When to step in ? Correcting throwing Mechanics on team?

I have been watching some of my son’s kids throw the baseball on his current travel team and they are throwing the baseball with the wrong mechanics. I noticed it but currently my son is the #1 pitcher with very good mechanics. Never had arm problems because I have gone out of my way to get him one-on-one instruction with a good instructor and asked and used many websites, such as this one, for information. As a parent I believe you need to do this in order to protect you child from getting an injury. With that in mind there are three kids on the team that are dropping their elbows below their shoulders while on the mound. Should I notify the parents? The coach? Anyone? Or should I just keep my mouth shut ? I feel bad because it is eating me inside and these kids are getting over because of pure athleticism. Very big kids but bad mechanics.

Anyhow I wanted to chirp in to see if anyone else was in this situation… :roll:

First and foremost, let me just say i don’t know all the answers to pitching. I do agree with you, you should notify the kids parents, because it is the health of these players we are talking about. Tommy Johns surgery at a young age is tragedy. I do feel your concern, i see alot of 12 and under pitcher’s that throw alot of curveballs. I have said something to opposing coaches and managers, i don’t know how damaging curveballs are at such a young age, but pitching 3/4 or sidearm does hurt elbows, this I know from personal experience, it’s the main reason I stopped playing baseball after High School.
“Semper Fi” in baseball.

On my fall ball team, some of the pitchers think they are good, they are okay because they throw hard. They have the worst mechanics. One player tries to imitate Dontrelle Willis, then the next inning he imitates Dice-K. I don’t want to tell them because then they will think I’m a show off and won’t listen at all.

How are ya?

My thoughts are this, if you have a repore with the kids parents and the opportunity presents, why not? I suspect (Knowing you) that you have a decent relationship with the coach…get into a generic conversation and steer it where you want to go. Heck bring up one or two sites and just kind of talk about the pitfalls of poor mechs. Then once you get buy in kind of bring up that you’ve seen the mechanical mis-steps on the team…(Ask if he’s seen it) and bring good solid suggestions as to drill work or remediation that can get them closer to desired mechanics.
Is this team a squad you expect Bum Jr. to be on for a while? If it isn’t you may want to spare the heartburn and stress, but you are the boots on the ground…as it were. If you get that “why don’t you tell someone who cares” look back up and enjoy the fact that you had your son trained properly…sometimes it’s best not to teach a pig to sing.

“I have said something to opposing coaches and managers, i don’t know how damaging curveballs are at such a young age, but pitching 3/4 or sidearm does hurt elbows, this I know from personal experience,”

curves are not what the kid should be throwing 12 and under. Unfortunately you will still see them. I umped a few games this year where I could do nothing but watch young kids spin curves up there in ways that the arm was never meant to throw. All we as concerned participants can do is speak and show when given the chance, the proper way to throw and the proper choice of pitches to learn. Every team that was that young, which had a kid throwin a spinner up there was coached by a guy who “knew better”…i.e. he was going to win that Little League game…because it represented his manhood as an indication as to what a great leader and smart feller he really was…ego’s that huge in my experience never listen until it goes all wrong (A kid gets hurt or a mom /dad goes ballistic).
As to the arm slot comment, you will find that both of the arm slots you mentioned can be used without a particular increase in injury…As long as you deliver the pitch in a fundementally sound way, without solids mechanics, every arm angle can cause a problem.
Thanks for your service…even though a squid from the brown shoe navy, most of my instructors at my “A” school were “Jarheads” and I have enormus respect for you fellas.

I’d tread lightly on this one. How do we really know that what these kids are doing is actually harmful. ASMI have even said that they have no evidence that mechanics of a particular sort “causes” injury. They might. It’s just that the evidence isn’t there. What’s “good” mechanics? Now there’s an argument waiting to happen. Elbow below the shoulder? There’s one guy out there who believes the elbow should never get above the shoulder. Should it be drop 'n drive, tall 'n fall, momentum pitching, rotational, linear, Marshall, Mills, Nyman, Wolforth, Ellis, etc., etc., etc. ? 3/4 arm slot, sidearm, submarine? 100% stride length, 80%?

You mentioned that your son has never had arm problems because of the instruction he had and the “good” mechanics. My son has what I would call “good” mechanics, with room for improvement, but he has shoulder problems. Why? I don’t know. I see other kids he plays with who have terrible mechanics but no arm problems.

My theory, and only a theory, is that pitching is like walking a tight rope with respect to injury. You’re risking injury with every pitch just because of what you’re asking the involved tissues to do. Right on the borderline of what they can actually withstand. Also, I believe that the harder you throw, the higher the risk because the thing that allows you to throw harder is the same thing that raises the risk of injury. The harder you throw, the more violent the stresses on the tissues becomes. My theory only.

Keeping the elbow above the shoulder throughout the motion is only good if that is what your individual body does…

I used to have my elbow above my shoulder (because thats the way it’s supposed to be right) and I started getting shoulder tightness but now I don’t have that problem anymore (with my elbow below the shoulder)

Also about arm slots, your arm is going to do what it is going to do. Whoever it was whose arm hurt in side arm shouldn’t throw that way but that doesn’t mean everyone else should throw like you do.

To each his own.

