Inner elbow soreness: An annual battle for 16 year old

Hello,
My 16 year old son has been battling his 3rd year in a row of early season inner elbow/forarm soreness. Last year, as a Freshman, he got through it and posted a 2-1 record in JV/Varsity and went on to a 3-1 record (2.40 ERA) in Legion ball. So he historically gets through it. This year, he did a progressive throwing and bullpen program, but towards the end, when he ratcheted it up to 85%-90%, he started getting sore again.

He rested and iced for a couple of weeks and was doing well, but he pitched this past weekend in a Varsity scrimmage and came out after 2 affective innings, only to have an elbow relapse.

Here is a clip of him pitching, done by his Legion staff, about a month ago.

Thanks,

Jim[/youtube]

I’m no expert, so don’t get me wrong, but it looks like he’s throwing across his body, which I have had trouble with, and when you throw across your body, you get inner elbow soreness

it looks like hes throwing across his body but not to the point where it would do any hard to his elbow

also, i know this is sort of off topic but i dont agree with the tape drill he shows, many MLB pitchers kick theyre leg out even more than your son…

e.g

johan santana

Papelbon

k-rod

these are all pitchers who throw 90+ so they have very little wasted movement

but back on topic, your sons mechanics look solid, nothing that stands out when looking for something that would cause inner elbow pain

The analysis in the video itself is actually pretty good. Gives you some nice things to work on.

The thing that stands out to me relating to the elbow is that your son breaks his hands quite late (the body moves forward before the hands in his glove separate), so I get the impression from this clip that the throwing arm is playing “catch up” to the rest of his body. Ideally, you’d like to have your hands separate or break at the same time that your body starts its forward movement, when the lift leg drops and starts moving toward the target. This allows you to speed up the throwing arm movement down, back and up into a higher cocked/throwing position.

Your sone’s got some good size. What was his velocity on the gun?

i have watched analysis videos of Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, Roger Clements, and such, and they all pronate their wrist and i have read on a few sights that this will help to save your elbow. it will take a few mph off your fastball, but i’d rather have good movement on a slightly slower fastball

Good comments on this site. I am really glad I came across it. As a teenager, I battled the same type of soreness and saw a doctor about it. X Rays revealed that I had some loose chips in the elbow that required a prescription to relieve. Might be worth looking into.
I noticed in this video that your son seems to have his elbow in really tight just before coming around. I am no expert but I wonder if he got his elbow away from his body a bit more if that wouldn’t relieve some of the elbow strain.

Am I the only one that noticed how after he plants his foot and throws the ball his foot takes a 90 degree turn to the right and he seems very off-balance. He gets good momentum but could his legs not be strong enough to support this added momentum, forcing him to fall to the right after his throw?

Also, how much control does he have? Has he ever done weightlifting that helps with his legs. To me it seems that the momentum he’s getting isn’t supported equally with his legs.

Good catch. I went back and looked again and noticed the balance issue. Overall body strength might be helpful especially the legs. I would suggest some core strength work as well.

I went through the clip frame by frame and don’t see anything, which makes me wonder if the problem is due to overuse and/or throwing sliders or cutters.

Also, the guy analyzing the tape doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

As someone else mentioned, lots of great pitchers (e.g. Maddux, Dice-K)sweep their legs around into foot plant. In fact, it may even be preferable to a linear lower body move.

Hah, I didn’t realize someone was analyzing it until people started takling about stuff I had no clue about. He does talk about the heal of the foot being on the side, which is what I was refering to.

Though there is a chance that he is overthrowing himself. Trying to get more out of his throw than his body allows. Now I could be completely wrong but it seems to me that someone had him really using his momentum, possibly too much as to where he is gaining these balance issues. I would say that if you can’t keep your balance while doing that you should either work on your lowwer body strength or not gain as much momentum during the leg lift. I would prefer the first one but thats a bit obvious.

Does he seem that he is trying to throw it harder than he should?

[quote=“Bower”]Am I the only one that noticed how after he plants his foot and throws the ball his foot takes a 90 degree turn to the right and he seems very off-balance. He gets good momentum but could his legs not be strong enough to support this added momentum, forcing him to fall to the right after his throw?

Also, how much control does he have? Has he ever done weightlifting that helps with his legs. To me it seems that the momentum he’s getting isn’t supported equally with his legs.[/quote]

Actually, I don’t think he gets enough momentum at all. He doesn’t start his hips forward until the peak of his leg lift, which leaves his upper half out front and yanking through the pitch, which leaves him with poor posture with his head outside his knee. I think he needs more momentum.

[quote=“Hammer”][quote=“Bower”]Am I the only one that noticed how after he plants his foot and throws the ball his foot takes a 90 degree turn to the right and he seems very off-balance. He gets good momentum but could his legs not be strong enough to support this added momentum, forcing him to fall to the right after his throw?

