Need advice, look and decide if I should shut my son down

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkzQTQIGB0I

My 13 yr old has always been a great pitcher. He throws faster than any 14 old kid in our town. However through my research I see that he is flawed to the point I am afraid he will injury himself. None of his pitching coaches have discovered this.
I see that he is pulling his glove down and creates early an rotation which tilts the shoulder ( an over the top delivery ) however this could lead to too much strain on the elbow and cause injury.
I feel as though I should not have him pitch another season until I figure how to correct this. It would break his heart to stop pitching but this has gotten me worried. Can I change his delivery or keep it the same and risk injury ? Is he at risk ?
I have no coaches within 3 hours to help. Take a look and help if you can.
Thank you,

This is a front view of my son’s delivery.
Any drill suggestions would be great.

What makes you think his delivery is injurious again?

I’d like to see his arm action developed a bit more but his fundamentals are fairly sound. Now if he was “slinging” his glove side, yes I’d be somewhat concerned but he doesn’t. I’d certainly NOT shut him down for that reason.
Now things you CAN do. Insure he understands what arm care and maintenance is and how to apply it to himself, I’d also begin to create a conditioning plan for him with a good diet plan to compliment it. He is very definitely in that transition phase between pre- and full puberty…he’s going to change a bit during this so I always recommend emphasis on fundamentals and conditioning during this period. He does seem to curl his wrist during delivery and that is the area I’d spend more time on…get his hand BEHIND the ball…the easiest way to show that graphically to him is to put a piece of tape around the ball, when he releases, if he has done so correctly the ball will look like this (Depending on arm angle) \l/…if it wobbles his hand is getting “outside” of the ball and needs to be corrected.

My son pitched for well, let’s see, I guess eleven years. I had to constantly fight the urge to ask him how his arm felt. In the early years it was something I did to help me monitor his exposure to overuse. In the later years, it became something I never approached him about because I understood there were certain things not under my control anymore. There were other things I could observe that weren’t dependent on his truthfulness. Proper pitching mechanics is one of those things that will drive you nuts, if you allow it.

Yes, you have a real obligation to take action to limit your son’s exposure to injury by guiding him toward proven effective mechanics. There are however, land mines out there, real and imagined. You can become so consumed by all the imagined threats that it can derail your son’s progression.

What I guess I’m getting at is, pitching is what brings him pleasure. Watching him pitch brings you pleasure. Participation in baseball has life changing experiences to offer. The risk involved is something we all accept. Find a way to be at peace with the fact that he could be injured at any time and still be as proactive in protecting his arm as possible within reason. It is all about moderating your feelings and activating your mind.

Just some quick thoughts that jumped out at me when I read your post.

Sure he has some flaws but I’m not seeing anything that makes him really injury prone

There are any number of pitchers who have more and worse flaws than your son. If he enjoys pitching and has no arm soreness, I don’t see a need for such a harsh decision.

A little bit of counter rotation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if he’s using it as a timing mechanism, much like some hitters who drift back just before they make their small step forward. Too much torque on the pivot knee is a common reason for future knee replacements in pitchers(not seeing that here, by the way). Also, watch for collapse of the back leg which will rob the momentum created in the lift and reduce the amount you can lead with the front hip. He’s got a little of that going on.

Keep working with him, he seems to be off to a good start.

Thank you guys for the input. I had been working recently to prevent the back leg when I started looking at his form. I was worried that his arm was whipping too much during the follow through. He usually has arm soreness. He doesn’t throw curves or pitch more than 1000 pitches per year.
I feel a lot better, just the over protective parent in me panicing.

Thank you,

[quote=“sboat”]…He usually has arm soreness.
[/quote]

What is his pre-game routine like?
Where is he having the soreness?
How many pitches into an outing does the soreness begin?
Does he continue to pitch with it?
How long after the game does he still have the soreness?
What is his post-game routine like?
What does his schedule look like between outings?

What is his pre-game routine like?
He stretches for 10 minutes and throws for 10 minutes before he pitches

Where is he having the soreness?
His elbow. Early in the season it gets sore after 45 pitches, later in the season after 3 months of practice and games he is usually fine. It takes him moths to build up to where he can pitch 5 innings.

Does he continue to pitch with it?
No I shut him down. I stress that he must tell me when he first feels sore and he does this. However I am no longer coaching his games. I told him he had to do the same and tell the coach to take him out when he feels sore.
I hate it when there is a pitching change and my son or another player has only 6 pitches or so to warm up. I fear that the most.

How long after the game does he still have the soreness?
He usually feels fine after he complains he is sore or after he rests with ice.
What is his post-game routine like?
I have him ice after the game and run a couple of laps the next day

What does his schedule look like between outings?
I follow the little League rules on rest between pitches ( 0-20 no rest,21-35 1 day rest, 36-50 2 days rest, 51-65 3 days rest ) I don’t know what the new coach wants I don’t want my son pitching back to back games or even days. I also do’t want kids to throw " cold "
Otherwise my son plays 1st base or outfield and practices 3 or 4 dyas a week ( season is march -mid July ).

I research as much as I can but need as much advice as I can.
I want to strengthen his arm as much as I can.

Your advice is much appreciated, thank you.

If I were coaching your son, I would put some focus on 3 areas. First, naroow up his starting feet position to eliminate the weight shift back towards 2B as he goes into knee lift. That weight shift creates extra movement that he has to manage, makes him slower to the plate, and tips off that baserunner on 1B when to take off.

Second, I would emphasize maintaining a stable posture through the delivery. See if you can get him to keep his head upright (or his eyes level).

