Short arm vs long arm

A lot of young pitchers pitch with a short arm. They don’t understand why coaches want a long arm when pitching. What should these young pitchers be told?

When Ed Lopat came up to the Chicago White Sox in 1944 he learned both the short-arm and the long-arm deliveries from manager Ted Lyons who was himself no slouch on the mound. Later on, when he was with the Yankees, he became my pitching coach due to an unusual set of circumstances, and he showed me how to adapt the short-arm motion to my sidearm delivery, so I threw with both the short-arm and the long-arm as well. It all has to do with location—with the long-arm motion one can keep the ball down, and with the short-arm it’s easier to elevate the pitch (such as when you’re climbing the stairs, trying to get the batter to chase after one of those high ones). I for one don’t see anything wrong with this; it gives a pitcher twice as many pitches. Quite a lot of major-league pitchers do this. 8)

i was actually wondering about this too because almost everyone of my coaches says long arm is better but this year when the U21 i think canadian national pitching coach was helping me out he says short arm is better because you can move your muscles faster when they’re tight which gives you faster arm speed and better velocity. so im kinda mixed up now :frowning:

Both. Arm action is kind of like stride length in that it’s a little different for everyone, but with your stride, you still want to land in a certain way. With arm actions, it really depends on the speed and length of all the other body parts that are moving at the same time so that a pitcher is able still to throw on a downward angle.

Take a deep breath…clear your head…and listen. Why not use both? As Steve Ellis and I have said, there is nothing wrong with this—each delivery has a purpose, and you can only benefit from learning to use both. Not to mention what it will do to the batters. :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

My opinion is that neither arm path is wrong but only one is best for you. Your arm action has to fit into your overall delivery timing-wise. If you’ve worked to establish good timing (and you should), altering your arm path will likely mess up that timing. Now you could work to re-establish good timing with the second arm path. But it’s easier to get good at doing things one way with one timing than two ways with different timing.

what many guys call a short arm motion is actually a good position to throw from. cllemens and maddux were what most call short arm.

I agree, Dusty. And because I was a natural sidearmer it was to my advantage to use both deliveries. At the beginning I had always used the long-arm motion, the way Walter Johnson had done, and when Ed Lopat worked with me later on he showed me how to adapt the short-arm to my delivery—so I had both, and then there was the crossfire…beautiful, and lethal. All the hitters could do was return to their dugouts foaming at the moutn and cursing a blue streak. :slight_smile:

One of the pitchers short arms the baseball. What I mean is when he hand breaks his arm/hand goes to his ear and he throws.

Turn him into a catcher, catchers try hard to get that action.

I know the “syndrome” you’re talking about. Something simple that has worked for me in the past is to have the kid do the “step, step behind step” drill. (it’s called other things as well and there are numerous variations).

Really easy to show, little more difficult to describe if you are not familiar with it.

line the player up sideways to target like the typical stretch position would be on the rubber. He picks up his lead foot takes a small step moving sideways toward target, then his post leg steps behind and passes the front foot, pushing his hips sideways he goes into the throwing motion with good natural momentum. That’s the footwork.

For the arms some start with hands together, some start with hands/arms in the air forming a goal post. (That in no way means that’s how arms should be at footplant, it’s just used as a starting point to start swinging the arms to get a rhythm going.) For your purposes have the player start with his arms at his side bent about 90 degrees, with palms facing down, more or less over his feet. He takes a little step with lead foot ( as described above) and then as he starts the “step behind” he starts to swing his arms, nice and loose. Throwing hand under glove hand. If he’s really loose at the top peak of the “swing” the arms will be crossed in front of the body, palm pf throwing hand facing target, palm of glove facing behind (CF). As his legs uncross, the arms uncross and he throws. Wow, it sounds complicated but when seen it is simple and very fluid.

TCU has all their pitchers play catch and long toss with a version of step behinds.

I found it to be a great way to get kids to feel how their body is supposed to move sideways and get them to use momentum when throwing instead of throwintg flat footed and or facing target at beginning of throw…

As a general purpose drill, Since not all arm swings are the same if a kid has a longer arm swing what i described above works real well to help them get in rhythm. If they have a shorter arm motion I think starting with hand in glove, chest high and just a natural tap of the ball into the pocket (which many people do when playing catch) allows them to get in sync with their feet and keep natural arm action. Let the kids experiment and see what works for them. Another thing kids will discover is the faster they move their feet the farther they can throw. (glorious momentum) We’ve had kids who couldn’t make a throw from second base to 1b, show them this drill and in a very short time could make the throw from 3b to 1b. Fun to see. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.

arm action can be whatever as long as the forearm is a close to vertical as possible before launching of upper torso

also with ball facing 1st/3rd/or the plate if flexibility and comfort give that way the arm naturally pronates through release placing stress on the pronator teres muscle and not so much the UCL

Young pitchers should understand the pros and cons of short-arm throwing. Short arm is the cure for inaccurate defensive throws from the mound to any base. The ball doesn’t leave the pitcher’s vision as it does during an overhead or 3/4 throw. If he fields the ball, gets his feet in the air and comes down with them pointing toward his target, flexes his back and shoulder and ‘pushes’ the ball out the barrel, he can develop his defensive throwing from error-prone and average into something extraordinarily accurate and as elegantly deadly as a rapier to the heart. The young pitcher, by practicing this, can go whole seasons without a throwing error. What college or MLB team wouldn’t want that?
And when pitching from the stretch, short-arming allows pitchers to shorten the length of time it takes to get a pitch off, helping greatly to keep a runner from going.
Don’t allow young arms to throw sidearm, however, as it can permanently damage tendons and joints.