Please advise on 13yo mechanics

Looking for any and all advice on what to work on with my soon-to-be 13yo (end of June).

We have one year from this week before he will try out for the 9th-grade baseball team (tryouts are in May of your 8th-grade year.)

He’s recently dropped his slot down with good results. He’s throwing harder and more accurate than ever before. When he’s on, the ball has a good run into RHers. He has a good change-up. I’ve not allowed him to throw breaking pitches yet, but think his hand is well suited for it, and his arm slot could provide a nice side break if spun.

I know he needs to add some muscle, especially in the lower half.
What else can we look to work with to maximize his abilities? I feel he needs to be superb on his mechanics if he is to get enough velocity and movement to have a chance to make that team (only 1 in 4 kids make the team).

Thank you in advance,
Marc

Im no pitching coach , but i have been pitching for a while now and if i had to say one thing, when hes pitching fro the stretch , he could gain much more velocity from a leg lift . thats one way . Also when doing the leg lift try to fall towards home plate to gain as much momentum as possible

With the risk of being overly blunt:

These are bad mechanics.

There is a huge lack of explosiveness. Slow movements with the body equate to slow arms. I’m not sure why this player is even using the wind up as absolutely nothing good is coming out of it. I’d try the six cleat move/rotational slide step for starters and try to have him go extremely quickly and violently.

No pelvic loading, no momentum into his foot plant and pretty much no rotation at all except some rotation around the spine. Nothing around the front hip joint.

Hand break is extremely early as well and he is laboring to throw. I’d say this arm action is limiting and will cap his velocity. Some may disagree but it’s not ideal for me.

Lack of intent to throw hard. I’d say on a 1-10 scale, with a 10 meaning hes grunting, swearing, and grinding his teeth with veins coming out his neck because he is trying to throw so hard, his intent is closer to a 2. You said it yourself he needs velocity. How does what he is doing now contribute to his velocity?

Is he working with someone? It looks like he is doing the typical cookie cutter arm circle balance point mechanics that tops kids out at around 82 mph as seniors in high school. If someone taught him these mechanics cancel all lessons and delete his number from your phone.

I realize your trying to make a team but you stated you have a year or so before the try out.

I’d suggest a few things.

  1. Work from the stretch exclusively for now. Then go quicker. Extremely quicker. This is a must. Fast body=fast arm. It also gives the body less time to screw up and makes things more efficient.

  2. Practice throwing harder.

  3. Look into backwards chaining drills from Setpro for arm action. Not sure if the e book downloads are still available but lankylefty has some good video clips of throwing exercises in his journal that are applicable to this player.

  4. Look at how high level players load there hips both at the plate and on the mound. Now look at what your son does and there’s a huge difference.

It’s generic advice and I’d say every player could benefit from the above. But every player runs into the same wall at 12 years old, 14, 18, or 21.

Best of luck and feel free to PM.

campsdad…before you and your boy go jumping off the bridge…consider these recent vids from ol jd’s last adventure at The Trop…I would bring your attention to them as a way of saying…there are many ways to train up a pitcher…and many ways to pitch…

The 1st guy is a friend of Steven’s, it’s Kyle Farnsworth, notice the smooth and “non-explosive”? He hits 98 when he wants…actually stepped down a few mph a couple of years back and started throwing the cutter at 92.

The 2nd is Joel Peralta…he is a classic…junk baller…barely breaks wind in the mid to upper 80’s

The 3rd is Fernando Rodney…talk about a beast…he has a hunsky in his arm…notice no “explosiveness?”…the guy is one huge core of strength and just keeps it simple and torches it.

Now I want you to know that I think momentum/intent are not “bad”, it is and has been a successful way of developing velocity.

For your son, first…he needs athleticism, I would work that in several paths…long toss, another sport which helps develop entire body coordination (Martial arts, basketball, wrestling swimming…you get the idea), I’d work on conditioning…but I’d develop an incremental plan.
Next is diet, yes he needs meat on them bones, and a solid balanced vitamin intake, protein will help add muscle mass.

On the wind-up vs stretch thing…none of it will make a difference if he doesn’t get to equal and opposite at footstrike, your boy just drops his glove side arm…doing this makes accuracy very difficult…and if you “speed up”??? well the inaccuracy increases not diminishes…you have to throw fundamentally correctly before you step on the gas…(Think…gotta crawl to walk, walk before you run…). Once the ball gets to the catcher in a fundamentally correct way…heck condition properly and work on increasing velo.

