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Thread: Teaching Kids to Pitch From the Stretch

  1. #1
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    Teaching Kids to Pitch From the Stretch

    Do you think kids should be taught to pitch from the stretch instead of the windup?

    I'm a youth baseball coach for 7 to 9 year olds and have introduced this technique for the first time this year. The results have been great!

    The reason I took this approach is the result of seeing the lack of control of both the windup and the pitch using the conventional windup.

    Teaching the kids to pitch from the stretch seems to work because of the following reasons:
    • The kids are able to master the motion pretty quickly

    • There are less moving parts to worry about

    • It's easier for the kids to keep their balance

    • It's easy to break down the motion when things go wrong

    • They get a better push off the mound when compared to the windup


    I don't understand why we don't see more of this! It seems natural and common sense to teach the kids one technique- and we all know when the kids eventually play at the high school level they'll have a tremendous advantage with men on base.

    I wonder if any of you coaches out there have the same approach or if you have any tips or comments. That would be great!
    Last edited by b4uplayball; 06-13-2008 at 12:24 AM. Reason: t ypo

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by b4uplayball View Post
    Do you think kids should be taught to pitch from the stretch instead of the windup?

    I'm a youth baseball coach for 7 to 9 year olds and have introduced this technique for the first time this year. The results have been great!

    The reason I took this approach is the result of seeing the lack of control of both the windup and the pitch using the conventional windup.

    Teaching the kids to pitch from the stretch seems to work because of the following reasons:
    • The kids are able to master the motion pretty quickly

    • There are less moving parts to worry about

    • It's easier for the kids to keep their balance

    • It's easy to break down the motion when things go wrong

    • They get a better push off the mound when compared to the windup


    I don't understand why we don't see more of this! It seems natural and common sense to teach the kids one technique- and we all know when the kids eventually play at the high school level they'll have a tremendous advantage with men on base.

    I wonder if any of you coaches out there have the same approach or if you have any tips or comments. That would be great!
    Because the biggest thing most coaches miss about what separates the wind-up from the stretch is MOMENTUM - you don't get any out of the stretch. This is why starters prefer throw out of the wind-up; they can throw harder for a longer period of time because they are using their body's momentum.
    "Closers" or "set-up/relief" pitchers don't have to worry about "longevity". They go in and throw for one inning (sometimes even one BATTER), and they're done.
    The guy I coach with (who was never a pitcher himself), thinks this same way. He is always trying to tell our pitchers that he "can't figure out 'why' all pitchers just don't throw out of the stretch"; there is a reason for throwing out of the wind-up, the reason is momentum (= more velocity).

    Yes, with younger kids (the age you're referring to), when first teaching them to pitch, starting them out in the stretch is a good idea. But as they progress, and become more coordinated, and get better "overall", they need to learn the mechanics of the wind-up. Most younger kids don't do well out of the wind-up because they don't understand how to control their bodies very well. When they take their "initial step" to shift their weight so they can turn their pivot foot [flush to the rubber], they end up "throwing their weight around" because they can't control it. But as they become stronger, with proper instruction, they will/should be able to easily learn it.
    Last edited by StraightGrain11; 06-13-2008 at 02:31 AM.
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  3. #3
    Absolutely an age appropriate thing. For beginners you try to break down and isolate the different parts of the pitch to give them time to learn control of each part. Then you build back into a whole. Windups are the last part - its important to get the momentum moving. But, if your pitcher can't put it through the strike zone all the momentum in the world doesn't count. So isolate and develop upper body accuracy first. Then get their legs under them pushing some speed. Windups are kind of the icing on the cake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by StraightGrain11 View Post
    Because the biggest thing most coaches miss about what separates the wind-up from the stretch is MOMENTUM - you don't get any out of the stretch. This is why starters prefer throw out of the wind-up; they can throw harder for a longer period of time because they are using their body's momentum.
    Lots of people say this, but it's not true.

    Both the wind-up and the set are the same from the top of the leg lift forward.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
    Lots of people say this, but it's not true.

    Both the wind-up and the set are the same from the top of the leg lift forward.
    I disagree. I've seen a lefty on our U10 pitch from the stretch and he is all arm. He's great the first inning, but halfway thru his second I see him tiring. But he does not have a knee lift in his stretch position. If you use a knee lift you can use the body in the pitch, but knee lift lengthens the wind up and allows for easier base stealing.

