Newby Dad


#1

Help,
8 yr old, first year pitching fall ball. Worked alot, due to heavy rain in our area had to pitch 2 days in a row. He has since complained of elbow pain (inside of arm). The coach told me that at this age kids don’t throw hard enough to hurt their arms.

  A dad on the team said that all he needs is rest. I've included a video, is doing anything wrong that could hurt his arm.

Thanks guys


#2

First, the coach is wrong–8 yos can throw hard enough to hurt their very young, undeveloped arms. If your son’s elbow or shoulder is sore, he should not “pitch through the pain”.

Second, most youngsters your son’s age have a variety of mechanical inefficiencies–“poor mechanics” and mechanical flaws repeated at high speeds can most certainly contribute to physical problems.

Analytical motion studies of elite pitchers–guys who very efficiently do what your son wants to do–generate most of their useful velocity through efficient use of their hips and torso.

That is, the large rotating parts of the body need to rotate in the correct sequence to transfer energy through the body to the ball. People talk a lot about “the kinetic chain” these days…an important part of the kinetic chain for pitching is: The hips should rotate forward (or “open”) before the shoulders/upper torso. In fact, good pitchers delay shoulder rotation until their hips are rotated as much “open” as possible, only then allowing the shoulders to rotate open to deliver the arm and the ball to a release point.

A very interesting guy named Jim Dixon wrote an obscure book in the early '90s in which he discussed this exact point. His main idea was that only 5 - 10% of the population just sort of naturally uses the hips and torso correctly–the rest of us need to learn it, or else we really won’t be able to get good at baseball, either as a pitcher or a hitter. There is some evidence, I think, that golf also relies very centrally on this principle.

Without knowing your son’s true level of interest, or yours, the advice I’d give you is (in order of importance):

  1. Don’t let your son pitch when he complains of elbow or shoulder pain.

  2. Start educating yourself about pitching mechanics and approaches to properly coaching young pitchers–bear in mind, you will have to develop a very good b.s.-meter. There is some really awful misinformation floating around and you need to be able to sort through it critically.

  3. If you don’t feel up to turning yourself into a quality pitching coach, consider finding one for your son. But, you’ll have to do homework for that, too…at some level it’s a matter of your interest level, your son’s interest level, and your personal circumstances.

  4. Stay tuned in to LTP–there are many different voices here, and some outstanding coaches. I highly recommend to you anything that jdfromfla, Roger, Dusty Delso, DM59, RBish, Coach Baker, Steven Ellis and several others here (sorry!, I didn’t mean to leave anyone out!) might have to say to you.


#3

As if I haven’t already said enough…your son’s glove is much too large for his size.

Pitchers need dynamic balance between their throwing arm and their glove-side arm–from beginning of the launch, the arms should look “opposite and equal”, i.e., balanced. There are more ways than one that the arms can look “opposite and equal”, but “opposite and unequal” is not so good.

Your son is trying to throw a 5 oz baseball from one hand while he is wearing a 2+ lb glove on the other hand. That is too much of a mismatch for a small 8 yo kid.

As a plausible benchmark: My son is a 15 yo pitcher, 6’2" and 175 lbs. He does a year-round program of pitcher-specific conditioning and weight-training, but his glove is quite a bit smaller and lighter than your son’s glove.


#4

Thanks much for the input, I never even considered the glove. My son is 4’8" and 75lbs and his glove is 11.75" guess you are right. I am planning for a Jan start w/a pitching coach. I think I got caught up in the “excitement” he was the only kid who could throw strikes w/velocity and he got alot of kids out.

He pitched alot of innings, but he never complained until the end of the season about arm pain. I hope rest will take care of the pain and we get a fresh start in Jan.


#5

The most important thing you can do for this kid is to get him to extend his arm before throwing. He tucks his arm into an “L” position and throws, but he should have his arm extended all the way behind him before throwing. If he extends it downward behind him, or straight back, the point is that he should have it extended before throwing. Going to a “T” position or modified “T” position in my book, would help tremendously toward this goal.


#6

There IS a total quality response to your inquiry here and your sincere desire to help your son. That response in total was just given to you by laflippin.

First off, the coach that your son is involved with should have given you word-for-word what laflippin has just posted. It just doesn’t get any better. These comments are a wealth of information that you can use right now, in live time. I strongly suggest printing them out, posting them on your frig with magnets, and talk about each suggestion with your son.

