The most common problem I see in both online and in person evaluations is a lack of body awareness through the throwing delivery. Many kids are seemingly taught to just lift their leg and then throw. There is a gap in instruction on how the lower and upper body should properly be used together. These teaching patterns persist for one reason; parents and coaches were never taught proper throwing mechanics themselves.
The number one reason why kids throw sidearm is their shoulder rotation is on a horizontal plane instead of a directional plane toward the target. Horizontal rotation happens because young throwers are trying to hit a target by simply aiming and, by doing so, stop the rotation of their shoulders and trunk. The arms follow the path of the shoulders toward the target causing the throwing arm to move away from the target while struggling to maintain a consistent arm path.
The quickest way to transform a poor throwing motion is to gain control of upper body movements. Additionally, the more the player embraces the difference in the feeling of how to control their arms together, the faster the changes happen. When teaching repeatable movements I focus on the player using more of his or her body to propel the arm forward. We train the player to allow their arms to move around the head and instead of letting their shoulders fly open. Teaching players to allow their body to move purposefully significantly increases accuracy and velocity.
These videos are about a year and a half apart. The video above is of 10 year Nathan G. throwing sidearm from 46ft. Nathan is now 12 years old and pitches from 50 and 60ft. The movement changes we made with both his lower half and Directional Rotational are clear in the video below. He now has the confidence to be the player we knew he can be thanks to his hard work.
A better timing pattern of movements is the key to having an efficient and fluid delivery. Flying open with the front side is usually related to a delayed trigger. A common reason associated with a delayed trigger is "Sitting Into The Back Leg." This does not allow the body to be properly synced from the start. A proper back leg drive starts the chain of better movements. Keeping your shoulders closed, through the initial drive and into front foot strike, will help create a more repeatable throwing motion. This also creates a "rubber band" effect in the body that is called Hips to Shoulder Separation.
This is the position evident in all hard throwers when their front foot hits the ground. Training the brain to work with the body in order to hold on to this feeling until the shoulders are ready to release is another key factor in avoiding throwing sidearm. Staying committed to a constant flow of energy from lower half drive into proper shoulder and truck rotation, while staying connected to the mound, can be learned with proper repetition. At Baseball Rebellion, we have a variety of drills to help throwers learn how to feel this movement. Below are few basic and effective drills to introduce consistent positive movement dynamics.
The best part about learning these patterns is they do not have to be done with a ball. Starting out by learning to concentrate on repeating the throwing motion, by using more core strength, will create a more whip-like in the arm allowing the player to stay strong through the entire motion. Focus is key when trying to feel the changes happening in your delivery. The younger you can start a player working these drills with tempo and consistency, the more it will pay off in the long run. I hope you enjoyed my article, thank you for reading. Please leave your comments below.