Arm angle changes


#1

When it comes to arm angle, is it correct for a youth coach to change a pitcher’s arm angle? (Assuming player is not doing harm with current mechanics)

I have seen a very knowledgeable coach in my town change pitcher’s arm angles. Try and get kids to throw over the top. Result has been mixed results and decrease in velocity.

I know Tom House, Nolan Ryan, etc say to not change arm angle. I continually argue with this coach to not do this but he says it’s correct.

Any advice will help. Thanks!


#2

I say no. As long as the hand is staying behind the ball and the middle finger is cutting the ball in half, throw it from any angle you want. The only arm problems are a dragging arm or an out-of-sync arm (neither caused by arm angle) that makes the pitcher cut the ball one way or another. I was a sidearmer in college, and the same rules applied down there.


#3

Agree. I really feel pitchers should do what’s natural. Coaches may be better off focusing on keeping the eyes level and preventing too much body lean and letting the pitcher figure out what arm position feels most natural, which is going to be different for everyone.


#4

Changing arm slot requires a change in posture which can have other consequences (e.g. can cause timing problems, can pull the release point back and raise it up, etc.). At a minimum, you better understand all of this and know how to deal with these issues before you mess with arm slot. But, like Steven said, you still want the arm to do things in as natural a way as possible. So it’s best not to mess with a pitcher’s throwing arm at all. (There are ways to indirectly affect changes in the throwing arm by directly changing other things. Doing things in this manner allows the throwing arm to adjust in the most natural way.)


#5

Here we go again with the cookie-cutters, the ones who want to change a pitcher’s arm slot and make him throw over the top for no reason other than “because I said so”. I remember very well what Ed Lopat said about this sort of thing: “Put a sock in it.” He firmly believed that each pitcher has his or her own arm angle, his or her individual set of mechanics and such, and what he would do was work with said pitcher to maximize his or her capabilities; he refused to mess with things unless the pitcher was really screwing up. I recall that when I was familiarizing myself with the slider the first thing he noticed was that I was a true natural sidearmer, and he said to himself “Okay, that’s what we’ll work with”—and that was what we worked with.


#6

What age are the youth? There are no natural arm actions only developed ones. Every arm action is a response to a perceived goal and external and internal feedback in addressing that goal. The amount of desired input from the coach is dependent upon the issues the thrower is having in relation to that goal.

I agree that posture will most directly effect the arm slot.

Adjustments to the throwing hand takeaway or back swing can also have profound impact on timing and elbow stress.

In youth players you are largely working on developing the throwing mechanism and side arm throws have a more limited use in baseball in general. Throwing high 3/4 is an important skill for most positions.


#7

Thanks guys! I appreciate all the input.

The age of these kids are between 9-12. Little League pitchers.

I do not consider myself a Casey Stangel when it comes to coaching but I consider myself a good coach with over 30+ years of baseball experience. One thing I don’t change is kids arm angle or slot. Unless a player has poor mechanics (slingshot throws, etc) It’s not natural to throw a baseball. Each player is different.

There are a few coaches I keep my son away from. They teach very poor mechanics and techniques. I’m open to suggestions but they are blatantly teaching kids wrong. 2 of which say my son “must” throw over the top…for no other reason than “you are supposed to.”


#8

What is over the top? Is it straight overhand? Is mid 3/4 over the top?

All throwing angles have strengths and weaknesses.


#9

I believe many young pitchers are influenced to be “over the top”. Whether right or wrong (IMO) the attempt is to get the pitching hand to the highest possible point. The way this is accomplished is by tilt of the shoulders. This (IMO) is what leads to poor posture by many youth pitchers. For many (if not most) young pitchers the head & trunk tilts sideways. I don’t believe its natural, I do believe its influenced.


#10

True…all throwing angles have strengths and weaknesses. I never had such problems; I was a true, natural, honest-to-gosh sidearmer with a consistent release point, and when my incredible pitching coach saw this when he was showing me how to throw a good slider he said to himself “okay, that’s what we’ll work with”, and that was what we worked with. He showed me how to maximize my capabilities, how to make the most of what I had and could do, and left my arm angle alone because it was a good one, my mechanics were sound. So I didn’t have a fastball to speak of—so what? I made up for it with a good arsenal of offspeed and breaking pitches and control and command, and I won a lot of games and rescued a lot of games and had 24 years of good memories to show for it.