Increasing shoulder tilt - good or bad idea for a 12 y/o?

My son is going to take the next 3 months or more off from pitching, but he still watches video, studies pitchers he thinks that he thinks he can perhaps emulate. and works on goals for next year.

I was pleased with how he pitched this year - especially in regard to the number of walks and WPs.

He’s developed a pretty good CU, though it continues to be a work in progress in regard to movement.

He throws a couple different breaking pitches and commands them well.

Basically what I’m getting at is that I’m comfortable with him focusing some attention on increasing velocity. In our perceived hierarchy of skills to focus on right now, velocity is down the list. However, a) I think he’s worked hard and gotten good results in accuracy, effectively changing speed, fielding the position, and getting movement on his 2SFB — and b) it’d be fun for him to throw harder (he’s got respectable velocity already).

His mechanics are good, especially for someone of his age. I like how he gets his chest way out over a bent stride leg before delivering. He’s a big, strong kid (just turned 12 and weighs about 180# and wears a size 12 shoe) and he definitely has done a good job using that to his advantage.

Comparing some then and now pictures, I’ve noticed that his shoulders stay very parallel to the ground in comparison to when he was younger. I think this is why his velocity hasn’t increased proportionally to increased physical maturity. Just a note, he takes a lot of pride in the amount of lower body power he uses.

We were talking and I asked him if he thought that he could throw harder if he were to incorporate a bit more shoulder tilt (sort of catapult action - sorry I’m not an expert in kinesiology). He was really adamantly opposed to the idea. Right or wrong his opinion is that a lot of kids his age employ this to compensate for less than ideal mechanics and/or lack of lower body power.

Then we started looking at the mechanics of some MLB pitchers and noticed that some real notable guys, just to name a few - Carpenter, Lincecum, and to a lesser degree Felix Hernandez tilt their shoulders quite a lot. He’s a very big King Felix fan and now is open to trying this.

Is this something that could help his velocity? What sort of opinions do you folks have, or is there any medical evidence out there concerning injury risk? Any thoughts on messing with/tweeking an already good set of mechanics?

I’d leave him right where he is. The fact that he’s gone from more to less tilt as he has gotten older is a sign that he has gotten stronger, especially in his core. You say he prides himself on the power he gets from his lower body- can’t do that without a strong core.

If he’s commanding several pitches already then his mechanics must be pretty good. Artificially introducing tilt is just asking for problems, likely won’t help him gain velocity and could likely cost him command of the pitches he has. Injury potential may go up too.

I also don’t believe velocity with young kids climbs on a consistent slope. If his mechanics are solid I’d keep working on changing speeds, locating, and gaining command. Sounds like he already has size but he’s still got some very important changes to go through and putting too much emphasis on velocity over mechanics could be a mistake.

Many pitchers as they mature actually try to reduce tilt to become more consistent. Nolan Ryan reduced tilt later in his career and became much more consistent. See if you can find pictures of Josh Beckett with the Marlins and with the Red Sox- much less tilt as he has matured. Maddux was one of the most durable pitchers in history and released with fairly level shoulders. Carpenter is often injured and the book is still out on Lincecum. Lincecum finished the year fighting some back problems.

If you want to have his velocity increase, tweak his mechanics a little bit. Have him sweep his GS leg out and around instead of a linear stride. This improves hip/shoulder seperation, which increases velocity.

I agree with JP.

Shoulder tilt is often used by young pitchers as a “crutch” for a lack of strength. It’s also used by some simply becauses they were taught to “throw over the top”.

The fact that there are professional pitchers that exhibit shoulder tilt doesn’t mean that it is appropriate for developing young pitchers. Shoulder tilt will pull the release point back and raise it up making it harder to keep pitches down in the strikezone and making it harder to get good movement on breaking pitches.

The American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) has shown that even a slight tilt of head and spine puts significantly more stress on the arm. While shoulder tilt is different than head and spine tilt, they often occur together. So I would not intentionally introduce any tilt.

To be honest with you, throwing over-the-top(see Andy Pettite) is just unnatural.

[quote=“Roger”]I agree with JP.

Shoulder tilt is often used by young pitchers as a “crutch” for a lack of strength. It’s also used by some simply becauses they were taught to “throw over the top”.

The fact that there are professional pitchers that exhibit shoulder tilt doesn’t mean that it is appropriate for developing young pitchers. Shoulder tilt will pull the release point back and raise it up making it harder to keep pitches down in the strikezone and making it harder to get good movement on breaking pitches.
[/quote]

I was just about to post in the thread i started about my son, and i looked in here for a second and something clicked in my head about shoulder tilt and the release point being back and up.

Here is a screen capture from that video…notice the upward trajectory of the ball just after release…

So i went to look at the video i took last night, where my son struggled with highness yet again, and BINGO…massive shoulder tilt.

So i guess the question for me is the exact opposite of Shug’s…how do we kill this shoulder tilt?

Isn’t video great! The first thing to do is show that video to your son. You may see a light bulb go on and that me be all it takes.

If that doesn’t do the trick, I use a couple NPA drills - the knee drill and the rocker drill - to work on keeping head and spine upright. Of course, I follow each of these drills with throwing off a mound to help the pitcher take from the drill into live throwing.

As a side note, here is a study that shows lateral trunk tilt to be a potential source of health issues:
http://www.asmi.org/asmiweb/research/usedarticles/varustorque.htm

[quote=“Roger”]Isn’t video great! The first thing to do is show that video to your son. You may see a light bulb go on and that me be all it takes.

If that doesn’t do the trick, I use a couple NPA drills - the knee drill and the rocker drill - to work on keeping head and spine upright. Of course, I follow each of these drills with throwing off a mound to help the pitcher take from the drill into live throwing.

As a side note, here is a study that shows lateral trunk tilt to be a potential source of health issues:
http://www.asmi.org/asmiweb/research/usedarticles/varustorque.htm
[/quote]

I showed him these two pics and explained to him that the shoulder titl was probably contributing to his issues with highness. I further told him we are going to forget we ever heard the phrase “over the top” and that I want him to start throwing however it feels the most natural for him.

:allgood: