Opening Up

Hi,

My son is an 8 year old lefty whose pitching is quite advanced for his age (he has been moved up to the 9-12 year old division).

His main “issue” (if there is such a thing for 8 year olds!) is that he almost always “opens up”, with his stride foot landing well to the right of the imaginary “straight line” to the catcher.

As such, he has a tendency to pitch well inside (to right handed batters).

He does tend to extend his glove side arm out but then drop it to his right, which may be a factor in this.

Are there any drills that can help him learn to pitch more closed?

Or is this something I shouldn’t even address at this young age?

Thanks.

Try putting tape on the floor in a straight line from the pitching rubber. Break down his motion into steps(positions) from the stride.

  1. Set position
  2. high balance
  3. low balance
  4. stride and plant
  5. throw and follow through

Emphasize keeping his GS closed and leading with his GS elbow to the plate instead of his glove to the plate. This will help him stay closed and can adjust from position to position as needed.

Not gospel but it worked mine.

[quote=“Turn 22”]Try putting tape on the floor in a straight line from the pitching rubber. Break down his motion into steps(positions) from the stride.

  1. Set position
  2. high balance
  3. low balance
  4. stride and plant
  5. throw and follow through

Emphasize keeping his GS closed and leading with his GS elbow to the plate instead of his glove to the plate. This will help him stay closed and can adjust from position to position as needed.

Not gospel but it worked mine.[/quote]
Thanks.

Is this 5-step process a 5-step drill? That is, does the pitcher progress through the 5 steps with a pause after each step?

Also, what do you mean by leading with the elbow? Much of what I have read here indicates leading with the glove, thereby keeping the glove and ball apart “equally and balanced”.

Is this 5-step process a 5-step drill? That is, does the pitcher progress through the 5 steps with a pause after each step?

Also, what do you mean by leading with the elbow? Much of what I have read here indicates leading with the glove, thereby keeping the glove and ball apart “equally and balanced”.[/quote]

Lefty,

Yes, this can be done as a five step drill with a pause before each next step. During the pause he can be repositioned or if needed restart the sequence. After he runs through the drill dry with no ball 5-6 times add the ball and repeat with him releasing to a target emphasizing his follow through. This should help him get the feel of correct positioning through release. Finally, finish with no pauses. Velocity doesn’t matter, meake sure his mechanics all of the way through are correct, including the finish.

Leading with the elbow instead of the glove can have a few different advantages.

First, it will help him stay closed thoughout his motion. Being young he may have or develop the tendency to swing his GS arm outward rather than pulling back toward his body as his arm comes through(throwing motion).
Second, it may allow him to keep weight on his back side longer, giving him more “push” off the rubber and generating more power.
Third, it will allow him to finish with his glove tucked near his chest without so much movement on his GS. This again takes away the sweeping motion with his GS arm allowing him to stay closed longer and also puts his glove in a good natural fielding position.

Like I said, not gospel, and alot of people might disagree, but I know it worked for my son.

Today my son (8 year old lefty) threw a bullpen, and I made a simple adjustment that helped him stay more closed and throw with better control: I moved him to the right side of the pitching rubber.

He had been pitching from the left side of the pitching rubber - could that have been causing him to twist or swing around to an open position?

Any thoughts on which side of the pitching rubber, if any, is generally preferable for a lefty to pitch from? And why?

Thanks.

It always depends on the pitcher. But, for some pitchers, pitching from the throwing hand side of the rubber does causea posture issue which can result in early shoulder rotation. For those pitchers, moving to the glove side of the rubber can certainly help.

Thanks, Roger.

It’s nice to hear from an expert like you that adjusting my lefty son to the right side of the rubber is not a wild fancy!

Cheers.

UPDATE:

I just got back from another bullpen session (35 pitches) with my lefty son, and he again threw well from the glove side of the rubber: more closed and accurate.

I catch his bullpens so it’s hard to see his shoulders, but Roger may be spot on in his assessment that pitching from the glove side of the rubber may delay shoulder rotation.

Thanks again.

When you throw to a target, your shoulders want to square up to that target. When you start on the throwing arm side of the rubber and, especially if you stride that direction as well, then your shoulders have “a bigger corner to turn” to get squared up and that increases the chances of having a late posture shift as part of the attempt to get squared up. I call this kind of posture shift “cartwheeling”.

Starting on the glove side of the rubber reduces the corner you have to turn to get squared up so a pitcher has a better chance of squaring up without the posture shift.

