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  • Sidearm pitching really an increased injury risk?

    Yesterday, I asked if LLBB prohibited sidearm pitching, but more importantly is there an increased risk of injury to my 10 year old son pitching this way?

    Its certainly been effective. He has decent control over the top, but sometimes cannot keep the ball down. We've spent a lot of time working on that including researching and then tweaking mechanics. Sidearm, his control is remarkable, and there's lots of movement on his pitches. The downside is that the movement isn't downward. The ball stays at a fairly level plain through the strikezone and he's pitching to a little more contact than he's used to. His velocity is still excellent, but definetly down a couple mph. The other issue is that he now is almost totally in control of his development - not necessarily a bad thing because he has a lot of maturity and a great baseball IQ. Over the top he throws a 4 seam and 2 seam (with excellent movement) fastball, a change up, and a really nice curve ball that he throws both as a slow 12-6 and a little harder with a sharp, late break. He doesn't throw a lot of breaking pitches, just enough to maintain his ability to do so. I am very much looking forward to when he can throw them with regularity because he can throw a curve ball for a strike and also start it in the zone and have it finish well outside the zone. Now though, he's using mostly trial and error in terms of arm angle and grip to develop more than just a 2 seamer from his sidearm delivery. He isn't going back to pitching over the top any time soon. He'd rather do his homework or go to the dentist. So, I suppose I'm on board with it.

    His delivery appears very natural. It is actually quite impressive. Watching him, you'd think he's been throwing like that all along - not just 3 or 4 months. We play a lot of ball, every day - weather permitting. Some days more than once a day. Other days we've sat in the dugout and the gear has never left the bag. So, arm fatigue / injury is always a concern of mine. He will tell me immediately if something doesn't feel right and we work on something else. Last year, he experienced some soreness from time to time, but thus far throwing sidearm - none - and we've been pitching a lot. And, since he's throwing a higher percentage of strikes, I'm not changing his mechanics at all. That was always an injury concern.

    He's not a submariner like say Bradford or Mike Meyers. His delivery is similar to Dennis Eckersley's arm angle. Evidentally, his leauge hasn't seen a kid throw sidearm before because the knee-jerk reactions have been widespread. His own coaches, opposing coaches, parents, he's even had a coach from the 11/12 year old league who has threatened to draft him, then not let him pitch unless he changes back to an over the top delivery. There's a lot of conflicting information about injuries. To me the most credible opinions suggest that it is no more of a risk than pitching overhand. The most sensible things I've read are that what feels natural is what's better in terms of avoiding injury. But there's a lot of folks of the opinion that his arm and any future as a pitcher are jeopardized throwing sidearm.

    Obviously, I don't want him to hurt himself, but I'm not ready to pull the plug on his delivery until I'm convinced that it is necessary. Thus far, it hasn't appeared to be a problem. Anyone have a good source of information on the subject? Maybe I'll procure some information that I've yet to find that'll either put my mind totally at ease or give me some motivation to start working on my son to convert back to pitching over the top.
    Last edited by shake-n-bake; 05-14-2008, 11:26 AM.
    There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

  • #2
    I think there is an increase for injury.

    When you come over the top, you have more muscles to absorb the slow down motion.

    When you go sidearm, I think it puts alot more strain on the rear delt and rotator cuff muscles.

    I'm sure one of the trainers could go into more detail.

    Comment


    • #3
      I can't say a thing about how it affects kids, but throwing sidearm worked great for Pete Alexander, Walter Johnson, Eckersley, and Randy Johnson over long careers. Eck was slowed by injuries halfway through, but recovered enough to hold the career appearances record briefly (I saw him tie and break it!). With the way that straight over and 3/4 pitchers fall like flies to injuries in the majors, I can't imagine that sidearm could possibly be worse.
      Coaches say such stuff...I had a girls' softball coach tell me that fast pitch hitters had to keep the back elbow down, while baseball hitters had to keep it up. Ummm....why?!?!? Oh, that's just the way it is...
      Still, I hope that some of the real pitching mechanics experts chime in here, I'll be listening.

