Thoughts on Tom House program

Hi everyone, I’m new here and learning a lot. Thank you!
I have an 11 year old son who I think would benefit from instruction on mechanics and off-season programming to build strength. Is there a general consensus on Tom’s National Pitching Association program? We’re considering starting with one of his organizations coaches this offseason; starting with an analysis followed by programming targeted to improve weaknesses.

I’ve most heard good things except from Chris O’Leary… I’m new to this game and learning a lot but admittedly have a hard time separating faction from fiction! Thanks for the input.

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He is 11, you are not likely to get any benefit from “strength training” other than making the game he potentially loves a grind before it needs to be. Let him play and have fun. Play other sports to get different movement patterns that will enhance overall athleticism.

As for mechanics, sure. Have a good pitching coach evaluate his mechanics to make sure he is not doing anything that will hurt him. Keep in mind that pitching coaches get paid when you keep coming back. They are always going to have all kinds of stuff for your kid to work on. Let him play, grow into his body and have fun. There will be plenty of time for training like it’s a job later.

Edited to add: I am by no means anti training or anti instruction. I have taken my oldest son half way across the country to train with one of the best in the country. He works the programming 6 days a week, 2 hours a day, after his training in baseball class at school. I would recommend you shelf any training plans until your son is more physically mature and will get maximum benefit.

I hear you loud and clear. Thanks for this. He plays lots of other sports and will continue to do so (soccer, basketball, track, skiing, etc) Also agree 100% about keeping it fun. I want to foster his love of the game for years to come.

I also hope to ensure that he learns proper mechanics early that will provide the correct foundation for the future - most specifically - the correct throwing mechanics that foster and support long term arm health. He’s been told many different things by several different coaches.

So, I’m wondering if anyone has a well-informed opinion on the benefits of House approach vs others… I’ve read criticism that some of his players having timing issues resulting in problems. I’m not the best-informed guy out there and I’m trying to decipher what’s real and what’s marketing… so, any help here would be much appreciated. Thanks again.

If you really want to learn something that would benefit anyone at any age when throwing a baseball with power and less pain, then read this article by baseball writer Steve Krah: Power-Pronation: An Alternative Way For Pitchers To Throw<https://takeoutyourscorecards.wordpress.com/2019/07/19/power-pronation-an-alternative-way-for-pitchers-to-throw**

My reply was applicable to House or anyone else. Here is a quote from House himself:

Tom House: “You kind of leave the throwing arm alone whenever possible. If a kid was throwing a rock at a rabbit to eat, his throwing arm action is pretty much genetically predetermined”

You made the point in your 2nd post. You have heard different things from different people. The reason is that most “pitching coaches” don’t know anything about how the body works. They have no training in biomechanics or physiology. They are most likely passing along something that they heard from someone who was coaching them at some point in the past. Or trained in House’s methods as a cookie cutter approach.

After experiencing the same thing you are experiencing I went to work researching the topic myself. Based on the research I came to the conclusion that pitching instruction must be based on individual player physiology. Unless you find a pitching coach who is also a trainer you won’t get that. What you will get is the same instruction for your 11 year old that was given to the 17 year old, with a totally different body type, that walked in after you left.

With all of that said, you are not likely to find a trainer who will work with an 11 year old. At his age you are best to let him throw naturally, don’t let him be overused, and keep playing those other sports. When he is physically developed enough to start training go get a biomechanics assessment and a physical assessment. Then go to work with a trainer and coach who are on the same page and collaborative with each other to coach and train your specific athlete.

This is based on my own observations, research and experience with my own two pitchers who are 13 and 16. You will likely get many opinions, mine is but one. Good luck and enjoy the ride with your son, it’s a fun journey.

I agree with TXJIM… I think 11 years old is too young to become “specialized” in just playing baseball. I also agree 100% with what he stated about pitching coaches and add that every kid is different. To expand on his example, how that pitching coach ques a change or movement pattern to that 17 year old may not be the best way to instruct your 11 year old or any other kid for that matter.

I saw something from Kyle Boddy at Driveline a few weeks ago that I thought was really interesting. He said if you want to teach a young pitcher to throw hard have him stand on the other side of a fence. Get a ball and have him watch you throw the ball into the fence as hard as you can. The logic is kids are amazing at picking up things and imitating. Their body will “self organize” to the best mechanics for them. To take it a step further, get a radar gun so you can quantify changes and progress.

