14 year old son's mechanics

My question regards spine angle at release point. At foot plant, his spine angle is vertical; as he rotates through, he tilts the spine to his right (3rd base side), thus causing shoulder line to be 45* or so. I have many questions about this. I have seen some pitchers (RH & LH) who appear to throw this way and many who stay more vertical with their spine, and thus flatter with the shoulders as they come through to release. Should he be striving to keep a more upright spine angle. Elaboration welcome. Perhaps video to come.

Is your son lefty? Does he throw about mid 3/4 arm slot?



Yes he is lefty. I would say his arm slot is pretty high, maybe higher than 3/4, which is why i am making this inquiry. I would think that if he were to take the tilt out of the spine and be more upright there, his shoulder plane would flatten, and thus his arm slot would be lower. Question is whether this would be beneficial? Injury prevention; improve velocity; control…


Flattening out the shoulders will almost certainly lower the arm slot. More natural down and in (pitching arm side) movement will likely result. Whether or not it would be beneficial is a different question.

How long has he thrown with this particular slot? Does he wish to change for some reason? Does he have any difficulties currently?

Guys have thrown from every slot with success. What is the impetus for change in your view?


better control; long-term health. But i have also seen in books a more “squared-up” look, with chest out over knee, and shoulders horizontal as arm continues its motion.

HE doesn’t necessarily want to change; it’s me. He looks similar to a LH Lincecum or Koufax.

Well a LH Lincecum or a 2nd Koufax is worth about 15 mil. a season right now. Not sure I’d want to change that. Have you looked at slow video of him? That might reveal some of the elements you don’t see at full speed compared to pictures of higher level pictures. Most of the NPA guys encourage level eyes which leads to flatter shoulders and I think that is good most of the time. However, it is certainly possible to have excellent control and still incorporate some lateral tilt as the two examples you give prove.

Good luck,


yeah, i know. My concern is that Koufax blew out his arm and had to retire at 30; I have heard many “experts” espress concern about Lincecum’s durability; I really appreciate your feedback. I have seen it on video; I have v1 home software and it’s really helpful. I will go back and look at eyes. I do not believe that my son is comarable to either of these guys, I just want to give him the best chance to succeed. I have seen similarities i have looked at video. Thanks again. I will try to post some youtube video soon, if i (a 48 year old tech illiterate!!) can figure it out. Thanks again.


I have thought a lot about your post since the other day and hoped to put together something with more information than my other posts.

Last year my son and I experimented with several overhand arm angles. We worked from low ¾ to straight overhand, observing natural ball movement and speed from each of the deliveries. He ended up feeling most comfortable from the high ¾ slot and we spent most of the year throwing from that angle. The challenge for him seemed to be the timing of the lateral tilt. Sometimes when he wanted to amp it up a little, he would begin to early and yank the ball about 2 ft. short. We spent a lot of time concentrating on smooth delivery with more effort from the lower body and less from the upper torso. The radar gun showed him that increased effort from the torso did not translate to higher velocity.

If your son continues with the high slot you may want to look for examples of pitchers who are able to maintain consistent posture with late transition into the tilt. Lincecum seems to do this well. Another guy I like is Grienke.

I am not an NPA instructor but I have looked at their stuff quite a bit and they seem to me to have the best approach. They put a fair amount of emphasis on level eyes, balance and consistent posture. This seems to lead guys towards a lower arm slot but it is achieved through balance and not a forced manipulation of the arm path. Tom House has a little book that can be downloaded form the ■■■■■■■■■■■ that has pictures of guys with all arm slots that still meet their criteria for a balanced delivery.

Good luck to you and your son this season.


Look at most of the best pitchers in the game and you will see head is mostly upright - eyes level. Spine is also fairly upright. Shoulders might have some tilt.

I would not alter arm slot. I also would not employ trunk tilt. Keep the spine upright and online with the target into ball release - rotate around an upright spine. This helps with performance as well as health. ASMI (
) did a study showing small amounts of postural shift result in significant increases in forces on the throwing arm.

Besides, downward plane is overrated. Would you believe Billy Wagner has a higher release point that 6’10" Chris Young? And what about Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez? Those guys basically throw sidearm.


I admit to being confused by the instruction to maintain the arm slot but eliminate lateral tilt. If minimum varus elbow torque is seen at 90 to 109 degrees of shoulder abduction and the arm slot is high ¾ (> 45 degrees to horizontal), How does one achieve this slot without some degree of lateral tilt? Perhaps I am not observing things correctly but I usually believe I see some degree of lateral tilt even in low ¾ pitchers and some sidearmers such as Clemens and Pedro respectively.


I have several of Tom House’s books, along with many others. I never pitched, so I have tried to learn (and still am) as much as possible about it, so that i can teach my son the proper way. I too have a hard time with maintaing the present arm slot, while levelling shoulders and eyes. What I think i want for him to do IS to rotate around an upright spine, with relatively level shoulders and eyes. But that seems to necessitate a lower arm slot.

I have watched much video on him; he may be rotating a little too soon, thus getting into the tilt too early; it does appear, visually, that this would be stressful on shoulder.

Ted, you mentioned experimenting with arm slots for movement; what did you find? did movement increase with lower slot? at the expense of velocity?
Also, what effect was produced as you decreased emphasis on upper torso, and increased emphasis on legs.

any drills to work on level eyes, upright spine and level shoulders?

I think you guys have slightly misunderstood. I never suggested maintaining the current arm slot while making postural adjustments. I only suggested making postural adjustments. Let the arm slot take care of itself. If that means a lower arm slot, so be it. I don’t believe in trying to achieve a particular arm slot.

Now, keeping the spine upright does not mean everyone will become sidearm throwers. It is possible to tilt the shoulders. And, yes, you will see some spine tilt in even the best pitchers in the game. Greg Maddux is one who comes to mind as having an upright head, tilted shoulders and a small amount of spine tilt. But is that permission to start tilting? I don’t think so. We may not get the spine perfectly upright but we should minimize the tilt as much as feasible.

Tilting the spine early is what I call “cartwheeling” and it prevents good hip and shoulder separation. That will rob you of some velocity and add some stress to the arm. It will also pull the release point back and raise it up. And THAT will reduce movement on pitches. Movement will generally improve with a release point that is out in front.

yes, yes, yes; Roger, thank you. The last paragraph is what I have suspected and wanted to get some confirmation on. His release point is higher and further away from the plate; he gets a bit of movement, has a good 12-6 curve that i wouldn’t want him to lose, but cartwheeling describes perfectly the "pulling down of the lead elbow, arm and glove, thus dipping the lead shoulder and tilting toward 3rd base. Thanks.

Tips on how best to correct would be appreciated. It appears that this may be a more difficult adjustment to make than I had first thought.


Yes, there was both increased movement and reduced velocity with the lower arm slot. While there was not enough time devoted to each slot to optimize the delivery, these results seem fairly typical of what I see reported in some of the studies I have reviewed. I believe the most important thing is to move towards late shoulder rotation. This may be a major factor in reducing stress on both the shoulder and the elbow. You can google “lateral tilt while throwing” and get access to a few papers to help guide your thoughts.


Thanks for the clarification. I am still working through ideas in the area of arm slots and tilt. Do you have any studies or reading you recommend?