Finally, I’d work on glove control. This stats with getting the glove arm extended more to get into an “equal and opposite” position with the throwing arm. The extra time it takes to extend the glove arm further is extra time that the shoulders stay closed. From the “equal and opposite” position, he needs to transition the glove into a swiveled and stabilized position in front of the torso. These changes coupled with an improved posture should eliminate the early shoulder rotation.

I think he has a tilted shoulder caused from learning early glove tuck . He was taught this 3 years ago, as many are taught this at an early age…point to target with front arm and then pull and tuck hard with glove. This causes early rotation, opening of front hip and severe shoulder tilt causing throwing over the top with an elbow lead.

The above is what I have been told is wrong with him. I think I need to get him on the right track to prevent unusual stress on the lead elbow.

What do you think ?
What drills could I do ?
I think this will change his arm slot from a windmill action.

Thank you for any advice.

[quote=“sboat”]I think he has a tilted shoulder caused from learning early glove tuck . He was taught this 3 years ago, as many are taught this at an early age…point to target with front arm and then pull and tuck hard with glove. This causes early rotation, opening of front hip and severe shoulder tilt causing throwing over the top with an elbow lead.

The above is what I have been told is wrong with him. I think I need to get him on the right track to prevent unusual stress on the lead elbow.

What do you think ?
What drills could I do ?
I think this will change his arm slot from a windmill action.

Thank you for any advice.[/quote]

Our sons are the same age, and I’m considered very protective in limiting my son’s exposure to travel ball experience and overuse.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever done any pitching “drills” with him. I’ve caught hundreds of pitches, sometimes into the dark on days he’s working on something. On those long bullpen sessions, I’ll give him an advice or two, and nothing more than a tweak to what he’s doing, but no more. He’s working to figure out his own body, by trial and error. We’ve focused on a few things, specifically what Roger discussed above, and more importantly we’ve discussed the physics of pitching and the bodies anatomy so he can understand what is going on. Also, I’ve noticed changes in his delivery each year as he grows bigger and stronger. Some I deal with; others are ignored in anticipation that he’s just figuring things out with his growing body. His first practice at 13U age is tomorrow, and I bet he throws different than he did last year; which was different than at 11 and at 10. And he will have to make adjustments based off of his understanding of Physics and anotomy. The first day the weather is nice, we’ll go out to the backyard and he’ll throw until he feels in control. And I’ll catch, and have a good drink when we’re done. My only hope for this pending bullpen sessions is to survive for another day, because he won’t stop until it’s pitch dark. At 13, the most I can do is give him suggestions on little tweaks here and there and let him figure it out. He will, and from here on in his coaches will have more to say than I will.

Don’t be overly concerned. He and his coaches will figure it out.

My son is a year older than yours and shares somewhat similar mechanics. He throws from a high over the top arm slot which causes the shoulder/head tilt. I was concerned but after consulting with a second pitching coach was told to work with how he throws. Two areas of concern that have been emphasized are stabalizing the head and striding towards home (has a tendency to go towards 3rd). The result is he maintains his “tilt”; his head although not level is not turned completely sideways. Another positve change has been to quicken his pace. I do notice your son’s landing foot is pointed towards home but will leave that to others to discuss who are more knowledgable. My son has been very sucessful with his “tilt” and continues to improve. To change the tilt is to change his arm slot.

I see that he is pulling his glove down and creates early an rotation which tilts the shoulder ( an over the top delivery ) however this could lead to too much strain on the elbow and cause injury.

I don’t believe his glove (pulling his glove down) has anything to do with tilting his shoulders.

Tilting of the shoulders necessary for high arm slot i.e. over-the-top. If he doesn’t till the shoulders and he has a high arm slot he has the potential for shoulder impingement and rotator cuff problems.

Mechanically there’s a number things that I would work on but that’s a topic for another day.

With respect to injury potential, my opinion, there are three factors:

  1. Mechanics. Horrible mechanics increases the chance for injury. Although there are many pitchers who have close to horrible mechanics that don’t suffer injury. As much as some would like you to believe there is no definitive way to judge whether a given set of mechanics is going to cause an injury.

  2. Lack of conditioning. You have to train to throw baseball with training that is other than throwing a baseball. General. strength training including weights and free body exercise, explosive training (sprinting, long toss , leaping and bounding type exercises, explosive push-ups , etc. ).

  3. And just about everybody’s favorite overuse. But let me tell you something about overuse. In order for the body to build strength and endurance it must be stressed beyond a certain point. The certain point being where tissue damage induced which creates releases hormones creating regenerative effect also known as hypertrophy. This applies to all tissues including muscle, tendon and ligament. There have been a number of studies showing that young players who do a lot of throwing as they are growing create specific anatomical adaptations that increase their abilities to throw baseball. There’s something called retroversion of the humerus with the bone in the upper arm action develops a twist which promotes external rotation. Also they have found with ultrasonic studies that in asymptomatic pitchers (healthy pitchers) that the UCL (Ulna Collateral Ligament ) is actually stronger and bigger in the pitching arm than in the non-pitching arm. Again this is a result of stress induced hypertrophy.

Bottom line the most foolish thing you can do assuming that your son is physically in condition to throw baseball and is not overused is to take a timeout from throwing a baseball.

As usual my opinions.

1)My coaches have stressed a lot to long toss a few times a week. This will build up arm strength over time helping your arm not get as sore and to build up endurance.

  1. After your kid does a bullpen session or an extended period of throwing, its good for him to do about a 8 minute jog. This gets the blood flowing through your arm better, removing the lactic acid in your elbow helping to soothe soreness. Then obviously to ice it.

good look on your decision!