Youth pitcher and velocity

My son is soon going to turn 11 although he is considered age 10 by little league rules. He is fairly tall-4’ 10" and only weighs about 76 LBS. He was drafted by the majors this season. He has been taking pitching lessons since last year and is still struggling with velocity, by that I mean he doesn’t seem to throw as hard as other kids his age. His pitching coach says that his mechanics look good but his team coach says that he is not staying tall, but does not show him how to correct that. My husband is currently deployed to Iraq, so as far as practice at home - Mom is it. i have been to everyone of his lessons and I’ve definately learned the mechanics with him. I would apprecate some advice on how to get him to use his entire body when pitching, and please tell me what to do about this “staying tall” . thanks! kristine

The first thing to do is take video of him pitching and make it available to the board. Some people here seem to be able to do that, I can’t. If you send them to me, I’ll take a stab ( Make sure you get a view from the open side (from 3rd for a righty), from the front and from the back looking toward home. Most common digital cameras have a video mode. The problem with those is they’re only 15 frames per second at best. You need a minimum of 30 fps to be really useful. If you can get your hands on a digital video camera, you’ll be better off. The regular digital still camera with video mode at 30 fps that I use is the HP R707.

When a local coach says his mechanics are good, don’t be too sure. There are so many coaches out there who really don’t have a clue. It’s very frustrating. There are people on this board who are very good. Some study this stuff as an obsession (I’m one of those :lol: )

When the coach says that he’s not “staying tall”, a kid can take this to extremes and be too upright and mechanical. Is he really not staying as tall as he needs to? Dunno. Need video. He may be fine and there’s another problem that he should be focussing on. If you hear the coaches using terms like “tall 'n fall” or “drop 'n drive” as mutually exclusive approaches, run like he**. This is an indication that they don’t have the big picture. Neither one of these cues is productive as neither describes what really needs to happen. They’re both too limiting.

Anyway, get some video and either post it or send it to me and/or anyone else here who are willing to help.


What he needs to do is push off the rubber, and while hes doing that he needs to bend his legs while pushing off. That will increase his velocity.

[quote=“SchillingBeckett”]What he needs to do is push off the rubber, and while hes doing that he needs to bend his legs while pushing off. That will increase his velocity.[/quote]Telling a kid to push off the rubber without telling him how and when will only serve to confuse him and potentially cause timing problems. There are far better ways to describe what needs to be done. There are many posts on this board that tell the story.

Well then describe it then…

So, you want me to describe the entire pitching motion? That’s quite a complex task!! If you’d like, PM me with your email address and I’ll give it a shot.

There are a great many issues that contribute to velocity generation. Focusing on just one, such as pushing off the rubber, is fine but, as I’ve said too many times (for most readers on this board) is that EVERYTHING we say about this or that component MUST be put into a holistic context. For example, pushing hard off the rubber but opening the hips too early won’t get this kid where he needs to be. Opening the hips into landing but having poor arm action also won’t get him there. You need to put it all together efficiently. There are two things to deal with here. Mechanics is one. Lots of disagreement there. How to actually teach a kid to get there is a whole other thing.

What needs to be done here is to see this kid on video and respond to that. In several other posts, I’ve described what needs to be done regarding certain aspects of the motion. Do a search for my posts and you’ll see them. As for this kid, I’ll wait for the video.

Thanks for the advice- I will try to get a video posted, just don’t know how soon. I have total trust in his pitching coach, he (his coach) was moving up to MLB (pitching) and I believe blew out his achilles tendon. His son (Scott Reifert) works for the White Sox. It’s funny that someone said to “push off the rubber” because that is exactly what his pitching coach tells him.
At practice today he pitched well, but I was able to yell “Jesse, use your legs to push off” -most definately harder pitching today. I just won’t be able to do that so easily during gametime. Not only that – how many boys would want their mom screaming from the bench? I do have to admit that the kid is darn accurate. He did have a couple in the dirt- but right away he said… “that was release point”. Are there any drills that would teach him to use his legs more? Thanks again for the help! Kristine

dm59- id like to talk to you a little in a non forum like deal, check you pm’s

At most, only 20% of a pitcher’s velocity comes from linear movement down the hill. The rest comes from the rotation of hips and shoulders. So, pushing off the rubber only stands to optimize that 20%. It also risks messing up a pitcher’s timing.

As DM said, total velocity comes from total mechanics. But it would be better to initially focus on the rotation of hips and shoulders to optimize velocity.

It is most important that your son develop the proper mechanics first. Once this is underway, he will learn to create separation between the hips and shoulders, and thus delaying shoulder rotation, this delay will aid in the increases of his velocity. However, I would first check direction and length of stride. An increase of one linear foot is equivilent to 3 mph, so decreasing the throwing distance will also help him.

I agree.

The key to velocity is getting the hips rotating well ahead of the shoulders (Tom House calls this Late Torso Rotation). This stretches the muscles of the torso and enables them to powerfully pull the shoulders around. This has the side benefit of taking some of the load off of the arm.

One way to practice this is to work on striding sideways to the target with the glove-side foot sideways to the target (e.g. toe pointed at 3B). Just before the glove-side foot lands, you rotate it so that you land with the toe pointed at the target. It may also help to, while doing this, keep the glove pointed at the target. This increases the amount that the muscles of the torso are stretched.

Too many kids open their shoulders up too early and do not take advantage of stretching the muscles of the torso.

You can see an extreme example of this hip/shoulder differential in this photo of Casey Fossum…

I would also be glad to look at a video clip. Send it to

Actually, what pushing off the rubber does is increase the amount and rate at which the hips can rotate. However, as Roger says trying to push off the rubber is much more likely to hurt your timing than it is to help your velocity.

A pitcher’s time is much better spent focusing on getting their hips rotating well before their shoulders (by holding their shoulders back) than on pushing off the rubber.

Now that is separation!!!

Thanks to everyone for the info. The picture was worth a thousand words. I have been trying to explain that shoulder rotation to him and how it helps to move the arm faster. I do believe the little league coach was referring more to keeping his weight back when he said “stay tall”. I worked with him some this weekend (as much as possible through on and off rain showers) We broke the pitching motion down and went through it slowly- I do think he was falling towards the plate, so we worked on the up, down and out of the leg lift. Also trying to keep the weight back until his stride foot lands. Of course this is all easier said than done -especially in real-time and putting it all together. His team has their first game tomorrow and another on Wed. I’m pretty sure he will pitch at some point, so as his pitching coach would say - “concentration, confidence = control”- the 3 c’s of pitching. Let’s hope for all of those things. I’ll update after the games. Kristine

The next thing to keep in mind is that he needs to just focus on the glove and let it rip.

No looking at the batter, no thinking, and especially no aiming.

In fact, never use the word “aim”. It’s a dirty word when it comes to pitching.