Nicolas Johnson


#1

here is my son Nicolas. he’s 11 and today was the first game of the season. Nicolas pitched great today. he had plenty of power and accuracy. much better than last season. we have been working on some changes to get him more consistent and less pain. we worked on the leg lift/drop/slide, we worked on snapping his glove side elbow into his side to start the uncoiling towards release, and we worked on releasing his arm out then towards his left pocket to relieve any strain on his arm.

i slowed down the video as he throws so you can see his mechanics better. from the slow motion scene you can see he’s losing a little core torque at landing. his shoulders are turning a little too early. it looks like he’s firing his shoulders too early possibly.

any suggestions are welcome.

please excuse the poor video quality. my daughter didn’t know how to focus the camera.


#2

The front side doesn’t look too bad except for the glove hand. It’s dangling there. Really get that wing extended and stable. The biggest thing I see is the arm action. He breaks his throwing arm right into the “high cocked position”. There is easily more velocity to be gained.

In the clip below (provided by LTP’s own laflippin!), look where both Oswalt’s front side arm is and where is throwing arm is at approx. the 30 second mark. I didn’t choose Oswalt because I think he does it exceptionally well either. I simply googled mechanics for the first pitcher that came to mind. What Oswalt is doing with this arms is common among high-level throwers.

Randy Johnson, the complete opposite of Oswalt really…can be seen “reaching out” with his glove hand and “reaching back” with his throwing arm at around the 24-25 second mark.

Hope that helps a little bit. The lower half looks pretty darn good though, particularly for an 11 year old. Just remember he is still very young. Keep it fun!


#3

Nicolas actually used to extend his glove arm quite a bit. we have worked since December to get his arm into a position where his elbow leads, then tucks into his side to leave his glove near his chest in a good protective position.


#4

Oh, I gotchya.

The elbow leading vs reaching out with the glove isn’t a big issue, it just looked like in the video that his glove arm in general was kind of “loose”.

As for the tucking the glove in, many highly respected folks are teaching the contrary nowadays where your chest actually comes towards the glove as you rotate your torso around and to the plate.


#5

he is actually thrusting his chest towards the target after he pulls in the glove side elbow. you can see from the external rotation of his arm that his chest is out pretty far.

we got a couple of lessons from Brent Pourciau in December and i feel like it really helped a lot. check out Brent’s mechanics and see what you think.


#6

Ah, Mr. Pourciau. He has posted on here before FWIW.

Why exactly do you want me to look at his mechanics?

Even he still reaches out and reaches back. I think those are the two biggest issues with your son’s mechanics. His arms are like a T-rex’s…they stay super close to the body.

A longer arm has more leverage.


#7

[quote="|J3|"]Really get that wing extended…/quote]Questionable value and could potentially cause troubles with a small pitcher.

[quote="|J3|"]… where both Oswalt’s front side arm is and where is throwing arm is at approx. the 30 second mark.[/quote]He’s not reaching out and reaching back. He, and Randy, drop it down and then bend the elbow and lift. On the front side, both have a sweeping motion, as opposed to a “reaching out”. Oswalt more with the elbow and Randy with the entire arm.

[quote="|J3|"]Randy Johnson, the complete opposite of Oswalt really…can be seen “reaching out” with his glove hand and “reaching back” with his throwing arm at around the 24-25 second mark.[/quote]Not what’s going on.

Why do you recommend “reaching out and reaching back”? What benefits are there in doing these things?


#8

“Less pain”…

Why is he in pain? Is he pitching too much and not resting properly? Is he pitching too much and not THROWING enough?

FWIW an 11 year old should not have ANY pain IMO.

I would seriously look into why this is. Arm care and conditioning is paramount.

As far as mechanics are concerned, I would suggest you look at as much video clips as you can, and research as much as possible to learn how to teach your son to throw the ball effectively.

Break down his delivery in 3-4 pieces and work from release of the ball to his leg lift (this is called backwards chaining). Focus A LOT on his arm action (both throwing and glove side) and how he is breaking his hands.
When you compare what he is doing, to what the best in the business do you will see glaring differences.