      The thing to watch for is opposite hand batter pounding a tune on him because they see the ball so much better...if he's a righty, lefties might start really hitting him hard. He'd have to learn how to bust them inside good and also find a pitch that will break away from them a little...a four seamer thrown sidearm will often have a little natural "screwball" break.
      "I throw him four wide ones, then try to pick him off first base." - Preacher Roe on pitching to Musial

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      • #4
        I really believe that he'll figure out how to get a little better movement on his pitches and how to "pitch" sidearm. Most kids his age have no idea what they want to do with hitters when they get in the box. So, just having a good idea of what he thinks he should do is a leg up. And, he's only been throwing this way a few months. It took a long time to master the pitches he can throw over the top. He's very determined.

        I'm actually quite relieved and hope to get at least a little information that puts my mind at ease. Coaches are great. I appreciate the time they volunteer, but they basically leave him alone completely now when it comes to pitching and that's a good thing. Even I teach too much. I'm no expert. The kid knows everything that I, or someone other than a professional could teach him already. But coaches love to coach fundamentals while the kid is out on the mound every time he throws a ball or walks someone. Its even frustrating as a parent to listen to, and I know my son hates it. We always joke that if he did everything his coaches told him to do out there, he'd look like a world champion - a world champion Twister player.
        There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

        Comment


        • #5
          Sidearm is a more natural motion than coming over the top....My son's pitching coach even makes my son come more side arm for a bit more control.....I dont believe that there is anymore injury risk in either....alot of factors contribute to injuries....poor mechanics, poor training, etc etc....sidearm is not mechanincs its just the way someone throws....JMHO

          Comment


          • #6
            10 year old throwing breaking balls!

            If your son is 10 and throwing breaking balls, then he is definitely at an increased risk for injury regardless of his throwing motion.

            A good, general rule of thumb on throwing a curve is to start after the kid starts shaving regularly.
            And this one belongs to the Reds!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Ohplayer View Post
              If your son is 10 and throwing breaking balls, then he is definitely at an increased risk for injury regardless of his throwing motion.

              A good, general rule of thumb on throwing a curve is to start after the kid starts shaving regularly.
              yes yes yes!!!!

              the angle seems to do more damage to the bicep-tendon and the elbow than the shoulder.
              I moved from side-arm to just under...could be called submarine...but im NOT scraping my knuckles in the dirt.
              the hard part about that angle is you loose the ability for a change-up
              and once hitters have seen the angle for 2 innings they will know, were going to see a 3-9 curve or a 9-3 2 seamer...no forkballs, no splitters,no changeups because your dealing with pitches that rotate on 1 axis only.

              believe me, this was a demon for me.
              I even started throwing a uber-slow tumbling forkball just so I had a 3rd pitch.

              at his age, the "rubber" factor on his arm is goin to allow for devastating movement just on a 2-seamer alone...the catch is; once he moves into a league with disciplined hitters he's gonna need ALOT of movement and serious velocity.

              by the way have you checked out the Sox's Justin Masterson

              he has been nasty...google his videos

              Comment


              • #8
                btw... your typical side-arm folks USUALLY end up closing.

                Comment


                • #9
                  You know how they say some people can look at a piano and play it. Similar concept. In a matter of a couple of weeks he's picked up an off-speed pitch that is beyond nasty. What's odd is that pitching over the top, he never really had a decent change-up.

                  Wednesday, he put on a show. 27 pitches, 2 IP, 1 BB, 6 K. Struck out the side in the first inning on 10 pitches, 2 of the 3 out pitches were the off-speed thing (one looking, one swinging). The kid he walked was the only batter to touch a ball. He fouled it straight back, but swung over it, so there was very little bat on the ball. That was a 3-2 pitch.

                  By far his greatest asset for a young pitcher is a) excellent control, but b) owns the inside part of the plate. As a coach, I've tried to teach kids his age to use both sides of the plate, but they are reluctant to do so. When he pitched over the top, 9 out of 10 first pitches were 4-seemers in. And, with his velocity, strike or not, it really set up his 2-seemer that he has a littler more command of.

