Staying on top of the ball....


Any ideas or thoughts on “staying on top of the ball.” My son has lost a ton of velocity due to his hand spinning at release and the ball spinning sideways out of his hand. It almost seems he is putting the ball on the shelf and keeping it on the shelf til almost right at release and then trying to catch up and it’s causing the hand spin.


The four-seam fastball gives you the greatest velocity and accuracy. However, control problems with this pitch can be due, sometimes, to the movement of the thumb just prior to release. As a result, the ball is released with the fingers on the side and the thumb towards the top. Hence, the ball gets pushed out of the hand - almost sideways, with little rotation. The lack of rotation is primarily due to the thumb’s pinching action on the laces. A dead give-away to this problem is the extreme angle of the wrist and hand at the time of release.

This media is difficult to diagnose release problems, even with the best of video. In-real-time coaching is a good measure for correcting such problems as well as spotting the underlining reason(s) that may go beyond a simple posture issue. I hope this helps your boy.[/i]


That is good info. You are correct, I’ve tried videoing and it is terribly difficult to pick up. There are times when he will throw to me and the ball will almost pop out of his hand to the side, not going at all in the direction of his arm angle.


There can be other reasons besides the one I posted abover. A youngster’s natural endowments can help tremendously - or the lack thereof can be a handful, when trying to evaluate and help with what your son is doing. I’ve seen some youngsters in the very early stages of their baseball experience have considerable trouble with holding on to the ball all because their hand is small, or their grip is rather week. Size and strength along with other issues, like late motor skills development, below average body build for the age and the like can make your evaluation even tougher.

By the way, the adolescent is extremely difficult to evaluate when coaching pitchers. There are so many variables in the mix that I tip my cap to those that do coach this age group, and younger.

Below is another reason for the release problem that your son might have. When a pitcher extends his pitching arm too far back after breaking his hands, he creates a “scarecrow” kind of stance with his upper body. This extension - back with his pitching arm, has a whipping effect when the arm is brought around during the actual throwing/release phase of his delivery motion. This entire posture can become a habit with many that’s impossible to correct if lift unchecked for even a short time - like a month or so.

In my work, I would use the back hip to monitor one of many causes-n-effects of a pitcher’s pitching cycle. I should note here that this was my way of doing things. Not every pitching coach does this. In any event, I would use the back hip for upper body influences and “pass-alongs” that the upper body would sometimes commit to - then try to counter act.

So, watch for you son’s extension, or twist, the upper body too far back, extending the glove arm out to balance himself with a “T” posture and reaching back with his throwing arm, like in the picture below. His youth probably doesn’t have the strength in his mid section (core) to handle what comes next as he attempts to throw/pitch to you.][img][/img


I also noticed that you mentioned that your son… " has lost considerable" velocity… "

Somehow, you had a benchmark to what he was doing prior to this experience that you described in your original post.

So I would venture to say that he’s had some life experience that my be contributing to his performance (lack thereof) now. Like the following:
-Concentrating on other things while throwing/pitching
-Social or family issues.
-Recovering from an illness or injury.
-Growth spurts, hormonal changes - puberty, etc.

  • And the last but not least, … Dad, I don’t want to do this anymore.

Please don’t take the last one personally. I only mentioned it because sometimes it’s so easy to overlook.