The Ole Ball Game

12 yr old dropping elbow, releasing high, not tucking glove

by Rob
(Pittsburgh, PA)

Rob asked: My son has been pitching since he was 9. For being the smallest on the team, he has always had one of the stronger arms on the mound.

Last year, he started having control issues and lost a lot of velocity.

I think I can attribute his control issues (at least partially) to not tucking his glove and having his chest wide open. I also believe that his loss in velocity is the result of dropping his elbow and releasing high.

Now, I'm no pitching expert - played a lot of ball but never pitched. And, I can completely be off on my assessment above. I am looking for some help in identifying problems and maybe some drills that we can work on to help with these issues.

Rick answered: Rob, thank you for your question!

The first thing I would look at is whether he is getting to his load position correctly, or is he rushing the lower half of his body so that his stride foot is landing before his hand arrives at it's load position.

When you start the forward motion of your pitching hand before it is at it's highest point, you will basically be throwing what is described as "uphill".

The ball should come back and up. If you stop the motion there and look back at the ball, the ball should be away from you and you should be looking at the back of your hand.

From that position, your elbow should be at least as high as your shoulder. From this position you place minimal strain on your shoulder and elbow.

These are basic throwing mechanics for any position to provide a player with a motion which limits injuries and stress to their elbow and shoulder, as well as helping them throw accurately.

Not getting their arm back, ball away, creates a motion which drops their elbow below their shoulder, throws their front side open and creates a situation where the player is throwing with all arm.

Accuracy is hard to achieve, as is velocity.

It is the same situation which occurs for hitters when they fly open on their front side. Once the shoulder comes out, the bat barrel drops, the head comes off the pitch. If they do make contact, it becomes a weakly hit ball.

I would suggest going back to basics, balance point, power position with the ball away, elbow up. His elbow will be up if he slows down his stride leg, which gives him more time to reach the loaded position before bringing his hand forward.

Stride should be an easy, balanced, step towards home. It is not a powerful movement.

In the pics you sent, it looks like he is loading back and behind, so he has to bring the ball out and around to his release point. That drops his elbow and opens up his front side.

The Wade Miley pic, he is just starting out of his load, front side closed, stride foot down and the ball will come. Head is still, online, and hasn't rotated off to the side.

I, like yourself, am not a pitching guy. While there are various nuances that go along with pitching, at your son's age it's much more about basic throwing mechanics so that he is not putting excess strain on his shoulder and elbow.

He has a lot of years left to play. Mechanics will help make him more efficient, with less opportunity for injuries.

Yours in baseball,


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