Thought or advice on my 10 year old son’s pitching mechanics


#1

My son, Austin, is 10 years old and has pitching for about 2 years now. He is 4’5” and weighs 65 lbs. soaking wet. He is moving up to 11U this fall and we are working to prepare him for the difference in pitching distance change from 46 ft. to 50 ft. The video below was taken on the 11U field with the 50 ft. distance.

He plays recreation ball, Advanced, and All-stars and I have no doubt he could play travel if he tried out for a team. I have not clocked his speed yet but based upon others his age, I would say he throws at an average to slightly above average speed. He’s not the fastest by any means but is very accurate. On average, based upon stats kept by other people, and what I have witnessed myself, he consistently throws about 70 to 85% strikes. He can, with consistency, throw the following types of pitches: two & four seam fastballs, a circle change-up, a curveball, a pitch we call a cup ball that behaves somewhat like a knuckleball.

Anyway, I would love to hear any comments, positive or constructive. Here are the videos:

http://vimeo.com/101720950

http://vimeo.com/101721257

http://vimeo.com/101726103


#2

Have him start with his feet about shoulder width from the stretch, when he has his feet together like that he’s off balance.


#3

thanks for the comment…at this point, I disagree with your point about starting position and balance…where one starts from, whether it is legs apart, legs together, or with more motion like facing forward and ultimately turning into their leg lift position, balance only matters as it relates to weight distribution on your back leg when you lift your leg or get in the leg lift position…we have tried both and my son is just as balanced starting with his feet together as he is with his fee apart…

if, though, you can prove your theory about balance with some reasonable evidence, I am willing to listen…but, for now, in my experience, your statement or assertion is not accurate at all…


#4

Hmmm…that’s a pretty aggressive response to what was offered by jd in a spirit of wanting to help.


#5

Regarding the point about balance…having your feet shoulder width apart is universally accepted as a more athletically balanced position than with your feet together.

I believe it is also important to build a foundation that is simple to build on. As he progresses, he is going to be responsible for holding runners and actually using the stretch as a defensive tool such as making pick off moves toward first base and second.

If you create the muscle memory at an early age with the feet together, he’s going to eventually have to change. Why not get it right now?

Or if you still disagree…keep on truckin’!


#6

You wanted constructive comments…

Gosh had I known you’ve transcended the advice I’ve received from 30 years of coaching, interning with a very solid D-1 program and their hall of fame coach as well as coaching a son through a full ride scholly, scouted by the Cards and Rockies…as well as the decade I’ve been studying and learning from a professional who caught; Maddux, Schmidt, Johnson, Moyer, Sutcliffe…shoot I’d have let you tell me of the fundamental flaw in this kid…if you want praise don’t ask for advice or comments on a forum designed to help, just drop the vid and say…“see my flawless kid pitch” and we will appreciate right along with you.


#7

4Cinema,
If you haven’t figured it out yet, you have stumbled onto one of the most informative and insightful pitching forums on the web.
The information and advice given on this sight is typically spot on or countered quickly.
Just friendly advice, but, I would take advice given and at least consider it before attempting to slam the responder.
By the way, feet apart is a more athletic position and will be necessary in the future when he starts holding runners. I believe Dino said, Its about muscle memory.
As an aside, I also notice that your son has quite the arsenal of pitches. Just curious as to why you feel he needs that many pitches at 10 years old.


#8

He moves well.

To me, it looks like he’s overly-focused on getting in a fielding position. This cuts off his follow-through both with his throwing arm and his leg, which also may hurt his velocity (his body is focused on how it will stop–so doesn’t finish rotating). I would also focus more on throwing the crap out of the ball, rather than a 75-85% strike ratio or multiple types of pitches. If you focus on tempo and intent, rather than throwing strikes and finishing in a fielding position, he will likely be better served in the long run by naturally developing efficient hard-throwing mechanics (which will be more highly valued down the line).

Agree re the comments on feet being too close together,


#9

Your son has much to like in his delivery. You are correct that balance is important as it relates to leg lift. The problem with the feet together is that it is easy for the weight to sometimes leak to the outside of the posting foot. You can see that your son occasionally has this happen. He recovers by shifting his weight to the ball of his posting foot allowing his posting heel to shift forward. You can see it happen in the last half of the 3rd base side views. This movement diminishes his hip load and can adversely impact location. When the feet start further apart it is easier to bury the weight into the inside arch of the posting foot and preferably towards the heel. This provides a solid position to load against and it allows the player to drive towards the mitt with the rear hip socket and maintain his dynamic posture.

I also believe your fellow could show more strength of direction with his glove side. It would help him maintain his posture a little and will provide a more solid position to rotate against as he gets older.

It looks like may be striding too far allow true hip rotation. This also seems to be preventing him from getting over his front leg.

I also agree that he is cutting off his throwing motion to get into fielding position. I would prefer to see the backside come through more and give him more time to decelerate. It won’t matter much now but it will protect his shoulder as he ages and starts to throw harder.

Much will change as he gets older enjoy his success now and allow him time to move into his own technique for throwing hard.

