16 Needs Help with Mechanics

My son is 16 years old and is 6’-5" and is 250". He throws between 80 - 84 and has hit 85. He has a lot of tailing action on his fastball. I’m trying to insert his video for some advice to get more on his fastball and any advice on his mechanics.

His football coaches want him to quit baseball and concentrate on football. They say he could be a D1 tackle. Any advice for a kid that is trying to make a descision?

The youngster has some good talent. I would suggest:

slow down the pace a bit.
when he turns and lifts his leg, have him point the toe down, not up.
keep the head down … he’s flying up with his chin.
his glove hand is a bit high while extending out… try keeping his
glove hand down around his ribs.
upon release of his ball, keep the head in the pitch… don’t let him
look up to see where the ball is going. stay with the ball by looking
at it from behind … not trying to look over the ball to where it’s going.

Slow this entire pace down to 2/3rd game speed. let the body and it’s muscles get use to the feeling. Slow and easy does it.

My suggestions are not an end in themselves… but just a beginning.

Bring back some video.

Your son has some good potential. I’m not a judge of football talent. So, I can not make a vaule added comment.

Coach B.

Coach - Thanks for reply. I’ve added another clip. One from the wind-up and one from the stretch.

I think that your son needs to be a little quicker from the stretch. the high leg kick wont give his catcher the chance to throw out base stealers. he should work on a lower leg kick or a slide step.

And I second coach baker on the talent part. I see a whole lot of untapped potential that can be accessed with refined mechanics, but I’m terrible at giving advice on it.

Thanks!! I’ve added a few game videos from this year. You will see that he is quicker to the plate in the game videos. He has had a sore elbow and I’m thinking that has to be mechanics. His older brother had Tommy John surgery last year so I’m a little worried. Any advice? The practice videos were last year when he was 15.

The kid in the last couple of videos looks like a different kid that in the first two videos. Or, if it’s the same kid, he looks younger in the last couple of videos even though you said the game videos were from this year and the practice videos were from last year. So I’m a bit confused.

Based on the first two (practice) videos, I’d say the pitcher doesn’t use his lower half much. He stays back until after the peak of the knee lift and then he immediately opens up the front leg. So, not much momentum and very little energy transfer from the lower half to the upper half. And this results in throwing with mostly just the arm.

Based on the video from the stretch, the use of the slide step makes his lower half too quick for the upper half to keep up with. The upper half - including the arm - has to play catch up. And that also puts more stress on the arm. I’m thinking he can start his hips forward sooner and add more of a knee lift back in. Many pitchers think they need to be as fast as possible to the plate with runners on. But, in reality, they only need to be fast enough - about a second from first movement to foot plant. That should still give the catcher time to throw out a runner.

Roger thanks for your advice. The first 2 videos were taken on 2/07 and the last ones are on 3/08. He gained 3" in the year and put on about 30lbs but it is the same kid.

Do you have any drills that he can do to correct the problem of throwing all arms? He seemed to have better mechanics when he was younger and I’m not sure if that is because he was a lot smaller. Any advice?

Do you know anybody in the Las Vegas that I can take him to for lessons?

Thanks again for your advice!!

And let’s not forget , our priority as a pitcher is to be as effective as possible throwing to the hitter. Obviously holding runners on is important, but not to the point of significantly sacrificing velocity, location or movement.

ps- I hate the slide step…have a better move to the bases if you want to hold runners close !

Thanks I hate as well!! Tough call as a parent when his coaches want him to do the slide step. I try to give my advice -but I try not to overstep my bounds.

When I was much younger I used to go to Yankee Stadium every chance I got, and I would watch the pitchers. I noticed that the Yankees’ Big Three pitchers were driving off the lower half of the body, using the legs, the hips and the torso to generate the power behind their pitches—and in doing this they took a lot of pressure off the arm and the shoulder. I saw exactly how they were doing this, and I made a note of it so I could start working on this essential aspect of mechanics.
How not to get a sore arm.
Your kid could get going on this. Also, I see nothing wrong with using a slide-step—I pitched that way all the time, and I found that: a) I got more speed into my delivery, and b) because I was a natural sidearmer and threw everything that way, the batters simply could not pick up my pitches! Not having a fast ball worthy of the name, I went to the “snake jazz” and picked up a lot of breaking stuff, and when I learned how to use the crossfire—I’m just tossing a few ideas on the table, and the kid might pick up on one or two of them. But that driving off the lower half of the body is essential!
Incidentally, it’s important to throw everything with the same arm motion and the same arm speed and let your grip do the work on changing speeds. Hope this helps. 8)

