Looking for drills to help raise the elbow up or suggestion

My son, 14 year old, has been practicing with an all-star team group for about three weeks. One of their coaches is suggesting changes in his pitching delivery. The coach told him that he would like to make a few minor adjustments that might help during the all-star tournament to make him more consistent with strikes but nothing major at this time.

During his rec ball season, he pitched fine but was inconsistent with strikes but was only able to pitch a couple of innings each game. The main problem I would see in his delivery was his elbow seemed low at times. I think this is what the all-star coach is seeing.

My son is concerned about making any adjustments. I have assured him that this is part of sports. He throws two-seam and four-seam fastball very hard but sometimes he is not on target consistently. He has a curve that he enjoys and is more consistent with it but he does not want to use it very often. He still hasn’t mastered a change.

Can you recommend or suggest any pitching drills that can help him raise is elbow and to throw strikes on a more consistent bases? I do apolozie for not having a video at this time.

Welcome aboard!

I don’t normally associate inconsistency with a low elbow. Rather, I would suspect something else is contributing to the inconsistency. Furthermore, messing with the throwing arm is always a last resort for me. I prefer to get everything else in order first and let the arm adapt.

Sounds like you really should post some video for us to take a look.

Roger, I appreciate you responding back. I had purchased a pitching training video and they mentioned about not messing with the throwing arm but instead work with the mechanics. We have denfinitely been working with the mechanics. That’s why my son was upset with the coach when he staredt trying to make adjustments to the pitching arm. Let me see if I can get a video this week for you to see. Do you need the video from all angles front, side and back? How long does the video need to be? Thanks again!

2 or 3 pitches each from the side (3B for RHP, 1B for LHP) and from front or behind (I prefer front) is sufficient.

“My son is concerned about making any adjustments. I have assured him that this is part of sports.”

Hi Royce,

Making adjustments is a part of development, but your son’s concern sounds pretty wise to me:

A very large number of coaches base their teaching practices solely on conventional wisdoms which are very often misguided. As Roger tactfully suggested, it is usually not warranted or advisable to make adjustments to the throwing arm in order to fit the narrow vision of what some youth league coach may happen to think is “proper” or “good” for everybody.

Making beneficial changes to mechanics, if they are fairly substantial changes, requires a “break-in” period where large numbers of correct reps can be performed outside of competitive pressure. This of course is best accomplished in the off-season when you and your son will have the luxury of quality study and experimentation to see what really works for him.

If you don’t quite know what you’re doing, and want to shorten some trails, I also suggest you and your son going together to a high-level pitching clinic of the type put on by the NPA, Tom House at USC (RDRBI clinics), or some other good programs that are out there…I’ve heard a lot of good things about Ron Wolforth, for example, but don’t have personal experience with him.

As a concerned and thoughtful father who is interested in finding the best possible information and guidance for your son, you will need to do much of the information-crunching for him to help distinguish what does make sense from what doesn’t make sense.

Good luck!

Hi Laflippin,

I appreciate your response. I would love for my son to attend a Tom House NPA clinic but we live on the east side of the Mississippi River. I did purchase the NPA training cd’s two years ago. My son and I have watched these cds many times. There is a lot of good information from those cd’s that we are using today. Naturally, you would love to have a pitching coach locally to give advise to help improve but those type of guys are tough to find. That’s why I enjoy this web site. There is a lot of great advise. I am hoping to post a video of my son in the upcoming days and maybe someone might see something that we may can adjust. Thanks again!

Royce,

You might be able to find an NPA-certified instructor in your area by looking
http://www.nationalpitching.net/certified.asp?][u]here[/u
. Can’t guarantee how experienced they might be if there is someone in your area but it could be worth a look.

Hi Roger, I did look at the NPA site of the trainers in our area. The closest ones are in Louisana and Alabama. There is no one in Mississippi. I will try to contact someone.

Last night my son’s all-star team had a scrimmage and he was all pumped up ready to go but things did not go well. I was unable to attended but my wife went. My son did not get to go into pitch until the last inning but the other team was ready to go home. Our coach ask for another inning. Needless to say that did not start things out on the right foot.

My son made his first pitch which was a strike and immediate the coach is saying get you elbow up. That was upsetting but he did get a strikeout. The next batter he hit and the next batter was walked. The coach is still trying to make adjustments to his mechanics. One of the remarks was for my son to take a little off the pitch. He tried that but the other team begin to hit his pitches. He did get a second out with an infield popup. He had another popup to the second basemen but was dropped. So, the coach just called ballgame. Just was another bad experience.

