Beginner, Just Needs to learn to throw w/o pain...HELP!


#1

I’m a newbie and worst still, didn’t play much ball in my day, so I am truely clueless. My son is 11 and as we started to warm up for the upcoming season, he is experiencing pain everytime we try to throw, which is 3 times now. We start up, everthing is fine, throwing light and loose and as soon has he tries to turn it up, even just a little, elbow and forearm pain (on a scale of 1 - 10 about a 6). We are not talking about pitching here, just basic throwing mechanics.

After an episode, we would ice and rest a few days. Pain now back to 0, start throwing, everything is ok, tries to turn it up a little, back to ice and rest. This has happened 3 times in the the last 2 weeks. We threw this past Saurday and his pain went up to a 6 so we stopped, iced etc. And then yesterday, Sunday I decided to try to capture his mechanics on video. He said his pain was down to a 2 and he felt ok to thow a little. So the video you will see is about his 7th throw which shot up his pain level to about a 7. He didn’t even try to throw that hard. I am assuming his basic mechanics are highly flawed. What is he doing wrong? And what changes does he need to make as well as exercises can he do to improve his strength so this won’t happen again?

I humbly ask you for advice on what to do.

Here’s his video, he describes the pain and it’s locations at the end.

  • WORTH NOTING - Had major pinky pain 2 weeks ago, x-rays taken and all checks out.

**WORTH NOTING - Had exam and x-rays of elbow last week, everything checks out.

***WORTH NOTING - This past fall he had an episode when he was at practice. He had no pain at all and started to throw with his partner. His throws were going in the dirt and his arm started to hurt. Told his coach he wanted to sit out because his arm hurt, coach says yes, and just for the heck of it, he throws again and his arm “cracks back in place” (my sons words) and everything is FINE… Goes on to play all practice with no problems.

This is the reverse of a lot of things I read. A weird occurance at best. Took him to the sports doc he did a bunch of range of motion tests and everything checked out ok.


#2

That’s really bizarre. His mechanics actually look pretty good for an 11 year old to tell you the truth. It was hard to tell from the angle I saw but his elbow pain might be coming from having his elbow bent a little to much at release.

Instead of extending his arm and launching the ball he is kind of pushing and pulling with his elbow.

The finger thing is weird though, it could be a neurological thing, I’m not sure.

I’m not an expert on mechanics so before you take any action I would wait for one of our more experienced guys to come on here and talk about it.


#3

This sounds a lot like a pinched nerve somewhere. I’m no doctor, but I have something similar where I have a pinched nerve in my neck. My pain is mostly in my neck, but the nerve that it is pinching is one that runs down the arm all the way to one of my fingers. My finger gets numb and I can feel a little pain in and around my elbow - which sounds a lot like what your son is describing. Might be worth investigating at least.


#4

Thanks guys, any advice or insight helps. Based on what I can extract from the information about where the pain is located (2 places) it sure seems to me that he has “golfers elbow”.

Here’s a picture. http://www.colinmcnulty.com/blog/images/medial-epicondylitis-golfers-elbow.jpg

I have read that throwing can lead to “golfers elbow” or Medial Epicondylitis.

Not so sure if the incident this past fall is related. It was extremly disturbing to hear my son say it seemed like his elbow “cracked back into place” and then have the Dr. say that all is ok. He did continue on to play through the end of October with no problems.

He has been doing some exercising this past winter, pull ups, dead lifts and the wrist bar thing where you roll up a weight. I am beginning to think all the strengthing he has been doing, may have contributed.

He can only do 1 pull up on his own, and we have been doing negatives. I basically push him up on the chin up bar and he trys to hold himself up until completely down, and then I push him up again.

Maybe that or the deadlifts have somehow, messed with things. However, it’s only on the right arm and he only has pain when he throws.

EDIT - I want to add the pain happens when the elbow is fully extended AND when bent completely. He says when pitching the pain occurs somewhere just before or after release.


#5

Get the hips involved! Every time your throw – whether you’re warming up or pitching off the mound – it’s very important to “activate” the hips. You can do this from flat ground by adding a shuffle step or crow hop behind (which closes off the hips) and then back in front. Your son is just throwing his pelvis at the target and not getting any hip involvement right now…


#6

Thanks Steve!

So is your overall assessment that he needs to use his body more overall, especially the hips?