Also, how much control does he have? Has he ever done weightlifting that helps with his legs. To me it seems that the momentum he’s getting isn’t supported equally with his legs.[/quote]

Actually, I don’t think he gets enough momentum at all. He doesn’t start his hips forward until the peak of his leg lift, which leaves his upper half out front and yanking through the pitch, which leaves him with poor posture with his head outside his knee. I think he needs more momentum.[/quote]

I agree and disagree. In reality you can have a lot or too much momentum even if you don’t start your hips forward until the top of your leg lift. You can still get momentum but idealy this is not good momentum at all. You are right you want to start the momentum before the peak of the leg lift, but this kid is gaining some momentum and obviously a bit too much as you can see he has some balance issues.

Also not everyone is cut out to have a lot of momentum in their pitching. If you don’t properly train yourself you will never be strong enough to maintain a balanaced strike with good momentum.

I agree he should start the hips forward sooner and worry less about pushing off, it is a obvious that he is doing that or something else becuase he does not seem to have balance at all. That is why I am questioning his contorl. Too much momentum and you have bad control.

The only time that kicking the leg out is a problem is when it causes some other issue such as a balance or posture issue or maybe a timing issue. Many times, young kids who kick the leg out in front of them will lean back at the same time and that would be an unwanted posture change. But I don’t really see any such issue with this pitcher (though that would best be judged from the front or rear - not from the side). So I am in disagreement with the coach in the video on this issue.

The coach in the video seems so concerned with the leg kick creating wasted movement in a direction other than at the plate that I am surprised he said nothing about the drop that the pitcher takes during the early part of his stride. That’s wasted movement and energy directed downward. If the pitcher put a slight bend in his legs he could reduce the drop and truly get (almost) all movement toward home plate.

There’s more to the front foot “rolling” or pivoting than just landing on the heal. Landing on the heal itself is probably caused by a lack of momentum. But there also seems to be some other things going on. On the surface, there also seems to be posture and balance issues. At front foot plant, it appears the pitcher’s head and possibly his upper back (can’t tell for sure from side view) are arched back toward 3B. If he doesn’t recover from this, it turns into a balance problem later in the delivery.

I also see the shoulders rotating early. In fact, in the 1st pitch in the video, both the hips and shoulders have rotated at foot plant. In the other 2 pitches, rotation occurs after front foot plant as the should but the shoulders still rotate with the hips instead of in sequence. Early rotation can definitely lead to elbow issues.

Looking closely from the perspective of trying to identify something that could be causing reoccuring elbow problems, I notice two other things in addition to the early rotation.

First, the pitcher’s head starts off facing the 1B sideline a bit and then, right before foot plant, it turns to face home plate directly. In fact, in the 2nd pitch in the video, it looks like the pitcher’s head momentarily turns away from home plate a bit before turning to face home plate (though it’s kind of hard to tell since the pitcher’s arms get in the way). The problem I am concerned about here is that it appears that turning the head to face home plate during the stride may be causing the front shoulder to open early. This is not uncommon and is why I teach my pitchers to keep their head facing home plate from the get-go. The posture issue I mentioned previously probably combines with the head turning to help open the front shoulder.

Second, the pitcher’s glove takes a high, arching path ending in a downward trajectory almost as if it’s being pulled down. I think there is a chance this could also be contributing to the front shoulder opening early. I also see some inconsistency in the position of the glove arm at release. An inconsistent glove can lead to timing problems as well a control problems. Since timing problems can manifest themselves as early rotation, here is another contributor. Ideally, the arms should reach an equal and opposite position at foot plant. Once in that position, the glove should turn over as the glove elbow drops and the shoulders rotate. Forcing the glove arm to spend the time it takes to mirror the throwing arm buys time for the shoulders to stay closed until the hips have rotated.

So, my suggestions are:

(1) Add a little more momentum by moving forward a bit sooner - like right before the peak of the knee lift. Focus on pushing the front hip sideways toward the target.

(2) Fix the posture issue by keeping the head upright. Also, avoid turning it to face home plate during the stride - it should already be there before the stride. (Or, learn how to turn the head without also turning the shoulders.) Note that fixing the posture might lower his arm slot. That’s fine. Some will claim it will reduce the downslope on his pitches but this trade-off is worth it because the health concerns are more important.

(3) Make sure the arms get to an equal and opposite position at foot plant. Alter the glove arm - not the throwing arm. Alter the glove arm’s path if necessary. (Equal and opposite means the angles at the elbows and wrists are the same for both arms though not necessarily bent in the same directions. The glove arm doesn’t have to hang out in this position for any length of time. It just needs to be there for the moment that coincides with front foot plant.)

(4) Once the glove has been extended out front, keep it there. Stabilize it somewhere over the front foot and then bring the chest to the glove.