Or, as they say in some quarters, “Whatever turns you on” said the old lady as she kissed the cow. Anyhow, it has been my experience that the sidearm delivery is actually the most natural, and therefore the easiest on the arm and shoulder. I discovered at the age of 11 that I had it, and the funny thing was what came attached to it—a pretty good curve ball. So at the age of twelve I was throwing a curve, a sort of 8-4 or 4-8, whichever, and I picked up a couple of pitches like the palm ball and the knuckle-curve (as to this last, I do believe that Mike Mussina picked his up the same way, not being able to do anything with a standard knuckleball because of that sharp wrist snap)—and I learned how to change speeds on all these pitches. I learned the slider at the age of 16 and continued to add to my snake-jazz collection (I didn’t have a fast ball to speak of), and I never had any arm or shoulder problems.
Incidentally, my mechanics were pretty sound; my pitching coach didn’t have to tell me very much.
And now, to breakfast. 8) :baseballpitcher:

I agree with DM. I don’t think there is anything inherently dangerous with a low elbow. I do think it will affect performance but I don’t think it is automatically a health risk.

I will say that if your son truly has good mechanics and others are able to recognize that, then you are in a position to command the attention of those others. Based on your past posts, I’m sure you will tread lightly if you choose to engage the parents and/or coach(es).

About the sidearm slot, I don’t think there is anything inherently dangerous about it either. But I will say that it seems like side-armers have a tendency to open up early. I think that is due largely to a reliance on more rotation and less trunk flexion. This timing issue is really what creates issues for the side-arm slot. But then it creates issues for any arm slot.

i do not recommend giving any advice to travel ball or elite level players until asked. if your guy is really good, they will ask you what you are doing or they are comfortable with what they are doing. not your responsibility.

I agree 100% with Dusty on this. I dont know what age group these kids are but it is actually irrelevant. Any kid that is on a traveling team, Varsity baseball, Div 1, or even Pros, got where they are because they are good, have talent and believe in themselves. IMHO, 95% of these guys, are going to have to fail on their own, and then seek instruction.

If you start changing these kids, even if you are 100% correct in what you are teaching them, then they fail, they will never listen to you again. Because they will believe the reason they are now failing is because YOU changed them.

What are they doing?

Chris the op was by Baseballbum…I wish it weren’t so but he hasn’t posted in years so you might not get an answer :wink:


I didn’t notice that the thread was resurrected.

This is a tough one for me because I agree with the administrator earlier who said that he has seen terrible mechanics and the kid never had an injury. I think this happens quite a bit, and looking around the MLB some guys just have funky deliveries that have given them huge contracts. I believe in my way of teaching, but does that mean I am correct? No. Do I tell kids that are having success that they are throwing wrong?
No I don’t.
What I will do is ask if they have ever had elbow pain or throwing pains of some sort.
If the kid says no, then I will say, great, you did a nice job and I hope you continue doing well.

I think that I choose my battles carefully, or more carefully than in the past.

There was a kid who would always bat with an open stance, and it drove one coach crazy. The coach would always try to close off the stance, but the kid was hitting. Anyway, the coach succeeded in getting the kid to close his stance more and the kid didn’t hit after that. Eventually the stance was opened again and they found out the kid has a dominant right eye as a batter. His body naturally created his stance out of necessity.

The Yankees once had a pitcher named Fred Sanford. He had pitched for the old St. Louis Browns (remember them?), and the Yanks saw something in him so they acquired him in a trade. Now the trouble began: he had a windup and delivery best described as herky-jerky, and never mind that he was getting the batters out, two coaches on the team didn’t like it. They wanted him to have a smooth motion. So they started messing around with it—and they ended up destroying him! When they got through with him he wasn’t a good pitcher any more. At the end of the 1950 season he was traded.
You don’t ever mess with a pitcher’s natural motion. I had an incredible pitching coach named Ed Lopat who was an active member of the Yanks’ Big Three rotation, and one basic idea of his was that every pitcher has a natural motion—so what he would do was work with that pitcher and show him (or her) how to make the most of it. I was a natural sidearmer, and one thing he showed me was how to adapt a short-arm motion to my delivery, to go along with my long-arm motion—which gave me twice the number of pitches. He didn’t have to tell me much about my mechanics because they were basically sound; he showed me how to work with them. The end result? I became a more effective pitcher than I had been, with no arm or shoulder problems.
I was thinking about this as I was reading about that kid whose coach altered his batting stance—with disastrous results—and it was only after the original had been restored that the situation with his dominant eye was discovered…Very often when someone is doing something in a particular way there’s a reason for it, and the thing to do is find out what it is and work with it, not against it. :slight_smile: 8)

Do not be afraid to correct them, but do it in a nice way. Instead of telling them that they are wrong , just try to help them by making subtle changes.

I learned this the hard way. I am one of those people that believe strongly in Chris O’leary’s arm action “theory”, and we had a pitcher on our team that I was tempted to try and help, but never got around to confronting him. He is a college prospect, and long story short, about a week ago in our regional championship game in the 7th inning he dropped to the ground after delivering a pitch. He was in tears from the pain. Later he learned that he tore his UCL and he will need Tommy John surgery, which IMO could have been aviodable. So look at it from more than one angle, you’ll regret it if you don’t speak up.