Well, if your a betting man - I’d buy a lottery scratch ticket, if they’re sold in your area. Why? Because this is your lucky day. Your son’s health, his enjoyment of this wonderful sport, your shared father and son experience will be so much the better because of laflippin. And you can take my work for it - his advice came by hard-work, study and knowledge. Not luck.

Outstanding post.

Coach B.


#7

I’d like to post a seperate response with respect to the person who is coaching your son.

This person’s remark, as you put it, shows a serious lack of understanding of the growth process and many of the related topics that accompany youth atheletics. In fact, I would suggest browsing the web and visit such web sites as:
http://kidshealth.org
http://www.childrensmemorial.org/depts/sportsmedicine/prevention_guidelines_pitchers.aspx
http://familyfitness.about.com/od/healthandsafety/a/sports_injuries.htm
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00185

The more you know through self study, working with your son and being very pro active, the more you’ll know enough to stay clear of people who tell you … at this age kids don’t throw hard enough to hurt their arms.

Coach B.


#8

Thanks for the load of resources, I’ve delved into the links and found Little League Elbow and pitch counts. Let me tell you my son went WAY beyond the limits recommended for someone his age.

It seems all that he needs now is rest and a caring pitching coach. Thanks to jlspencer for the critique on his arm position, that is something I will look for in the future.

Our league allows 3 innings per game and 6 innings in a week, but due to the weather forcing back to back games and doubleheaders and the fact that my son would have to get 6 outs in an inning (dropped 3rd strikes) really put wear and tear on his arm.

I’m glad I found this site and will return regularly, so be prepared for alot of dumb questions.

Thanks


#9

One more piece of advice if I may.

Do yourself a favor and don’t rely on someone else to look after your son. He is at a great age for you to help him by learning everything you can about throwing a baseball.

An educated parent/coach would be the best thing for him.


#10

When you are in search of a pitching coach for your son, you might find the following suggestions helpful. I made this post some time ago, however it may be timely for your purposes.

A private pitching coach should first of all be a pitching coach. Not a generalist or some one who’s “been around”

Try and compare this itinerary to the coaches/people that you review for your son.

 Ask what is a common thread (baseball experience) among youngsters of your son’s age. And then ask “how do you know that?” Listen carefully at the choice of words that makes up the answer(s). If your confused or don’t understand the response; just think how your son is going to respond to such questions and answers.

 Ask how he/she introduces himself/herself to a youngster of your son’s age. Is there an age limit for this person’s instruction – both lower and upper? There should be. Youth coaching 14, 15 and some times 16 … and under requires a heck of lot more simple “basics” then say 17 and over. Pitching coaches especially – are tuned to the frequency of certain levels of competition. What fits for a … say … 12 year old … will be like night and day for a say 17 year old. It does make a big difference.

 Don’t be impressed with wins and losses, coaching titles, or similar accolades. These things don’t mean squat if the human chemistry isn’t there. For example, a perennial league champion from your local high school or even college can have a threshold of expectation that can be a rough fit for your son’s temperament, and attention span. Trust your son’s intuition here … after all it’s all about him, not you … not the coach…. not the awards…

 Of all the things that a youth pitching coach MUST understand is the (1) limitations of youth, (2) the limited tolerances for athletic duration(s), (3) the pressures that come from dear ole dad is paying for this so darn it, pay attention!, (4) and finally, today I want to pitch, but two weeks from now, … I want to captain a steam freighter sailing the Mediterranean. (it happens)

 Private instruction deals with the semi-perfect world. Actual game time does not. The pitching surface that your son will practice off of will be somewhat solid and smooth. Actual game quality surfaces will be far less forgiving. DON’T discount this when watching your son perform during live fire. Also, this part of his training experience can leave some negative reinforces that may take years to overcome … not to mention … to rationalize under the game review phase of his training.

 The start of his coaching experience should begin with a meeting between all parties concerned – including other interested family members. Get as much feedback as you can by others of their “take” on this guy. (coach). Also, you’d be amazed at how sensitive and intuitive mothers, aunts, grandmothers, etc., can be during such an initial meeting. Any coach that patronizes this gender should be shown the door – pronto.

