Changing mechanics, what's the plan?

No two people are alike and pitching is no different. It is important to keep this in mind when working with pitchers. The pitching delivery is predicated upon a series of movement patterns (mechanics) that are unique to each individual. A pattern is defined as a combination of qualities, acts, tendencies, etc., forming a consistent or characteristic arrangement. Each pitcher has different strengths and weaknesses based on body type, genetics, arm action, flexibility/mobility, etc… The most influential factors in developing mechanics are environment (coaching) and intent. Too often, coaching is the driving force behind intent. The pitcher’s intent becomes to please the coach and build their delivery around what the coach views as pleasing to the eyes. There is a preconcieved notion on how they should look and thus grouping all pitchers into the same mold which obviously doesn’t work. That is when coaching can really get in the way. Always keep in mind that the body will organize itself in a manner that will give us the best chance of accomplishing the movement goal. Together the movement patterns combine to accomplish the body’s goal of throwing the baseball. Synergy is the one word I would use to describe the pitching delivery. An example of synergy would be two umpires working together to get the call right. Alone, they couldn’t do it but together they figure it out.

Just kidding, but of course the idea is the same. The idea is that more is accomplished by the body working together than could ever be accomplished with the body parts working independently. Can you throw the ball faster by standing still or taking a crow hop and throwing? The question becomes what is the goal? Is it to throw harder, more strikes, take stress off the arm, repeat the delivery? Before we can expect to make any changes we must first ask what is the goal and what is the plan to achieve the goal?

Let’s start with the plan of keeping it simple. We must realize that the patterns have been established and even though the change seems very simple to you or I it can be very difficult for the pitcher. Try brushing your teeth with the opposite hand or patting your head and rubbing your stomach and then changing to rubbing your head and patting your stomach without interruption. How did you do? So, as a coach we have to be careful to not overload the individual and placing him in a position to fail by asking him to perform multiple goals and tasks simultaneously. The goal of the coach is to limit the number of times the player fails through a system of trial and errors.

  1. Understand the pitcher’s goal or intent with his delivery. Is it to throw strikes, throw it harder, etc… This is the #1 step because intent alone will have the greatest influence on the body’s movement patterns.

  2. After establishing the intent, focus on individual movement patterns that may be keeping him from reaching his goal and work backwards from there. If the pitcher cannot repeat his release point is it because of the glove, the head, the lower body? Isolate what you think is the problem and create a simple movement goal.

  3. Establish a “feel” for movement patterns and performing it correctly. Awareness is key. Ask the pitcher constantly, “what do you feel?”.

  4. Ask the pitcher to step out of his comfort zone and over-exaggerate the movement. Changing movement patterns is not easy and the player has to step away from what feels comfortable.

  5. Do not ask the pitcher to perform multiple tasks that involve other body parts or movement patterns outside the realm of focus. The goal for the coach/player is to limit the number of failures.

  6. Most people are visual learners and video plays a major role in the development of mechanics and changes in the delivery. The adjustments will occur at a faster rate if they can bridge the gap between what they see and feel. Eliminate perception and make it reality.

  7. Allow the pitcher ownership in the development process and hold them accountable. Communication and accountability is vital. Ask them to keep a journal and chart their progress. This can be accomplished through charting and maintaining journals. Ask them what do they feel? What do they see? Once the answers become similar the development process will begin to take shape.

From there, good luck and enjoy the never ending journey into pitching and development.

Thinktank :smiley:

Thanks for the pointers…

Been trying to get my son to lower his arm slot which I think will allow him to take advantage of rotational forces. He admits he’s accustomed to throwing with his high 3/4 arm slot and finds it difficult to change.

I am thinking of having him practice the lower slot in a mirror slowly and then going from there.

I have seen on this site and elsewhere that its not wise to change a pitcher’s arm slot. Do you agree?

I know the shoulders’ rotation needs to match the arm slot as well, this might be what he struggles with the most.

Thanks,

Ed

Changing his arm slot for the sake of experimentation is not a good idea. If he is comfortable, efficient, and effective there is no reason to change it.

Hard to tell if its efficient. I tend to think Pedro was quite efficient and he had a low arm slot. If you accept the theory that rotation = velocity then to be most efficient your arm slot should be lower to take advantage of those rotational forces.

I have some clips to post of him and will do so shortly.

Thanks,

Ed

[quote=“oldman”]Thinktank :smiley:

Thanks for the pointers…

Been trying to get my son to lower his arm slot which I think will allow him to take advantage of rotational forces. He admits he’s accustomed to throwing with his high 3/4 arm slot and finds it difficult to change.

I am thinking of having him practice the lower slot in a mirror slowly and then going from there.

I have seen on this site and elsewhere that its not wise to change a pitcher’s arm slot. Do you agree?

I know the shoulders’ rotation needs to match the arm slot as well, this might be what he struggles with the most.

Thanks,

Ed[/quote]

I don’t think it’s a bad idea to change the arm slot if there is a problem in connecting the delivery.

Personally, I think you can get more out of the body and delivery from a higher arm slot. But at the end of the day, it all boils down to the goal and the risk/reward factor.

I am of the opinion that a low 3/4 arm slot is most optimal since it allows you to involve the most body parts. A high arm slot does allow you to take as much advantage of the rotational forces as a lower does. Saw a great post by Steve(?) Rice on Setpro on this topic, had clips etc to support it.

Of course you look at Bauer clip posted by Kyleb and its hard to argue against higher slot.

