How Do You Fix "Windmilling?"

I have a kid who windmills. By that, I mean he throws with a bit of a stiff arm. He doesn’t seem to get a lot of flexion at the elbow joint or external rotation of the shoulder/upper arm. Don’t get me wrong, he gets some, but not what it should be.

Any ideas on how to fix this? I can’t figure out if it’s mechanical, physical (flexibility), or both.

Have him throw by leading with his elbow while keeping the elbow bent at 90 degrees,

I would make sure the rest of his mechanics, sequencing and timing are in order first before messing with his throwing arm. It’s amazing how the arm will “improve” by improving everything else.


  • How old is this youngster?
  • What is his physique? Is he tall and slim, husky, athletic build, compact.
  • Does he appear to be physically fit for his age, or is he frail?
  • What is his coordination quality - excellent, good, fair, needs work?

Finally, the pitching surface that this youngster performs off of, is it supportive of his work? Or is it with holes, a sandy surface, with little or no maintenance? By the way, this question that I asked, is thee main reason for so many youngsters having difficultly with just about everything.

He is 14. He’s a pretty big kid. Fairly tall for his age. Based on his parents, he’ll probably end up 6’2’’ or more. A bit on the husky/stout side, but not overweight. He is pretty physically fit for his age. Coordination is fair to good. Flexibility is fair. Upper body and lower body don’t sync as well as I’d like. Doesn’t get a lot of separation. Based on his long toss, he ought to be able to throw low 70’s, but he maxes out around 68 from the crow hop, around 65 from the mound. We throw mostly in the outfield, which is fairly level, and a little from the mound.

He seems to windmill more when he drops the glove hand. We’re working on that. I’ve been trying to teach him proper sequencing, and he seems to do a little better when I have him do what I call Load & Go (some call it the Rocker drill). But when throws from a full motion he seems to revert to more of a windmill. I have recently started trying to reinforce proper sequencing with tubing/bands. I start him in the landing position, then in slow motion start the hips, then the upper body, then the arm, with emphasis on forearm layback. Too early to tell if it is helping.

I just feel like I’m missing something. Can’t decide if it’s flexibility, habit, etc.

I’m going on a few assumptions, based on my observations of youngsters around his age. I am not a youth coach, never had been, and have no experience coaching youth.
However, there are commonalities that I have seen that warrant some suggestions in this regard of your question(s) and I would like to take parts of your last response to base my observations on.

This is an awkward age for most boys.
Muscular coordination can be a balancing act at times. Couple this with pitching off a mound can be a test of this coordination and balance. I say this because – have you ever watched a person hurry down a flight of stairs without holding on to the banister? The first thing they do is put out their hands, usually down with the palm of their hands facing the ground. This is the body’s natural response to defend itself from falling. Mature pitchers who have sustained leg injuries with either their knees, ankles, groin and such, natural swing their glove arm/hand out and down as an involuntary response to feeling their legs not being able to support their stress-loads.

But when throws from a full motion he seems to revert to more of a windmill.
The human body/mind has a tendency to be a product of repetitive learning, while under stress. Stress forces us to revert to what we know best, either as a defensive move or what has been used in the past. Your youngster may deal with stress in this way by doing what he knows, simply as his response of “dealing with it.” Now, he’s probably not in a pressure cooker situation, but to him nerves may play a role(s) in his demeanor, thus wind milling. as you put it.

A bit on the husky/stout side, but not overweight.
Husky/stout physiques are usually less flexible than most physical makeups. Couple this with his age -14, he is probably dealing with as much as he can, the best he can. A youngster with girth is very difficult to coach, pitching wise. Now from a football standpoint, being all that you described, I bet he is not all that bad as a pull guard third and long. (or something like that.)

Finally, I wouldn’t be surprised if pitching wasn’t his first choice as a ballplayer. I say this because usually youngsters that “big” for their age at 12-14, usually can command some good heat, when compared to others. Maybe not the best heat around, but given the overall population available, these people are assumed to be one of the options. I would ask this youngster if he really wants to pitch, or would he prefer to be a position player.
By the way, how is he at bat? Does he display some of the same tendencies from a batter’s perspective?

I agree with most of your comments. I think part of it is habit/mental and part is physical. But, it could very well be something that passes as he gets older and more physically mature. Based on his body type, I suspect that he will never be overly flexible, but we can certainly work on that, and general athleticism.

He really does want to be a pitcher first, in large part because he wants to emulate my son who pitched in college. There are some similarities with his hitting. Doesn’t get a whole lot of separation there either. Also has some balance issues at bat. I guess for now the main thing to do is reinforce proper sequencing, mechanics and athleticism and give him time to develop. Thanks for the feedback.

Probably not helpful but have seen two “windmilling” at younger ages, around 10 yrs old. One threw very hard for his age but was wild, other not so hard but was pretty effective. The harder thrower eventually evololved into an equally awkward throwing motion and gave up baseball by Sophomore year. Other kid hasn’t pitched since 8th grade but a heckuva power hitter. Just curious how the kids look long tossing? Bet they don’t windmill it.

What do you think about using Ron Wolforth’s “Connection Ball” to try to fix this? The kid’s currently playing on the C-team (7th & 8th graders), so I won’t see him until their season is over. But, I just saw a picture of Verlander long tossing with a connection ball and it got me to thinking that this might help my guy.