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Is it possible that a 10 year old kid could be the most consistent pitcher I have in my program? The answer is YES! After I finished part 3 of the “UP, DOWN, & OUT” article, I wanted to make sure I provided you with an example of how I can take a high level mechanical pattern seen in professional players and instill the same pattern in a young pitcher.
My case study is a 10 year old pitcher who has been in my program for almost a year now. He had no prior pitching instruction and limited experience on the mound before his first pitching lesson with me.
I want to begin to shed light on my pitching theory, and what you will see in this case study will give you a couple of core components of the delivery I teach here at Baseball Rebellion. I’ve created a foundation within this young student that will allow him to repeat his delivery for years to come, stay healthy, and as his body matures, so will his velocity gains.
His ability to command his fastball at 10 years old is unmatched for his age. Time and time again he reaffirms our belief the value of implementing advanced patterns in the younger athlete before they are prone to bad information. Chas Pippitt, over at the Baseball Hitting Rebellion has hitters as young as 6 performing high level patterns within their swings. It’s rewarding to see what can happen with the right information.
I have implemented the process but without the student’s own personal work ethic we couldn’t have progressed as quickly as we have. His ability to engage within lessons, communicate, and understand the principles of his delivery have allowed him to practice correctly on his own time.
Let’s look at his initial evaluation video…
BEFORE: Student’s Evaluation Video (11/11/2011)
One of the most common fundamental coaching cues with regards to playing catch is “Hit him in the chest”. A problem that begins to surface is the body is never forced to fully complete the throw. The chest stays upright or tall, and the arm never gets proper deceleration. We must strive to get ALL of our throwers to work to get the chest over the knee; if even just slightly. Young throwers tend to throw the ball forward which leads to a “push”. We want to constantly think of driving the ball down. Try saying, “Hit him in the belt”.
After watching the student’s evaluation video, I noticed this “push” was evident in his delivery. I asked him if he pushed off his back leg to generate power, and he responded “yes”. Pushing off the back leg in most cases, can lead the chest and head to get too far forward at foot strike, leading to the arm playing catch up. When the spine angle (chest) is forward at foot strike, our head and shoulders have to open up across the body forcing the arm to get to a lower arm slot than it should be.
I decided to start the student’s developmental plan by getting him to think about throwing the baseball differently…DOWN.
AFTER: Student’s Video (7/25/2012)
Have you ever seen the equation above before? I like to use a simple analogy of a greater than sign “>” or a sideways V when I talk to young throwers about getting their bodies in a position to drive the ball down.
The symbol seems to resonate in their minds and they instantly transform their movements differently. I started my student’s throwing program by creating a series of throwing drills where he was constantly forced to manipulate this “>” pattern into each throw. We create this position by allowing the hips to lead us out into the throw, keeping our head and chest behind our back hip, and at foot strike, we drive the chest down.
Within a few lessons, the ball flight of the student began to dramatically change. His arm slot went from a low 3/4 angle to high 3/4 angle with added velocity and more depth at the end of each throw. His chest and head have remained consistently behind his back hip as he moves forward into each throw, and as he goes to fire, his arm is now supported as a result of this efficient pattern.
Don’t try and create a great wind-up off the mound first. Work on throwing a baseball consistently by just playing catch and you will be amazed at the results when you advance to the mound.
I’m Justin Orenduff, and I’m the Leader of the Baseball Pitching Rebellion