14 year old beginner pitcher mechanics: HELP!


#1

Please provide as much help as possible; I would greatly appreciate it. This is my 14-year old son who is “just beginning” to pitch. He’s about to begin his Freshman baseball season. Here are a few pitches from three different angles in his first video.

http://www.youtube.com/user/gettingthere1000#p/a/u/0/n1XTc90pvow
http://www.youtube.com/user/gettingthere1000#p/a/u/0/sO9opXUdf4A
http://www.youtube.com/user/gettingthere1000#p/a/u/1/nAUQbZu_E3o

I’ve never posted video before so hope it works!!![/GVideo]


#2

some thoughts that are basic that I see to get the ball rolling:

Areas to look @-

  • initial footwork from windup… should be a short step back vs forward.
    -you may want to go from stretch initially and then wind up. balance is easier & less “mistakes” to worry about. An early flaw can disrupt & create other flaws… keep it as vanilla as possible & build up from the stretch 1st. 65% of pitches come from stretch anyways.
    -head is the 1st thing I look @… does it track straight to target (no bouncing… veering off line prematurely etc…) He could improve a bit & that may eliminate or minimize other issues down the line. Google “Tom House” & some of his teachings video tapes. At no cost I’m sure you’ll see some good info re: check points & value of “head” do’s don’ts.
    -Hand break seems early/high up on chest… having said that his timing looks okay (you want pitching arm/ball near cap high as your plant foot strikes… he seems to be in a good place in re: to timing. That is one of the things I see all major leaguers do successfully & most young amateurs struggle with.
    -Lead leg could use some work… he could lead with his hips more (see “Herschiser Drill”) nothing too bad, but keep an eye on the linear path of his leg drive (I see a little down, then out to in via swinging the leg). Swinging the leg will open shoulders too early & kill velocity, location & arm stress. Nothing too bad, but could improve easily to max results.
    -shoulder/arm alignment… again google Tom House or Pitchingprofessor.com & also this site… you’ll see some info on the relationship between lead arm & pitching arm before during & after release point. He has some areas where they could compliment each other better.

positives-

-timing… again, looks good to me. He’ll tweak things all over for max results, but his basic timing in relation to foot strike & arm looks good. Hips & shoulder rotation are harder to analyze & train…
-athleticism… plenty of it. moves well.
-strength… plenty of it. he can train pitching specific areas, but he’s big/strong frame.
-arm speed… looks quick & natural
-He’s left handed… 20%+ advantage by the grace of God!

Overall nothing “horrendous” or “this will be a long process” type mechanical changes. I’m no expert, but if he can throw strikes @ 65+ mph he should be able to contribute immediately & really has a lot of upside if he commits to tweaking mechanics, physical training, nutrition, strastegy & throwing routine.

This site has everything you need or can at least get you to the right info. My first stop on any pitching related info. Just my .02, but keep it simple on developing him… get the basic, key impact stuff addressed 1st. Get him “pitching strong”… I like that he hasn’t had 1,000 innings of abuse & poor mechanics drilled in. @ 14 he’s coming in at a time where he still can learn & develop at a pace where he can be succesful. By “pitching strong” get him on an exercise program that will build endurance & minimize injury risk. Focus on strikes vs velocity. Mechanics & exercise will get you strikes… velocity will naturally fall in line & wont matter anyway if he’s not healthy or around the strike zone. Master fastball (4 seam then 2) & change up before you worry about breaking stuff. I wouldnt look @ even the 2 seemer until the mechanics are tight).

Good luck! If I was his coach I’d be happy to have him in my program.


#3

Thank you very much for the comments and for your time. I really appreciate it. We will work on those things. My son really does want to improve and I was encouraged to hear your comments about the “1,000 innings of abuse”. I was wondering whether a “fresh arm” trumped the fact that he hasn’t pitched much. He has been, primarily, a first basemen on some good teams with strong pitching. So, no need to pitch. I have no idea what I’m looking at in these videos but it seemed to me that he was not “pushing off” (or, maybe I should say using his back leg). In fact, it appeared that (from the side view) he was not even engaged with the rubber. What did you think about that?

Thanks.


