Pitching is one of the most over-looked and under-studied position in youth sports. This isn't meant to offend anyone, but the truth of the matter is that 95% of youth coaches and parents don't understand pitching mechanics, what to look for, what's important, what's not, how to improve them, and the results that poor mechanics has on success and possibly life-long arm injuries.
Pitching starts from the bottom and goes up, it's not about brut strength, working out, standing on the mound, raring back and pushing off the mound to get power. Most of the power comes from between the thighs and hips, the arm is along for the ride (but also needs to be in the right spot at the right time to generate maximum power and low stress).
Most young pitchers that dominate because of power, rarely even make it in high school. It's the kids that are working on their mechanics, control, mental, and overall pitching that make it anywhere.
Most either decide that their child will only be pitching for a few years anyway, so why worry about it, or the hopes that the coach can help, and on the flip side the coach hopes the child already knows how to pitch. I'm here to tell you it's not that difficult to teach and/or for the pitcher to learn and improve. As with many sports we could list a ton of drills and tips, but for young pitchers 8-18, there's only a few simply drills needed, and a few things to really work on to make dramatic improvements fast.
It's nice that kids want to emulate certain big league pitchers (or hitters), but in reality, each player has a body type that will allow or disallow certain flexibilities in the body, and this will impact somewhat their general overall form. There are certain areas that need to be watched, not only for performance reasons, but for arm injury purposes as well. Our pitching guides point these things out very clearly with a sequence of pitching mechanics taken from video and made into still images. Every pitcher will have subtle little things they do differently and you shouldn't force a certain "look" onto a pitcher. A lot of it has to do with comfort and a natural flow of body movement that their body will allow.
The body can be trained to do most, if not all of the major mechanical phases properly, but there is some flexibility in each phase that allows a pitcher their own identity.
We spend as much time talking about flexibility, stretching, proper warm-up, conditioning and treatment as we do the actual mechanics, those areas are often over-looked by 90+% of coaches, and these areas have a direct impact on the improvement, success, and reduced sore arms as anything else. Even for an 8 year old, getting them into a routine, just like brushing their teeth before bed, putting on shoes to go outside (at least during the winter), and other routines will build a pitchers confidence as well because they'll understand that this is a part of pitching. Many are afraid it will make them look like they're taking young pitching or winning too serious so they don't.
Believe me, if other parents see you enforcing a routine, they'll want their kids playing for you.
What do you think?
Now it's time to hear from you:
Are there any additional tips that I missed?
Or maybe you have an idea of how I can make this article even better.
Either way, leave a comment and let me know.