I told my son to put this night behind him and we will continue to work together. I have decided we just need to get finished this all-star team and then take several weeks off. Then, we will work together to have him ready for high school baseball. We were looking so forward to the all-star experience but we will make the most of it.

How long would you recommend taking time off to rest from an bad expereince? Would you start back with the flat ground basics leading him back to the mound? What are your thoughts?

Royce,

Baseball is a game of failure–try your best not to dwell on what you see as short-comings in the individual results of each of your son’s pitches.

Instead, try to dwell on making steady progress toward optimal mechanics and gaining a sense of confidence being out on the mound. Rather than “take time off from a bad experience”–which sort of sends the message to your son that any type of failure to perform up to your expectations is so devastating that he needs to stop playing baseball for a couple of weeks…well, instead of doing that, if I were in your shoes, I’d choose the next available time that just you and he could go out to a ball field and work on mechanics, conditioning, hit a bucket of balls to him, praise what he’s doing well and do good reps to work on any issues that are weaknesses for him.

By the way, your description of the coach’s behavior–constant intervention and/or criticism to try and change your son’s mechanics during a game does nothing but prove one point: That coach is an idiot. I don’t care what his credentials may be or whether his intention was to help your son through a rough patch–he is an idiot and your son needs your private support. One way you can give him the support he needs is (1) Always stay positive and stay personally involved with his off-season training and conditioning and (2) Start teaching him ways to politely shrug off the type of b.s. treatment he was getting from his all-star coach during the game you described. Your son needs to become his own best pitching coach in a very real sense–he needs to be able to develop the confidence that comes from adequate preparation and he needs to learn how to know whether he is doing the things he should do on the mound or, if not, how to make any necessary adjustments to his delivery himself–then when some fool of a coach starts in with “helpful” mechanics advice in the middle of a game–he can say “Thanks, coach, I appreciate the advice…and he can return to the business at hand: That is, making quality pitches that are based on everything he has practiced, practiced, practiced…”

Only the guys who eventually come to grips with the concept: Baseball is a game of failure" and are able to enjoy the process of playing the game and developing their skills to the highest level they can–while still failing to get the desired result in 7-out-of-10 at-bats, and/or 50% of their pitching starts, will ever go very far in this sport.

Recognizing that baseball is a game of failure is not the same as saying, “It’s okay to perform badly and to lose”. Not at all the same.

Pursue the highest performance standards and try to win every game within the context of a higher level truth: Baseball is a game of failure. Thus, failure gives a player the chance to learn what he should do differently the next time.

Hi Lafippin,

I certainly appreciate your kind words and encouragement. I was not sure what direction to go, either time-off or just continuing to work hard. I knew he needed to be back up on the mound practicing. I will say this. My son called me this afternoon to tell me he had been pitching to his “Strike Zone” platform and he was very proud of his results. So, that was great to here. I cannot wait to get back to work with him after the state all-star tournment this weekend. I did capture some video and I plan to post it later in the upcoming days. Thanks again for your time.

Royce,

laflippin gave you some great advice. I’d only add a couple points. First, how soon your son gets back on the mound should be his decision. Second, since you’re in a warm weather state with the possibility of playing year-round, if your son has in fact played year round, be sure he takes a couple months off from all overhand throwing activities. Just be sure to time it to accomodate the high school’s programs which might include summer and fall programs in addition to the spring season.

Roger, I do appreciate the great advice that you and laflippin have given to us. I do feel that we are on the right track with my sons delivery but he needs some adjusting. I do have a couple of QuickTime videos that I can send for you both to see my sons mechanics. I have the documentation from Steven Ellis that describes how to post videos. How do I attach or post the video file on this website? Example: I have the video call 11-8084.mov. Do I submit the video in the post reply as a url called http://www.pitchingingclips.com/11-8084.mov ?

Usually, people post their videos on YouTube and then post a link to it here. I don’t know if YouTube accepts .MOV files so I’ll let laflippin answer that since I know he regularly posts videos on YouTube.

But .MOV is a good format because it can be played using QuickTime which lets you advance forward or backward frame by frame using the arrow keys on your keyboard.

Roger, It is funny you mention Youtube. I am currently learning how to post a video on Youtube. Never done this.

I finally have several videos loaded now. This is probably to many or not enough to see. Some of the views are from the mound to the plate and a couple are closeup views at the mound. Roger, I know you had mentioned videos from the 3rd base or 1st base side but we had already made these before your suggestion. Please let me know you thoughts or if I need to make some additional videos. Thanks for you help.

