Help a Kid out (16 y.o.)

Will be posting a video shortly for my son, but here’s the background.

Playing baseball since he was 4. Never the best kid on the team. Best attitude you have EVER seen. Smart Kid. Can LEARN anything (very coachable). 6’2", 175 lbs. Right handed. Football, Basketball, Baseball.

He decided last year that if he was going to get more playing time–he was going to have to learn to pitch. Started pitching in Junior leaque after his HS season ended (he was catching and playing first) and then…Broke his left leg sliding into third (no, hes not that fragile). Tibia, Fibula, and Ankle broken…surgery…plate in his leg, pin in his ankle. Got back on the floor during basketball season and used it as rehab.

He works as hard as any kid I know to get better…His control is significantly improving…but he’s run into a roadblock in velocity. He’s a strong kid and I think it’s just his first learning plateau, But if he can’t crack the 70 mark regularly than he’s not going to get an opportunity next year.

What is he doing to get better, you might wonder?

He gets up at 6 am every day to work on his short sprints, sprinting technique, etc. This is rehab for him and also to improve his speed as he has never been the fastest.

He is doing a long toss program at home…but we’ve discussed maybe doing UNDERLOAD work here??(tennis balls)…as maybe his arm speed just isn’t where it needs to be. Like I said…he’s a strong kid. He’s doing this by himself…we have about 200 feet of open space plus we live in the middle of nowhere. He can easily outthrow this with a little crow hop.

He throws 50+ pitches 4-6 times a week at home, more if he has time. We have the space for a mound…think its going in in the next month. Right now we have a small slope with about a 6" drop.

His school has a pretty good PE program where it is mostly strength training. Very good program oriented not toward football but towards overall body/core strength. He is lifting pretty much 12 months a year, with a few 4 week breaks in there.

His long term goals are to stay in baseball as long as possible. Playing, coaching, athletic trainer, management/business. He really wants to be able to pitch in college…I know if he does it it will be because of the amount of work he puts in, not because of raw talent/ability.

Like I said, video is coming soon.

sounds like hedoesn’t have any strength issues so his velocity problem (if he cant reach 70) is surely mechanical

This is NOT the best video…his last warmup pitch at his last game. Wind blowing. Wrong camera. We’ll get some close ups off of a mound and post soon.

well from what I can tell there everything looks fine with is leg lift and eveything untill he gets to the point where he releases the ball, when he gets to the release point evrything, especially his arm, seems to slow down
as he strides towards the plate he seems to just slow his arm down and just lob the ball in there, he should pull his whole body through and follow throgh with purpose, if he applies enough force in his delivery he should be able to get at least 5-10mph more on his fastball

also, a small point, his elbow looks as if it coul be a little higher (above his shouder) this would mean he gets more of his arm into the throw

Here are a couple of short clips of him pitching off the mound.

From the windup.

From the stretch.

Hes gotta tuck the glove side arm into his chest. Also try and be a little more explosive. He looks good though.

Yes tucking the glove for sure. This will help him get some MPH. Almost looks where I was last year. Needs to tuck the glove and rear back and throw. Also can work on getting more momentum. Do this by letting his hips fall towards the catcher sooner and not come to a balance point. I paused it once and it looked like decent hip/shoulder seperation. Actually would get better with a little more momentum.

First he’s not using his lower half at all. Second his posture is off. When he gets to foot strike he doesn’t (Oh how I despise bringing this term up…for old forum reasons…but) explode. When his foot reaches footstrike his hips need to forcefully open within the same moment, this forces the torso/shoulders into rotation an a continuance should pull him through delivery not in a slinging manner but in a forceful manner towards the target…which means driving through with the shoulder as the torso flexes towards the target. His posture leans and moves all over the place so to speak…it kills timing and robs mph. Starting with some momentom towards the plate helps to line this up a little better. I’d start with some basic fundemental throwing and do as much mound drill work that is directed at posture and momentum as I could find…Steven has a bunch…more is readily available. I’d also work to improve his core strength, he might be strong in some ways but to me he looks weak in his core.
Take it a step at a time…but be getting busy, times isn’t waiting and 16 means he’s going to have to be diligent AND busy…just don’t push his body beyond what it can handle…think measured growth and condition like crazy…means good diet too…DON’T FORGET THE DIET IS REALLY IMPORTANT!