Obviously he’s had success and is looking to get better…plan, set goals, monitor and adjust as you go, I suggest you consider Tuff Cuff as a conditioning companion as it covers years of pitching program with incremental growth…

Keep his chin up and keep him hungry, you are doing the right thing by getting educated.

Thank you all for your replies.

JimmyK, you’ve brought up some good points. I think saying his mechanics are “bad” is a bit of an overstatement, but I’m gonna take it that your heart is in the right place.

  • Yes on increasing his pace. I re-watched the video again and see what you were referring to. I don’t know why he was going so slow during this session… maybe because of the camera. But, I don’t think having in go “violently” will be depth of change.
    -Yes on on getting a little more load in the middle. A little of the ole “show the catcher your back pocket” could generate more explosiveness.
    -On lack of intent to throw hard… as I said in point one, he usually has a little more fire about him. I’ll try to shoot vid of him again but ask him to be more “game-like” in his intent. But, right now, he’s a location pitcher with a very good change up. And, he’s effective. We can try for him to “power-up” and flame it… but, not at the expense of what is working. I’m not going to try and make him the next Chapman… he’s not that type of pitcher. He can let it go from time to time, but he’s not a rare-back and hum it kind of pitcher. We’d like for him to throw harder, but he’ll never be the hardest thrower on the staff, especially as almost a year younger than most kids in his grade. If he is one of those that tops out at 82 (85 would be better) in HS, but with an undetectable CU, a decent breaker, and can knock a fly off a post… that’ll work. But, yes, I will take your underlying advice and encourage him to WANT to throw harder and do things in his mechanics that will aid that.

jdf, I had not noticed how his glove side is not really helping him. Thanks for that observation. He seems close to being equal and opposite… just not quite there yet. We will work on that, but wait until the season ends. I think working on the glove side would be a natural thing to work on as I try to extend his stride a little. I’m hoping in working on some of Jimmy’s suggestions… his stride will stretch out a little on its own.
-Getting meat on his bones is so freaking hard. His other sport is cross-country. Along with his natural metabolism and the long distance running, he’s burning more calories than adult men. I’m going to take your advice on looking into a supplement.
-This weekend I’m going to try and find all the video I can of Farnsworth for him to watch. Thanks.

My son and I are looking for anything that we can work on. Anybody else notice something?

Marc

Campsdad,

I think your son can really benefit from learning how to use his hips and lower half correctly. Right now he’s throwing mostly with all arm and getting virtually no separation, and throwing with little athleticsm or explosiveness. The good news is there is plenty of upside quickly. Try these drills with him:

Herschiser drill:

Walking torques:

Baseballthinktank drills:
http://baseballthinktank.com/pitching-drills-throwing-with-the-lower-body-is-hip/

For a frame of reference, there are a two 13 year olds and one 14 year old on this thread (if it helps your son to see what others his age are doing with their lower half…they’re definitely not perfect, but at least it could possibly be used as an illustration re intent/athleticsm):
http://www.letstalkpitching.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=17382

[quote=“campsdad”]
-Yes on on getting a little more load in the middle. A little of the ole “show the catcher your back pocket” could generate more explosiveness. [/quote]

Counter-rotation would be counter-productive. Focus on getting the lift without rotating back over the rubber. In fact, he needs to be angling forward at the top of his lift and not vertical or rotating backward. Going back, requires an eventual change of direction forward, which requires a slowing down to stop the counter-rotation followed by having to generate forward momentum. Usually this leads to back leg collapse (drop) to compensate rather than the desired subtle back leg bend as a pre-cursor to the leg drive. Show the back pocket is a horrible teaching aid.

I see these all the time and they are a dime a dozen as he gets older. As the hitters get better, the difference between the change up and the fastball will not be of any value because the hitters will be staying back on the ball and not trying to time their forward lunge swings that so many have at a young age. If he tries to take even more off the change up to get a bigger speed difference, it will be so slow that the hitters can make the adjustment on the fly, regardless of having a good or bad swing.

This is true. I got through Senior American Legion with tremendous success. In fact, my numbers across the board were better than the recruited pitcher who was on my team. He threw upper 80s at the time and eventually got to +90 in college. From the stretch, my first move to glove pop time was faster than his as well, so it was harder to steal off me. He will need to reach that 82-85 mark for HS or you may as well be throwing batting practice. He will need to work on his mechanics and explosiveness.

At the 45 sec mark of the video, he’s perfect. At 46 secs, his elbow gets forward of his acromial line. It gives the appearance of throwing darts when watched at full speed. Essentially, he’s all arm and nothing else is getting on the ball. That is not gonna help his arm as his pitch counts get up there.

