12yo southpaw elbow

I see alot of elbow pain questions but this is a little different. My son is a 12yo lefty that throws a 4 seam fb, 2 seam fb (grips off center more like a cutter) and a circle change. He plays LL, all-stars and thats it. During the off season he pitches about 1-2 times a week with me in the front yard. The other day at pitching practice he felt a mild “pop” in his elbow as he released his 2 seamer. He was a little further than normal distance because he wanted to experiment with the longer distance he would face in junior high. The pain only occurred on release and didn’t last. He stopped for the day and we took him to an athletic trainer friend at the local college. She said she believed it was a flexor strain and prescribed ice and rest. We went to an ortho and he reiterated plus advised some forearm strengthening with light dumb bells and band work. His thought was that he is lacking some supportive strngth in his arm. We have done that and he started throwing last week at 75% max with no pain. Threw 1 inn in a scrimmage yesterday and struck out the side.
I’d like to get some feedback on whether people here believe the way he throws the change or cutter could have been the culprit, or if it was most likely just over exertion.
The circle change he throws is very effective. He pronates at release and the ball is 8-10mph slower than his 4 seam. It drops off the table rt on the plate. Could pronating too abruptly be the culprit or is this the correct method. Since his episode he is afraid to throw the CU with that action so he’s throwing the exact same as his FB just changing the grip. It doesn’t have nearly the action it did before when he was going "circle down, pinkie up) Any one think that pronation could be troublesome?
The cutter he throws with index finger off centered next to middle finger in its normal 2 seam location. I stress every practice not to twist but push fingers through the ball. He said he thinks he twisted (pronated) real hard on the pitch in question cuz he loves seeing it break. Would that kind of pronation give the elbow problems and shouild he continue throwing this pitch if he can’t force himself not to twist? or is that twist the correct way to throw the cutter. Last year this was his go to pitch after setting up a righty with the 4 seam high and away and he really doesn’t want to lose it but he is also very concious of preserving his arm and doesn’t do anything silly like try to throw curves and junk. Any thoughts are appreciated.

I’m sorry, should have said supinates with the cutter

I would tell you that the best answer is to try not to cut or sink at this point. They are both what I’d consider “finer points” kind of pitches. What I mean by that is those two, along with a true working slide piece need velocity and strength to make them operate correctly, throwing it wrong to get action is really the only way a kid this age can get the movement those pitches develop. They also need 60’ 6" for the ball to travel, catch the air and dart. Look for his pinky, if he’s leading with it he is supinating, which is stressing both the shoulder and elbow.
Throwing a consistent locatable fastball keeping his hand behind the ball, along with the circle is all he needs, messing with the grips and attempting to develop pitches that really work only in the hi 70’s lo 80’s for HS kids isn’t where he needs to be. Pretty obviously he’s is accustomed to success and really wants to be able to make those pitches do what he wants, canny enough to figure it out…get him to cool those jets dad, developing your pitcher means the right thing in the right time…you have what seems a fantastic plan, keep perspective.

thanks for the reply. We’ve gone back to a regular 2 seam and he can push with one finger or the other to “have fun” with it. How about the circle, should the hand stay behind the ball or is the pronation ok. The way I’ve explained it to him is like throwing a football. I think its when he gets more violent with his hand right at release that I worry about…or should it be the same feeling as the 4 seam and just stay behind it.

the change-up should be the same arm motion as the fastball, but different grips, make sure he isn’t bending his wrist back when throwing it and isn’t pushing the ball because of that.

Natural pronation is what we all do after release, Throwing the change takes plenty of practice, it’s a good secondary pitch for a pre-puberty pitcher…if it works…having one at 11 that drops off the table tells me he has a pretty good one…he’s not going to develop an arm issue throwing that. With a decent catcher who works with the pitcher to locate, you should dominate until you hit the big field.

thanks, exactly what I was looking for. He had his first full bullpen last night after I read your reply and was locating his 2 seam running in on righties and dropping that CU like he has been…so all is good. I just advised him not to violently snap down with the wrist on the change and he was still making it work just as well and said it felt much smoother and like it took less work. So thanks for your time.

As JD pointed, the hand/forearm naturally pronate after ball release. If your son is actively pronating his CU into ball release, he’s rotating his hand/forearm in the same direction it’s going to rotate anyway. Shouldn’t be a problem. But I do tell pitchers to pronate only to tolerance (i.e. to stay within one’s comfort zone).

It’s the abrupt change of direction from supination to pronation that makes breaking pitches harder on the arm - especially if these is active supination into release point as opposed to preset, static supination.