Do NOT make his elbow go above his shoulder level, as a previous poster suggested.

Tried a quick change with his posture…he realized after looking over some of his video he was collapsing his upper body pretty badly. I got the impression there was an improvement not only in velocity but in control.

He’s getting there and he knows its a long road…lots of work to do. He’s worked himself to where he is now. I believe he started pitching just about a year ago this week. Hopefully he’ll be able to stay upright for the next year.

Thanks for the responses all, we appreciate it.

Progress is good!
You should be proud of his efforts in a year.
Desire is what the difference will be. You seem like the kind of guy that will compliment the desire and facillitate his continuing.

With regard to including his lower body-your right-he’s absolutely not pushing off at all. I’m really not sure how and what muscles to train him to engage…I just want him to be carefull about not collapsing.

One thing I didn’t mention is that it does not seem to matter how much the kid throws…he doesnt seem to have any soreness or arm fatigue. I’m thinking its because he just isn’t throwing at 100%.

I’m a little concerned about him throwing too much, and he takes his rests, but does anyone think a little bit of muscle fatigue might be an indicator of effort?

I’ve told him from the start…I am not a pitcher, never was a pitcher, don’t know much about it. I can only help him so much. Criticism is welcome, needed, and helpful.

Well throwing effortlessly is good, Something to build on. As I’ve mentioned, plenty of drill work out there to get the lower half involved. Long-toss is always a good thing.
One thing you can do and right now is a perfect time for it, get him signed up at a reputable college summer camp and get him some professional help with fundementals…then take a day off from work or two and go watch how they train their pitchers. I did it…did it for several years in a row, actually ended up taking a vacation just to spend a week watching how they did it…It was worth it to me…and my son. You don’t have to be in the middle of things, just listen, pay attention, take a note pad and let your boy enjoy the week. It will amaze you how much you don’t know and can learn.

have him leave his leg kick up longer which should get him to “glide” to home with his hips.

IMPORTANT! You have to throw all your pitches, and I mean all of them, with not only the same motion but also the same arm speed. I think it was mentioned that the kid is slowing down his arm speed at one point, and that is one of the surest ways to telegraph what pitch is coming. In a recent issue of the Sporting News, Todd Jones (the Detroit Tigers’ closer, and a good one) mentions just some of the ways a pitcher will tip off what he’s going to throw—often without being aware of it. So, when working on this and that, the kid needs to concentrate on maintaining the arm speed.
I remember when I was playing, and we frequently had to face a team with a pitcher who had a beautiful slow curve—and who was telegraphing it, not only by slowing down his arm speed but also by twitching his elbow in a funny way when he was going to throw that pitch. You can be sure we got after him in a hurry once we were apprised of that situation!

Thanks everyone…lots of good comments for him. He was very pleased to receive all the input.

He made a couple of observations, as did I, and we’ve made a little list for him.

  1. Stop collapsing his top half…its a posture thing and he has to groove that first. This should be an easy fix.

  2. Its ovious he’s not tucking his glove…once he gets his shoulder pointed toward home his glove hand falls to the side. Another easy fix for him. I also think this might “tighten him up” a little bit as well and might make him a little more stable, without that gangly arm out there swinging away.

Honestly, 1 and 2 wont take him a week to fix. 200 reps to eliminate the bad habit. 200 reps to groove the good one. He can do both of these not only in slow motion with very light weights, but also at partial and full speed with a tennis ball and then at partial and full speed off the mound. 800 reps and he’ll be on his way.

  1. His hips. yeah this one might not be so easy. He’s been trying to get his stride out where it needs to be, and Im thinking it may have been interfering with him including his lower body. We might try shortening his stride for a short period of time, until he gets his hips included, and then stretch him back out gradually. He attempted fixing this one this week while I was gone, and it looks like 1 and 2 kept rearing their ugly heads. So we have to fix 1 and 2 first, then turn our attention to this one. I think that he needs a lot more mound work to get the hips working right.

