Pitching - Where to start?

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May 24, 2013
12,458
113
So Cal
My 8yo DD is headed to 10U rec league Fall Ball, and wants to learn how to pitch. Where's the best place for me to start educating myself (website, DVD, etc.) so I can get her started in the right direction? If things look like they have some promise, I would seek out a pitching coach, but I want to make sure I'm getting her started without (too many) bad habits.

I've watched quite a few videos on DFP, and read through many of the discussions, but I'm looking for a more basic understanding of the proper pitching motion - particularly the things NOT to do. So far, I understand that IR is good (still trying to understand exactly what IR is) and "hello elbow" is bad. I know that she needs to drag her back foot off the pitching plate, and her shoulders should be more in line with home and second rather than first and third at the time of release.

Thanks for your guidance! :)
 
Aug 29, 2011
2,583
83
NorCal
I'm a fan of Bill Hillhouse's DVDs on pitching. Building the House is a great place to start in my opinion and won't introduce bad habits that need to be fixed later on. Note I'm not a PC just a bucket dad. I wish I knew about this DVD with my older DD, would have saved a lot of trouble fixing many bad habits she developed with we just doing my best to teach her with no real SB background.
 
May 30, 2013
1,438
83
Binghamton, NY
shoot for a body angle (line from front leg, to torso, to head) that is angled slightly backward from HP at time of release.
and release of ball should happen sometime *behind* the front leg.

in young pitchers, learning the process, they *all* seem to want to "lunge" forward and release the ball well in front of their body.
Have them remain "tall" and in a very balanced athletic position (not bending at the waist forward or to the side).

that's a start.
 
Apr 17, 2012
806
18
Wi
Start with boardmembers ir drills ir for the class room in the pitching forum sticky section. Hillhouses dvds are good too
 
Feb 3, 2010
5,753
113
Pac NW
Sounds like you're off to a good start. I have to caution you that learning to pitch as she starts a season can be a little risky. One reason for this is that we need the ball over the plate. Teaching a kid to put the ball over the plate is relatively easy… or is it? Time and time, I see kids thrown out into the circle and told to throw strikes. They have no or very little instruction, and often times the instruction is geared to maximize accuracy. Is accuracy our goal? Yes, it is one of our goals. However, in my mind, player development is the number one goal.

Ideally, I like to take new pitcher and start working with them at least 2 months before they play in a game. I’m very clear that form is the priority and that control comes from practicing good form. (Speed just happens with good form.)

Where to start? The “I/R in the Classroom” is a little techy, but the drill progression is very helpful in explaining the most important aspect of pitching: Whip. Simply, whip is allowing the lower arm to travel faster than the speed of the arm circle.

Think of a bullwhip. Think of the person operating the bullwhip. The tip of the bullwhip travels faster than the speed of sound. Does the operator move their arm at the speed of sound? Are there powered, mechanical mechanisms along the length of the bullwhip that are activated to make the tip go that fast? None of that. The whip is limp. The operator uses technique to efficiently transfer energy from the arm, down the length of the bullwhip to create the sonic boom at the tip.

The arm is our whip. If the operator can learn how to transfer energy from the body to the fingertips, they can get amazing speed with very little effort. Try to throw a ball hard using every muscle down to the finger tips and you’ll find you’re spending a lot of energy for little gain. Whip the ball with a loose elbow, forearm and wrist, and you get crazy speed with little effort.

Lead the downswing with the elbow loosely bent and the palm up. Pause the elbow at the side and allow the lower arm to whip through. Watch this clip over and over, especially the close up at :35



Thousands of wrist snaps/flips cannot replicate the whip. Muscles are just not capable of creating that kind of speed using simple pushing mechanics. Technique alone can turn an average kid into a starter. Don’t buy in to the multitudes of people teaching wives tales about palm facing the direction of the circle, straight arm, wrist flips and hello elbow. They are everywhere and they pass on this misinfo on with great conviction, even at the very highest levels.

Learn how to whip. Learn how to leap. Once she’s got the two down, put them together and watch the magic!
 
Last edited:
May 7, 2008
8,485
48
Tucson
Also, study overhand throw. That is where I start my students. If they can't do that, they struggle with pitching.

Basically, I teach release first, as a warm up. Then, I used to have them put the arms at a T position, but now my elbows are relaxed and it looks more like a W. Then, ball over head at 12 o'clock. Hand has to rotate so that the ball is facing away from you. Then, complete arm circle. The technical name for this warm up is "backwards chaining." (Oh, both partners have their feet on the power line.) You will be facing opposite directions. No straight arms. Keep the right elbow relaxed.

