Please help 9 year old

Hello, my son just turned 9 in late sept. He and I would like some help with his mechanics. He will play his first year in the 9-10 year old minors little league.

I have been reading this forum about 8 months now. I have took my son to 3 pitching lessons but was not impressed. I have gained knowledge (as a father/coach) by reading your forum. I especialy pay attention to Roger (administrator) as well as everybody else.

I know that bad habits need to be corrected now at age 9 before he continues in this sport. This is why I have posted a side view and a back view to help analysis of him.

The views are of him in the stretch position which is the only position he can get any velocity with so I have not taught him any other position at this time.

I know there are a lot of areas I need to work with him on. And I have questions that need to answered due to my lack of knowledge in pitching. with that said please critique him.

side view;

http://www.youtube.com/v/aGCKglxjBL0

back view;

http://www.youtube.com/v/ncz5VRmNosM

[/youtube]

Sorry here is youtube

side view;

her is the back view;

greyhairdad,

That could just as easily have been my moniker, glad you got it first!

I’ve only looked at the back view video so far, but I like a lot of things your son is doing.

One thing that he needs to change, in my opinion, is the width of his feet in the set position.

When he goes into leg lift his leg is a little bit too far out in front of his body. So, to counter-balance that you can see that he leans back noticeably. That’s not what he should be doing.

Instead, ask him to come set with his feet no more than armpit-to-armpit width apart. He should have the big toe of the posting foot just about in line with the arch of the stride foot.

I liked his low starting posture. Many kids his age start with a posture that is higher than their functional strength will allow them to maintain into foot-strike. The result is that they may start tall, but then they have to drop down anyway, and they incur unwanted north-south head movement. Your boy’s starting posture looks pretty good to me, now just get his starting foot placement right so that he gets momentum forward from the earliest part of his leg lift.

With all of the thoughtful care you are taking, from the get-go, I’d say your boy is one of the lucky ones who will be able to develop into a good pitcher and have lots of fun along the way.

Sorry for the “serial posting”.

Another thing that you will want to work with your son on is his soft glove side.

His glove looks too big for his size anyway (he is throwing a 5 oz baseball from one hand, and wearing what looks to be a ~2 lb glove on the other hand)–however, for whatever reason, his glove hand sort of flops down to his side near or at the release point.

This is usually news to people who have come only recently to a serious study of pitching mechanics—motion analysis of more than 500 pro-level pitchers shows that most of them (not all, but certainly the majority) stabilize their glove over the landing foot and bring their torso forward to meet the glove.

There used to be a common wisdom about ‘pulling the glove’ into the body. In real time it can look like that is what’s happening but careful motion analysis of real good pitchers shows otherwise. Look at a side-view video clip of Randy Johnson, just as one good example of what your son should be doing with his glove side on every throw (whether pitching, warming up with long toss, or just playing catch with you…it takes lots of reps for kids to get this right because it is often not intuitive).

(P.S.: I gave you the example of Randy Johnson’s glove side control, etc…I’ve recently been working on some mechanics descriptions of Walter Johnson derived from 1920’s vintage film of his delivery… and, guess what? Without the benefit of motion analysis techniques, The Big Train intuitively (or he was coached well? who knows) controlled his glove side in exactly the same way.)

it looks like the ocean in the background, a great mound in a beautiful backyard. and the rally dog watching every pitch. i want to throw at your house.

here’s what i see. i think the squatting position is making him very tense. i like to see guys a little more relaxed before they begin movement. might try it standing up some and just relaxing. not jelly like but a comfortable state. he doesn’t look comfortable.

now for the big part. when you stop the tape after he takes the ball out of the glove from the rear view. he immediately thrusts the ball away and straightens the elbow. this is a death move. that elbow needs to be soft coming out of there. some guys will straighten it, but most keep it at about a 90’ bend. look at the nolan ryan clips on this site, they are excellent. that is the first thing i would work on.

next, he needs to keep his head and shoulders behind his hips as he travels down the hill. when the leg comes up, the first thing that goes is the hips. the hitter should see the hip pocket of your pants as you move forward. get some leverage by pressing or pushing away from the rubber to move forward. doing this while staying closed is the trick.

if you’ll keep the throwing arm soft and release the ball in front of the head, it will work wonders. do an author search for tmcgregor and look at his 11 yr old son justin throwing. i think his mechanics are about as good as it gets for a young guy.

good luck and get that rally dog a uniform top.