He’s also heading to Bradley Univ. for a short 3 day camp in June. Just an hour away. I think that will open his eyes up quite a bit. We will post more info when he is through with that and he gets these issues worked out.

As an aside, for everyone here. Thank you for showing him that Baseball is a game of RESPECT. Sometimes we have people coaching our teams and running our leaques because they have the TIME to do it, and not because they are the RIGHT PEOPLE to do it. My son has had the opportunity to meet people at higher levels in the baseball chain, From minor league personnel to major league media folks. Without question, the higher up you go it seems the MORE respectful of Baseball people get. I wish more senior leaque and high school coaches would learn that.

If he thows as much as you say he does he could have the classic dead arm syndrome. I really didn’t feel hurt at all but everything dropped off after I started trying to train so hard, after taking some time off the mechanics flel in place because i wasnt thinkng about it so much, and my arm just felt great, the ball felt nice and light in my hand.

A couple of observations here…
First, this business of slowing his arm down is bad news, because that is one sure way for a pitcher to telegraph his stuff. No matter what pitch you might be throwing, you have to maintain not only the arm motion but also the arm speed. I remember when I was playing, and we had to face a particular team any number of times, and they had a pitcher who had the most beautiful slow curve I had ever seen—and he was telegraphing it, not only with a peculiar twitch of his elbow but also slowing down his arm speed. You can be sure we got him out of there in the early innings! So this kid needs to work on maintaining the arm speed.
The second observation: he needs to work on driving off the lower half of his body, using the legs, the hips and the torso in a continuous motion—this is how you get the power behind your pitches, and it takes a lot of pressure off the arm and the shoulder! When I used to go to Yankee Stadium every chance I got, I watched the Yankee pitchers, particularly the Big Three, and I saw just how they were doing this, and I made a note of it so I could work on this. Although I didn’t have a fast ball to speak of, I noticed that not only was I getting the power behind my pitches, but also more speed into my delivery. If our 16-year old friend will work on both these elements, he will see a definite improvement in his pitching. 8)

it doesnt look like he transfers anyw eight or power over the front leg, leaves it in the middle. I wish i had a suggestion but I do the same thing, so i;m going to try and learn from this thread because i think my mechanics are much like his

Update, Almost one year later.

One week away from his 17th birthday, just finishing up his first Varsity Baseball season.

After his camp at Bradley U., He pitched twice in Senior League, one relief and one start. He did really well in both (picked up both wins), good control, still a little lacking in velocity but he was throwing all of his pitches for strikes and in all counts, and constantly changing speed and location, so he was able to keep everybody thinking.

He joined a fall baseball league, wooden bat, double headers once a week. He decided he was going to work on his fastball velocity AND change to a harder thrown curveball he had been shown. He also began working on a change up, which may be pointless off a 70 mph fastball, but he was able to use it effectively off of his higher velocity pitches. He had 6 or 7 appearances, a couple of innings each. He didn’t do to bad, but he walked a few too many.

The winter went by with just a little bit of throwing indoors, and mostly just weightlifting. Baseball started in February. His first start was against a non-conference opponent. CG, 5IP, 6H, 9K, 1BB, 3R, 2ER. His coaches response after he asked him a few days after the game what he could improve on, you might ask? He needs to throw inside more, he needs to throw more low strikes, he needs to walk fewer batters. Honestly, I wondered if the guy had seen the same game that I watched, or maybe got the kids confused. Oh well, he had a couple more appearances after that, there was some good, some bad, but nothing spectacular to report. He DOES now have a mound in the backyard to throw off of.

Just wanted to report, his first goal was met. He was able to crack the Varsity Pitching Rotation, and succeed. Thanks to everyone that helped here. He is on to his next goal, which is to get some more innings in SOMEWHERE, ANYWHERE so that he has a chance at walking on a college somewhere. Get the fastball in the 80’s, keep the curve, keep the changeup, increase his control and finally get noticed by his own coaches.