I worked with my son for two years trying to change his mechanics. Nothing we tried worked and if anything his mechanics may have been worse. His velocity was roughly about the same as when we started. If anything he was trying to be too “mechanical” and focusing on having perfect mechanics. He started doing “pull downs” or “run and guns” as some people refer to them. After 3 months he was up consistently 5-7 mph and his mechanics were spot on. Everything I was trying to get him to do for two years he was doing without me saying a thing to him. The thing I like about programs such as “Driveline” and “Tread Athletics” is I don’t believe they are trying to teach how to throw harder. All they are doing is teaching how to unlock what is already there and how to use to the particular player’s ability to their maximum potential.

I was NPA-certified for 10 years before they stopped offering certifications in 2016 so I am fairly well-qualified to talk about the NPA’s teachings. I do agree with TXJIM about keeping it fun and that pre-puberty strength training is of marginal value but I probably put more value in coaching mechanics of young kids. While I do admit that no instruction is better than poor instruction, I believe it is certainly possible to instruct young kids in a way that is beneficial to them. I’ve seen some kids who have figured things out pretty well on their own But I’ve also seen kids who haven’t and are headed down a path of possibly engraining bad habits that would need to be changed down the road…

I think this is the most important paragraph you’ve posted, In addition to promoting performance and health, I believe building a solid foundation at a young age helps make kids more immune to the poor instruction they’ll likely encounter at some point in their future. And this happens two ways. First, establishing effective movement patterns at a young age starts developing good habits that will be more difficult to break down the road. Second, assuming the kids (and their parents) are actually taught the why and how in addition to the what, they (the kids and their parents) will better recognize poor instruction and that awareness becomes an enabler for dealing with it. Unfortunately, if your son has already been instructed by different coaches, he may already be developing bad habits. This reason alone is enough to make me think connecting with an NPA instructor would be a good idea.

Know that the NPA adheres to a health-first philosophy. Everything they teach gets run through an advisory board that includes sports medicine folks. Also know that the NPA mechanics model is based not on conventional wisdom but on commonalities among the best pitchers in the game identified by watching hours and hours of high-speed video. Some may say that mechanics based on commonalities among professional pitchers don’t translate to young kids and I would disagree. Sure, young kids won’t be able to perform those mechanics as effectively. But that just means that, as a coach/instructor, you change your expectations accordingly and you limit what you work on to the more basic, fundamental mechanical elements.

By the way, “cookie cutter” instructors are a real issue. However, I don’t consider House’s mechanics model to be “cookie cutter”. They really do focus on only those things all pitchers do and allow everything else to vary from pitcher to pitcher. House often points out how all pitchers do the same things yet they look different doing them.

Regarding O’Leary, his theory is just that - a theory. It was originally a positional thing whereby in the “inverted W” the elbows got above the shoulders. (But, in pitcher who exhibit the “inverted W”, the elbow drops as the arm lays back in external rotation.) He then evolved his theory into the timing issue thing whereby the forearm was late getting into the vertical position which, he claims, results in the arm having to play catch-up. Because Tom House worked with a couple of professional pitchers who exhibited the “inverted W” (Prior and Reyes) and were also injured, O’Leary likes to claim that House teaches the “inverted W”. But, in my 10 years of working with House, I can honestly say I have never seen him teach that. In fact, he has only taught that you shouldn’t mess with a pitcher’s throwing arm. He even makes that claim in his book, “The Pitching Edge”, which came out back in the 90’s.

I don’t know many of the current NPA instructors so I can’t guarantee you’ll get a good one. But I think the chances are pretty good.

Hope this helps.

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The same thing happens with weighted balls. The body organizes itself to better positioning, sequencing and timing to do more effectively AND more safely what you’re asking it to do.

I believe the NPA does this as well. It’s commonly accepted that many (most?) pitchers have mechanics that prevent them from reaching their genetic maximum. The NPA focuses on creating an efficient delivery.

Very helpful. thank you!

Hawkspeak,

“I have an 11 year old son who I think would benefit from instruction on mechanics and off-season programming to build strength.”

You have a chronologically aged 11 yo. This info only helps if you know his biological age also.

If his chronological age matches his biological age, motor and strength skills become easy to plan.

He may be up to 2.5 years delayed in biological maturity (rate of bone growth timing) or 2.5 years advanced in biological maturity. you need to asses this info before making any choices on training and motor learning oppertunities and amount.

Perturbed bone growth is one of the only early injuries you can’t fix, EVER!!!

All Elbow bone solidifies at 16 biological yo. 50% of youth males fall below this solidification rate.

The traditional pitching motion (Centripedal delivery) where your forearm fly’s away to the outside of the elbow has been proven to cause intuitive forearm supination that has the Ulna crash into the Humerus continually and ballistically in hyper extension is known to be a pathomechanic (injurious force application) on the highest order causing dozens of types of serious and escalating injuries!