  6. #6
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    My son is 10 and has been pitching in both LL and travel ball the past 2 years. He still pitches from the stretch. I agree with the OP that when trying to become consistent the less moving parts the better. I've told him that once he can throw the fastball and change-up consistently for strikes from the the stretch, then we can worry about the wind-up. (And we still have a ways to go.)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by LAball View Post
    I disagree. I've seen a lefty on our U10 pitch from the stretch and he is all arm. He's great the first inning, but halfway thru his second I see him tiring. But he does not have a knee lift in his stretch position. If you use a knee lift you can use the body in the pitch, but knee lift lengthens the wind up and allows for easier base stealing.
    Many pros use a knee lift when going from the Set position (but it is sometimes lower than when they go from the Wind-Up).

    Relatively few people use a true slide step with no knee lift because that can hurt their velocity or cause them to throw more with their arms and less with their bodies.

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    My son throws harder from the set position. I agree with Chris that there is no difference from the kick forward. With regard to the slide step, there is a small reduction in velocity (proof that the kick does contribute to velocity). If one has good mechanics on the slide step there should be no added strain on the arm. My son does push hard with the back foot when he uses the slide step

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
    Lots of people say this, but it's not true.

    Both the wind-up and the set are the same from the top of the leg lift forward.
    Mechanically, yes. But when you take your "step back" to turn your post foot, as you transfer your weight back to your post foot, you begin moving your body toward the plate - in this instance you are using GRAVITY to attain momentum (and conserving your energy).
    When you throw from the stretch, your body's first movement is BACKWARD [as you lift your leg]. This means you now have to use a counter-force, or a "push" from your post leg, to redirect the energy back to the plate. This takes up a lot of energy over 4/5/6 innings.
    That is why starting pitchers don't throw from the stretch. It takes too much energy redirecting their bodies, enery that they don't have to use out of the wind up.

    Before you argue this with me, stand up and try it. Get in the stretch position, and lift your leg. Watch your back hip - it will "rock" backwards. If it's going backwards, you have to do something to get it going in the other direction - that takes energy out of you. If you're "pre-loading" so you don't move backwards, you still have to push ALL of your weight with your post leg from a "dead stand-still" to get it moving towards the plate. Laws of inertia - a body at rest wants to stay at rest; a body in motion wants to stay in motion (your body is already moving [forward] into leg kick out of the wind up).
    "Coaches should teach people to play better baseball, not teach baseball to make better players."
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  10. #10
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    Watch for the sun to rise in the west tomorrow. I'm agreeing with Chris on this one. As for the original poster, the way he's teaching pitchers is a great idea. I did the same. By minimizing motion the younger kids stay better balanced and tend to have better mechanics. Good or bad mechanics start with the feet and balance.

    My son is in high school now. While he doesn't pitch from the stretch without runners on base, his windup is vey compact. It works for the reasons Chris stated.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by TG Coach View Post
    Watch for the sun to rise in the west tomorrow. I'm agreeing with Chris on this one. As for the original poster, the way he's teaching pitchers is a great idea. I did the same. By minimizing motion the younger kids stay better balanced and tend to have better mechanics. Good or bad mechanics start with the feet and balance.

    My son is in high school now. While he doesn't pitch from the stretch without runners on base, his windup is vey compact. It works for the reasons Chris stated.
    I don't ever recall saying it was a "bad idea". In fact, I believe I said, when starting to teach pitchers, this is a "GOOD idea".

    I was simply explaining "why" the wind-up is "favored" by starting pitchers. It had nothing to do with telling him he was doing something "wrong".
    And as I also said, if you don't believe me (as you are "agreeing with Chris on this one"), stand up and try it. If something I stated doesn't occur (making me wrong), tell me, I would like to know.
    "Coaches should teach people to play better baseball, not teach baseball to make better players."
    "In the Little League manual it says 'Baseball builds character' - that is not true. Baseball reveals character." - Augie Garrido

  12. #12
    I think a lot of this depends on what you've got to start with. Most young kids seem to emulate their favorite pitcher doing the wind-up. If, by the time you inherit them, they are more practiced and, therefore, more comfortable with the wind-up, that is most likely what they will be most successful at. If you inherit a clean slate, then teaching them to pitch from the stretch might be beneficial since, in the long term, many kids end up never being as effective from the stretch than the wind-up if taught otherwise.