I agree with laflippin’s comments (as I should since we have similar backgrounds) so I’ll state many of the same things but I’ll put things in my own words.

With young kids like this, I think it is particularly important to start with the basics that form the foundation to build upon. Those basics, in my opinion, are balance and posture. (laflippin’s comments all revolve around these two aspects.) I think your initial focus should be on getting your son to stabilize his head and glove as these have a big effect on balance and posture.

My first comment is also about the initial posture. I, too, like the athletic posture. Your son might not need to “scrunch” down as much as he does but I don’t see a strong need to change that. If it’s comfortable for him, I’d leave it alone. Now, if your son stood up straight like many young kids do, he would still end up adjusting to a more athletic posture shortly into his delivery thus injecting extra movement into his delivery. Adopting the athletic posture before starting the delivery eliminates unnecessary movement during the delivery.

Your son’s initial stance is too wide. He does not have the strength to lift his knee from this position without affecting balance and/or posture. So, in order to accomodate this, he makes a noticeable weight shift back towards 2B which injects unnecessary head movement into his delivery in the form of moving back before moving forward. Note that unnecessary movement makes balance and repeatability of mechanics more difficult.

Work on getting him to take his head only forward toward the target - no movement side-to-side, no movement back (away from the target), and no up-and-down movement. An analogy I’ve used with kids is to have them imagine their head as a bowling ball moving down the gutter - it only goes one direction.

Eventually you’ll want to have your son work on leading with his front hip during the early part of his stride instead of reaching with the front leg/foot. But save that for after these basics are improved.

You will also notice that as your son releases the ball, his head is tilted toward the glove side. This is also inappropriate head movement that you should correct. Some people will argue it raises the release point to create downward angle which is good. I’d argue that the higher release point can impair movement (not thatyour son is throwing breaking pitches yet) and it forces the shoulders to rotate around a curved spine - the shoulders rotate more efficiently around an upright spine. Now, there could be multiple factors contributing to your son’s tilt but the instable glove is one I would suggest focusing on. As laflippin described, he should try to stabilize the glove out front. As the front foot plants, the glove should be up in front. As the shoulders rotate, the glove elbow should tuck down to the side or slightly in front of the torso and the glove should turn over so the pocket faces his face or chest. Check out Nolan Ryan’s glove in
http://cache3.gettyimages.com/xt/50987231.jpg?v=1&g=mlb&s=1][u]this picture[/u
.
Letting the glove drop or fly open will often cause the shoulders to rotate early and that leads to other issues including putting more stress on the arm.

[quote=“Roger”]Work on getting him to take his head only forward toward the target - no movement side-to-side, …[/quote]Roger/laflippin. Can you guys elaborate on this one please? What about all of those major league pitchers who tilt to the glove side to raise the arm slot coming through? How do you do if the head stays that much on a straight line to the target? I hear this a lot and, obviously, House/NPA recommend it but I don’t see it as an absolute in the pros.

dm,

I’ll take a hack at it, but I’m not sure I have totally satisfying answers for this topic. As you noted, the arm-slot question is not cut-and-dried or one-size-fits-all.

Just to start with, House believes that an individual’s arm-slot is mostly genetic. Kids can obviously be coached into changing their arm-slot to fufill a coach’s vision of “the ideal arm-slot” but the argument against this sort of tinkering goes like: Kids spend years adapting the musculature of their throwing arm/shoulder to the arm-slot that is most natural and comfortable for them. If they are asked to change their arm-slot (the recommendation is almost always “get on top, get the elbow up” then they are being asked to make changes to the parts of the body that are under the most stress during the throwing motion. So, without lots and lots of time for gradual readaption to that kind of change, it is likely to make something in the kinetic chain to break down before the necessary adaptions can take hold (if they ever do).

Another argument against changing a kid’s ‘natural’ arm-slot for him is that every conceivable arm-slot that is physiologically possible for humans is represented among the world’s elite pitchers–they all work. I once made a photoshop collage of 8 or 9 MLB pitchers with all the different RHP and LHP arm-slots taken at release point–the composite looked like that multi-armed Hindu god, Shiva.