Will keep on keeping on…

Ed

I am sure this is going to get a firestorm of comments!

“According to Coach Tom House, a pitcher’s individual arm-slot should not be changed to conform with anyone else’s concept of “the best” arm-slot. Every conceivable arm-slot has been successful at the highest levels of baseball.”

Just because every arm slot has been successful in MLB doesn’t mean tinkering with someone’s arm slot is a bad idea. This is not logically consistent.

I agree with kyle,

For example look at Halladay, throw everything out the window about who he is.

He changed his arm slot and became very successful, if he hadn’t chances are he’d be just another draft pick that flamed out.

There are times when I think its not a bad idea to consider changing arm angle.

Tony Robicheaux, head coach at ULL is big believer in sinking the ball and movement. You will see guys enter the program with one slot and leave with another. He never even talks about arm slot. It becomes a product of intent to move the ball (end goal). every year his staffs are one of the best in the country.

Well I disagree but I guess that’s what we are all here for, here is an article that is very to the point about this discussion, especially read the conclusion, with some hard facts to back up what I would consider House’s opinion:

[quote=“buwhite”]Well I disagree but I guess that’s what we are all here for, here is an article that is very to the point about this discussion, especially read the conclusion, with some hard facts to back up what I would consider House’s opinion:


[/quote]

Good article but not relevant to the discussion IMO. I don’t think anyone is speaking of throwing from multi slots or hiding the ball. It’s more about changing to correct or connect the delivery and flaws.

[quote=“buwhite”]Well I disagree but I guess that’s what we are all here for, here is an article that is very to the point about this discussion, especially read the conclusion, with some hard facts to back up what I would consider House’s opinion:


[/quote]

Here’s a question I have for you: Who threw the 16th perfect game in baseball’s history?

I’ll help you out: His name was David Cone. And he loved throwing from a high 3/4 slot down to a sidearm pitch - mixing it up all game.

To me that is equivalent to e=mc2. Just makes sense that a lower slot can produce more velocity.

Isn’t it true there is not ideal mechanics? Wasn’t Mark Prior 99 44/100% efficient (sorry Doc House).

I agree that many well meaning coaches and parents instruct their young charges to throw over the top and that is probably wrong.

My son is struggling with the lower arm slot, I may have to slow him down and do mirror work until he can get it right. He’ll agree to try a lower slot and jump on the mound and will still have a high slot.

I don’t see the danger/risk in trying a different arm slot.

Ed

[quote=“oldman”]
I don’t see the danger/risk in trying a different arm slot.

Ed[/quote]

Amen…

Quick tip I have found with the arm slot is matching up the break out of the glove with the arm angle. Example would be guys that break more horizontal tend to work better from lower slot where guys that break more vertical tend to throw from a higher slot. Maybe look where he breaks the ball from and see if the arm slot is working with the path out of the glove to shoudler height.

I don’t feel that velocity is the defining factor when it comes to baseball, the combination of velocity, location and changing speeds is what makes a good pitcher. A good hitter can time a fast fastball but throwing from a lower angle means that the pitch is flatter and therefore easier to hit. The second part is that a lower arm slot can produce more velocity automatically…I’m not confident that it’s correct but I don’t have anything for or against it.

I agree with this that many instruct to throw over the top, my comment is that every pitcher has a natural arm slot that works for them and jacking with the arm slot can be detrimental and dangerous to that individual, some throw over the top, some throw sidearm and some 3/4, but messing with a pitchers natural motion/slot is what I’m against.

[quote]Here’s a question I have for you: Who threw the 16th perfect game in baseball’s history?

I’ll help you out: His name was David Cone. And he loved throwing from a high 3/4 slot down to a sidearm pitch - mixing it up all game.[/quote]

I defiately didn’t know he was #16 but I do know the next perfect game was Randy Johnson who had a very consistent arm slot. The one before was David Wells that also had a consistent arm slot, I could go on right up to Halladay. My comment was using the data of that study which concludes that, at a Major League level, if a pitcher varies his release point or because of an extreme release point, that these things don’t make a pitcher any harder to hit. You can’t really argue with the data this article presents. The numbers show it.

I’m totally not arguing that if a kid throws sidearm naturally that he shouldn’t, just an parent/dad/instructor or anyone else should change for the sake of being harder to hit…because it doesn’t make them harder to hit. A kid that throws sidearm naturally should throw sidearm, and the kid that throws over the top should throw over the top, everyone has a natural motion and that shouldn’t be jacked with.

I think if you’re talking about a breaking ball that may be true but Pedro’s fastball had tremendous movement.

You have to really work to develop velocity sorry that’s my focus and the focus of probably most posters here.

Here’s some clips of my son at 240 FPS, welcome any and all comments.

I think his energy could be better, one thing I notice is I don’t see a good bow-arch-bow. Of course his arm slot is high too :smiley:

Reminds me of Ben Sheets. And before people even start talking about the injuries I can tell you first hand it had nothing to do with the arm slot and everything to do with his routine. Told me that during one season the only time he picked up a ball was on the day he started. Felt he needed to rest his arm, the rest of the story is history. He did tell Billy Beane the reason he hurt his arm was from picking up the big a** check every two weeks, 10 million dollar contract.

Sorry maybe I’m not seeing the right logic here. But, I think tinkering with an arm slot to experiment with the possibility of gaining velocity is a mistake.

I agree that the focus is a lot about velocity and it does take hard work to develop that velocity. IMO, changing his arm slot, isn’t going to be the cure all for velo.