Let’s face it, making movement pattern changes can be difficult and
very frustrating especially if proper movement patters weren’t developed
at a young age. Think about the first time you started throwing a
baseball, whether you were 5 years old or 12 years old, you probably
watched someone else do it and tried to copy what they were doing. As
you continued to throw over the years you started developing habit
patterns as far as the way your body moved.
It’s just like learning how to run, everybody develops their own
style and it becomes unique to you as an individual.Now someone who
learns how to run but doesn’t have good posture or form is going to
eventually start having aches and pains. In order to get rid of those
aches and pains in their joints they will either have to stop running
all together or change the way they run.
Same with throwing a baseball, except throwing a baseball is a much
more complex movement and therefor more difficult to change depending on
how old you are. Anytime you are having aches and pains it’s a signal
from your body that something isn’t right. Or if you aren’t having any
pain but you feel like your velocity is much less than what it should
be, you most likely aren’t moving efficiently and don’t fully understand
how to use your body.
This is why it’s so important for kids to be active at a young age. I
love when kids are playing multiple sports rather than just one because
it allows the body learn different types of movements.
When I was a kid, after I got home from school I was straight out the
door and on my skateboard riding around the neighborhood with friends.
This is completely belief based and maybe kind of funny but I really
think riding a skateboard gave me better hip strength and flexibility
later in my life. I would use both legs to push off from when the other
started to get tired.The neuromuscular system is developing in young
kids so it’s a crucial time for them to activate certain movements
For example, let’s say there’s two 21 year olds. One is gifted
athletically but for whatever reason has never thrown a baseball in his
life. He might be a running back or a point guard and is on a higher
level than his peers. The other one has ability but not nearly as
gifted as the other 21 year old and from the time when he was 12 to 16
years old played baseball and pitched for a little while.
Take both of these kids at their current age of 21 and have them
throw a baseball, the kid that played for those four years is going to
be able to throw much more effectively than the athletically gifted kid
because his neuromuscular system is going to remember that even though
he hasn’t thrown a baseball in five years. The athletically gifted kid
doesn’t have that pattern stored in his body and it is completely
foreign to him. Obviously there are exceptions but for the most part
this would be the case. Think about when you watch a basketball player
or a boxer throw out the first pitch at a major league game. A lot of
the time it is comical because they’ve simply never done it before but
the fact that their throwing out the first pitch implies that they excel
at their sport.
In baseball and more specifically pitching, it is extremely important
to focus on skill development from a young age. The life span of an
athlete is much shorter than other professions and if you wait too
long…well then it can be too late. Kids these days are spending too
much time playing games and not nearly enough time on skill
development. In my opinion baseball is way behind in this aspect. You
don’t get better playing games you get better practicing and developing
your skills. Baseball is a skill sport and that’s what makes it great,
you don’t have to be the biggest fastest most athletic kid to have
success. And when you are competing against athletes that are more
naturally gifted you can separate yourself by having exceptional skills.
I was watching an interview with Freddie Roach who is Manny Paquiou’s
trainer. If you don’t know who Manny Paquiou is then you either live
in a cave or are disconnected from society. If you’re reading this
article then most likely that’s not the case but he is a boxer. Anyway,
Freddie was asked at what point he knew Paquiou was going to be a
star. His answer was it happened in one fight. All of the sudden
Paquiou was starting to put punching combinations together like it was
second nature, he just started reacting without thinking and all of the
hours upon hours in the gym started to show itself. Everything they had
worked on for years in the gym out of nowhere just clicked and it has
changed the boxing world forever. I am writing this article before the
Maywether fight but win or lose he will go down in history as one of the
best boxers to walk the face of the earth.
My hope in writing this is to raise the question in your mind about
how you are going about yours or your son’s development as a baseball
player. Just like a doctor or a lawyer needs to develop skills in their
profession so doesn’t a baseball player need to develop the necessary
skills at a young age in order to compete at a high level later on.
Sometimes you have to think outside the box and do what everybody else
isn’t instead of following along with the crowd. Less games more
Coach Rich discusses and demonstrates how the hips are involved in the kinetic chain creating bat speed and power. Coach Rich also discusses how the hips are just a part of the whole that creates bat speed and power.
Most pitching instructors have good intentions. However, good intentions will get your son nowhere
as a pitcher unless your son’s instructor has deep knowledge of
mechanics and the ability to videotape and explain to you and your son
exactly what is going on with his delivery.
Unfortunately, 95% or more of instructors do not videotape regularly. Most, never. They simply rely on what they have learned or try to pass on to you how they pitched.
That, of course, never works for very long.
If you expect your son to continue to improve his performance, then
videotaping must be a large part of his training. Not only does the
instructor need feedback to see what is going on but the student needs
feedback as well.
The Most Important Questions
Here are some important questions you should ask your instructor about your son’s mechanics.These
questions are extremely important if you hope your son to maximize his
velocity and his overall performance while reducing the risk of injury:
1. How is my son’s back leg action? Is he collapsing?
2. What about his posture? Does he keep his trunk upright?
3. How about his weight shift? Does he let his front hip carry his lead leg out or does he let his lead leg down first?
4. Is he moving sideways or rotating early?
5. Does he break his hands at the right time and in the right position?
6. How’s his arm action? Does he make a nice pendulum swing doing
down, back and up in alignment with his trunk or is he wrapping his arm
7. Is his throwing elbow getting to shoulder height at landing? Does he have a low or high elbow?
8. Does he use his lead arm and glove to help accelerate his trunk
rotation? Does he get his lead arm at the right time while his throwing
arm is still down and back?
9. Does he land at his height and does he brace his front leg and
hip or are his hips too low and he continues to drift forward?
10. At landing, is his head in the center of the triangle formed by
his two feet? Or is his head and trunk too far forward? Does he have
some trunk tilt toward his glove side or are his shoulders level which
means he is not using his lead arm?
11. When his arm lays back into maximum external rotation (arm lays
back when ball is facing the sky) are his hips and trunk completely
facing home plate? Has his trunk flexed forward?
12. At ball release, are his head and shoulders positioned out over his landing knee or are they positioned back behind?
13. Does he finish with a near flat back showing the back of his
shoulder to the hitter while his throwing arm finishes down and back
behind his landing knee? Make sure his arm does not finish at waist
height when viewed from the back.
You do not have to have him answer all these questions at one time, but pick 4 or 5. That will be enough for you to make a judgement about him.
If your instructor is knowledgeable he should be able to answer all
these questions. If he is not he will blow you off saying this is not
that important or we’ll get to that or some other vague answer.
Always be asking WHY?
Always ask him to demonstrate what he is telling your son to do.
If you want your son to maximize his performance and reduce
the risk of injury, then your instructor is responsible as long as you
are paying him.
Ask him why he does not videotape the most complex and fastest human
motion in all of sports. He will say he doesn’t need to because he has
experience. Well so don’t eye and that is exactly why I videotape as
often as I do.