# Can't soft toss

My son is not able to warm up properly because he can’t throw short distances or soft without throwing the ball into the ground. He excels on the mound, pitching on varsity as a freshman, but I’m concerned about the health of his arm if he is not stretching out properly. Has anyone seen this and what advise can you give?

So you are saying that your son can’t throw short distances to warm up without throwing the ball into the ground but he pitches on the varsity team? I am really confused, this didn’t throw up red flags to the team? I am assuming that there is no other position he plays except pitcher! I got no real comments except you don’t have to throw to warm up your arm properly, I would be concerned more about mental focus etc if he cant just throw except from 60 feet from the mound.

Other than the concern about warming up properly, the only time it is an issue in the field is when fielding a come backer on the mound. He sprints close to 1st and under hands the toss. When pitching, he maintained a -1 ERA for the season last year as a 14 year old freshman. Good mental presence. All other positions never require a soft throw. This issue started 2 years ago. No clue as to the trigger. If I remember correctly, Chuck Nablauk(excuse the butcher job on the last name) had this same issue crop up. Very bad for a MLB 3rd baseman.

How do you guys compute ERA to get a negative number?

Four earned runs over 47 innings?

[i]OBR Rule 10.21 (e) Pitcher’s earned-run average, multiply the total earned runs charged against such pitcher by 9, and divide the result by the total number of innings he pitched, including fractions of an inning; and

NFHS Rule 9-7-2(d) Divide the total runs earned during his pitching by the total number of innings he pitched and multiply by seven.[/i]

HS ERA = (4/47)*7 = 0.60

MLERA = (4*9)/47 = 0.77

Still a absolutely magnificent ERA over 47 innings, but you have to compute it correctly if you’re going to talk to people about it. Heck, in the entire state of Ca, of all the reported pitchers, there were only 10 that had lower ERAs last season, only 1 was less than a Jr, and only half of them had as many innings. And in the entire country, of those that reported to MaxPreps, there were only 20 that did better.

So he didn’t just do well, he likely is one of the top 50 HS pitchers in the entire country! Given that he’ll likely improve, if I were you I’d sure get my hands on the best pitching coach and sports psychologist I could find to get his “issue” corrected. He’s very likely on the scouting “radar”, and the word about both positive and negatives spreads like wildfire in that world.

Another thing I’d make sure of, is that his coach posts the team’s numbers on-line, hopefully on a national posting forum like MaxPreps. More and more scouts are using places like that to get information about who to take a look at. With numbers like his, if he pitched in our league, there’d be at least 4 or 5 scouts at every one of his games, and with good grades he’d likely be a lock for a 'ship at several major D1’s here on the left coast, with a heck of a good chance of getting drafted right out of HS.

What state do you live in?

I don’t think he meant to use a negative number - I’m assuming he meant to state “his ERA was UNDER 1.00”

That’s what I thought as well, and why I asked how they computed ERA to get a negative number. Had he replied and said he didn’t mean a minus number but rather less than 1, I wouldn’t have bothered to dig out the rules showing the different computations between HS and most of the rest of the baseball world.

either he is really good or the league he is playing in is really bad. time to go to a perfect game showcase event and find out where he really is. if you can play, they will find you there

Is he too tense? Gripping the ball to hard? Not releasing the ball soon enough?

CardsWin, you’ve hit on a very important point. If a pitcher grips the ball too tightly (as if he were trying to squeeze the juice out of it), of course he won’t be able to throw it any appreciable distance; it will just slip out of his hand and drop to the ground with a resounding “plop”. A lot of pitchers just learning to throw a palm ball make this mistake.
Not only does the kid need to loosen up on the grip, he needs to take it easy—to relax so that he can deliver the pitch and follow through with no trouble at all. I wonder—is he being forced to throw with an arm angle, an arm slot , that is not comfortable for him? This often happens when a pitcher is being made to throw “over the top”, straight overhand, when this is not his natural delivery, and therein lies trouble. He should look into this—and if need be, someone should talk to the coach and tell him that it’s not in anyone’s best interests to change a pitcher’s arm angle, be it Little League or high-level professional. My pitching coach firmly believed that every pitcher has a natural motion, and what he did was work with that pitcher and show him or her how to use it to full advantage. I was a natural sidearmer, and he showed me how to make the most of it.

Interesting topic of dicussion…

It was Chcuk Knoblauch and he played 2B not 3B…

Another “Perfect Game” guy…respectfully speaking is “Perfect Game” the outfit that can supposedly take any age kid, compute their porjections statistically and other wise (for a fee of course) and project them out years in advance on a sheet of paper? Or am I thinking of another organization?

Zita…I have enjoyed reading all the post of yours I have had the time to. Im not saying I follow you around but your posts are more valied then most on the site; in my humble opinion. However you mentioned the “palm ball.” I was not aware that anyone really taught that any more except perhaps at the lower levels where kids hands are too small to get the proper grips on say change ups.

As far as the Knoblauch this particular player has going on it is a strange case indeed based on what I have read; I would only be able to give a more concrete opinion if I were able to see him pitch and transversely not be able to simply play catch in person…honestly at youth levels especially for varsity high school players I have never heard of such a thing.

With that being said I THINK I may know or at least have a feel for what is going on…try the approach of throwing a baseball is just like picking a rock up on the shore and chucking it in to the water. For those who have any athletic ability in particular in throwing something there is absolutely no thought that goes into throwing a stone into the water.

Put him about 20 feet away from a sock net. Give him a ball, have him drop it and then pick it up…then have him simply throw it into the sock.

Also keep in mind that more then likely this is mental what the player is going through…now that may not mean it can get fixed because there are and have been rare instances (Knoblauch) where this type of thing actually ends a professionals career. However my point is simple; when a young player is not given the anxiety of throwing to an actual target provided by a teammate/catcher they are able to free their mind up a bit.