Full view w/strike 8074

Full view w/no strike 8076

Full view w/no strike 8075

Full view w/strike 8079

Mound Closeup 8089

Mound Closeup 8090

Royce,

The first of your vid clips seems to be marked “private”; however, the others are viewable.

The clips I could watch are a reasonable start; however, I do have a technical suggestion for your future video work.

In addition to taking video of your son from 3rd base, I suggest (strongly) that you buy a cheap (~$30) tripod for your video cam and use it. One of the biggest mistakes I see (and it is very common) is people using their hand-held $400 camcorder to make shaky, jumpy video of an athlete in motion whom they later want to analyze for subtle mechanical issues. It is a basic axiom of video analysis that you cannot really look closely at your subject’s movements when the video field itself is moving and shaking.

All that being said, I didn’t see any red flags in your son’s mechanics. The strikes he threw looked filthy and his sidearm mechanics and release will confound many hitters.

He obviously needs to develop a consistent release point, but the way a pitcher does that is by developing consistent, repeatable mechanics leading up to the release point.

Every practice session when you are working together on pitching, you should make sure that he is setting up with the same balanced posture and from the same place on the rubber that he is comfortable with. His leg lift should always be the same and he should be getting his front hip moving toward the target before he reaches the top of his leg lift. His posture should be maintained through to foot-strike without too much up-and-down movement of his head (and without left-and-right movement of his head, either). His head and his eyes should track straight to the target (remember, we are essentially a predatory species–our eyes are on the front of our head for a reason and they efficiently guide our motor responses to hit or attack what we are looking at).

House taught my son to start every bullpen session the same way and to make sure that he doesn’t jump ahead of himself to work on something out of sequence. Every bullpen starts by re-establishing the optimum balanced starting posture, getting the booty going toward HP at the same time that leg lift commences, etc, etc, etc–optimizing first-things-first and working toward consistency and repeatability of mechanics leading up to the release point is probably all that your son needs to do, too.

One final note, for now–I thought I noticed that when your boy threw a pitch that he didn’t like very much he sort of “windmilled” his arm afterward, and maybe showed his disappointment. This is something to correct in practices, so that he will not carry it into games.

Undoubtedly, given some of your earlier discussion, he has been treated to far too much foolish criticism from coaches during games whenever he throws a bad pitch–I see this a lot: Kid loses control in a game, coach starts shouting all sorts of useless mechanics advice toward the mound, very naturally the kid cannot make use of this advice under game pressure, so the kid becomes a nervous wreck and starts showing nervous or defeated body language. Opposing hitters love to see that, of course, but it always breaks my heart. A pitcher who shows no emotion and no defeated body language when things are going wrong is perceived by the opposition as being in control, even if the pitcher doesn’t feel that way deep inside. It is an outer attitude that can be cultivated–but you’ve got to decide to do it, and you’ve got to practice it just like mechanics.

Hi Laflippin, I appreciate you looking at the videos. This is our first attempt at doing this type thing but it was fun. My son and I have looked at the videos several times now and we can see little things that need to be improved. Roger had commented earlier about liking to use QuickTime to control the movement back and forth of the delivery. We do too.

I did fix the privacy issue on the first video. With your first look at the videos, you can see some of the things that I see each time he pitches such as release point, hip movement, and head movement. What I see sometimes is his eyes will look at you and then another time his eyes will be looking to his left side. Another time, his body looks tall during the leg lift and the next time he looks like he is scrunching up and then uncoils. I am not a coach so that is why we have relied on the NPA training cd’s but it takes someone different to point things and certainly not a coach that does not have a clue.

Once the state all-star tournament finishes this weekend, we are going back to the basics as you suggested. My son had already decided to go back to the delivery he was using before the all-star coach suggestions. This is the delivery you are seeing in the videos. We are excited once again. I do plan to create some more video especially from the 3rd base side for you to see before we get started back to the basics.

I appreciate you comment on his body language, we have been telling him he need to not show any emotion out there. I have daughter that was a fast pitch softball pitcher in high school and she showed very little emotion sometimes she was just plain mean but she was successful. Yes, my daughter has tried to help my son but then we get into sibling augments but her comments are on target. He just does not want to listen to big sister. Haha.

Look, I am going to close for now and let you and Roger rest for this week. I have worried you both enough this week. I do thank you both for your time comments this week. You have encouraged us to get back to practicing and workings toward a common goal of throwing strikes.

Have a great weekend!