                  Though he's lost a little velocity sidearm, he's still able to pitch inside with even greater effect, mostly because he starts that 3-9 movement right at right-handed hitters. And as a RHP, he's really tough on the few left handed hitters he sees- backdooring them as well as pitches moving right in on their hands.

                  Right now, the most difficult thing is keeping him enthused about baseball. It used to be that sometimes we'd workout up to 3 times a day during the summer. Unfortunately, because of age he's playing AAA and the competition isn't there. It wasn't there last year either when he was 9. And, the lack of enthusiasm for Little League is spilling over into a loss of the obsession that he used to have for working on his game. He'd rather be a lesser player in Majors than what he says "The reason I never smile or act happy is because this is like playing against my little sister dad." There comes a point when it isn't fun for him (or the kids batting against him). Last 5 appearances: 12.1 IP, 3 Hits, 2 Runs, 6 BB, 33 K. He had a string over several games where he struck out the side, 3 up 3 down, 5 innings in a row.

                  Hopefully, he'll make All-Stars and get to measure his skills against some better competition. Our Little League is very cliquey, so even though he's been nearly perfect on the mound, behind the plate (plays a lot of catcher), and must be hitting well over .500, you can never tell.
                  There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have an 11 year old pitcher and I played a total of 2 years of Little League when I was well...little. I've been coaching for 6 year now and went out of my depth last year. My son wanted to pitch and I didn't want to let him because of possible injury. Basically I knew every coach on the team had little more experience than I had and I was not willing to trust my son's arm to a bunch of yahoo's bent fulfilling their half forgotten 6 sixth grade dreams.

                    So, I took my son to a professional training center in my area. Its run by a very competent former minor league pitcher who gives private lessons and runs 3 traveling teams. After last season we did 8 weeks of private pitching lessons, a 10 week winter camp, followed by another 8 weeks of private lessons in the lead up to this season. My son is now a dominate pitcher and the "go to" pitcher for his team. He has confidence and I have confidence. Not only that but I watched every lesson and took notes during winter camp. I've been able to coach much better as well. I'm now more of a baseball technician and really enjoy teaching basic mechanics.

                    The bottom line here is
                    1. it would have been well worth twice the money I've paid.
                    2. His pitching instructor has not mentioned breaking balls or how to throw them yet.

                    If you want to be sure your son is not hurting himself get him evaluated by a professional you know and that you trust. Its not about what he does this season its about being able to pick up a cup of coffee when he's your age.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I don't have the first clue on how to find a pitching coach. My son worked out with a team in a higher division of LL last year quite a bit. They brought in a college pitching coach to work with their pitchers and he worked with my son as well. I was really excited about the idea, but after one practice was totally certain that the coach they brought in wasn't a good fit to teach my son. I'm of the opinion that mechanics can be, and usually are very different for every pitcher. Working with the kids, he made the instruction one size fits all.

                      This year we ran into a guy who pitched in minor league baseball and he came to the house and we got him to evaluate his delivery. Where the first coach wanted him to make a lot of changes, the second guy found his pitching to be very fundamentally sound.

                      He threw me about 75 pitches today and I'm feeling like his developmet is well - stagnant. His season is over unless he makes All-Stars. He gets a tryout next week and should make it (averaged over 24K and less than 3BB per 9IP this season), but in his league you can never tell.

                      One of the goals that he has preparing for next season is to pitch a complete game (he'll have an 85 pitch count next year). So, we've been working on a lot of situational type stuff like getting ahead in the count and getting batters to hit pitches that he wants them to.

                      He's progressed to the point that I've become little more than his catcher these days. I've even thought that not pitching for awhile might actually be the best thing for him right now, so I let him convince me to let him play football this fall. I'd really like to find someone that will refine what he's spent countless hours developing, but where do you find such a person?
                      Last edited by shake-n-bake; 06-11-2008, 04:47 PM.
                      There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I don't have the first clue on how to find a pitching coach. My son worked out with a team in a higher division of LL last year quite a bit. They brought in a college pitching coach to work with their pitchers and he worked with my son as well. I was really excited about the idea, but after one practice was totally certain that the coach they brought in wasn't a good fit to teach my son. I'm of the opinion that mechanics can be, and usually are very different for every pitcher. Working with the kids, he made the instruction one size fits all.