Good luck,

Ted


#10

Lots of stuff to like. He’s got great forearm lay-back. He stays on the target line and he stays closed quite well. He has a good tempo. Things that lead to reduced energy production…vertical lift with very little forward hip movement, could stay closed longer without reaching with the front leg–instead drive from the middle of the pivot foot. The stride will end up just as long, but he’ll stay closed longer and be able to get up on top of a front leg that needs firming up. He’s too low over his stride thigh. No energy transfer on a mushy front leg.


#11

[quote=“4cinema”]thanks for the comment…at this point, I disagree with your point about starting position and balance…where one starts from, whether it is legs apart, legs together, or with more motion like facing forward and ultimately turning into their leg lift position, balance only matters as it relates to weight distribution on your back leg when you lift your leg or get in the leg lift position…we have tried both and my son is just as balanced starting with his feet together as he is with his fee apart…

if, though, you can prove your theory about balance with some reasonable evidence, I am willing to listen…but, for now, in my experience, your statement or assertion is not accurate at all…[/quote]

Rofl too funny. " prove your theory" laugh riot! You can take it or not. He doesn’t have to prove anything you cheapskate. You want your son to be a better pitcher? Go pay for some real lessons. The reason your son can’t start with his feet shoulder with apart is because he has a significant flaw in his his mechanics. If he started with his feet apart and learned to pitch like Mclovn states about intent and tempo, the kid may figure it out or blow his arm out trying.


#12

Hmmm…
Let’s see now. A baby has to crawl before it can walk, and walk before it can run. An aspiring pitcher has to learn to throw, and throw with intent, before even thinking about learning to pitch. And that means, to coin a phrase, throwing the crap out of the ball. Now, I don’t know whether your kid has learned to do that yet, but if he hasn’t you’re in for a heap of trouble. I’ve seen far too many instances of what could best be described as putting the cart before the horse, particularly at that young an age. So my best advice would be to go back to square one and work on throwing with intent, never mind foot position, just throw the **** out of the ball, and then get into some aspects of mechanics.
And it might be a good idea to invest in the services of a good professional pitching coach. 8)


#13

Yah…why worry about fielding the ball…

And Maddux and all of those gold gloves…they didn’t keep him in the game and injury free for better than 20 years did they…


#14

AND…for all of you "throw the doodoo outta it disciples…this from my friend Lanky Lefties Log;

My vision in the future is being able to cruise near my top-end velocity 93-94, spot up like I have been (not even on a dime, just throwing it over the plate and around the zone), and be able to replicate my best sliders (78-82 ish) about 75% of the time. Doing that consistently, outing to outing (90% of the time) would land me in the big leagues within a few years. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s also not a totally far-fetched childhood dream anymore. I see flashes of what I will be someday. Putting it all together is the key. Who knows how long that will take.

I just caution you…believe what you will, listen to who you want…but I don’t see an extreme effort to “throw hades outta it” here;

or here;

or here;

So unless you happen to follow the Ted Sillpath thought that “why worry about an arm not moving up”…you may want to learn to control your body, develop power from the ground up and understand that pitching is a combination of many things… or you may just find dissappointment and not the promised land…


#15

First, let me start by saying, it was not my goal to offend anyone. That said, I stand by my position about balance. A pitcher’s balance is not measured when they are standing still in the starting position. Pitching balance is all about how one balances on their back leg once the front leg lift motion begins. As proof, I simply state the fact that there are many pitchers, including pros, that start forward facing and turn into a sideways position prior to leg lift. There are some pitchers that start with their feet together and some with their feet apart. There are even some that start with their feet apart and then bring them together prior to beginning their front leg lift.

I am not begrudging the suggestion only challenging its importance and validity in the scheme of one’s balance on their single back leg during the actual motion. I guess I just assumed that we were all out here searching for what really matters in pitching mechanics, not just throwing around old wive’s tales. If this forum doesn’t accept legitimate challenge of ideas so that we can weed out all of the bad ideas or theories then what good it is. At that point, all you have are a bunch of people that have heard or been taught a bunch of things in the past that may or may not matter or be beneficial at all to advancing the skills of pitching mechanics. And, if that is true, then all of our ideas and theories and comments are legitimate but we know that cannot be true.

Furthermore, for the person that tried to validate their position by stating that they had been in the business for 30 years, I say this. If years in an industry was any real test of competency and knowledge, then the oldest people among us in every industry and career would be the smartest. But, for anyone with a brain, you all know that people can work in any career their whole lives and not be very good at it. Ever had a terrible school teacher that had been teaching for 30 years? I can name a few and I bet you can too. Conversely, I have known people that have been in an industry for 10 years that were far more competent than some that had been in the same industry for 50 years.

Thus, if you are just going to throw out illogical ideas based upon the way it has always been done and use this as your reason for your position vs. supporting your reasoning for your comment, something any competent person on any subject should be able to do, or you are going to tell me as your reasoning to just trust you because you have 30 years experience, then forgive me if I challenge your expertise.