It’s probably going to be a few more days until his pain is 0 again. So what you are saying is he should shuffle step or crow hop every time he throws? I was maybe 30ft away from him when he threw, so a very short distance.


#7
  1. Stiff Front Leg will hurt your arm

  2. Throwing all arm will cause a lot of pain, tend to strain muscles

  3. Stay More Closed, he looks very open from the get go.

  4. Everything is rising during acceleration and shoulders are level during rotation. Have him think of bringing his throwing shoulder down to his stride knee.

  5. This one is just based on my experience with trying to figure out the least stressful arm action for me. One that feels natural. I keep my fingers on top of the ball bringing it down, back then up…I never turn my hand over in a way that puts my palm under the ball, I’ve tried this and I would end up straining my forearm and rotator cuff. In the vid I see his thumb facing the camera. It should be facing the house and I should be seeing his two fingers from this angle not his thumb.

hope this helps, if you can, go to the book store or look online for some pitching books. There are a lot and Steve has some on this site. Try to stay away from most of the online guru websites. Find information from experienced and proven professionals.

Also don’t doubt your own abilities to interpret what pitchers are doing in slow motion video, take notes and see for yourself what is happening. Then mix that with things you are learning.


#8

Zeninfinity,

My unprofessional opinion is that your son has some type of nerve irritation akin to tendonitis. This type of condition will not show up on an x-ray, but it is good to know that no bones are broken.

I suspect the exercise regimen is the culprit. My understanding is that your son had throwing pain the very first session of trying to throw. This indicates to me the problem was already present.

I would call a few Sports Therapists in my area and describe the exercise routine and pain while throwing and try to get a general consensus as to what the problem might be as well as the best doctor or group of doctors to see. Some therapists may be willing to give you an evaluation visit in order to point you in the right direction. The rest periods you have described are not likely to be adequate to address this type of issue.

I do not believe your sons issues are caused by mechanical faults although improving his mechanics will help prevent its return once you have allowed the condition to heal.

I encourage you to proceed cautiously with any more throwing or exercising other than running until you get a professional directive.

Best of luck to you and your son,

Ted


#9

Ted,

I think you are right on the money. My son has ceased all exercise that involves his arms.

I am still waiting to hear from his doctor after he views the clip.

“My understanding is that your son had throwing pain the very first session of trying to throw. This indicates to me the problem was already present.”

That is a great observation you made and I think it’s right on the money.

What do you think the rest period is for this type of injury? Just trying to get a feel for how long he may be out.

EDIT - Please keep the opinions coming! I would like to exhaust all theories and promise to post all follow up feedback I get from the doctor in hope this might help someone else someday.

Thank you for all your help.


#10

zeninfinity,

Please understand I have no qualifications other than personal experience.

Anyway, Here are my thoughts.

I think you are looking at a minimum of two weeks with rest and ice two times a day. If your son has no issues with the medication the doctor or therapists might also recommend ibuprofen to help with pain and reduce inflammation. I would also inquire about its use prophylactically prior to throwing.

The issue with healing is that these areas have low vascularity. Therefore it takes longer for them to heal. Healing may be facilitated by utrasound or some other technique to increase blood flow into the injured region.

If I mimic the pull-ups I can feel tension in my elbow in the region your illustration pin pointed. I think that is part of what might be going on.

Best wishes,

Ted


#11

At such time that your son does return to throwing, I think he really needs to work diligently to optimize his throwing/pitching mechanics.

In the best of all worlds, IMO, throwing mechanics and pitching mechanics are not very different in the essentials.

Steven noted something very important for your son–the proper sequencing of hip rotation, followed by delayed shoulder rotation, is very important for a pitcher’s throwing motion.

Also very important is an “athletic” starting posture that allows the pitcher to maintain dynamic balance from start of motion through footstrike and release of the baseball.

Your son’s post foot (his back foot, not the one he strides forward with) pops off the ground very quickly…sounds like no big deal, but it actually suggests that his posture is too upright and somewhat unstable–if he started his motion with “free throw” posture, i.e., a slight bend at his knees, he would develop a dragline–that is, you would be able to trace the path of his post foot in the grass or dirt for a distance equal to about two of his shoe-lengths. Look at lots of video of elite pitchers…almost all of them have a significant dragline.