So far so good. Well, clearly, to get the 11 o’clock (RHP) or 1 o’clock (LHP) arm-slot–which something like 5 or 7 % of elite pitchers do, those guys have to lean their torso and head to the throwing arm side. There’s no way around that fact.

(BTW, another great reason for most of us to refrain from training a high arm-slot into a kid who doesn’t naturally throw that way is: Most coaches just tell kids to get their elbow higher, as though that is how it is done. I’ve never heard a coach tell a kid, “You can get a higher arm-angle if you are able to lean your torso/head to the throwing side while maintaining good dynamic balance through to foot-strike”. They all say, “get the elbow up” which is actually not possible under the stress of a real delivery, unless the torso leans.

So, guys that throw from high arm-slots, or submarine ones for that matter, must lean their heads off the straight line to home plate.

Since this is a grey area, at best, I’d say that I take the advice to mean that side-to-side head movement should be kept to an absolute minimum amount that is still compatible with the pitcher’s actual arm-slot.

But, you can’t really coach with words like that, you know?

re: “…those guys have to lean their torso and head to the throwing arm side…”

----------oops, sorry, I of course meant to say “…those guys have to lean their torso and head away from the throwing arm side…”

and, "…you are able to lean your torso/head “away from the throwing arm side…”

You are correct, of course - there are no absolutes. But here’s what I know from House and the NPA.

First, House would tell you that most of the top pitchers in the game (e.g. Johnson, Maddux, Pedro, etc.) actually do keep their head upright. “All of those major league pitchers who tilt to the glove side to raise the arm slot coming through” sounds like a lot but I don’t really know how many there are nor what percentage of all pitchers they account for. No doubt there are some that tilt.

As for the NPA’s recommendation, it’s base on a number of factors. First, eliminating unnecessary head movement makes it easier to maintain good posture and balance which help pitchers achieve good timing and repeatability. Second, taking the head forward only means all energy is directed toward the target. Movement in other directions represents energy directed in those directions to initiate and halt the movements. Third, the shoulders can rotate most efficiently around an upright spine - not one that’s curved which is what happens when a pitcher tilts to the glove side. Fourth, tilting lends itself to opening the shoulders early which poses a health issue for the throwing arm. Fifth, tilting pulls the release point back and raises it up which increases batter reaction time and affects movement. I’m pretty sure House would say that trading all of these things for a little bit higher release point isn’t worth it.

Now back to the point about there being pros that tilt. That just goes to show that you can eventually get good at doing things in what are deemed (at least, by some) less than optimal ways. But, for those who are still developing, are those the best ways to get good fast? And remain healthy? Obviously everyone wants to get as good as they can as fast as they can and remain healthy at the same time. The NPA puts a big emphasis on injury prevention.

I like your little guy’s intent.

When I first looked at your son I like the way he finished i.e. the intent that he had to throw the baseball.

He does get a little “funky” as he’s releasing the ball. Funky in respect to he twists a little bit too much sideways.

One thing that’s hugely important for you and anyone else who wants to have a fighting chance of coming close to maximizing a players abilities to throw the baseball, the head only follows a straight line if the player has a very flat delivery i.e. the elbow travels parallel to the ground as the player rotates as for the baseball. Some would interpret this as SideArm, but true side I’m is a different animal altogether as opposed to having a low elbow slot.

As the elbow slot gets higher i.e. as the player tilts his upper spine more toward first base if he is a right-hander and third base if he is a left-hander, the head will travel in more of a diagonal as viewed facing the pitcher from home plate.

When I saw your son finishing with his head moving toward first base the first thing I look for was a higher elbow slot which your son does not have.

And your son is not “pulling” his head off to the side as is his head moving off to the side so that he can get his shoulder around to throw the baseball.

Upon taking a closer look at the clip:

what did stand out to me is how he went into foot plant:

and more specifically:

He really hasn’t started his rotation until after his foot plant but if you’ll notice that his knee/foot are turned into quite a bit toward third base. and once he starts bearing up with weight he ends up with a situation where it appears that his front knee locks up and because it has nowhere else to go pushes his hips back and toward third base.