    StraightGrain, instead of saying the difference between the wind-up and stretch positions is momentum, you probably should have said the difference is the ease with which that momentum is obtained. I agree it takes a little bit more work to achieve the same amount of momentum when throwing from the stretch that the wind-up because you have to be more explosive to get up to speed in less time. This extra physical exertion requires more strength - especially in the core where young kids are often lacking.

  13. #13
    My son started pitching from the stretch this year. This was part of his transformation to a sidearm pitcher. Since that time, he has gravitated toward a 3/4 delivery, but still pitches from the stretch.

    He started the season throwing over the top with a full wind-up. He walked a lot of batters in the first game of the season mainly because he couldn't keep the ball down in game situations. Since that time though, he's been absolutely lights out.

    I believe that not only is his velocity better, but it also appears faster to hitters because it is explosive and deceptive. The load in his delivery now reminds me of a lot of a tennis serve.

    Another thing that I've noticed in pictures is that his chest is now pushing way, way forward. What exactly that does for a pitcher, I don't know, but you see it in MLB pitchers and rarely see it in a 10 year old. It looks like it would be stressful on the arm, but this year has been a year of more pitches thrown and zero complaints about pain or soreness.
    Last edited by shake-n-bake; 06-13-2008 at 06:30 PM.

  14. #14
    Btw, my son is 10 years old, 5'3" / 140#. That probably helps.
    Last edited by shake-n-bake; 06-13-2008 at 06:42 PM.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by devilsadvocate View Post
    StraightGrain, instead of saying the difference between the wind-up and stretch positions is momentum, you probably should have said the difference is the ease with which that momentum is obtained. I agree it takes a little bit more work to achieve the same amount of momentum when throwing from the stretch that the wind-up because you have to be more explosive to get up to speed in less time. This extra physical exertion requires more strength - especially in the core where young kids are often lacking.
    You are correct. My bad.
    Last edited by StraightGrain11; 06-13-2008 at 08:15 PM.
    "Coaches should teach people to play better baseball, not teach baseball to make better players."
    "In the Little League manual it says 'Baseball builds character' - that is not true. Baseball reveals character." - Augie Garrido

  16. #16
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    When they first get to pitch and start learning it there is no reason not to start with the stretch. It is 100% the easiest way to pitch because the mechanics are fairly simple. Not only that but the load point and everything from the stretch is used by the windup so build the foundation with the stretch and build on that into the windup.
    “If there was ever a man born to be a hitter it was me.” - Ted Williams
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  17. #17
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    b4uplayball,

    If you are instructing the “Traditional pitching mechanic” to this age group velocity should not be your goal because their elbows don’t even show up hard on an x-ray. You should emphasis the stretch position exclusively for as long as you can stand it, preferably 11 years old. The sooner you teach them a kick wind up the sooner they learn to “over early rotate” and this is when they fall into the worst of the traditional injurious gateways. 95% of these kids will mostly perform out of the stretch during games so get used to it. Don’t worry about how far past ½ the length of your body you stride because all of the lengths past come to a stabbing stop and none of the momentum is transferred either way as shown by High speed film, I’ve had hundreds of pitchers throw faster from the stretch, I think it lines then up better. Ask them to always land their glove foot on the glove arm side of the field driveline. The ball arm leg finish can be performed any way you want because this is all finish wasted motion with the ball already gone. Please teach them to pronate their drivelines and releases of center mass. Teach them only a fastball and change-up. DO NOT teach them supinated curves fastballs and sliders until never! Keep testing their ability to hold their three fingered grips to a 2 fingered one then let them go back if they want.

    If you are instructing, “Crow step mechanics” their windup is their stretch and windup. Point them straight forward with their toes hanging over the edge, have them step back a shoe length with their glove foot, maintaining center of balance keeping their toes forward, start their pendulum swing and forward drive, as they drive their glove leg forward have them land it NO more than 1/2 of their standing height long and land your heal to toe just after the ball arrives to driveline height. Now finish their ball arm leg drive by transferring the momentum over to the glove arm leg so that it may continue the leg drive, get 175 degrees of late hip and shoulder rotation. Teach them to pronate all their pitches through the arm driveline and releases. Teach them the ball arm side tailing fastball and the screwball. When they are ten teach them the pronated curveball and pronated cutter. Now they have 4 pitches to work on that have three-way movement that will not blow up their arm but will still effect their potential bone length or posible bone deformation.
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  18. #18
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    Whatever. The kick contributes to velocity. It was great watching my son today blowing it by varsity batters from a strong 1st Division CIF school. No walks and 5 ks in 3 innings. The high kick was a thing of beauty because it added to the deception of his change up.