                        This year we ran into a guy who pitched in minor league baseball and he came to the house and we got him to evaluate his delivery. Where the first coach wanted him to make a lot of changes, the second guy found his pitching to be very fundamentally sound.

                        He threw me about 75 pitches today and I'm feeling like his developmet is well - stagnant. His season is over unless he makes All-Stars. He gets a tryout next week and should make it (averaged over 24K and less than 3BB per 9IP this season), but in his league you can never tell.

                        One of the goals that he has preparing for next season is to pitch a complete game (he'll have an 85 pitch count next year). So, we've been working on a lot of situational type stuff like getting ahead in the count and getting batters to hit pitches that he wants them to.

                        He's progressed to the point that I've become little more than his catcher these days. I've even thought that not pitching for awhile might actually be the best thing for him right now, so I let him convince me to let him play football this fall. I'd really like to find someone that will refine what he's spent countless hours developing, but where do you find such a person?
                        There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by shake-n-bake View Post
                          I don't have the first clue on how to find a pitching coach. My son worked out with a team in a higher division of LL last year quite a bit. They brought in a college pitching coach to work with their pitchers and he worked with my son as well. I was really excited about the idea, but after one practice was totally certain that the coach they brought in wasn't a good fit to teach my son. I'm of the opinion that mechanics can be, and usually are very different for every pitcher. Working with the kids, he made the instruction one size fits all.

                          This year we ran into a guy who pitched in minor league baseball and he came to the house and we got him to evaluate his delivery. Where the first coach wanted him to make a lot of changes, the second guy found his pitching to be very fundamentally sound.

                          He threw me about 75 pitches today and I'm feeling like his developmet is well - stagnant. His season is over unless he makes All-Stars. He gets a tryout next week and should make it (averaged over 24K and less than 3BB per 9IP this season), but in his league you can never tell.

                          One of the goals that he has preparing for next season is to pitch a complete game (he'll have an 85 pitch count next year). So, we've been working on a lot of situational type stuff like getting ahead in the count and getting batters to hit pitches that he wants them to.

                          He's progressed to the point that I've become little more than his catcher these days. I've even thought that not pitching for awhile might actually be the best thing for him right now, so I let him convince me to let him play football this fall. I'd really like to find someone that will refine what he's spent countless hours developing, but where do you find such a person?
                          I like the idea of there being tryouts for the All-star team....our rec league is nominated by the head coaches then the head coaches in front of the committee and use a closed ballot voting system out of the nominations...I think thats OK when every coach knows all the kids or if the kid is a standout player then the coach knows who the kid is but it gets fishy when you get down to the borderline players....then it usually becomes the coaches kids on the team....My son has made All-stars every year and I hope the youngest does too. I just dont like the way the team is picked...I think the league winning coach should pick his asst coaches and then have a tryout....JMHO

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Check around traveling teams in your area. You can bet someone is doing private instruction. Ask on the Baseball 101 forum on this site and read it as well. There is bunches of good info there. Last resort would be to head to a pitching camp from one of the big training guys like

                            http://www.jaegersports.com/summer_winter.html

                            I hear you natural arm motion argument but there is a lot of stuff that will work great in little league that he just has to unlearn at higher levels. That would be my concern. We have a 12 year old curve ball pitching in our major division out there ruining his arm every Saturday. But his stuff won't fly at 14-15 against well trained hitters. Almost 0 chance of playing high school ball if he doesn't rethink his entire motion.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Side-arm is in fact a more natural motion. The reason most people pitch 3/4 or 10 o'clock is because you can pitch faster like that; you can drive down with the ball. But in no way is side-arm an injury concern. Side arm is how I throw when my arm hurts.

                              Comment

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