Look at this clip of Roy Oswalt, and just watch his post foot one time through:

Then, watch it again, and note how Oswalt’s arms look very balanced, or “opposite and equal”, as he breaks his hands and starts his launch of the baseball. That is also something important for your son and every thrower. There are many different ways–individual signatures–for pitchers’ arms to look “opposite and equal” during a throw; however, “opposite and unequal” is not good.

Steven already mentioned the hips, so I won’t belabor his point other than to add on that optimum sequencing of the hips and shoulders is thought to contribute about 80% of any pitcher’s velocity.

I think it’s great that you admit to being a newbie and are looking diligently for help so I saved my best advice for last: Spend some quality time educating yourself about pitching mechanics and the type of specific conditioning work that can help pitchers develop the base-strength and agility necessary to pitch.

I highly recommend starting with two fine books by Tom House: (1) The Picture Perfect Pitcher and (2) The Art and Science of Pitching.

One other excellent resource for your son would be a series of lessons with a good pitching coach–the coaches listed at this link come from a variety of baseball experiences but they have all completed at least one certified training course with Tom House (many, like Roger Tomas at this forum, have been re-certified by House several times):

http://www.nationalpitching.net/certified.asp?


#12

Once again, thank you all for your valuable input.

Here’s what I got from the Doc.

“I looked at the video. His mechanics are not the best. I’m not a coach but it looks like he is opening early, dropping the back shoulder, and definitely is not leading following through. The area he points to is consistent with “Little League” elbow (essentially the kids’ version of golfer’s elbow). It is not uncommon to have some radiation or numbness into the ring and pinky fingers with this problem. He also is finishing with a bent elbow which is a reflex protective mechanism we see with medial elbow pain. We know from his xrays that it is not too bad at this point. I think the key will be working on his throwing mechanics. Otherwise the only treatment is rest. I don’t have a particular throwing coach to recommend, perhaps you know of someone in your community?”

Ok, so my read here is we have an “overuse” situation and a mechanics situation.

Laflippin, I am subscribed to your youtube channel, great stuff! You are a total asset to the baseball community. I am honored you have taken the time to take a look at my son and help out.

Tony and Ted, thank you for your input as well. Sound advice, really appreciate it.

Unfortunately, I am in Northern California and there are no qualified instructors on the Laflippin list he recommended. And to be honest, my Doc’s suggestion of finding a “local guy”, makes me cringe.

I am also disappointed that our Doc has made no suggestions for PT. Weird. I have asked him if these exercises are a good idea.

I am waiting on instructions from the Doc to hear if these exercises are a good idea or if there are others AND when he should start them.

I might note the first exercise video was developed from a exercise called the Tyler Twist, which has an extremely good track record of helping tennis elbow. The Reverse Tyler Twist is a variation of it designed to help golfers elbow, however I have found no proof/feedback that it works. I have the bar already and my son tried it out last night and it sure does seem to work the area in question, he felt a nice stretch in the inner elbow area.

So once my son gets plenty of rest and maybe has done some strengthening exercises/rehab…now comes the hard part, dealing with his mechanics…ugh. I’m a babe in the woods guys.

I don’t know where to even start.

I get the concept of using the body to throw and the arm is “just along for the ride” however I don’t know how to teach it. My method now is to simply bark at my son, “use your whole body”, well, eh, umm, we can see were that has gotten me. ; )

I don’t want to open up a can of worms here, but my son has recently overhauled his swing completely. We did it over the internet with video analysis with Mike and Jake Epstein. It was an extremely, positive and enlightening experience.

In no way am I saying my son has a close to perfect swing, but through video analysis I can definitely say he is a lot closer than when he started.

With that said, what I found very attractive about the Epstein method was it offered solutions for many different situations, and in my sons case, incorrect movement having to do with his hands flying out to early, dropping the hands, swinging long, etc, etc.

There is a drill that addresses these specific issues and simply stated it works…imho ; )

So what do you think of this as a starting point? Start at about 4:10. The thing I like is the “I check myself” portion…palm down…correct?

So opening up to early…Is it good advice to my son to say “try to stay sideways as long as possible.” Is there any drill or directive that can help him understand the movement better?

And where do the hips open up? Is hips, shoulders, arm the sequence?

What can I do to help him “activate” his lower body?

I guess I am hoping to first figure out the basic optimum sequence of events. Then to somehow teach them through repetition of movement drills.

