Calling out Roger DM ball up in zone?

OK guys

What are the mechanics that causes a pitcher to be up in the zone consistently? My kid had a start albeit under very lousy cold conditions and he was unusually up in the zone. Maybe 3 out of 4 pitches, it was very unusual for him. Needless to say, he got rocked in a few innings as they were playing at a very small high school field as well 300 ft to power alleys

several shots were hit against him and they were all pitches up

I know that if you don’t get your arm up when your front foot plants that will result in the ball being up (throwing arm up that is)…and I know that if your front leg is too straight with no bend that will cause it to be up.

He has some momentum built into his mechanics but it sort of seemed that his stride may not have been as long as usual and thus maybe he wasnt moving out quick enough.

Any other mechanical things to look for or correct when you just can’t seem to get the ball down in the zone??

Would too short of a stride cause it created by not enough momentum? I just couldn’t fathom why it was happening.

He didn’t seem to be finishing off the pitches as well like with your back shoulder showing to the plate

The good news was he had no walks but the bad news was he got rocked quite a few times and his slider didn’t seem to have the bite it usually does as well

Posture changes will pull the release point back and raise it up. That will raise the pitch trajectory as well as making it more difficult to get over the top of the ball when throwing curves. Can you say “hanging curve”?

Early shoulder rotation can also cause pitches to be up. Of course, early rotation can be caused by a number of mechanical flaws (e.g. dropping the glove, flying open with the glove, not getting to equal and opposite at foot plant, postural issues, etc.).

As Roger so aptly noted, there could be various specific mechanical things that cause this. My question is about practice habits. How much target practice does he do from a mound, at the correct distance and at game intensity? That’s where you would tweak mechanics to deal with control issues. Does he practice mostly on flat ground? Is he only giving partial effort? Both of these in the attempt to reduce stresses on the arm. I’m only guessing here about these things because we don’t have that info but I’ve found that target practice that isn’t as close as possible to the game environment is unproductive. My son struggled terribly with control in his earlier days. Great velo, excellent change-up but couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. Then I built a mound in my back yard, with a target at the correct distance and got him to throw at game intensity at a strike zone target. The improvement was dramatic.

Control is about repeatable mechanics that are actually repeated in the same manner as expected in a game. There are too many differences between flat ground and mound pitching for control to be transferrable. Effort level has the effect of potentially altering small mechanical items as well.

Yes, mechanical things can do it but specific practice is key. He needs to get the “feel” of the game situation. He’ll make adjustments.

thanks guys

great points

I’ll monitor how much he’s throwing from a mound in game like situations…I do think that might have something to do with it because they dont’ throw from the mound that often between starts

So, they “pitch” on flat ground and rarely practice on a mound, then the coach expects them to be able to put all of the timing elements together when they’re suddenly put on one. How is that skill going to be developed if they don’t actually do it?

Below is an image I made to show some differences between throwing on flat ground vs a mound. If you want to discuss it in any detail, email me at dm-59@hotmail.com. Or we can chat on MSN Messenger (same address).

Agreed DM it’s tough but part of it is facilities available to them. The coaches are really challenged in this respect. I love the coaches on this team because they really have a lot of energy and really try to teach the kids.

I’ve recognized that it’s night and day throwing off a mound and flat surface so I’ve taken it upon myself to find at least 1 or 2 days a week for him to pitch a 30-40 pitch bullpen at a local field with a mound. That has certainly helped a bit with his control around the plate…throwing strikes…because he didn’t walk anyone. However, the command still needs work because like I said way too many balls were up in the zone.

The good thing is the kid realizes the difference between pitching off a mound and flat surface and realizes it’s not helping a great deal just throwing flat surface.

The surface condition that your son performs off of can influence his pitch(s). Take for example this mound below…

More often than not, he’ll be standing and looking down at these conditions:

And these conditions can influence his form and posture… before/during/after his delivery.

If your son’s pivot foot is in a hole… his toe will be pointed downward and at that place in time he’s already behind in the count … before he’s even started his pitch. Try digging a hole in your back yard and placing YOUR pivot foot in it. Noitice your toe pointing downward… thus shifting your weight to one side as you try to throw.

Also, even a well groomed mound or pitching surface requires good stride leg discipline(sd). Too many youngsters and head coaches in the youth game take this stride leg for granted and not giving it the credit that it deserves for influencing control issues… up-down… left-right accuracy.
The picture below will give you some guide on the stride leg’s contribution to control issues.

And last but not least… what TARGET is your son concentrating on? He should NOT be pitching to an abstract of the catcher/umpire/batter. He should focus on the mitt, the catcher’s mask, top of the catcher’s knee, etc. and all that depends on the pitch at hand and his control issues on any given day. FOCUS ON A TARGET … some pitchers find it helpful to start with the catcher’s mask and then work from there.

Best wishes with your son’s progress…

Coach B.