“Is there a general consensus on Tom’s National Pitching Association program?”

No, it is accepted as a continuation of what has always been taught.

The Psychologist Mr. House studies by replication the throwing motions that are intuitively exhibited.

“We’re considering starting with one of his organizations coaches this off season; starting with an analysis followed by programming targeted to improve weaknesses.”

I would suggest you start with an expert in the field of Motor skill acquisition, Exercise physiology and Kinesiology. Dr. Mike Marshall before moving to any traditional choice! Read his material, have an exit strategy, go back again and again until you understand what he is saying, then build it yourself. He’s had hundreds of parents with no experience produce great results.

“I’ve most heard good things except from Chris O’Leary…”

Chris means well but wants to fit in like everybody else who learns Dr. Marshall’s information by not applying it fully (I call these Org’s the 20% er’s), then calling it there own discovery.

It has really manifested itself in the training aspect where you see traditional Org’s now trying to replicate Dr. Marshall’s work with out the expertise or willingness to disseminate the info for free as Dr. Marshall wants so they Bastardize him and the info, the worst part being, going against his warning that if you do not enlist the pathomechanical busting mechanics the training will really hurt you.

“ I’m new to this game and learning a lot but admittedly have a hard time separating faction from fiction! Thanks for the input.”

Just go with the real science, performed by actual clinical researchers. Baseball has thousands of experts who virtually have no credentials.

In the NPA we use windows of trainability your son being in window 1 based upon the fact he is prepubescent. Window 1 works with patterning his nervous system to try and reach optimum efficiency through muscle memory and breaks down each movement in a proper delivery. This patterning is not only to benefit the success of the young player but to help ensure his overall health. As stated in prior responses we are a health first organization so no result will come before the health of a player. I’m not sure what coach you are considering but we are the only organization with S.T.A.T testing this stands for Screen Test Asses Train. Your son will be asked to perform a series of stations that will produce data points we then collect and run through our own proprietary online system accessible only to current NPA coaches. You will then receive a results page that breaks down your sons strengths and weaknesses as well as current SAFE in game velocity/maximum velocity and projected current point in time velocity if he makes the necessary changes to his mechanics and overall fitness. WE ARE NOT a cookie cutter approach by any means and your players training is based on his test results to identify his weaknesses and potential injury risks. I hope this helps in understanding what the NPA is and why we do what we do. Feel free to ask me any questions or reach out to the coach you are considering. You won’t regret it.

Sincerely,
NPA Midwest Regional Director
Casey Beis

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Hi Casey,
Thanks for the reply. I think I’ve found a good match for my son and have decided to move forward with an NPA coach who I think is the ‘right guy’. We conducted the STAT test and will be developing a program tailored to improve my son’s mechanics/weaknesses. I feel confident that the NPA’s health-first, individualized approach will support the development of sound fundamentals and have the added benefit of educating me along the way. I’m also attracted to the analytical, tested approach.

Really, the only downsides seem to be 1. cost and 2. ‘making it a job’ for an 11 year old, etc. On point 1, I’ve concluded that the cost of ignorance/improper training is greater. As Roger rightly highlighted, we’re investing to develop good habits and an awareness of what constitutes proper instruction. These are benefits that will serve us well into the future. On point 2, that’s a judgement call for each kid, but I’m pretty certain my kid is going to love it and have a lot of fun with it. If not, I can pull the plug - no big deal. As of now, he’s loving it.

I appreciate everyone’s thoughts on this topic as we embark on this journey.

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Oh, and I think it’s worth noting… this coach is extremely supportive of my son continuing to play as many other sports as possible (which he will) and is no-one is suggesting he ‘specialize’. For all I know, soccer is his calling. Or maybe it’s track? We’ll see.

I like some of House’s stuff and not others, but what you need to be cognizant of is how old is the info you are looking at. House has adjusted his teachings and philosophy over the years as anyone should as better technology has come into allowing one to study mechanics.

My take. Correct bad mechanics that could cause harm but don’t over do fixing everything or you risk confusing the shit out of the kid. Concentrate bottom up and have fun. When he’s 15 and maybe time to think about being a Pitcher Only then concentrate on lessons etc.

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Casey,

First, welcome to LetsTalkPitching. I hope you’ll stick around so there’s someone else presenting the NPA perspective besides me.

Second, thanks for describing the STAT testing. I’ve heard of it but never really learned it because it came about around the same time the NPA stopped offering coaches certifications so I missed out.

Finally, would you mind elaborating on what windows of train ability are and why they are important? I get the impression folks here don’t know what they are or understand why they need to be taken advantage of at the right time.

Thanks!