Sidearm Review Winter Training

Getting ready for Spring -

He has not thrown off a mound in a month so a little rusty. Many have helped over the past 9 months and would like your input again.

How does he look from a mechanical perspective? Anything you can point out to push him to the next step would be great. I feel that he is not “explosive” enough or lacking that hard push from the back leg and he seems to arch his torso to get that “umph” to move the ball causing the ball to rise some.

Something that surprised me today was he played 2nd and threw to first well below sidearm and the ball had tremendous zip. Can a circle change be thrown easily from that arm slot?

Is that angle something I should work with him on or stay with the angle in the video?


[quote=“jschool”]… Can a circle change be thrown easily from that arm slot?…


Why a circle change specifically?

No real reason as to why. Any suggestions for a small hand from that are slot?


I love your kid’s delivery…he looks like Brad Ziegler (Oakland A’s right-handed set-up man) or a right-handed version of Javier Lopez (SF Giants left-handed set-up man).

Unfortunately, though, unless you are blessed to live in an area with fewer know-it-all kids, parents, and coaches than usual, your son and you are probably going to hear a lot of bad advice about his arm-slot: Gotta get over the top, gotta get the arm up, side-arm pitching will hurt his arm, blah, blah, blah…this is just ignorant chatter and if you can ignore it and help your son develop and optimize his mechanics over the next few years without messing with his arm-slot, he might turn into something pretty special.

In fact, Walter Johnson was one of the most resilient pitchers in baseball (more than 400 wins over a 21 year career with an MLB club that was often terrible) and he was also a side-armer with a seemingly effortless delivery…

Here’s the deal: Hitters at all levels are trained from their earliest experience at the plate to look for the pitcher’s release point and then track the ball as far as possible. On average, hitters develop their skills while looking for the ball to come out of a pitcher’s hand from a 3/4 or high-3/4 slot these days—don’t underestimate the power of this consistent training of young hitters. Very few hitters–especially same-side hitters (righty hitters for your son) know how to hit against a decent side-arm delivery.

First, the ball is hard to pick up because reflex action tends to make the hitter look for a 3/4 release, even after he knows rationally that your son is not throwing 3/4.

Second, that side-release will make the ball look like it’s behind the hitter’s rear-end at release–a very unsettling feeling for most hitters.

Third, because the spin axis of a side-arm fastball is 90 degrees different from that of an over-the-top delivery and maybe 45 - 60 degrees different from the spin axis of a fastball from the 3/4 slot…it’s going to have a pattern of movement that is unexpected to most hitters.

Your question about the circle-change: Yes, it is hard for a side-armer to use that pitch. Most youngsters can’t grip or throw a really good one anyway but a side-armer may have the feeling that the ball is going to drop out of his hand before it is released from a proper circle-change grip.

My son is also a side-armer and he uses these three pitches: (1) A sinking fastball (2) a slider (it is physically very difficult for side-armers to throw a true curveball) and (3) a split-finger fastball as his changeup.

If you want to discuss more about any of this with me, shoot me a PM…

If he is comfortable with that arm angle then it’s really crazy to change, on the change up, a circle change isn’t necessarily the best pitch for a kid that is still small, what about just a straight change or palm ball? i have always disagreed with “drive” to home, if this is what you feel is going to be what is needed to increase ball speed, I feel that hips and the speed of the hips turning is what will increase the ball speed. I think way too many people think the holy grail of ball speed is “drive toward home” with your legs to generate that speed.

Side-arm RHP Jim Bunning

Side-arm RHP Walter Johnson

RHP Brad Ziegler

Thank you for all the replies.

laflippin - when he started throwing from the side, Brad Ziegler is who he tried to imitate. We do live in a area and I assume most are the same when sidearm/submarine is look down on. I have seen people stop mid conversation to watch him - in the videos there are 3 down the right field fence - but that is the extent of interest.

His first team he tried out for would not let him drop and I can not recall how many times I overheard, “we need to fix that arm problem.”

buwhite - what can he do as far a “training” to get more pop in his hips? Right now he does the following:

Runs 3 miles a week
Leg Extensions
Lateral Pull Downs
Chest Press
Medicine ball sit-ups
calf raises
resistance band work

is there anything I can add to that to get the explosive hip training in?