Email me any time. These little girls are the students I see the most of. Seely44@Aol.com
 
Jul 17, 2012
175
28
Kenmore, WA
Report to the Coaches

This is where I would start, the Hawkins et al Softball Pitching at the 1996 Olympic Games report based on a study conducted at the Olympics. I wish they would revisit the report based on most recent performances, but this is a very good analysis and based on very good pitchers.
Injury Potential Summary

As the stride foot comes in contact with the ground, the position of the throwing arm is critical. The arm should be close to the body (in the plane) and should be near the top of the backswing. If the arm is out of the windmill plane or too far into the downswing, shoulder force will increase. The angle at the knee joint is also important as the stride foot touches down. The knee should be bent approximately 30 degrees short of full extension. A pitcher with a stride knee that is bent more than about 35-40 degrees will put additional stress on the throwing shoulder. The length of the stride should be approximately 80 to 100 percent of body height in order to reduce shoulder distraction. It appears that a longer stride actually reduces the stress at the shoulder. The stride foot should also be placed straight ahead of the pivot foot and should not be too far right or left of the power line toward home plate.

At ball release, the position of the throwing arm is again important for reducing stress on the throwing arm. The elbow should be bent (approximately 20 degrees short of full extension). The straighter the elbow, the more force on the shoulder joint. Finally, and possibly the most important factor in reducing shoulder distraction force, the hips should be closed at about a 45 degree angle (half way between completely open and completely closed) at the instant of ball release. Pitchers who tend to keep the hips open at ball release put a tremendous amount of stress on the throwing shoulder.

Pitching Performance Summary

As the stride foot touches down, the position of the throwing arm is important to pitching performance. Two of the parameters that were critical to injury prevention (shoulder extension and abduction) are also important to production of ball speed. The arm should be close to the body (in the plane) and should be near the top of the backswing as the stride foot comes into contact with the ground. If the arm is out of the windmill plane or not near the top of the backswing, ball speed will decrease. These two parameters, which indicate pitch timing and coordination, need to be optimized in the same manner for injury prevention and maximum ball speed. The angle at the knee joint is also important as the stride foot touches down. On average, the knee should be bent approximately 30 degrees short of full extension. A pitcher with a stride knee that is bent more than about 35-40 degrees will jeopardize ball speed.

In order to increase ball speed, it also appears that the angle of the stride should be in a forward direction and not too far right or left of the power line. Again, the knee angle of the stride foot and the stride placement can be optimized for performance and shoulder stress reduction in the same manner. Orientation of the stride foot also appears to be important in producing ball speed. A stride foot which is pointed toward third base (for a right-handed pitcher) at about a 10 to 30 degree angle is optimal for producing ball speed. Pitchers who tended to angle the stride foot too much (greater than 30 degrees) had slower release speeds. Another coordination factor which affects ball speed is the speed of the throwing arm as it circles through the windmill motion. At the instant of ball release, pitchers with great arm speeds tended to have lower ball velocities. Therefore, it appears that the arm circle needs to slow down prior to ball release for optimal ball speed. Two body segment contributions to ball speed also seem to be critical factors to ball velocity at the release point. The speed of the hand just prior to release should be maximal for increased ball speed. Also, those pitchers with high contributions from the elbow just prior to release tended to have lower ball speeds. Thus, proper sequencing of the segments (i.e., shoulder, then elbow, then wrist, then hand) appears to be important to pitching performance.

I love Bill Hillhouse and I would highly suggest watching everything you can from him. Check out Fastpitch TV for more. IR in the Classroom is great. Getting in with a good pitching coach is almost mandatory, but you can make good progress flying solo if you do your research.
 

halskinner

Banned
May 7, 2008
2,637
0
Eric, to a new beginner's bucket dad, my advice has always been simple; BUY A RULEBOOK AND STUDY THE PITCHING REGULATIONS. Learn and understand them well. You will find alot of information that is taught contrary to what the pitching regulations allow.

It does not matter who the person is that made the video, wrote the book or posted a video on youtube. Know and understand what you are seeing and being told.

Having said that, the next thing is the footwork. Make sure it is strong, aggressive and above all CONSISTANT. If the stride is not consistant, nothing else will be either. Start there.
 
May 24, 2013
12,458
113
So Cal
Thank you all so much for your advice - lots of good stuff!. It seems to me that some of the drills from "IR in the Classroom" are a good place to start getting her muscles familiar with throwing underhand. Once the Hillhouse DVD is in my hands, I'll absorb it as thoroughly as I can. It also looks like the ASA rulebook will soon become my morning reading material.

Part of my challenge is going to be finding a place to practice at home. My yard doesn't have much in the way of flat, unpaved ground.
 

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