9 year old's mechanics - Help Please!

Hey All,

My son’s Little League coach wants to play him at pitcher and asked my to practice with him. The only thing is I really don’t know anything about pitching. He pitches to me almost every day but I’m worried he might develop some bad habbits without some guidance.

He gets most pitches over or near the plate but every 4th or 5th pitch gets away from him and would deffinantly make the batter jump. His velocity also really varries…

What can I do to make him more consistant in regard to his accuracy and velocity? Is there something fundamentally wrong with his mechanics that he should change or adjust?

I would greatly appreciate any comments…suggestions…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRRhpeJP8JI - Front view normal speed
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cblnBC_fRc - Front view slow motion
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFrAszS-g30 - Side view normal speed
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dV497-VAc0 - Side view slow motion

Thanks,
Jon

Some suggestions…

  1. Abandon the wind-up and always go from the Set/Stretch position. His Wind-up footwork is bad (likely costing him consistency), but too hard to fix in a short period of time.

  2. Shorten his stride. His stride is MUCH too long given his age and level of experience. I would suggest cutting his stride by 1/3 to 1/2.

  3. He flies open with his glove, which can cause velocity and control problems. He needs to finish with his glove at his glove-side pec.

Do NOT, I repeat do NOT shorten this kid’s stride. This is NOT a problem for this pitcher. Pause the slow motion, side view right at release. This is quite good for a kid of his age and experience. Yes, his glove side is a problem. Work on that.

Taylor has some very good stuff going on here. Let’s remember how old he is and how well he’s doing.

The problem with his stride is that he reaches his front foot out toward the target at a very high elevation, it drops, then he throws.

My recommendation on the stride is to get him to think about the foot staying below the knee, somewhat, as it comes down while he moves his body sideways. And be mindful of how much he has to work on at one time.

Look in the video library section of this site for how the pros use their glove side and the stride motion. Get familiar with those and then post again. It’ll make a lot more sense when you hear our ranting.

As I stated recently in another thread about a young pitcher, I feel the two items most young pitchers need to work on first is stabilizing their head and their glove arm. The head should be kept upright with movment only toward home plate. The glove arm simply needs to be up in front into foot plant and then turned over but still left up in front with the chest moving to the glove as the shoulders rotate. There should be no dropping or flinging of the glove to the side. And there should be no pulling of the glove to the chest.

Other than that, I think the stride needs to be changed such that the stride foot moves “up, down and out” with a bent knee instead of “up, out and down” with a straightened knee. I would not worry about stride length until the mechanics of the knee lift and stride are improved.

[quote=“dm59”]Taylor has some very good stuff going on here. Let’s remember how old he is and how well he’s doing.

The problem with his stride is that he reaches his front foot out toward the target at a very high elevation, it drops, then he throws.

My recommendation on the stride is to get him to think about the foot staying below the knee, somewhat, as it comes down while he moves his body sideways. And be mindful of how much he has to work on at one time.

Look in the video library section of this site for how the pros use their glove side and the stride motion. Get familiar with those and then post again. It’ll make a lot more sense when you hear our ranting.[/quote]

dm59’s comments are right on. I would not shorten his stride, either. 100% no way. Overall, I’m very impressed with his mechanics, especially for his age. Very, very nice.

Again, to reiterate dm59’s comments: the front arm glove action is something that you can start working on. Then perhaps address the stride out being lower. Just work on one element at a time. And, more importantly, keep it fun for your kid. It looks like he’s got tons of potential. There’s no need to rush him.

:idea: His footwork is fundamentally incorrect. His first step is back and to the left side, the second step is back and to the right side and the third step, the stride leg loops around and opens way too far. It appears as if his center of gravity is making a circle. I believe sooner or later the umpires will make him change his contact with the rubber to be “fundamentally” in line with the rules. Correct this…see how the overall mechanics adjust…then go from there.

:idea: His footwork is fundamentally incorrect. His first step is back and to the left side, the second step is back and to the right side and the third step, the stride leg loops around and opens way too far. It appears as if his center of gravity is making a circle. I believe sooner or later the umpires will make him change his contact with the rubber to be “fundamentally” in line with the rules. Correct this…see how the overall mechanics adjust…then go from there.[/quote]

For a pitcher that is just starting out, this is unimportant. I agree with the other posters in saying just eliminate it by having him pitch from the stretch position. Work on the “bigger” problems from the stretch, correct them, and then when he feels comfortable enough to move on, make the corrections to the windup. In the grand scheme of things the footwork in the windup is last on the list of important things for this young pitcher to fix.

I believe there’s a time to start teaching kids to be a pitcher, and for the most part, I say leave them alone. Simply monitor a few things for a while.

But I disagree with you on this for this player. Why eliminate the windup motion to possibly create a stall? A minor adjustment to his start by redirecting his movement would be the simplest and easiest instruction for this young player to understand without disturbing his established (relatively good) rhythm and tempo.

This player is young enough to mold a few things early (like he has with a windup). He already possesses some lower body postures of advanced pitchers, why not modify the beginning a little so he can continue to use what he’s developed, and continue to use these postures to his advantage.

“Fundamentally wrong” in this instance is not the fact that he uses a windup…it’s those steps that are being used and the rules regulating them…not to mention how the steps (back to the left, back to the right, swing around open to the left) affect the hips.

Since the windup is there, simply correct the foot/body direction, see what happens to the rest of the mechanics, and if need be, adjust from there.

I agree with this.

My problem with the length of his stride is that it looks like he’s trying to get all of his power from the stride rather than understanding the true role of the stride (which is to facilitate the creation of power rather than generate it directly). Also, taking too long of a stride can lower the release point and flatten out the pitch.

Tom Seaver got away with a flat pitch plane, but not everyone can.

My son takes a relatively shorter stride and he’s very successful due in part to his high release point and the extreme vertical movement of his pitches. He releases the ball high and then throws to the bottom of the strike zone.

Wow… Thanks guys for all the advice and comments…

After watching a few video clips of some pro pitchers, we went out yesterday and tossed the ball around for a bit. It seems the consensus from everyone was to focus on his glove arm first. I’ve been concerned about his footwork as well, but wasn’t sure how to correct it.

He was totally fine with droping the windup and just starting from the stretch in order to focus just on his glove arm movement. It took a few minutes for him to get used to the new position of his glove through his throw. At first all his pitches were way outside, but within maybe 5 or 6 pitches he was getting them over the plate again…and much more consistantly. However, now his pitches are consistantly over the plate but high. Will this correct itself as he gets used to the new glove arm position?

I’m seeing why it’s important to video/analyze his throwing. I almost caught a couple balls between the eyes because I was consentrating so hard on watching his mechanics :shock: …

Thanks Again!
Jon

A lot of solid advise.

I’d start in small pieces. First just do basic throwing motiom mechanics, then add a little by little. If done correctly, it will take most kids years to get to the correct full delivery of a baseball. So I say teach him to throw straight. That all pitching is at an early age anyway.