This creates all kinds of problems in trying to throw the baseball and he appears to compensate by hooking his spine around to the 1b side in an attempt to get things rotated so that he can throw the baseball.

High-level throwers rotate INTO foot plant. If you look at the Lincecom clip and for that matter Nolan Ryan their front knee has cleared i.e. is pointing toward home plate once the front foot lands.

Players who do land more close with the front side have learned how to rotate the middle section of their body to compensate for hips that might be a little too closed off. Some would call this The player having greater flexibility and it is to the degree that they have learned how to do it.

Obtaining proper hip rotation and hip to upper body separation is always a challenge especially for young players such as your son. That’s what I would be working on.

Forget keeping the head online, that’s another Tom House wives tale. Keeping your head online has some viability for someone who throws with a very low elbow slot.

And what keeping your head online is mostly about asymptomatic that most players don’t know how to sequence the body i.e. a do not know how to create a kinetic sequence i.e. leg rotates around transferring to hips transferring to midsection transferring to upper body shoulders transferring to arm transferring to fingertips. What they try to do is lock up their entire body and then yank their head off in an attempt to spin around as opposed to creating a segmental sequence.

Your son is yanking his head around to some degree but I would work on getting proper rotation into foot plant i.e. not locking up the front knee so that it pushes the hips back and off to the side before I did anything else.

I like the way your son finishes he really is trying to throw the baseball. Please don’t potentially screw him up by trying to make in the pitcher right now.

I’d love to see a video of this young man throwing … forget the moundwork , just in the outfield throwing .

[quote=“coachxj”]I like your little guy’s intent.

[/quote]That’s some great work, coach! Again, thanks for taking the time to not only diagnose, but to edit film to make your points.

Hose

There are a number of things one can say in critiquing your son. But
I’ll mention only mention one basic of throwing. And that is the corect
arm pattern is down - back - and up. Your son has his hands about
shoulder high and breaks his hands from there and goes straight back.
Look at the clips of the major league pitchers on this site. You will see they may start with the hands high,or even over head, but wll drop them and separate them about belt high. Then they take the ball down, back and up. This is a fundamental move I still have to emphaize in our high school pitchers. Finally, I’d recommend you pick up a copy of Tom Seaver’s book “The Art of Pitching.” Learning from a Hall of Famer has some valuable lessons especiallly for a beginning pitcher.

Agree … thats why I previously suggested a video to see how he throws the baseball in a non pitching environment … to see if thats his natural stroke .

First I would like to thank everbody for your comments and diagnoses. Below is a summary of the comments that were made regarding my son;

laflipping; feet stance, glove to large and tucking the glove. Laflipping then recomended that I watch Randy Johnson for glave placement. I agree with laflipping. Thank You.

Dusty Delso; Dusty mentioned that by taking your arm straight back at ball break is called a----------DEATH MOVE---------and I subspected that and thank you dusty for bringing that to the forefront. Also, dusty stated my son keeps his head and shoulders behind his hips as he moves down the mound. Dusty recomended that I watch nolan ryan’s clips and tmcgegor’s boy. tmcgregors boy gives my son a good goal to reach. It is good motivation to see another young man (11 years old) with diciplined skills. Also dusty mentioned that there is a beach in the background, sorry to say that is smog comming in. Also, yes I am going to get a uniform for “Rimshot” the rally dog, thanks dusty for your comments, I agree with you also.

Roger; stance to wide, wieght shift to 2nd base at leg lift, get head toward the target no up and down movement, lead with front hip, letting the glove fly open gives early shoulder rotation and not move head side to side which created a debate about arm slot with dm59,roger,laflipping and coachxj. again I am reading some of the same problems that others have mentioned and again i agree with Roger. However, I think when I change the mechanics of my son he may not move his head side to side so much. thank you roger.

