Kyle King


#1

here is another team member from my son’s team. this kid is the son of the head coach. you can see many of the same pitching flaws as my son Nicolas, but Kyle is like Nicolas was 2 weeks ago…throwing strikes. because my son went from throwing 60% strikes to 30% strikes in the last two weeks, i hate to mess with this kids mechanics. but since his dad wants to see him throw with more velocity, i know he is going to ask me what to change next.

Kyle is throwing 44-46mph average right now. he is 11 years old. the average 11 year old here throws between 40-45mph according to my gun tonight.

what do you suggest guys?


#2

Quickie:
In my eyes the kid is releasing the ball too early, aswell as breaking the hands too early. His stride could be longer and he could also use his upper body better in terms of driving forward to get extra distance and power.

Longer:
He has a long pause after his arm has reached the cocked position. The arm action should be one motion, so a “quick” solution could be simply to tell the kid to break his arms later, which your minimize the pause which takes away some velocity.

Another solution would be to change his arm action to the good old down-back-up motion, but this takes some time to develop. If you noticed the kid has his hand already cocked when he starts his arm action so that is something I’d definetly look into in the long term.

Here’s a prime example of what I’m talking about. A good guy to mimic if you ask me:

If you compare the two videos regularly and establish the goal of making your kid’s video as similar as Roy’s you should see pretty good development.

The key ingredients to look in Roy’s mechanics:

  1. His long stride
  2. His fluid arm action
  3. His drive forward with his upper body
  4. His late release point

Avot!


#3

[quote=“singtall”] you can see many of the same pitching flaws as my son Nicolas, but Kyle is like Nicolas was 2 weeks ago…throwing strikes. because my son went from throwing 60% strikes to 30% strikes in the last two weeks, i hate to mess with this kids mechanics. but since his dad wants to see him throw with more velocity, i know he is going to ask me what to change next.

Kyle is throwing 44-46mph average right now. he is 11 years old. the average 11 year old here throws between 40-45mph according to my gun tonight.

what do you suggest guys?
[/quote]

What I would suggest is to quit worry so much about throwing strikes and start concentrating on developing your players!

Now don’t get all tweaked singtall I’m not berating you.

But I am suggesting that at this point in these players baseball lives (and for the next few years AT LEAST) that you should be solely concentrating on developing HOW they throw (or hit for that matter), and not what the results are (balls and strikes). I see it all the time (even in older kids who are being taught by “professional” pitching coaches). They concentrate on the (wrong) result (balls/strikes), and not HOW the ball got there (how it was thrown).

For the most part the balls and strikes will take care of themselves if the throwing mechanics are optimal and efficient. It may be difficult to watch for a while (it’s not easy watching your kids fail), but if you keep focused on the long term goals of player development, and don’t give up on what you’re working on just because they are struggling in games, it’s worth it in the end.

At 11 years old these games are pretty much meaningless in the grand scheme of things, and I’ve seen MANY of the “studs” at 12, 13, even 14 fall off to the side of the road by time they get into HS. They either get passed by the kids who are actually working on their skills, or they get so overworked when they are young that they have nothing left by time they are in HS.

So you have a choice. Have a “little league stike thrower” who makes everyone happy (regardless of HOW he is throwing the ball), or struggle making changes for a while that will pay off 10 fold years down the road.

OK, with that said you could have him start by using the drill I suggested for your son. Focus on arm action, then posture moving out, and then rhythm/timing of it all.

IMO…just trying to help.


#4

In order to throw strikes when making changes one must practice throwing strikes… may sound too simplistic, but most kids don’t do enough target practice. Pitching is one of the few activities that is rarely practiced at 100% over an extended period of time. The mentality is to “save it for the game”, or “just throw off of flat ground during practice”, or “just long toss”, or “pitch with 50% intensity”. You won’t throw strikes consistently if you don’t practice throwing strikes as you would in a game - with 100% effort off of a mound. And it needs to be done often; 2-3 times per week, at a number of pitches that is comfortable for the size and age of the pitcher. My 13 year old throws 80-90 pitches 2-3 times per week at game-like intensity so he is prepared to throw 80-90 pitches in a game. He rarely walks a batter and has never hit a batter.

If you have your son make a change in his mechanics, you should have him throw with game-like intensity during practice until he is comfortable with the change and until he can hit the zone at least 60% of the time. Make one change at a time and have him work on it until it burns into his muscle memory - he most likely has to think about this change for awhile and that in itself causes issues; it’s got to become instinctual - second nature so he can just do it as opposed to focusing on the change. But at first, he has to focus solely on the change he is trying to make.

I have found that most changes can be worked out in just a session or two and some can take several sessions to several weeks or even months (late hand break for young kids seems to be the most difficult because they are just so anxious to throw the ball).