[quote=“CoachPaul”]

Counter-rotation would be counter-productive. Focus on getting the lift without rotating back over the rubber. … Usually this leads to back leg collapse (drop) to compensate rather than the desired subtle back leg bend as a pre-cursor to the leg drive. Show the back pocket is a horrible teaching aid.[/quote]

Noted. Scratching that from the plan. Happy medium to be located and perfected.

Thanks for the other points as well. I think I’m going to let him read this thread. I think it will help him understand where his focus needs to be.

Marc

I’d consider scrapping being in cross country, distance running isn’t beneficial at all.

That in itself might be part of the reason as to why he’s lacking the explosive movement patterns.

Just a thought.

I suggested taking this season off from cross-country to concentrate on pitching during the fall… but, he wasn’t having it. Plus, if he doesn’t make the HS baseball squad, CC will be his only varsity sport. Probably best to not tick off the CC coach.

The two activities are not mutually exclusive. One of my high school buddies ran cross country and played baseball. He was a state champion in cross country and received nice recognition for it. And he enjoyed baseball. But yeah, he had a runners body.

The point I try to make with almost every player is you have to be a thrower before you can be a pitcher if you want to be able to keep moving up the baseball ladder. Certainly things are different once you are in the professional game but you need the ability to throw with velocity to get your foot in the door in 99% of cases.

With many players, you have to repeatedly swing hard or throw hard to make it a habit and ingrain those movement patterns. That’s why I suggested your son should be violent when he throws. It’s also why these days “hard nosed” players stick out so much. Especially at the high school or college level where players are told 1,000 times per day to not “over swing” or don’t “over do it” on the mound or with long toss.

This is another problem. Why do parents and coaches put artificial caps on what people can do or can’t do? What if a teacher told your son “You’ll be ok in school, but you’ll never make the honor roll”

I tell the kids I work with the only limitations they have are the ones they place on themselves.

[quote]For a frame of reference, there are a two 13 year olds and one 14 year old on this thread (if it helps your son to see what others his age are doing with their lower half…they’re definitely not perfect, but at least it could possibly be used as an illustration re intent/athleticsm):
http://www.letstalkpitching.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=17382[/quote]

The meaning of throwing with intent to throw fast . . .

For my 13 year old, there’s a huge difference in velocity when he’s intent on throwing the ball past the hitter, and when he’s throwing for location. A few evenings back, he came in to pitch the last inning of a tight game against a bitter rival. It was late, getting dark, and all we had to do was get three outs to win the game. For the first two hitters, he reared back, smoke coming from his nostrils, and blew fastballs past their #3 and 4 hitter. With two outs, the game close to being called bacause of darkness, his intent changed from throwing heat to making sure he threw strikes and didn’t walk a batter. He went to control and threw for location. The velocity wasn’t there, but the pitches were spot on - about an inch outside. He walked him, the game was called due to darkness, and the score reverted back to the previous inning. We lost!

After the game, my son’s comment was, “If I just reared back and threw it hard, I would have struck him out and we would have won. It’s my fault we loss.” The snack bar was open, so we enjoyed some food. Meanwhile, the opposing team came up to him and started talking. They were gracious, agreeing that the umpires shouldn’t have called the game due to darkness. They couldn’t get their bats around in time to hit the ball if it was full daylight. Fear and respect were in their eyes, for if you’ve ever seen a 6’ 180# 13 year old throwing with all passion as hard as he can, it’s scary. His face gets contorted, the delivery is violent, and 55’ seems awfully close. I’m sure they were exagerrating, but each of the kids knew why the umpire stopped the game. The umpire stated the reason he called the game was because the pitcher was pitching too fast and the hitters couldn’t see the ball. I think the umpires called it because of the fierceness shown in my son’s face and delivery. They were afraid he could hurt someone!

I’ve watched every pitch, and it’s not too often that he pitches with such violent intent to throw as hard as he can. And there’s a visible and emotional difference.

p.s. IMHO, there are other kids in 14U who throw harder then he does on a regular basis. It’s not the velocity that gets people talking, it’s the intent, the violence in the delivery, the contortion in the face, that puts the fear of God into the hitters mind.

Dno’t place an unnecessary handicap on your son. As he gets older he will grow and mature. He needs to start working toward getting stronger now.

My son was one of those younger kids on his HSV staff. All he did freshman year is get first team all district honors and won district pitcher of the year.