Other than that, I don’t know what else there is to do.

Uh, sorry, that was a pretty long ramble.


#13

Not sure where you live in NorCal, but Jeff Bermudez is NPA certified (lives in San Carlos and he is also the pitching coach for Mission College in Santa Clara, gives lessons to all ages).

Jim Scocca is very good at working with young guys, also lots of NPA training and certification, he lives over in Discovery Bay. His prices are very, very low for high quality coaching.

After the college season is over, if you’re willing to take a father-son vacation to LA your son can work with House personally in one of the small group sessions for young pitchers that are conducted on the USC campus under the auspices of RDRBI. That is very highly recommended because you will not be a mere spectator…you will learn more than you thought possible from a House clinic. If you PM me I can shorten some trails for you, my son and I have been down there a several times.

Let me know if there’s anything I can help you with…


#14

did he has a proper warm up??? before he start to throw??


#15

I apologize if this post is contrary but I feel compelled to re-present a dissenting point of view. If I understand the timeline correctly, the inflammation in your sons elbow is not caused by his throwing motion but by some event or series of events previous to his starting to throw. Therefore, changing his throwing motion does nothing to correct the issue that generated the inflammation in the first place. Eliminating the event(s) that led to the inflammation combined with treatment of the elbow are the primary steps in alleviating this problem. If your doctor fails to give you a clear directive in this situation, you need to find someone who can.

Your sons throwing motion is not perfect but you have to keep in mind that he is not throwing hard here but just loosening up a little. It should also be considered that he may be holding back a little as he is possibly leery of pain. This could show up as reduced follow through as he fails to fully commit to the throw.

laflippin’s comments are spot on as usual.

Is your son a pitcher or does he play primarily in the field?

Continued best wishes,
Ted


#16

The latest from the Doc.

“Unfortunately there is not much he can do right now other than rest. The exercises and other information you have apply to adult tendons and ligaments and the weak link in your sons arm is actually his growth plate. Until it closes there are no exercises that will speed his recovery only time and rest. That said, there is much he can do now to prevent a recurrance when he does return to throwing. Foot work, core strength, shoulder stabilization are all important aspects of throwing that don’t involve the elbow. Those are the things for him to work on now”

Take away - LL Elbow and Golfers Elbow are the same thing, however the primary difference is with LL elbow there is nothing you can do to strenghten until after ther growth plate closes.

laflippin - Thanks again kind sir, unfortunately I currently I don’t have the means to get my son private lessons. But if things change, I will go that course. I’m in Santa Rosa.

Ted - Well it’s really hard to tell which came first.

Chin ups, deadlifts and wrist roll up bar caused 0 pain in the area in question when doing them.

When throwing, warm up is no problem, it’s just when he tries to turn it up a little when the pain shows up.

This morning pain is at 0. Waiting to hear from Doc about to do next.


#17

Are you Miss Cleo? Making predictions based on how you feel? Come on, let go of the ego and stop trying to say it’s your way or the highway. To say its not caused by his throwing motion is stunning given the fact that throwing a baseball is an unnatural motion that is stressful on the arm. You aren’t even taking into consideration the shape this kid is in. Out of shape, throwing all arm…hmm no you say his throwing motion has no flaws.

Listen to the Doc who has the education and experience.


#18

I don’t think Ted is out of line. I tend to agree with him. With every situation, I think it’s important to look back and see how things changed. In this case many things changed before my son started throwing again and I personally think there is a good chance they are related.

Tony is also correct, my son is not in the greatest of shape, however he is in the best shape thus far in his young life. I also agree, eventhough the video of him is when he is just warming up, there is a lot of stuff that be improved upon. Regardless of what caused this episode, there is no doubt his mechanics have lots of room for improvement.

The things that changed and how he got in better shape are 1 in the same. He started working out, training and got stronger. Perhaps his added strength has magnified his bad mechanics or possibly an inbalance in his overall body structure?


#19

I am not knockin your son, I am just pointing out that a lot of 10-11 year olds are not in shape and it is a big rarity to find any kid that age with stellar mechanics. Same goes with any pitcher at any level.


#20

Tony, no worries, no offense taken.

The point I was trying to make was he has never had problems until he started to actually try to get into shape. What I am suggesting is that perhaps the areas he has strengthened are now making the problems he has with mechanics more obvious.