Coachxj; Coach liked my sons “intent” to throw the ball. Thanks Coach, my son wants to be a pitcher (for some reason), and that is why I am sending you video of him and why him and I shoveled dirt and made that mound in my backyard (witch my wife isn’t to happy about). anyways, coachxj stated that he thinks becuase of my sons foot plant, he is trying to get his shoulder around to trhow the ball. This is where coachxj illistrates the foot plant which a big factor of his release (great job coach for the video editing and anaylis). coach states also the head starts at the highest point being the knee lift and from there the head moves down evenly towards home plate. Coach stated that he likes his finish and not to make him a pitcher right now. I agree coach on all that he has stated and “YES” I am not going to throw him in that pitching environment/game-time-stress. I am not going to set him up to fail. I will keep working with him in my backyard and still let him play 1st or 3rd base during the season. Hopfully, my son will make progress and still have a passion of becoming a pitcher. I will send an updated video when I think he has hit some milestones. Again thank you coach for an amazing diagnoses on your valuble time.

terhrp; stated he would like to see a video of him in the outfield to see how his normal throw is.

hoseman18; stated to coachxj of the great video and diagnose.

nick nickason; stated that my son should have ball break at belt level so that arm pattern is down and then up. nick also states that he still needs to emphasize to high school pitchers the same comment that he mentioned about my son. also he said that tom seavers “art of pitching” would help me and my son. Thanks for that insightfull comment. this is why I am trying to remove the bad habits now before they continue on onto adulthood.

My conclusion to all these coments are that my son needs to start over from scratch. I think that is probably the best for him. I may give him a wind-up as tmcgregors son, rather than keep his posture/pitch that he now has. It may be easier to learn the belt break and ball down from a wind-up rather than the stretch position due to old habits are hard to break. secondly, I will work on his footplant facing towards home plate then glove tuck if I can squeeze that in there with him. After that I may be able to work on hip shoulder seperation as coachxj stated. I am going to have my son watch tmcgregors son video before we head out to the mound for inspiration. If I have missed anything or if think the direction that I am going with my son should need advice or change? please comment on this.

again thanks to all that has commented to me about my son. this forum is a great knowledge bank.

greyhairdad

don’t completely scrap what he is doing. keep throwing, simply soften the throwing elbow and let it bend as he breaks the ball from the glove. he’s in better shape than 80% of the guys i start to work with.

keep throwing. he will relax and be fine.

"My conclusion to all these coments are that my son needs to start over from scratch"

I’m curious as to how you came to that conclusion?
I didn’t see anyone mention that he was doing anything harmful. How about just follow the kiss rule (I prefer keep it short and simple) and keep him throwing in a fundementally correct fashion and having fun until he’s into puberty and starts to develop physiologically as an athlete. You may find that with the advent of puberty that he’ll be changing much more and the fact that he is fundementally sound will insure that he’ll be able to throw well as long as he wishes.
Starting from scratch may just confuse and frustrate him. Has he been successful?

To respond to Dusty Delso and Jdfromfla;

I wrote those comments this morning before our practice today. However, I just got through our learning/pitching session and I have to say you guys are right.

I tried to give my son a wind up but he did not respond very well to it. The reason i thought we should start from “scratch” was becuase I thought it would be harder for him to bring the ball arm down then up, at his stretch position, which he currently brings the ball straight back. However I was wrong. (thats what i get for thinking)

We went back to the stretch position and I followed all comments ie) stance at shoulder width, not so hunched over. Then we worked on breaking the ball near the belt which actualy came to him easier than i thought. then I we worked on the sweeping motion of the post leg comming around while leading with hip then planting with toe pointing to home plate. My son is listening to me and did very well being our first time out. also by him bringing the ball out softly,down then up, he is delivering me the ball which feels like increased speed. With that being said, “yes” you guys are right about “not” needing to start from “scratch”. All that did is frustrate him. Simple is better. So, I am keeping him in the stretch position which he feels comfortable in. My son likes the adjustments and said it feels more natural. As a dad I feel very happy.

I have not seen him yet from the side and rear views on video since this being our first practice. However I am anticipating the side to side movement is alot less. I will send video soon, after I believe he has made improvements that are staying with him.

Thanks for all your help. (again)

if you have a bucket of 25 to 50 pretty good balls, get one of those atec pitching targets and frames for $100 and have him throw into that while you are back at the mound feeding him balls and coaching him. it’s much better and you can concentrate on him instead of catching the ball. also, move the target up to about 25 feet to start. he will not worry about hitting it and he will tend to throw at about 705 which is just where you want to be when you’re working on your mechanics.

have fun. i treasure this time with my son and only have 4 years left before he’s gone. i can remember when he was your guy’s age. it goes really fast.