#5

the late hand break has been a big issues. it is the biggest timing problem causer for my son. the more he waits on the arm to get there, the higher he throws it over the batter’s head. also, when he drops his arm down then out, he tends to rotate his body with his arm stuck behind him and throws semi-sidearm and misses left. we have worked for 6 months on getting his arm to stay with his shoulders and not get stuck behind him. the side effect is that he tends to cock his arm too soon.

with all of our pitchers, we spent a couple of days letting them work on pitching drills that started them out in a long stride position and their upper body torqued. their arms were also in the cocked position and the lead elbow bent with the elbow aimed at home base. they got better at getting some separation and accuracy, but they all keep trying to get into that position too quickly.

i’m with 101mph in believing that better mechanics are the thing to pursue. i will be having a talk with my son to see if i can get him on the same page. the kids all want to throw strikes and do their best. the parents want to see the kids win. the coaches are screaming for strikes. the pressure is crazy for these kids. personally, i don’t care if they throw a ton of strikes at this point. i want to see them develop into real pitchers. i will be talking to the head coach today and see what he wants to do.

as for the strike throwing practice, we did that for the most part of this year with my son. while making changes he couldn’t find the target. after a few sessions, it was like magic and he found the target again. we will continue to work and improve while practicing at a real target under game intensity.

thanks again everyone.


#6

IMHO, I wouldn’t change a thing until the season is over. You say that the kid is throwing strikes and his velocity is comparable to others in the league. If he is also having fun, what more should you reasonably expect?

Since you are in the middle of your season, I would suggest that you (and his dad) accept where he is at right now. For the rest of the season, practice should be focused on maintaining what he has got and keeping him from developing any bad habits (kids seem to pick up bad throwing habits by osmosis).

If you try to change this kid mid-season in the hope of finding some quick fix, he’s likely to get worse before he gets better. If he gets worse, starts struggling and stops having fun, you may do him more harm than good in the long run.

I’ve seen with my own 11 y.o. son that changing mechanics is a long term process. It took him 10 months (since the end of last season) to really incorporate basic concepts like balance, posture, and glove side control, but his hard work is paying huge dividends this season. Now that the season is here, it is all about maintaining, having fun, and enjoying the success.

As tempting as they seem, quick fixes don’t exist. Consistent effort over a long period builds success. The off season is for change and the in-season is for fun.


#7

I think you’re missing the point. He already has bad habits, and to continue playing with these will only ingrain it further into his muscle memory.

My whole point was to use these early years games to act as a proving ground for the mechanical changes they need to make. As structuredoc pointed out, you need game stress and game conditions to be able to PRACTICE the movements he is trying to learn.

Taking what you do in your practice - to the field is difficult. To perform at game speed under stress brings about a whole new set of conditions. If you can’t practice that way…it’ll be even more difficult to take it to the field when it really matters (IMO when a player is a junior or senior in HS).

You need to be able to take a step back sometimes to take 2 steps forward. This is a 24/7/365 day a year process.

As I said, if you want everyone to be happy, keep doing what you’re doing and don’t try to change until the seasons over. But you will most likely pay for it in the long run…IMO.


#8

it looks like he has no follow through. he sort of stops after he delivers the pitch. If you can get him to use his legs more, he could be throwing a lot harder. make sure he is throwing through the glove, not at it. That will help with with his follow through.


#9

What does he look like when he makes a throw to first base from 3rd or SS? I would be willing to bet that he doesn’t cock his arm like that and that he follows through on the throw. I would love to see some video on that to confirm it.

I think kids at this age need to work on throwing at this age even more than pitching. My kid is 13 and he is turning into a pretty decent pitcher. The last three years he’s done a pre-season program called “Combat Pitching” that is taught/coached by a couple of ex-college players. The program’s focus is on speed, agility and throwing to condition athletes for the season and help prevent injury. Virtually everything the do is geared toward throwing, but almost none of it is geared toward pitching.

Like I said, this is the third year my kid has done this program, and he was never even on a mound with these guys until this year. But, he has bettered his throwing motion, throws hard, and because he has learned to use his body in his throws, he has not had any arm issues in the last three years.

So, I would say work on the throwing motion first, and then work on pitching. If your kids learn the first part, I think the second part will come even easier. And don’t worry about the wins and losses and the parents, worry about your kids and making them better. If they are having a good time and can see the improvement, they will keep coming back to play ball.

Good luck!