Hi, jschool.
First of all, don’t mess with the arm slot! The kid appears to be a natural sidearmer, and the thing to do is work with it and show him how to make the most of it. I was one—a true, natural sidearmer—and I had a wise and wonderful pitching coach (an active major league pitcher) who knew this and worked with me to help me take full advantage of it. One thing you can do is teach him how to use the crossfire—that’s a move that works only with the sidearm delivery, and when he learns it he will, in effect, have twice as many pitches. I’ll get to that in a moment.
Second, he needs to learn how to get his whole body into the action. I call this “THE SECRET”, and I learned it many moons ago when I saw how the Yankees’ legendary Big Three pitching rotation was doing it. They were driving off the lower half of the body—using the legs, the hips and the torso in one continuous (and, it seemed to me, seamless) motion, and that was how they were getting the power behind their pitches—even Ed Lopat who was definitely not a fireballer. In doing this they were taking a lot of pressure off the arm and the shoulder—how NOT to get a sore arm or a sore shoulder or a sore anything else. When the kid learns to do this there will be no need for him to do any kind of acrobatics with his torso as he has been mistakenly doing—the whole thing will follow through into the pitch.
Third, if what he needs to do is learn a changeup, may I recommend the palm ball? this was the first real offspeed pitch I picked up, and I used it as a change, and very effective it was too. It’s easy to throw—you grip the ball way back in the palm of the hand with all four fingers on top and the thumb underneath for support, but don’t grip the ball too tightly because you don’t want to squeeze the juice out of it! And you throw it with the same motion and the same arm speed as you do the fast ball. And you can change speeds on it by holding the ball a little further forward in your hand or tightening or loosening the grip.
Fourth, he shouldn’t worry about the curve ball. Many pitchers—not just sidearmers—who have difficulty with the curve ball do better with the slider. But if he wants to get more pop and sizzle into the curve he could try throwing it with a sharp karate-chop wrist snap. That’s a very effective way to throw a sidearm curve; that’s what I used to do, and my pitching coach helped me refine it.
Now, about the crossfire. Say you’re a righthander. You wind up, but instead of going right to the plate you take a step toward third base, whip around and deliver the pitch from that angle, so it looks to the batter as if it were coming at him from third base. And no, it’s not a balk move. I picked it up when I was about thirteen, and I fell so in love with it that I used it almost all the time—a fact which was not lost on my coach, because one day when he was helping me with my circle change he said to me, “I know you’re going to crossfire it. You use that move with everything you throw.”(Of course, for a lefty, the move comes by way of first base.)
And don’t pay any attention to the yoyos who think they know it all—they don’t. What’s sauce for the goose is not necessarily sauce for the gander. Everything will turn out all right. :slight_smile: 8) :baseballpitcher:

I just thought that for some reason you’d come to believe that the only good CU was a circle.

When my son started pitching at 9YO, I’m guessing he was a bit smaller than your son, and he too had a very low slot, relative to the ground. He used a simple 3 fingered CU until he was about 13. That’s when his hand got sufficiently large enough to experiment with different grips.

He tried the circle and modified circle, but found the action to be too unpredictable for his arm slot and pitching “style”. He also tried the split, but never liked it because he couldn’t control it as well as the 3FCU. He eventually found the grip in the picture below, one he felt gave him the best of everything he wanted in a CU. He could vary the position of his thumb and make the ball move one way or the other, and vary the “spread” between his index and ring finger and vary the velocity, all with the same arm action. Since it worked for him through 2 years of college ball until he hurt his arm and had to quit, I’d say it was a success for him.

Thanks for all the comments!

@ Scorekeeper - He likes the grip and feel of that change better than the Circle Change, he says he has a better grip. He tried the palm ball but has a time not overthrowing and missing far left of the plate.

@ Zita - can you tell in his delivery where the timing is failing so he gets his body through? Every now and then it looks like he whips his torso forward to get the ball moving.

It has been 30-45 degrees here the past few days so throwing is difficult. I will try to get more vids up after he can work on a few pitches.


Just keep this in mind. Every pitcher has to keep experimenting until he finds timing, slots, and grips that work for him. Heck, I doubt if that ever really stops because it’s a constant search for perfection, and things change. :wink:

Good luck!