 A pitching coach should have a detail training itinerary formalized in writing for your son’s age group. It should spell out what – when – and how much of, each session will cover and what the expected results should be. Nothing vague or generalizations here. What is the youngster going to benefit from … session after session. Also, ask how your son will be reviewed by this coach so the next training session can build upon the last. And if your son needs a couple of sessions on the
same topic… what are the most prevalent topics that normally give a the kids of your son’s age the most time consuming. Don’t accept the answer… “well, every kid is different.” Well, that’s correct to a point… but your son shouldn’t be an unknown for a seasoned pitching coach after a few sessions. Experience means just that… this coach has the experience to “read” your son as he progresses.

There’s a lot more into this process then time and space here allows, but I hope some of my suggestions are helpful.

A final note though… if and when your son says ENOUGH… then it’s enough. Learning this craft can be a rough ride with other things in orbit for kid. Growing up is tough enough without pressures from something that’s suppose to be fun.

It’s lonely out there in the middle of the infield. The kids out there all by himself, nobody to help him, nobody cares. Do the job or you’re gone. Tough stuff for a kid. Tough stuff for a kid to hear the criticisms made by other parents under their breath … just out of ear shot… blaming your son for a loss…

Dad, your about to start something that will really bring out the good-guy in you, the things that make dad a dad. Being there for your boy … not him for you… is the stuff of true courage and sense of sharing the father and son relationship that knows no boundaries. I wish you all the best in your baseball experience.

Coach B.


#11

[quote=“101mph”][quote=“deege”]
It seems all that he needs now is rest and a caring pitching coach. Thanks to jlspencer for the critique on his arm position, that is something I will look for in the future.
[/quote]

One more piece of advice if I may.

Do yourself a favor and don’t rely on someone else to look after your son. He is at a great age for you to help him by learning everything you can about throwing a baseball.

An educated parent/coach would be the best thing for him.[/quote]

I just want to add my two cents to this post. Sorry this got so long…i just got on a roll.

Speaking as a dad who has a son who just started pitching this past spring, i want to say that making the decision to quit relying on everyone else to teach my son to play baseball was the best decision i ever made. I never played an inning of organized baseball in my life, and when my kids started playing, i always took the approach that i would just stand back and let the “experts” teach them

What ive come to realize is that even the most well intentioned coach isnt going to be able to spend the amount of time necessary to teach anything beyond the most basic skills. They probably have kids who they are teaching, a job, and 10 or 11 other kids on the team they are coaching. Giving your kid specialized help is probably way down their list of things to do. Especially if your kid is one of the “good” kids on a rec team. The coaches have to spend so much time with the kids that are just playing for the first time, or that arent very skilled, that often times they just assume the “good” kids are doing things properly, especially if they are getting good results. And thats not an indictment of them. Its just the way life is. As long as my son was playing at an All Star level, there wasnt much reason for his coaches to look at his delivery in any kind of detail.

My youngest has a smidgeon of talent, but last Summer, at the second or third All Star practice, he was showing off for his friends, without warming up, seeing how far he could throw the ball. His buddies, who had been warming up for a while, were launching throws from the foul line, and he walks up, with no warm up and says i can beat that.

And his elbow hurt for the rest of All Star practices and the tourney. He was held out of nearly all throwing aspects of practices, and didnt pitch at all until the last game of the tournament. He went from a kid who was probably going to be relied upon to be one of the main pitchers, to a kid who pitched less than one inning (like 10 pitches, after he basically begged me, and promised me his arm wasnt hurting) and had to split time with another kid at first base. He hated it. His coaches i think thought he was dogging it a little. I had no doubt that if he said his arm hurt, it hurt. There was at least a couple of subtle suggestions that perhaps he could pitch through the pain. I relented for the last game, and wished i hadnt. I was obvious after one pitch his arm wasnt right, and after anout 10 pitches, his coach had to pull him. I wish i had made him pull him after one pitch.

We took an entire month off from throwing afterwards. Then we eased back in. VERY VERY gradually.

In the meantime, i had always thought his pitching motion was kind of awkward, no matter how many people told me it looked great. His rec coach last spring was a major league pitcher for 6 years. His other coach was a Div 2 All American pitcher. So i broke out the video camera. Turns out his glove arm was doing awful things. Thanks again to everyone here (especially Coach Baker) for taking the time to educate me on this.

His coaches arent bad guys. In fact both of them are very nice, and i dont believe either of them would ever do anything to intentionally hurt a player, even if it meant losing a game. But the fact is that these two missed at least one major mechanical flaw in my kids delivery. If i hadnt been proactive and decided to start learning for myself, i would have never searched out this site, and my son would probably still be pitching with comprimised mechanics.

