Pitching question


#1

Dear Coach Ellis, i have a 11 year old son who wants to

make it to the majors, he reads all your stuff you have written and is a big
baseball fan in general. our question is, he is a ss and pitcher, should he be
throwing over the top or be throwing 3/4. i have talked to different people
about this and they all have different answers. some say throwing 3/4 will give
him more speed and take some pressure off the shoulder others disagree, what is
your take on this. this for listening.
your freinds in baseball
bill and willie carpenter


#2

I’m not Steven, but here’s my $.02.

I believe that in general the more vertical the arm slot the better. The logic is that that leaves the ball in the sweet spot of the bat (which is about 6 inches wide and 1/2 inch high) for the shortest period of time.

Of course, there are exceptions (e.g. Randy Johnson).

While some people say that there’s nothing you can do about arm slot – that it’s genetic – the reality is that it’s fairly easy to change. Largely, the difference between throwing sidearm, throwing 3/4, or throwing overhand comes down to how much you tilt your shoulders.

As long as you keep your elbow at or below the level of your shoulders, then I do not believe that you will have a significant risk of experiencing shoulder problems.


#3

[quote=“dts1”] he is a ss and pitcher, should he be

throwing over the top or be throwing 3/4. i have talked to different people
about this and they all have different answers. some say throwing 3/4 will give
him more speed and take some pressure off the shoulder others disagree, what is
your take on this.[/quote]

Thanks for the question. To me, the key here isn’t “over-the-top” vs. “high-3/4” vs. “low-3/4” as much as finding the right arm slot for your son. My slot was a “high-ish 3/4,” for example. My teammate Dontrelle Willis’s is more of a “low-to-mid-3/4” slot. Everyone’s different.

To determine your son’s natural arm slot, hit him some fungos in the outfield and watch him throw the ball back, suggests Mississippi State University baseball coach Ron Polk. “That generally will be his natural way of throwing and the way he should pitch.”

But O’Leary is right in that it is “generally” excepted in baseball that the greater the angle downward, the greater the mechanical advantage for the pitcher. Throwing with a dropped elbow, throwing side arm, or with a low-3/4 arm slot reduces this downward angle – and, of course, the advantage. But it’s not for everyone.

Let us know how it goes!


#4

[quote=“Chris O’Leary”]I’m not Steven, but here’s my $.02.

I believe that in general the more vertical the arm slot the better. The logic is that that leaves the ball in the sweet spot of the bat (which is about 6 inches wide and 1/2 inch high) for the shortest period of time.
[/quote]

The difference in the release point when using an over-the-top arm slot versus a 3/4 arm slot is only about 8". If you drew a line from the catcher’s glove to each of these release points and then look at the angle between the two lines, you’ll realize that this is too insignificant to worry about, IMHO.

Absolutely not. Tilting the shoulders will lead to bad habits and possibly injury. The shoulders should rotate around an upright spine which means they should remain level.

Opening up the shoulders too soon (as often occurs when the shoulders tilt) causes you to throw with just your arm and increases your chance of injury. So, even if keeping your elbows no higher than your shoulders helps avoid injury, it’s not a guarantee you won’t get injured if you do other things wrong.

To answer the original question, I strongly suggest your son throw from his natural arm slot and making sure his mechanics give him the timing that causes his hips and shoulders to be squared up to his target at release point.


#5

thanks guys for the reply, we are going to stay with the way he throws for now with in the next week or so iam going to video tape him and let you guys see it and hear what you think. thanks again for the great replys


#6

[quote=“Roger”]The shoulders should rotate around an upright spine which means they should remain level.[/quote]This is one of those statements that begs the question “why?” On the surface, it sounds like an absolute. My questions are “who says?” and “why is this so?”

There are so many MLB pitchers who tilt their shoulders. Actually, I’d guess, correct me if I’m wrong because I could be, that the majority of MLB pichers have a tilt to their shoulders. Upright postures would be quite rare because, in order to have the arm at an angle above horizontal when the humerus is aligned with the shoulder line, the shoulders must be tilted. The humerus can only go above horizontal as it is abducted (comes forward).

Try it. Stand perfectly upright with your arm pointing straight sideways at shoulder height. Now try to raise it up to any significant degree above parallel to the ground. Now, move the arm forward and try again. Much easier.

So, as the arm passes this point, with an upright posture, the humerus is pretty much horizontal. Getting from here to a 3/4 slot at release is difficult at best, considering that release is to the side and not out front anyway.


#7

Who says? Tom House. You may or may not agree with his teachings. I tend to agree with him.

Why is this so? A few reasons. First, tilting the shoulders leads to opening up too soon. For example, dropping the glove or pulling the glove to the side usually cause the shoulders to tilt to the glove side. The results of this are opening up too soon which puts undue stress on the throwing arm, inconsistency in the release point, and it pulls the release point away from the target when you want your release point as close to the target as possible. Tom House claims that for every inch your head moves to the side, your release point pulls back 2 inches from your target.