But, and please hear me clearly, it was never my goal to offend the person who posted the suggestion, only rather to challenge the validity of the suggestion or idea or theory. And, though I sincerely tried not to disrespect the individual, I apologize to JD and anyone else on this forum who feels that my initial comments were mean-spirited or disrespectful in any manner. And, as is my intent, I will always try to respect the person even if I am challenging their advice or reasoning behind their advice. But, and I will say this again, if this is not a forum where comments, suggestions, ideas and theories cannot be challenged then why would anyone want to be a part of the discussions.


#16

So your son’s heel pivoting away from the rubber is a good thing?


#17

It isn’t the resume, let me just turn your logic around…how about you show me a coach, institute, convention…theory or authoritative agency that advocates an athlete at any level starting out in any position who wants you to start out with both feet completely together…it happens exactly nowhere and you want a study…none have to be done it’s illogical. I’m not offended…if you got it you got it…


#18

JD, in the videos you posted, neither Ryan nor Clemens finish in a fielding position. They both rotate through and didn’t finish square to the target. Not sure you can say the same about the big unit…but he was 6’10" and could rely on longer levers (and was probably a bigger target for comebackers! :slight_smile: ).

As for LankyLefty, he posted on LTP what it feels like ft to throw 100 mph (and used maximal effort throws to help achieve his current velocity and create efficient mechanics):
“It feels like you’re trying to throw your elbow and shoulder out of their socket. There is almost inevitably a grunt that goes along with it. Very taxing. I don’t think most people ever really throw over 96 or 97% of their true max in games, just because it really does take an entirely new level of effort that couldn’t be repeated for very long.”

Yes, some/most pitchers dial it back eventually and don’t try to throw as hard at all times. And I’m not saying that every pitcher has to throw the crap out of the ball at all times, but, to maximize your technique, I really do believe you have to learn how to throw, and throw hard, with intent. And, I think that should be done at a young age, prior to working on your “pitching mechanics”/fielding position. Again, to me it looks like the youngster moves well and has very good physical capability, but is a little too focused on what he feels are proper pitching mechanics (fielding position finish, focused on hitting a spot) rather than throwing. Personally, I would rather see him focused on throwing and rotating his body through the pitch rather than stopping at a traditional fielding position. That doesn’t mean finish in a way where you can’t field a ball hit at you, I’m not saying rotate all around in a circle…just make sure you finish your pitch and don’t cut yourself off by stopping your arm and leg because you think you need to stop “in a fielding position.”

Maddux had the capability of throwing pretty hard, but decided to focus on movement and hitting his spots. But the key is he did learn to throw before dialing it back.

[b]David Price said: “I throw hard because I THROW hard.”

Goose Gossage: “I’d have tears in my eyes I’d be trying so hard.”

“I just reared back and let it go.” Bob Feller
[/b]

Ryan was clearly throwing with a lot of effort:

Bob Gibson clearly threw the crap out of the ball and didn’t come close to finishing in a fielding position

Kimbrel clearly rotates through and throws with a good bit of effort:

Koufax is not stopping with his feet squared here:

Pedro Martinez throwing hard and rotating through:

King Felix (rotating through)

Kershaw (rotating through/not finishing square)


#19

Mac,

As I look at each hard thrower, I see mechs that support it…iow they don’t just “walk-up and uncork it”… This is my issue with the “concept”…I have nothing against hard throwers, to the contrary I find them amazing. Even Nyman admitted SetPro left a huge gap relating to conditioning…without the whole package you are forced to compensate. Pedro paid for that by going on the dl nearly every year about mid-season…your boy Gibby paid with a shattered knee cap courtesy of one Bobby Clemente…David Price had one of the best pitching programs in the country coincide with his college years…my point is why advocate one thing and be derisive of a complete package? I’ve stayed quiet while this “concept” has been pushed…as I do believe sincerely that there are indeed many methodologies to raise up a pitcher but I also feel some pushback for teaching the entire art is wanting…and so, knowing I’d face this discussion from, you, Lantz…various others, I took this opportunity.


#20

I understand your comments. And, there’s a ton more to pitching than to just throw hard. But what I was commenting on is this young pitcher clearly has been drilled in “stopping in a fielding position” which to me is both a mechanics thing and a mentality thing. Almost all pitchers finish their rotation through because they’ve built up momentum and they can’t just decelerate on a dime without putting a ton of strain on their arm (so they in effect use their whole body as a brake to decelerate). Focusing on stopping/cutting your mechanics off, to me, will lower your ceiling as a pitcher, just like you’re likely to run faster if you know there’s not a brick wall 5 feet from the finish line.

There are clearly other important things, strength and conditioning, pitching strategy, movement, accuracy, etc. and those shouldn’t be minimized. My only concern is with this particular kid, at this particular point. I see a kid who can move well, but he’s facing a “brick wall” in his finish in terms of fielding position and focusing on just throwing strikes (to me feel for strike-throwing typically comes later, as finer motor skills develop…just like many young kids can’t write very neatly but get better as they get older…well, other than me…my handwriting was terrible when I was young, and still stinks :slight_smile: ). I think he can develop as a pitcher/thrower more quickly, if he can remove those constraints. Again, just my opinion…