Little Johnny's arm action (a novella)

Little Johnny is nine. He’s playing his first year in kid pitch. Although Little Johnny is small, he has a canon for an arm. His coach and dad are both excited for him to pitch. So is Johnny. Johnny is so excited that he sometimes rushes his delivery trying to throw the ball extra hard. His coach sees this and tells Johnny to stay back and to reach back. Little Johnny is a good listener. He stays back. He reaches back. Little Johnny reaches back so far that his arm is behind his back. His hand is under the ball. Little Johnny’s dad notices that this isn’t how he used to throw but he is doing well so he doesn’t say anything. He leaves it alone. Little Johnny does well for two seasons. He only gives up one hit in each season but he does have occasional bouts of wildness. Little Johnny is now 11. Little Johnny starts to play travel ball. He has a new coach. He tries Johnny at shortstop. He is a good fielder. His throwing motion is very long but the throws are very strong. He has Little Johnny pitch. He is fast, very fast. Little Johnny’s coach notices that Little Johnny reaches behind his back and his hand is under the ball. He takes some video of Little Johnny. He compares it to video of many pitchers. He sees that very few top level pitchers have their hand under the ball. He notices that Little Johnny does not have his arm in the high cock position at foot plant. He feels that Little Johnny’s arm timing is behind his body. Little Johnny has never had any arm pain at all and Little Johnny’s coach is reluctant to change his “natural arm action”.

What should the coach do?

Coach should focus on postural stability, glove side management, generating early momentum, getting into foot plant in about .95 seconds from first movement, etc. and let the arm take care of itself (from a mechanics standpoint).

i heard this at a clinic this winter from a highly respected pitching coach.
ug could take a spear, throw it overhanded, very hard, and on target to kill meat to survive. he didnt have anyone around to messup his natural throwing motion.

Never mess around with the arm action.
A lot of pitchers who throw sidearm appear to be coming from behind the back—Walter Johnson, for one, did this, and more recently so did Jeff Nelson, and so do others. With the sidearm motion the arm is parallel to the ground, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As far as having the hand underneath the ball is concerned, you might let the kid experiment with different ways of holding the ball, different grips, and when he finds one that is comfortable for him and that enables him to get good momentum on his pitches, let him stay with that also. Many moons ago I had a pitching coach whose basic premise was that every pitcher has a natural motion, and what he did was show that pitcher how to make the most of it. No doubt if he were still with us he would say that you would do best to concentrate on things like posture, glove stability, a good follow-through—but don’t attempt to change the arm slot or arm motion. If the kid is a natural sidearmer, which in my opinion he seems to be, let him be. 8)

Thank you guys for your responses to my admittedly strange presentation of one of my players arm action.

Roger,

I plan to focus mainly on balance and glove side stability for this season and just wait to see where his arm action ends up.

raider,

Many players are over coached. Johnny may be one of em.

Zita,

Johnny has never thrown sidearm but if he should develop into a natural sidearmer I promise not to change him.

Thanks again,

Ted