Many MLB Pitchers have gotten good at doing things in less than perfect ways. In fact, people aren’t perfect so, to be successful, one must adapt to their own flaws. K-Rod is a good example of a succesful pitcher who has gotten good at doing things poorly (although I wonder how long his arm is going to last given how much he opens up). However, that’s no reason not to teach young pitchers to try to do things the right way.

[quote=“dm59”]Try it. Stand perfectly upright with your arm pointing straight sideways at shoulder height. Now try to raise it up to any significant degree above parallel to the ground. Now, move the arm forward and try again. Much easier.

So, as the arm passes this point, with an upright posture, the humerus is pretty much horizontal. Getting from here to a 3/4 slot at release is difficult at best, considering that release is to the side and not out front anyway.[/quote]

Not sure I follow these comments. It sounds like you’re saying arm slot is relative to ground as opposed to the shoulders in which case I would disagree. Many pitchers that some claim are “over the top” are not. They only create that appearance because their head and shoulders tilt to the side. Also, it’s not clear to me what you mean when you say that release is to the side and not out front. Regardless, you want your release point out in front. At release, the stride foot, stride knee (which should be bent), and chin should form a vertical line and the release point should be about 8"-10" in front of this line.


#8

[quote=“Roger”]Who says? Tom House. [/quote]There are many who disagree with him about issues like releasing closer to the target, the towel drill and his upright posture issue.

[quote=“Roger”]…tilting the shoulders leads to opening up too soon.[/quote]Another “absolute” with no backup. This is just patently untrue. So, you’re telling me that every MLB pitcher who tilts the shoulders opens up too soon. Sorry, I can’t buy that. Take a look at Clemens, Nolan Ryan, Schilling, Mariano Rivera, Smoltz, Wagner or Scott Kazmir, to name just a few. Even Maddux. Do they open up too soon? I don’t think so.

[quote=“Roger”]…dropping the glove …The results of this are opening up too soon…[/quote]Again, an “absolute” that isn’t. High level pitchers all over prove that this is not an absolute. There is no definitive “cause and effect” here. There are too many examples of this not being the case.

[quote=“Roger”]Many MLB Pitchers have gotten good at doing things in less than perfect ways.[/quote]Agreed but where’s the proof that this is less than perfect and that the “right way”, as you put it, is what Tom House is recommending? As far as I know, nobody has been able to, without a doubt, prove that ANY way is the RIGHT way.

[quote=“Roger”]Many pitchers that some claim are “over the top” are not. They only create that appearance because their head and shoulders tilt to the side.[/quote]Agreed.

[quote=“Roger”]At release…the release point should be about 8"-10" in front of this line.[/quote]I’m going to regret this. Let’s call it a moment of temporary insanity for me but I’m going to quote Mike Marshall now :shock: I only do this to illustrate how others disagree with Tom House, actually they all disagree with each other. That’s the nature of guru’s I guess. Marshall states very emphatically that high speed film shows that the ball is release more in line with the throwing side ear than out front. Who’s right? I don’t know. I just do know that the noted “results” of shoulder tilt aren’t “cause and effect”. If a pitcher opens up too soon, it’s cause is elsewhere. There are just too many examples of shoulder tilt with NOT opening early.


#9

Ok, I’ll buy your arguments. I shouldn’t have worded things to imply that shoulder tilt always results in opening up too soon. But I will say that, with young kids, shoulder tilt is often involved with opening up to soon. I agree it may not be the cause but it often goes hand in hand. When it comes to working with young kids - which is what I do - I try to teach them perfect mechanics even though I know they will never be perfect. And, of course, my idea of perfect mechanics is probably different than the next guy.

Good discussion. I continue to learn and I appreciate your comments.


#10

I too agree with what you said about tilt being “often involved” with kids. Not always but sometimes. Just to clarify, I’m not pushing shoulder tilt at all. I also prefer a more upright position, just not because a tilt is going to CAUSE various problems. I lean (sorry for the bad pun) toward the positives of keeping the head and eyes on target with an orientation that our brains like. I believe (there’s that word again) that it can facilitate repeatable mechanics and control due to a consistent view of the target in 3 dimensions. On the other hand, I won’t condemn someone for tilting unless it’s extreme and actually does result in the problems you noted.

I must agree again that this has been a good discussion.


#11

i just want to say thanks guys for the replys, i have learned alot in such a short time thanks again


#12

That’s how these board work. A question from a member often causes a dialog that may go in many directions but, most times, either a resolution or understanding is reached and all benefit, or people agree to disagree, which is alright too. When that happens, everyone, not only those directly involved in the conversations, at least gets exposed to other thoughts. This is controversial stuff with lots of room for opposing points of view. Hopefully, we’re all respectful when we disagree or have different frames of reference.