Get him throwing (not pitching) on a regular basis. Long toss to develop some arm strength and a nice smooth rhythm to his throwing. Rhythm and timing is key to effective use of the kinetic chain during the throw process.


#9

[quote="|J3|"]Really get that wing extended…[/quote]Questionable value and could potentially cause troubles with a small pitcher.

[quote="|J3|"]… where both Oswalt’s front side arm is and where is throwing arm is at approx. the 30 second mark.[/quote]He’s not reaching out and reaching back. He, and Randy, drop it down and then bend the elbow and lift. On the front side, both have a sweeping motion, as opposed to a “reaching out”. Oswalt more with the elbow and Randy with the entire arm.

[quote="|J3|"]Randy Johnson, the complete opposite of Oswalt really…can be seen “reaching out” with his glove hand and “reaching back” with his throwing arm at around the 24-25 second mark.[/quote]Not what’s going on.

Why do you recommend “reaching out and reaching back”? What benefits are there in doing these things?[/quote]


#10

I’m pretty sure someone already said this but if your son would extend his arms, he would be able to throw way more faster, but with the correct mechanics of course.


#11

[quote=“dm59”][quote="|J3|"]Really get that wing extended…[/quote]Questionable value and could potentially cause troubles with a small pitcher.

[quote="|J3|"]… where both Oswalt’s front side arm is and where is throwing arm is at approx. the 30 second mark.[/quote]He’s not reaching out and reaching back. He, and Randy, drop it down and then bend the elbow and lift. On the front side, both have a sweeping motion, as opposed to a “reaching out”. Oswalt more with the elbow and Randy with the entire arm.

[quote="|J3|"]Randy Johnson, the complete opposite of Oswalt really…can be seen “reaching out” with his glove hand and “reaching back” with his throwing arm at around the 24-25 second mark.[/quote]Not what’s going on.

Why do you recommend “reaching out and reaching back”? What benefits are there in doing these things?[/quote]

dm59, that was a poor choice of words. They were more of what I think it looks like as opposed to what is going on. I should know better than to use vague verbs when discussing things that could potentially be harmful if taken in a different way than I intended – which I fully admit was cloudy on my part to not describe in detail what I meant.

I don’t think one is actually reaching out towards the plate with their glove hand, nor do I think they are reaching back to wipe dirt off the rubber.

I still think what I pointed out are the two biggest flaws, if you want to call them that and deem it a necessary fix at 11-years-old, in singtall’s son’s mechanics. It’s fairly evident that those are the two biggest differences between singtall’s son and the mechanics of most all high-level throwers/pitchers.

I can only imagine how much slower I’d throw if I put my arm in that position directly out of the hand break. Also, I think you’ll agree that a well positioned and utilized glove arm can significantly affect velocity.


#12

Yes, his early hand break is a problem in that he gets to the high-cocked position way too early. However, I would recommend you work on his lower body mechanics first. He has zero back leg drive/extension - notice when he lowers his leg his hips are in the same place; all he is doing is reaching out with his lead leg to move toward the plate. He is therefore not getting out long enough and you can see how he goes up on to his toes after foot plant. Get him longer and lower by leading with the hip and driving with the back leg. Watch how Oswalt does this in the clip above.

Once he gets that down, now all he needs to do is just hold on to the ball longer in his glove - as his hips glide (first movement) he still has the ball in the glove, THEN it comes out - again, watch Oswalt.


#13

i posted Brent Pourciau’s video so anyone can see what we are trying to do with Nic’s mechanics. the goal is to look like Brent. the question is: is that possible? and is that a good thing?

Brent had Nicolas make the arm changes because Nic was throwing with mostly arms and Brent wanted him to learn to use core torque instead. i don’t believe the end goal is to look like a T-rex. lol.

before we made these changes, Nic had arm pain after pitching 30-40 balls. we had to ice his arm and give him ibuprofen every time he threw the ball.

since the changes, he only had the arm pain once…from fatigue. Nic went out in the yard and threw 50-60 balls at a target while i was at work. he then went to practice and “warmed up” for 30 minutes, then pitched 30-35 balls, then threw some more with his friends after practice. i made him take 3 days off from baseball to heal up and now he’s fine.

i found this site from Brent Pourciau’s site link and thought i would check it out. i started searching for “correct mechanics” to teach my son last year and found out that there is a million opinions and EVERYONE thinks they are right.

some philosophies that we tried: Dick Mills, Chris O’leary, and Brent Pourciau. of course we tried all of the local little league stuff, but pain was the result. at this point, we have been doing Brent’s method’s since December and though Nic’s mechanics still don’t look like Brent’s, Nic’s accuracy and low amount of pain is the result. I’m looking for more info because my son is now wanting more power. lol. never satisfied to just strike people out, he wants to blow it past them every time. ahhh, the simple life of a kid…


#14

What exactly are Brent’s philosophies?