#10

i think the head coach is happy that his son is simply doing ok. he has come a long way towards being consistent. his mechanics are not ideal, but he repeats those mechanics even when warming up or throwing to another base. all of our pitchers are taught to throw the same way ALWAYS. this is good and bad. lol.

i spoke to my son and he wants to proceed with mechanical changes until he is there, even if it takes years. he understands that it will DEFINITELY hurt his ability to throw strikes in the short term, but he will gain everything in the time to come. i stressed this point to him many times and told him i would be proud of him no matter what he decides. i myself chose to have a couple of great pitching years and then i quit pitching and went on the road with a band playing guitar. it’s all about what you want to do in the future. he wants to pitch for the Yankees. that’s a huge goal. many kids have the same dream and never make it to tryouts. it will take a lot of work, tons of talent and a lot of luck to get there.

thanks for the advice guys.


#11

i just spoke with the head coach and he also wants to see his son make some mechanical changes. but since we have a limited number of pitchers, he will wait until my son is a little more consistent before we work on his son. that way we will still have at least one pitcher that we can count on. the other 2 older pitchers have very grained in bad mechanics and really don’t want to change much, so it’s up to the 2 younger pitchers to get some strikes. the older boys have 3-5mph more speed and only throw maybe 40% strikes on a good day. the younger pitchers were at about 60% strikes (before my son changed his mechanics).

again, thanks for the advice guys.


#12

Who will “pay for it?” The kid? His coach?

IMO, asking an 11 y.o. to pitch under the pressure of a competitive game, knowing he is less likely to succeed because of recent changes, is a receipe for failure. If he becomes frustrated with the lack of positive results, he will ultimately lose interest in trying to improve.

With my 11 y.o., I’ll take the happiness of a successful outing every time. That happiness is what makes it worthwhile for him and might make the “long run” (and the chance to really correct the bad habits), a possiblity.


#13

This pitcher needs more momentum. I would have him bend his knees and waist and get his butt moving down the hill earlier and faster.


#14

Who will “pay for it?” The kid? His coach?

IMO, asking an 11 y.o. to pitch under the pressure of a competitive game, knowing he is less likely to succeed because of recent changes, is a receipe for failure. If he becomes frustrated with the lack of positive results, he will ultimately lose interest in trying to improve.

With my 11 y.o., I’ll take the happiness of a successful outing every time. That happiness is what makes it worthwhile for him and might make the “long run” (and the chance to really correct the bad habits), a possiblity.[/quote]

Who will pay for it…all of the above. And by pay for it I mean the amount of (more) time you will spend trying to fix things down the road (time that would be wayyy less fixing it now).

I’m all for a kid having fun at this. That’s what it’s all about. But you will have to deal with this sooner or later, and it will be even less fun later.

I won’t try to change your mind though. You seem to have it figured out.

As someone who has walked the mile, I wish there was someone around who would’ve helped me way back when, when I was dealing with this.

Good luck to you.


#15

i’m with you 101mph. my son made the changes pretty quick and i think other kids can too. proper instruction goes a long ways at this age. i say teach them now before they know it all and you can’t make them listen.


#16

I’m pretty low on the baseball food chain, and certainly I don’t have it all figured out, but I’ve given a lot of thought to the instruction of kids and how mastery of complex physical movements like pitching is achieved. As I’ve said before, I’m just a dad whose son likes to pitch and I am trying to learn what I can to help him out.

This article by Dr. Anders Ericcson, may help you understand where I am coming from.


Dr. Ericcson’s research is the basis for several popular books, including Outliers by Malcom Gadwell, Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin, and Bounce by Matthew Syed. These books have been discussed on this site before.

I would point out two passages from Dr. Ericcson’s article. The first is on page 398:

Whether enjoyment precedes superior performance or vice versa is not known. In either case, perceived talent and enjoyment of the activities of a domain are ideal preconditions for initiating the effortful but valuable activity of deliberate practice. Our framework differs from a view that is based on innate talent in that we emphasize the motivation and enjoyment necessary to start and maintain deliberate practice and the motivation of parents and coaches to support the individuals without assuming that the initial superior performance reflects immutable characteristics (innate talent).

The second is on pages 371-372:

A premise of our theoretical framework is that deliberate practice is not inherently enjoyable and that individuals are motivated to engage in it by its instrumental value in improving performance. Hence, interested individuals need to be engaging in the activity and motivated to improve performance before they begin deliberate practice. Bloom (1985b) found evidence supporting this implication. His interviews with international-level performers showed that parents typically initiated deliberate practice after allowing their children several months of playful engagement in the domain and after noticing that their children expressed interest and showed signs of promise. The social reactions of parents and other individuals in the immediate environment must be very important in establishing this original motivation.

I stand by my statements that as tempting as they seem, quick fixes don’t exist and that consistent effort over a long period builds success. I also truly believe that consistent effort is built on a foundation of enjoyment and happiness. I think kids need to experience the enjoyment of playing the game - faults and all - before they will be motivated to seriously work at improvement. As Willie Stargell said, “The ump says play ball, not work ball.”

Doublebag