Evan Mac Pitching Analysis- 12 yrs old- Please a help a Dad


#1

I’d really appreciate help. I’m a single Dad and working with my son(s) on baseball is my primary window to get to spend time with them and support them. I am a former D-1 athlete (swimming) and have experience in biomechanics. I’m hoping that with this forums support, I can level up enough to provide my boys solid base mechanics.

This is Evan. 12 years old. 5’10" 145 lbs. He is likely to grow into a big guy. I’m 6’4" and there is a lot of size on his mom’s side. At same point on growth chart at 18, he would be 6’7" 230. I don’t expect that but I don’t think 6’5" is unrealistic.

Evan has pitched 40 innings or so each of last two summers. He’s not had any pitching specific coaching outside what I’ve been able to do this past summer. This is where we’ve gotten.

Using an accurate timer on an app and a formula on the side view pitch (video is cropped), I calculated his avg speed from release point to front of home plate at 65.8 mph. Has good control and keeps the ball down.

I’ve just taught him the curve and slurve/slider in the second video. Looking for feedback on those pitches. No change up yet but looking into it. Has only thrown 4 seam CB in games to now (season over).

My first post and I really appreciate you reading all of this and looking at the videos. My focus is to try to prepare him for a shot a HS ball (in Ky). He hit over .400 this summer and plays a strong 1st as well.

Two videos (side view and catch view).


#2

Would be happy to give my opinion on this one. Obviously size and strength are not going to be a concern! Growing as much as he has by age 12 looks like it has left him trying to catch up with his body a bit as far as coordination and controlling his movements. Nothing wrong with that, it will work itself out with time and some good physical training. The problem it is creating now is that it is limiting his explosiveness coming down the mound. He can only accelerate what he can decelerate. Deceleration looks to be an issue. As an example, take a look at his glove side. His glove ends up flying all the way behind his body. What you get is a motion that is too “careful”. The good news is there is a lot more velocity left in the tank.

In my opinion a good place to start would be to work on throwing more than pitching. Not just any throwing, but aggressive throwing where he gets his body accelerating (after a good warm up of course) . I like Jaeger style long toss for this, something where he has to use more athleticism, effort and intent to throw. A pitching related drill I like is step behind throws with a knee lift. Also walking wind up throws. Those should help add some speed while also incorporating his lower half more.

How did you teach him to throw the slurve as opposed to the curve? I’m not a fan of a slider type pitch until HS. At 12 working on a fastball, change and a curve is enough. I would replace the slurve with a change.

One last thing I’ll add (again in my opinion), for him to be successful as he moves into the older age groups, throwing the ball hard is considerably more important than keeping the ball down. My favorite 2 strike pitch is a letter high heater. With his size I imagine he already has an intimidation factor going on. Adding some serious heat to that makes for a nice combination. I would be preaching throw hard rather than throw down.

I hope that helps. Good luck. You are off to a great start.


#3

Thank you. I am very grateful for your time and feedback. Very perceptive and very accurate regarding him being too careful. It is a theme for him as he’s timid where physical assertiveness is appropriate as it is in sports and he’s always been successful enough for him. Late this summer is the first hint of a competitive side that I’ve seen from him and I’m geeked about it. He has not had any aggressive growth spurt yet. He’s been in the same place on the growth chart relative to his age +/- a quarter of a deviation at every annual physical. So, I know he’s always been very aware the size and strength gap with his peers.

Regarding a slider or slurve, I didn’t move him to that from a 12-6 rather he’s moving himself away from the arm slot that produces the slider movement. In his mind the only adjustment he’s making to throw the slider/slurve being is dropping his arm angle back to where it was in July. He made his first attempt at any breaking ball on July 4. I began by teaching him the grip, how the ball needs to come out of his hand to safely produce the break as well as the physics behind the movement (he has an interest in physics and we had discussed Magnus forces previously).

As he’s begun to finally assert and feel out his body, and seek to throw with intent (I’ve not used this phrase with him but I really like it) his arm slot has been moving higher. All we talk about for his curve is his same mental cues combine with more effort and it he gravitates the higher arm slot (I like it better as its nearly the same slot as when he’s trying to throw hard and hopefully more repeatable and consistent over time) then the same firm wrist and let it come out of his hand properly and the result is a more 12-6 movement. I’ve been hands off on his arm slot and just letting him find it as he’s just started to even assert his body. On his next visit, we will be long tossing…get him moving athletically…and throwing with intent…he’ll be playing his second season of basketball this winter that should help his progress on being physically assertive and moving athletically.

Keeping the ball down has just been a very consistent pattern for the past few years and not coached. I’d always chalked it up to “aiming” the ball. You make a great point and we will see if I can help him start to unleash. See pics

from June/Sept fastball arm slot and side by side curve on the left and slider or slurve on the right. Let me know if I’m off base. I really appreciate your insight. I’m a bit out of my depth and am trying to level up as quickly as possible. It funny to me because I had studied quite a bit of Brent Rushall’s research during my athletic career as he’s well regarded in the swimming community…didn’t know until today that he had studied and written on baseball as well…thanks again for your time…this is something that’s really important to me not expecting a specific result for him but to try to provide him with enough foundation to allow for him to take advantage of the body he was given and keep him from getting hurt.


#4

As your boy finds his slot, keep an eye on posture. Usually, a higher arm slot involves more head and shoulder tilt. Too much tilt can cause balance issues and can lead to “spin-out” resulting in falling off to the side, early shoulder rotation and a misdirection of energy. It will also pull back and raise the release point resulting in other issues:

  • Creates a longer flight path giving the batter more time to see and react to the ball

  • Pulls back the point at which a breaking pitch breaks - later movement is preferred

  • Makes it more difficult to keep pitches down

  • Makes it more difficult to put spin on the ball for breaking pitches - release points further out front normally produce more spin and, therefore, better movement

“Take care of posture, let arm slot happen.”

  • Tom House

#5

Thank you. I don’t suspect he will go higher but will keep an eye on his tilt.

Do you have a quick and dirty trigger to identify the point of concern with tilt and arm slot? I read that head vertically in line with landing foot at full arm layback is a general benchmark and level eyes at release.

Any general advice on approach? Reading material? I’ve been really focused on staying positive and encouraging the process, his engagement, and both of our education.

I’m not interested in developing a great 13-15 year old but also want to give him enough repetition to develop the neuromuscular pathways to allow for him to have a foundation for him to apply work and his body as he ages.


#6

“Head upright” or “eyes level” at release are good cues. I don’t have a general benchmark for tilt. If I notice it, I look for the symptoms I mentioned above. Or, if I notice one of the symptoms, I backtrack through the delivery looking for the cause. I dont automatically correct tilt if there are no symptoms. But note that symptoms might not appear until the pitcher starts to fatigue.


#7

Update- A few sessions of long toss and 1 throwing for video. We took the good feedback given (from you guys…thanks) and working to implement. To me he’s in better control. He’s picked up 2-3 mph hitting 74 now on low mound without rubber. Only throwing FB, Curvball, and working on Change.

Please see update…new questions/concerns/feedback:
1- I still see not tall enough on back leg and dropping to drive. Also, opening too soon with stride leg.
2- Leg lift now too low.
3- Very concerned about elbow above shoulder height at front foot strike…how to delay.
4- Supinated at max external rotation??
5- Too much forward lean at release?? His landing leg is firming up and he is beginning to come around it. His release appears to be very far out front. I get it gives a sneaky speed boost…but is he bound up there.

I appreciate your previous feedback and any future feedback. This community can really have an impact on this kid…he wants to learn and improve and work.

https://vimeo.com/185197250