So, just to sum up, and piggyback on what 101 said: Learn all you can, and dont leave your kids future solely in the hands of others. Not to say you cant listen to them, but ultimately its you that has to make the final decisions.


#12

This has turned into one of those really good threads that LTP is so capable of…a lot of outstanding thinking going on here.

I very much agree with the idea of newbie dads becoming their son’s primary pitching coach…there is just so much of deep value in it for both kid and dad.

Make no mistake, though–part of the journey for those of us dads whose personal playing experience is very limited (me, for example)–a really good coach is not only going to teach your son, he is going to teach you how to teach your son. He will shorten trails for you both.

Coach Baker gave some really important litmus tests for what to look for in a coach and I thought 101mph’s and southcarolina’s remarks were also very much on-target.

Even though good coaches will shorten trails for you, overall, it is better to have no outside coach at all than to have a poor one. A poor coach is going to lengthen the trail and maybe even cause your son to lose interest entirely.

The best of all worlds, IMO, is if you find an experienced coach who works well with both you and your son…that is, he mentors both of you in his craft and helps to reveal some of the deep joy and beauty that is accessible to those who play the game well. Coaches like that do need to be paid properly for their valuable time.


#13

Another vital thing to remember: beware of the coach who has a personal agenda, perhaps even a sinister one—the coach who tries to change a pitcher’s arm motion and some other things about mechanics for his own purposes. Those guys are bad news and are to be avoided as one would avoid a poisonous snake.
I was lucky. My pitching coach was an active major league pitcher, a key member of the Yankees’ Big Three rotation, and his basic premise was that you never mess with a pitcher’s natural motion. The day in 1951 when I asked him about the slider, he drew me aside (I was 16 at the time) and showed me how to throw a good one, and while I was familiarizing myself with the pitch he watched me and made some mental notes—about things like the fact that I was a natural sidearmer who used a slide-step, had a consistent release point and worked with the crossfire a lot. He was forming in his head a jumping-off point from which he could work with me. Thus began a wonderful pitching relationship; he saw where I was coming from, and he took me in hand, worked with me and helped me become a better pitcher than I had been before. His name was Ed Lopat, and I will always remember him.
So, if you decide that an “outside” pitching coach would be just the ticket—when you find a really good one who will work with your kid and help him achieve his objective, hang on to him for dear life and never let him go. :slight_smile: 8)


#14

When I first joined LTP Forum, September 2006, my son was 15 quickly approaching his 16th birthday. He’d just finished a promising freshman year in high school but I looked at his mechanics and something kept nagging at me. I couldn’t figure out what it was that made me think, “There’s more potential here if he could just improve those mechanics.”

So I posted a clip or two on this thread and the advice flowed freely. Some guy named coachxj started posting about how to improve the kid. Next thing you know there was input from all over the place. I had no clue who Paul Nyman, Chris O’leary, heck jdfromfla was a mystery and now I count him as a friend. There were some differences of opinion and I ended up adopting what made sense to me but these guys and many more here sacrificed their time for a father and a kid they didn’t even know existed to help get the kid to the next level. He’s made it to the college level now and I hope to post a clip next Spring of him on the bump.

Just sort of a shout out for the dedicated and to let you know this is a heck of a resource if you stick around.


#15

This has really been a great thread to read, so few parents really understand what a complete load of crap can be fed them by a coach that thinks the win is the most important thing, those coaches will say anything and everything to get a kid on the bump again just to get another trophy. Living vicariously through kids can be very dangerous. Parents be careful what you believe.

Just to give you an example, there is a kid in our area that was probably the top 12u major pitcher in our area, the major team pitched this kid 170-200 pitches every weekend. Dad encouraged this and thought the more the kid pitched the stronger he would be. Well this fall the kid scrub pitched for another team at the AA level, he pitched in the 1st game of a tournament and then came back in for the semifinal game when they were in trouble, kid got hit up, and then found out he seperated his growth plate…maybe it was too many pitches, maybe the curve balls that he threw but what ever he is now in a sling till next summer.

Find a pitching coach that understands about future and what it takes to get to what your kid wants. Don’t take him there once, develop a consistent schedule so that your kid can look forward to the lessons, what he is learning and how to use those tools in the next game or season.