Using a sock net works but simply throwing into the side of a cage would work as well because the player has an entire net to hit not just merely a targeted area provided by another player with a glove.

Again I would have to see this to truly have a grasp but I have a hard time believing by what I read that this is any thing other then 100% mental…

…just chuck the rock…relax and if he is good enough to throw varsity level competition regardless of the caliber of play then he has some levels of talent therefore it should be more in his head then any where else.

“dimes antie”

Good afternoon, CoachC.
Oh, they teach the palm ball, all right, and it’s not just youngsters with small hands. This is a pitch anyone can pick up, because it’s easy to throw—and very hard to hit. I think I mentioned that this was the first changeup I acquired, and very effective it was.
As for the Chuck Knoblauch mess—as you can see, that doesn’t happen only to pitchers. Even a second baseman can suddenly lose it. But I don’t agree that the problem is 100% mental all the time. For some pitchers this, or any other difficulty of that type, could be connected to a mechanical flaw—and sometimes the best diagnostician can be another pitcher, or a pitching coach who is really on the ball. Oh, if only Ed Lopat and Johnny Sain were still with us!—either of those two guys could draw a bead on the problem and find a solution that works.
I think I mentioned in a post to the kid with the problem of not being able to “soft toss” that he just might be gripping the ball too tightly and that he should loosen up on it. Sometimes that’s all it takes—a lot of people have asked me about the palm ball, because that pitch really intrigues them, and I always caution them not to grip the ball too tightly because, as I put it, “you don’t want to squeeze the juice out of the ball.” And that goes for just about any pitch. 8)

Zita…Im not disputing you but mainly curious…do you know of any pitchers in the big leagues who are throwing the palm ball? I would just simply like to research it a bit and find out if I can locate any video of guys who are using it.

As far as my opinion being 100% mental for the young player who cannot play catch. That was obviously a speculative opinion based on what I read. I formulated my opinion on the fact that if this particular student athlete has been so dominating off the mound at a varsity level of competition and at such a young age that I would be curious to see what mechanical flaw he has in place that allows for him to pitch in a highly effective manner from a mound but he is unable to simply play catch. Or as to how I understood it not being able to throw the ball any further then basically 60’ and or in any othe scenario other then on a mound

It seems odd to me there would be such a mechanical flaw that would supercede simply the mental portion of what is going on with this particular player.

The fact is sometimes a pitcher, in particular younger ones who feel out of their element will struggle with the anxiety of throwing a ball to targets. For this youngester I do not think anyone can rule out the idea that his comfort zone in terms of the element of pitching in a game is very high…perhaps that is where he truly zones in.

Transversely if he cannot play catch perhaps it is because he does not feel comfortable doing so. Sure it could be and probably to an extent be caused by something mechanical or as you suggested perhaps gripping the ball too tight. My point I guess could be summed up best by saying that we all have seen and played with players who are absolutely terrible at practices and for varying reasons.

Perhaps this particular player is terrible at practice because he feels uncomfortable. If that is the case then I suggest his issue would be more mental then every thing else.

Last but not least I base my limited take off the written word in which a young player was described as being highly successful. Now sure one could have poor mechanics clear across the board and still do well, especially a the lower levels but also if they just had pure raw ability. Yet I would question that this issue for this particular player would simply have all to do with mechanics or grips/tension on the ball.

Perhaps I should have better stated my post in saying that it was probably a combination of things starting with the mental aspect because that is where my finger points due to the fact that I have never seen him in person. Furthermore I should have also suggested his grips as you did because gripping a ball too tightly would in some cases would directly result in not being able to get air under the ball.

May be this particular player should just get out and do some long toss after getting warmed up however he can and let the air get under the ball…stretch it out…if a big parachute comes out and the ball does not carry then one could perhaps turn the focus more towards how tight he may be gripping the ball…then again…:)…without having seen the player maybe his arm action is not loose enough to not create a parachute regardless of how he is gripping the ball…

“most play how they practice, but some of the best players I have ever seen are absolutely terrible in practice.”

You find this situation in school. There’s the kid who’s terrific in the classroom but stinks on hot ice when it comes to exams. And there’s the reverse—the kid who is horrible when it comes to classwork but aces all the exams. The same is true in many other areas—such as the one under discussion here.
There are pitchers who practically tear their hair out by the roots when warming up. They can’t do this, they worry about that, the curve ball hangs, the strike zone jumps around like a jackrabbit on steroids, they just know they’re going to suck under game conditions—and then, they go out there and pitch a shutout. And there are pitchers who are supremely confident—almost too much so—when warming up. They’re sure they’ve got everything under control. And they go out there and don’t get out of the first inning because they get belted from here to Timbuktu and back.
That little thing called a happy medium is unknown to both types; they think too much, one way or the other. This is a problem of what goes on between the ears and not with the elbow or the shoulder or—“heck,” my pitching coach said once, “whatever he throws the ball with!” Now, it may—at least in part—be connected with a mechanical flaw, or it may not. But the situation needs to be addressed, and if possible corrected.
Oh, and about the palm ball—most finesse pitchers, the ones who don’t have a fast ball to speak of, know about that pitch and will use it. Try Jamie Moyer, for example. 8)

Zita…solid insight…as far as Moyer now that I think about it I believe I had heard that before but I will definitely check out any thing I can about the “palm ball.”

My 42 year old rear end has messed around with it in competitive amatuer ball but I basically only throw what would be called a three finger straight change, varying it with finger pressure and turns of the hand on the ball.

I am curious as to what I can find out by what I would think is putting a fourth finger up on the ball.

As usual good insight to the forum!