Should pitchers be allowed to be athletes or should we clone them to all be the same? To me the answer is obvious. Let pitchers throw from their instinctive arm slots. Today, I am going to share a few ideas why I think it is potentially harmful for coaches to try and make all pitchers the same.
Walter Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Jake Peavy, Randy Johnson, Dennis Eckersley, Pedro Martinez, the list goes on and on of pitchers who throw from a 3/4 to sidearm arm slot. Where would the game be today if these pitchers had been changed during their youth to throw “over the top”? I am included in this group. When I was a kid in the backyard throwing rocks, balls, anything I could throw, no one was telling me how I needed to throw. It was just whatever came natural. What would have happened had I been over coached and taken away from my instincts? Would I still be pitching today? I don’t think so.
In my opinion, pitching is an art form. No coach should try and make their athlete into something they are not. I believe we should let individuals be who they are and rely on instinct, athleticism, and style to decide how they throw the baseball. Yes there are certain absolutes that will help make a pitcher a better pitcher such as controlling their body and head, transferring force better from one leg to the other, and learning how to slow the game down through better breathing along with developing a pre pitch routine that helps the athlete play the game one pitch at a time. Baseball is a game and should be fun. If we try and make kids do things they were not designed to do they will constantly be battling themselves and never have a chance to reach their full potential. Shouldn’t we let kids be okay with who they are as a pitcher? Just because a kid is not releasing the ball out in front of their body does not mean we should subscribe to the “old school” teach of throw over the top. If we are teaching them things that are unnatural to how they move we are simply holding them back from being the best they can be.
In my opinion, most coaches focus way too much attention on mechanics as their fix all theory on pitching. If pitchers do not all throw the same why would we teach them that way. Baseball would be boring if everyone threw the ball and swung the same. Individualism and style is what makes this game special and great. Now don’t get me wrong, mechanical efficiency is an important factor when it comes to pitching. However the more we have kids thinking about mechanics the worse they become as pitchers when it is crunch time and the more mental midgets we are creating. Let kids learn and compete.
Focus on the mitt and where you are intending to throw the ball instead of slowing the development down by teaching kids to drag their back foot, get their arm on top, point the ball here or there, etc. These old teaches are by products of good mechanics not necessarily things a pitcher should be thinking about while he is pitching.
Teach your kids how to train themselves to become more instinctive athletes who have the ability to adjust on the go while developing trust and feel on the mound. When it comes down to it the pitcher is only one who is on the mound when the game is on the line. Teach the kids how to be their own best coach so they do not depend on us as coaches of mechanics when it is 3-2 bottom of the 9th playing for the Championship. Just because something may have worked for you mechanically as a pitcher does not mean it is going to work for every kid you instruct. In baseball there are a lot of gray areas, not all clear black and white. This is where style, instinct, and athleticism take over. Improve their movement, how they train, their instincts, and their mental approaches. Teach them to be in the moment, be individuals who work together for one common goal, and enjoy each day on the field. Respect the game. Let the kids leave their own legacy and by all means let their arms slots be.