#4

My pleasure, some members here did the same for me… it’s been 20 years since I was around the game & things have changed. Development wasn’t where it is now & the knowledge base is unbelievable. Back then those that were born naturals made it or those who could “get people out”. Development was little, & even then based upon many unfounded perceptions & passed along notions.

This site has enlightened me immensley. Having saif that mu knowledge & advice is far below some of the expertise & detail this site will expose you to. Have fun!

I like 14 as an entry age. He’s developed enough to not be overly concerned with growth plates & magnified stress. Being smart about pitch counts, pitch selection, throwing routines, exercise etc is critical… but the fact is that you can do everything pefrect & still be @ risk until your at your son’s development.

Many Major League players I know (majority I might add) were reluctant to let their kids pitch til 13 and even then they were very concerened about pitch selection & pitch counts. Bottom line, coaching pitchers is tough. The best in the business with millions of dollars invested can make mistakes… let alone a volunteer coach or entry level high school coach.

You need to start developing a curve ball by 16, but ur son has plenty of time to get that in play after a full yr+ of developing the “core” mechanics & pitches.

The footwork is an issue… easy fix. This site has Steve’s articles/blog’s on mechanics & drills to review. Youtube will offer visual tutorials… just make sure the source isn’t 1983 or the guy doesnt look like “Buttermaker” from Bad News Bears.

With no disrespect to his current coach, seek out a professional pitching coach. You might want to discuss this with the coach for “buy in” reasons so he doesnt feel disrespected or left out. Sounds crazy, but I’ve seen that happen. Your son needs opportunities on the mound to develop & the coach does have control of the pencil & line up card.

Again, I know very few coaches who really understand pitching… unless they are qualified pitching coaches. I can think of several Hall of Fame pro & college coaches who have destroyed pitchers for short term gain who didnt have a clue outside of knowing anything that half the stadium already knew as well. It’s a different animal & there are no absolutes.

How do you find the right guy? Tuff call, not sure what area you are in but this site/forum could help. NPA (National Pitchers Association) has a list of certified pitching coaches from across the country. Google search could work as well, but it sounds like you are getting your feet wet on knowledge & might jave a tuff time qualifying things.

Basically you must have a guy that has a track record, emphasis lower body mechanics, understanding/appreciation for exercise & arm care & has a long term game plan vs “lets get ur kid throwing hooks, sliders by next week”.

Again, I’m not a sherpa compared to some of these guys on this site, but this is what I believe to be very sound thoughts that will get you going with your son.

I think he has some compelling natural qualities & big upside… and lets not forget the “left handed” factor. If he’s into it & motivated & a kid that can be coached & will put in the time I wouldn’t hesitate to get a dedicated instructor for him.


#5

Great advice and I have actually set my son up with a strong pitching coach, in my opinion. He coached pitchers at the DI college level and in an elite summer league. In fairness to him, my son has only had a couple of lessons but he really likes the guy and so do I. I have the utmost confidence in this instructor and know that he will help. I sent him the videos and responded that he has some thoughts and will go through them at the next lesson. My son is anxious to improve and I think that will help. On the left-handed thing, yes, he’s lucky! He’s also big and strong (6’3", 235 lbs.). But, as you know, there’s a lot more to pitching than being big and strong. If he works real hard (and I think he will), then I think he can improve and have a lot of fun with pitching.

Thank you, again.


#6

Sounds like ur in good hands if he’s d1 and coaching elite kids. Did I read this right… Ur son is 14 and 6’3 235? Wow, he’s athletic as well… Regardless of size @ 14. Keep his 1b skills and hitting sharp and his grades up and if he keeps on pace talent wise he’ll be gettin a lotta quality schools looking at him. Size isn’t everything but all but proven with everything else being equal that it’s worth extra mph’s and durability.


#7

Yes, he’s a big one! I’m going to try and regularly post video as he continues to work (maybe every few months or whatever makes sense). It will keep him motivated, I think.

Thanks.