[quote=“Roger”]When you throw to a target, your shoulders want to square up to that target. When you start on the throwing arm side of the rubber and, especially if you stride that direction as well, then your shoulders have “a bigger corner to turn” to get squared up and that increases the chances of having a late posture shift as part of the attempt to get squared up. I call this kind of posture shift “cartwheeling”.

Starting on the glove side of the rubber reduces the corner you have to turn to get squared up so a pitcher has a better chance of squaring up without the posture shift.[/quote]
I like the analogy of a “corner”, bigger (or sharper) if pitching from the throwing arm side of the rubber than if pitching from the glove side of the rubber.

It makes perfect sense that a bigger or sharper “corner” to overcome may cause the body to overcompensate, perhaps by “opening up”.

Tom House appears to confirm much of what has been discussed in this thread:

“The Lefty to the left side rule actually helps opposite-sided hitters and can produce over-rotation of the trunk.”

http://www.nationalpitching.net/sampleart3.asp

littlelefty said,

Assuming this is Little League we are talking about :

Given the guidelines of the regular season pitching rules as follows:

[quote]The manager must remove the pitcher when said pitcher reaches the limit for his/her age group as noted below, but the pitcher may remain in the game at another position:
League Age
17-18 105 pitches per day
13 -16 95 pitches per day
11 -12 85 pitches per day
9-10 75 pitches per day
7-8 50 pitches per day[/quote]

Considering your son’s “advanced” pitching for his age of 8 and playing in the 9-12 year old division…will you be limiting your son to the mandatory 50 pitches per day with the mandatory 2 calendar days of rest? Does this mean also that if other teams ask him to pitch for them, you will maintain allegiance to Little Legaue and refuse his further participation. If your son is a dominant pitcher…you will be faced with this dilemma.

[quote=“littlelefty”]Tom House appears to confirm much of what has been discussed in this thread:

“The Lefty to the left side rule actually helps opposite-sided hitters and can produce over-rotation of the trunk.”

http://www.nationalpitching.net/sampleart3.asp[/quote]
FYI, I am NPA certified. :slight_smile:

[quote=“Roger”][quote=“littlelefty”]Tom House appears to confirm much of what has been discussed in this thread:

“The Lefty to the left side rule actually helps opposite-sided hitters and can produce over-rotation of the trunk.”

http://www.nationalpitching.net/sampleart3.asp[/quote]
FYI, I am NPA certified. :)[/quote]
I suspected as much! Your comments in this thread are right in line with what House says about the “rule” of “lefty to the left side of the rubber”. He doesn’t appear to like it much.

The “rule” is conventional wisdom - cookie cutter instruction that isn’t appropriate for all pitchers. It may work for some but not for all.

Plus, when you consider how far your release point changes and then consider the difference in angle that creates and then consider the difference that small angle makes over the 60’ to the batter, how much more difficult is it really making things for the batter? But if that throws off your posture causing early shoulder rotation and an inconsistent release point, then the price you pay may outweigh any benefit you may get.

[quote=“littlelefty”]Hi,

My son is an 8 year old lefty whose pitching is quite advanced for his age (he has been moved up to the 9-12 year old division).

His main “issue” (if there is such a thing for 8 year olds!) is that he almost always “opens up”, with his stride foot landing well to the right of the imaginary “straight line” to the catcher.

As such, he has a tendency to pitch well inside (to right handed batters).

He does tend to extend his glove side arm out but then drop it to his right, which may be a factor in this.

Are there any drills that can help him learn to pitch more closed?

Or is this something I shouldn’t even address at this young age?

Thanks.[/quote]

My son is a couple years older than yours, is a lefty as well, and had the same problem.

With the help of a friend who was a pitcher in a college, I realized that by increasing his stride he was less prone to opening up too early, and that helped correct most of his errant pitches inside. The other correction I made was have him step straighter toward the target – the catcher’s glove – by simply practicing stepping to the correct spot over and over again, without throwing, till he could do it without looking down at his feet.

Thanks, shripathikamath.

My son’s stride is fairly long. He has made great improvement, though, since I switched him to the glove (right) side of the rubber (see discussion above).

But I will try your suggestion and have him simply practice stepping straight ahead. I believe jdfromfla (or someone else) has posted a video here, somewhere, of his son practicing striding with his arms up in the air, each arm in an “L” position. Perhaps he can repost it here?