I don’t think your goal should be to have your son “look like Brent”. I think there are certain core movements that are consistently repeated by all mechanically efficient pitchers, but due to anatomical (body type)differences and functional strength differences, no two pitchers will look alike.

In addition, when you “copy” a pitcher, you tend to copy their “flaws” as well: the pitcher you are copying may be able to overcome those flaws but you may not, and you will not get the same results, or worse, get injured.


#15

just to be fair, here i am pitching in the yard today. i’m sure my flawed mechanics have rubbed off on my son. feel free to pick at me. lol.

thanks for all of the help guys.


#16

[quote=“structuredoc”]I don’t think your goal should be to have your son “look like Brent”. I think there are certain core movements that are consistently repeated by all mechanically efficient pitchers, but due to anatomical (body type)differences and functional strength differences, no two pitchers will look alike.

In addition, when you “copy” a pitcher, you tend to copy their “flaws” as well: the pitcher you are copying may be able to overcome those flaws but you may not, and you will not get the same results, or worse, get injured.[/quote] :applaud:


#17

Well, you asked for it!!!

  1. No leg drive - but how can you when you are pitching on grass in bare feet!

  2. Big leg swing - which then results in foot plant that points to your left (toward left-handers batters box) - should be directed toward home or pointed to the right-handers batters box; this causes you to spin off hard toward 1st base side (bare foot on grass doesn’t help with this either!)

  3. Throwing off of one foot - Because you don’t get long enough (stride) and you don’t stay low, you don’t allow your back toe to drag and stay connected to the ground. So, when it is time for ball release your back leg is already off the ground, which is a much less stable base and harder to control your pitches.

  4. Hips opening too soon - You turn your back knee in too soon (not keeping your back foot down long enough and not keeping your back knee over your back foot long enough) and you turn your front foot too soon. This causes early rotation.

My suggestions would be to a) pitch only on a mound with a rubber so you can work on back leg drive - leading with the hips; b) get rid of the big leg swing - just focus on getting your front foot under your front knee and go toward the target rather than out and around; c) work on a longer stride and get lower. Keep your back foot connected to the ground as long as possible; and d) stay sideways as long as you can - until just before landing.

Your arm action is not much of an issue, but you do need to watch how you take the ball out of the glove (if there was one!)… keep your fingers on top of the ball.

Again, watch the Oswalt clip or watch Daniel Bard - effortless mechanics and throws 99-100 on almost every pitch!


#18

you would like Brent Pourciau then, because that is what he says. it gives me more confidence in Brent’s teaching abilities when i hear many people confirm what he says.

i will work on those changes asap. here is another video of me with cleats…not that it helped. lol


#19

I spoke with Nicolas about the mechanics of the video and we agreed that he had 2 main issues: 1) laziness. he was too lazy to stride out further and use his body. 2) pressure. he was brought in to clean up after another pitcher and Nic wanted accuracy. in the end, he went with his old faithful mechanics from last year early season. he was very accurate. the coaches said he had one of the highest recorded strike counts in the league. the bad side…he was sore for 2 days. that’s a real problem when you have to pitch in games every other day.

we now face the same dilemma as last year. how do we make the change that will save his arm while still needing to see strikes?


#20

You just make the changes, one at a time. Video tape - see a flaw, fix it, and video again. If it’s better, move on to the next flaw and do the same thing. Some flaws are almost instant fixes (especially when your son can see it for himself on video) and some take more time; but in any case, with new and improved mechanics, accuracy should improve within just a few bullpens. So, put in the time, make the changes and he should do just fine in games.

Good luck!