#8

Note to 12JTWilson:
You were talking about pitching coaches who, unless they are really bonafide pitching coaches, don’t know what they’re talking about or doing. It reminded me of a presentation I did for the Cleveland, Ohio chapter of SABR a couple of years ago. I presented a paper on—yes, pitching coaches—and among other things I spoke about several different varieties of same: those who can do and can teach; those who can’t do but who can teach (including a couple of major league catchers who were respected for their knowledge of pitching); the ones who can do but who couldn’t teach to save themselves; and the ones who could do neither. It was like an exhibit at the zoo, believe me. I pointed out that the first category—those who could pitch and could also coach and teach—is the rarest of the bunch, and those pitchers who hook up with such pitching coaches are the luckiest of all.
I was one of those lucky ones. Many moons ago, when I was sixteen and looking for another pitch, I played hooky from high school one Monday afternoon and went to Yankee Stadium where I sat in the upper deck and watched the Yankees beat the Indians, 2-1. I’ll never know how it happened, but suddenly it hit me that Ed Lopat, the winning pitcher, was the one I would need to ask about the slider. I caught up with him after the game, and believe me, I was nervous as a cat because I had no idea what to expect—but when I said to him “Excuse me, Mr. Lopat—could I ask you something?” he stopped in his tracks, looked at me, and with four quiet words he had me in the palm of his hand. He said, “Go ahead, I’m listening,” and the way he said it relaxed me immediately. And when I told him that I just wanted to ask him something about the slider, he knew at once where I was coming from, that I was really serious.
He drew me aside, away from the mob surrounding the Yankees’ clubhouse entrance, and showed me how to throw a good one. I got the hang of it in about ten minutes. And so began for me a wonderful pitching relationship. Lopat worked with me for almost four years, and what I learned from him was nothing short of priceless—he helped me become a better pitcher than I had been before, and for this I will always remember him. Even now, after all these decades, I still recall everything he told me and showed me about the ins and outs of being a successful strategic pitcher.
“Getting there” is indeed lucky that his kid has a pitching coach along the same lines. I wish him all the success in the world. :slight_smile: 8)


#9

Thanks. My son is, indeed, lucky. His pitching coach is great and has been very good at responding to questions and sending e-mails during the week (in between sessions) to answer questions. By the way, that is a great story!!!


#10

One thing Ed Lopat said really resonated with me. He said he would work with anyone—and he meant anyone—who was interested, who really wanted to know, and who was willing to work at it; the moment I asked him about the slider he knew immediately that I was one of those people, and so among other things he had absolutely no reservations about teaching me some advanced things he felt I should know. He didn’t have to tell me much about mechanics, just showed me a couple of things I could do to maximize my effectiveness—I was a natural, true sidearmer who used a slide-step, had a consistent release point, and had fallen in love with the crossfire which I used extensively. I’ll never forget the day he was helping me with the circle change; he said to me “I know you’re going to crossfire it. You use that move with everything you throw.” He told me a lot about deception on the mound, the ins and outs of strategic pitching, the mental and psychological aspects of the game, fielding my position, holding runners on and pickoff moves—and when he wanted to check me out on something I was doing, he would grab a catcher’s mitt and get behind either a marker representing home plate or the plate itself on an unused field and catch for me—not many pitching coaches will do that, and he wasn’t half bad as a catcher. And if I had a pitching problem I couldn’t resolve on my own, I could talk to him; he listened, and he always came up with a solution.
No wonder the Yanks used him as an extra pitching coach. No wonder that his teammates were not the only ones who sought him out for advice and help. This member of the Yanks’ Big Three rotation was one in a million. It’s nice to see that your kid’s pitching coach seems to be cut from the same bolt of cloth. :slight_smile: 8)


#11

Big ceiling for this guy. Good size. LHP. 14. All terrific things working for him. I generally like his delivery. His windup is a touch slower than it needs to be, but he generally uses his body well. What’s his velocity like?

Keep up the good work!


#12

Thanks, Steven. He was clocked at 75-76 at a prospect camp. However, that was a couple of months ago. He’s working with a great instructor once per week. He’s getting 70-80 pitches per bullpen. I would say his mechanics are coming along and he’s probably a bit higher than that now. He’s continuing to work on his mechanics (and the mental part of the game). He has excellent composure (which, I know, is important). So, it’s coming along. Right now, we’re working on the change-up and the “where to throw, when” concepts. He’s young but learning fast.