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    I have introduced a video recorder at some of the practices to "show" the kids (7 - 9 year olds) what they are doing wrong in the stretch motion. Believe it or not I get the kid's full, undivided attention when I show them on the LCD screen. And a picture is worth a thousand words.

    Using videos instead of trying to explain what is wrong and what is right takes a lot less time to explain and the kids don't get defensive. From my experience this year by teaching kids to pitch from the stretch and introducing the video recorder I could have 6 different kids pitch effectively (get the ball over the plate and have good form and follow through).

    A remarkable advantage!

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
    Lots of people say this, but it's not true.

    Both the wind-up and the set are the same from the top of the leg lift forward.
    I have no data to support this, but..... I will pay attention when watching the pitchers from now on to get an idea if what I am going to say holds water.

    I think from the windup the leg kick is higher even with when pitching from the stretch and no men on base. The body in motion of the windup just allows for the transfer of energy to go right into the higher leg kick. Again this is comparing a stretch with no men on base and a leg kick.

    I also think that a windup motion will result in a bit more rotation of the body then they do with the no man on stretch. More twisting of the rubber band.

    Of course what I am saying is that the player won't use the same mechanics on both of those motions but realistically if it results in a bit more power then it may help to explain.

    And of course none of that may be true. I am going to watch and pay attention to this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CoachHenry View Post
    I have no data to support this, but..... I will pay attention when watching the pitchers from now on to get an idea if what I am going to say holds water.

    I think from the windup the leg kick is higher even with when pitching from the stretch and no men on base. The body in motion of the windup just allows for the transfer of energy to go right into the higher leg kick. Again this is comparing a stretch with no men on base and a leg kick.

    I also think that a windup motion will result in a bit more rotation of the body then they do with the no man on stretch. More twisting of the rubber band.

    Of course what I am saying is that the player won't use the same mechanics on both of those motions but realistically if it results in a bit more power then it may help to explain.

    And of course none of that may be true. I am going to watch and pay attention to this.
    Coach, part of the reason why the leg kick is higher in the wind-up is because the pitcher is allowed the time to extend the knee higher as he is not holding a runner.
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  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Jake Patterson View Post
    Coach, part of the reason why the leg kick is higher in the wind-up is because the pitcher is allowed the time to extend the knee higher as he is not holding a runner.
    If you re-read his post again, I think you will see you missed that he stated he is comparing pitching from the stretch without a runner on base.
    "Coaches should teach people to play better baseball, not teach baseball to make better players."
    "In the Little League manual it says 'Baseball builds character' - that is not true. Baseball reveals character." - Augie Garrido

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by StraightGrain11 View Post
    If you re-read his post again, he states that he is comparing pitching from the stretch without a runner on base.

    Thanks....
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    Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
    Many pros use a knee lift when going from the Set position (but it is sometimes lower than when they go from the Wind-Up).

    Relatively few people use a true slide step with no knee lift because that can hurt their velocity or cause them to throw more with their arms and less with their bodies.
    I've discussed this with a few coaches about why they would or would not use a true slide step. They agree that a true slide step reduces the jump that a runner can get but they also agree that it reduces velocity, changes mechanics, and basically doesn't allow the pitcher to focus enough on the batter. On the other side a full leg kick gives TOO much advantage to the runner. So the general agreement is that a modified knee lift is what they use in most situations to reduce the bad and increase the good. However in certain situations when you want to focus MORE on a batter you can increase your leg lift or simply go from the windup.

    So basically I am agreeing with you.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Jake Patterson View Post
    Coach, part of the reason why the leg kick is higher in the wind-up is because the pitcher is allowed the time to extend the knee higher as he is not holding a runner.
    Correct but that wasn't my poorly stated point. I was going from the point of view that a NO RUNNERS ON comparison of the stretch versus the windup. The rotational movement will usually result in a higher leg kick then the stretch and the pitcher may not even be aware of it.

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