Proper throwing/pitching mechanics not only help to minimize injury, but also help to maximize speed. The "kinetic link" is the biomechanical process through which the different parts of the body come together to maximize arm speed. For the young player, it starts with correct throwing form -- specifically the "L" and the "T". As the player progresses, it is important to integrate shoulder/hip rotation with leg drive to maximize mechanics.
The biggest problem we see with pitching at the youth level is how kids who have great arm action (loose/explosive/whip) in the field change their mechanics when they pitch (they aim it, almost like throwing darts). They end up losing velocity and accuacy, and with these poor mechanics, they will struggle as a pitcher as they move to increasingly higher levels of play.
Baseball is a max effort sport. Instead of trying to throw strikes (aim it), pitchers at this level should be encouraged to work on high-velocity mechanics. As they get consistency with these high-velocity mechanics (i.e. a lot of practice), accuracy will come (strikes). Similar to how hitting mechanics have seemed reverted to "old school" power-rotational mechanics, we have also seen pitchers try to emulate the more dynamic, explosive, loose mechanics of the past (e.g. Bob Feller and Sandy Koufax) as opposed to the very controlled and deliberate mechanics that most pitching coaches focus on.
Common mechanical faults include:
1) improper sequencing - the arm should not begin to move forward until the front foot hits, but inexperienced youth pitchers often have the front arm begin to drift forward before the front foot is down. This not only significantly diminishes velocity, but also can put strain on the arm.
2) lack of back leg drive - rather than getting momentum from the back leg, they lose velocity by having the back leg "collapse."
3) not able to brace up the front leg - as a pole vaulter locks the pole into place to translate the energy up the chain, a pitcher needs to drive that front leg into a firm position that lets all the energy from the lower body push up into the upper body/arm. Many kids do not have the flexibility in their hamstrings or body awareness to maximize velocity by bracing the front leg.
Here is the LJYB - Throwing
One of the best ways to learn is the emulate those who do it well. In particular, we like to study the undersized guys who can "bring it" - which include Tim Lincecum, Roy Oswalt, and Trevor Bauer.
* Two videos of 14 year-old who throws mid-80s for Team USA
. Look at how the front foot hits before his arm explodes forward - great arm action. Many youth pitchers have arm come forward too soon. Stay back until foot hits. Also watch the lead arm, how fast it pulls or jerks in to get core rotation and arm whip. How you practice is how you play. Practice max arm whip every time. Video1
* Roy Oswalt
. It is hard to appreciate this because it is in super slow motio
n, but he has one of the fastest tempos in the game - going from start to throwing the ball. Look at the forward momentum, huge stride, and the amount lower body/core action. How many youth baseball pitchers throw a pitch like this?
* Tim Lincecum. "The Freak" - he is know for his explosive mechanices,
big stride, fast tempo and excellent arm whip. Video1
* Trevor Bauer
- As of Feb-2012, most of you probably have not heard of Trevor Bauer, but that will likely change soon. Last year as a junior at UCLA, he put up the most dominating year as a pitcher in years. Many compare him to his idol - Tim Lincecum. He is a true student of the game. You can read about his philosophy in this Sports Illustrated article
. Here is a video
of Trevor against USC. Check out the running start he does before each inning he pitches. Why do you think he does that? He has said he does it because he wants that feeling of trying to throw the ball as HARD AS HE CAN as he begins to pitch each inning. Not typical pitching instruction is it?
* Felix Hernandez
- one of the best pitchers in the game. Video1
* Aroldis Chapman
- Hardest thrower in the history of baseball -- 105mph. The great show "Sports Science
" on ESPN breaks down how he does it.
Online Pitching Resources
Paul Nyman: http://www.setpro.com/
Ron Wolforth: http://www.pitchingcentral.com/
Allan Jaeger: http://www.jaegersports.com/home.php?cat=
Brent Pourciau: http://www.topvelocity.net/
Chris O'Leary: http://www.chrisoleary.com/
National Pitching Association: http://www.nationalpitching.net/
American Sports Medicine Institute: http://www.asmi.org/