Have you measured his delivery time?
It isn’t always necessary to use a slide step. Coaches want under 1.5 (My kid is at 1.3). What I’ve seen recommended is a modified slide…knee back to knee and deliver, quickens delivery without loss of momentum/rhythm.
I like the offerings as far as issues to work on…so I’ll not throw more into the soup. Have him think of keys like extension and shoulder drive. He does remain too erect for my liking (I believe this to be real tough on the shoulder and robs velocity).

Thanks for the advice. - I know that they timed his release but I don’t remember his time.

Zito - My kid has big legs and I’ve been telling him that he needs to use his lower half more. When he was younger 4-5 years ago - he had better mechanics and then he went through a big growth spirt - then he became awkward. He is trying to find his way again and I know he gets frustrated with his size.

Roger - Could you help me out with your comments below. I don’t quite understand. I know that he throws all arm - but I don’t understand your comment below.
“He stays back until after the peak of the knee lift and then he immediately opens up the front leg. So, not much momentum and very little energy transfer from the lower half to the upper half”.

Thanks again for the help!!

I think he saying that he is opening his hips and shoulders at the peak of his kick, and therefore doesnt have the hip rotation to accelerate his pitch in the end. Ive been doing the same thing. dm59 was workin with me on it earlier today

FallriverColin - Thanks. What is DM telling you to do to correct?

I was noticing RC video on the top of the site and I didn’t realize that your hips should be open when your front leg lands. I was always told that you land the foot and then you turn the hips and the shoulders will follow.

The “stay back” part means he doesn’t start moving his center of gravity forward toward home plate until after the knee has peaked and is dropping back down. If you look at video of some of the best (e.g. Ryan, Johnson, etc.) you’ll see that they are already moving forward before the peak of the knee lift.

The “opens up” part means that the front leg immediately opens up instead of leading with the front hip and keeping the front leg closed until right before foot plant and then opening up. Opening up the front leg early runs the risk of opening the hips early. It can also take away the explosiveness of the hip rotation.

So, the way you use your lower half better is to start forward sooner and faster to create more momentum, have a nice knee lift (high or back), lead with the front hip keeping the front foot/leg closed longer before opening it up right before foot plant.

By starting forward sooner and getting going faster, you create more momentum which translates into energy available to put into the ball (assuming efficient energy transfer up the body which requires good mechanics and timing). The more energy the lower half creates and gets transferred up the chain, the less energy the arm itself has to try to generate to make up for doing otherwise. In other words, less stress on the arm while still throwing hard.

At foot plant, your hips should only open up enough to allow the front leg/foot to open into foot plant. The majority of hip rotation - the most explosive part - occurs after the front foot plants and the front leg firms up and braces.

Roger - Thanks a bunch. Your explanation makes it a lot clearer. I do appreciate the help.

About RC’s video - your explanation is what I was always told - but if you look at RC’s video it looks like his hips are all the way open when his foot lands. I can’t slow the video down - but that is the way it looks to me.

Your son should be able to play D1 baseball. With improved mechanics suggested here, if your son throws about 85 now, he should be able to hit 90 or 90+. I would think a D1 school would be happy to get
a 6’5" pitcher who threw 90. (As long as he has command of his pitches.)
He will only improve. Take him to some of the various showcase camps this summer and see what they say about him.

Nick - The problem with taking him to these showcase camps is he is working out for football all summer. They participate in 4 football camps this summer and finding the time is difficult. He still throws twice a week but it is hard to travel to these showcase camps when your already traveling for football.

I’m trying to find a good pitching coach that he can take lessons over the summer. Good ones are hard to find!!

Like I stated in an earlier post - his football coaches want him to quit baseball and concentrate on football. That is a tough call for a 16 year old.