at the side shot, I think the knee over ankle may be a bit of an optical illusion because my overhead shot was from slightly behind.

From the side shot it looks more stable (though it’s more vertical than usual, it doesn’t look like his knee gives from the side angle):

And the last frame at release:

That being said, I agree with you, I like the way his front leg worked on the less steep, outdoor mound significantly better. I hadn’t really thought about it, but I think the steeper drop-off and the landing on concrete lends itself to a more vertical front leg, because of the drop-off and the inability to really plant or get traction on concrete to turn horizontal momentum into rotation…

Yep,

Definitely that mound!!! Looks much much better here. Very good separation and his front leg braces up real well. I would consider getting rid of that steep mound, so it doesn’t affect his mechanics in a negative way. Or if you can modify it in some manner. The only nitpicky thing I saw was a slightly closed front foot. Nice…

Interesting. We really don’t talk about the front foot much, other than trying to keep it closed as long as possible during the stride. Is it a ‘teach’ to try to land with a more open foot, to insure fuller hip rotation? If so, we might try to work on that.

Be careful trying to land with the stride foot open. You run the risk of flying open too soon. I personally like an ever so slightly closed off foot at landing

I wouldn’t focus too much on it. If he is getting good separation, is throwing on target, and is comfortable with it leave it alone. Turn is right, better to be a little closed than fly open. It was a minor thing anyway. He looks real good. Keep doing what you are doing.