Batting & Pitching Blogs

Video Lessons "A Must" For Hitting And Pitching

Posted on August 7, 2016 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)

This is an exciting time for all baseball players, fastpitch softball players and parents.  A new season with hopes of it being even better than last year.  Some moving up to the next level wanting to show they belong there.  With the proper hitting and pitching mechanics players can improve each year.  I have been writing for over five years that good quality instruction for hitting and pitching involves learning how to use the body not the arms.   The problem is 99% of the hitting and pitching cues being taught by coaches, instructors, former players, at hitting and pitching camps, and even by other parents make you use your arms not your body.  This is the opposite of what the best players actually do.  Parents and students looking for baseball and fastpitch softball hitting and pitching lessons need to make sure they are getting the best quality instruction possible.

 

I see parents trying to help their kids in our batting cages because they are struggling to hit the ball consistently.  They will say remember what you were told back elbow up, stay back, twist your hips, faster hands, swing down, extend at impact, etc.  The hitters become so frustrated when they actually do these hitting cues because these make them swing with their arms.   Parents tell me these are the things they have been taught but they aren't helping.  I tell them the best hitters in baseball and fastpitch softball use their body to swing not their arms.   They do none of these hitting cues or they would also be struggling.   

 

Parents ask about pitching lessons because their son or daughter isn't throwing very hard, is getting a sore arm or has control problems when they are trying to throw harder.  Every time they are throwing with their arm because of what they have been taught.  To get control they have to slow down.  I tell them the best pitchers in baseball and fastpitch softball use their body momentum to throw the ball, not the arm.   More and more Major League pitchers are now getting Tommy John surgery because they throw mainly with their arm.  What they have been taught from when they were little to the Major Leagues makes them throw with their arm.   The pitchers that last ten or more years without arm problems use their body not their arm.

 

With so much bad instruction out there make sure you get a video lesson whether you are a hitter and/or pitcher in baseball or fastpitch softball.   Every new student that comes in for hitting and pitching lessons use their arms.  The students and parents both think they are correctly doing what they have been taught, most of the time they are, but in hitting they don't have much power, consistency or timing.   In pitching they aren't throwing very hard and when they try to their control suffers.


I video every new student so they can see what they are doing now compared to the very best hitters and pitchers in Major League baseball and Team USA softball.  When they see themselves compared to the very best hitters and pitchers they are amazed what they have been taught is almost the opposite of what the best players are doing.   Many are upset because they went to the instructor everyone said to go to but they were teaching bad hitting and pitching cues.  Do not let this happen to you, learn only what the very best are actually doing.  Don't learn anything else.


Don't let anyone tell you they know how to teach, no matter how good a player or coach they are or were.  What they tell you to do and what the best actually do will be the opposite 99% of the time.   You want someone that can compare you to hitters like Mike Trout, Ken Griffey Jr, Miguel Cabrera, etc.   Make sure they can show you the differences in the swings so you can see it and understand it.  


For example even Major League hitters and coaches will teach these bad hitting cues.   Don Mattingly in his book Hitting is Simple writes: I'm swinging down on the ball as if I'm chopping down a tree with an ax -- taking the knob to the ball, keeping the barrel of the bat above the hands.  In the video below he talks about the hands on a downward path to the ball with a level swing to stay in the hitting zone.  When he played he swung the opposite of what he teaches, his bat went up on the path of the pitch with the barrel below the hands as picture on right.   

 

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Another example is when Mark McGwire became the hitting coach for the Cardinals he gave an interview and said "you have a round ball with a round bat and there's only one way to hit it squarely. " You have to go down to it."  He told the reporter "Albert Pujols has the perfect swing and now trying to hone in on why Albert is so successful.  That's one of the reasons' he drives down through the ball."   He said he would teach everyone to swing down through the ball like he did.  The problem is neither McGwire or Pujols swung down when they were in their prime as shown below.  They look almost exactly the same and they are doing the opposite of swinging down. 



A third example is I watched Albert pujols as he talks hitting on MLB.com  with Harold Reynolds.  I thought if anyone knew how they hit the ball it would be from the man that had arguably the best first 11 years ever as a hitter.  I was surprised when he demonstrated how he swings, he said he went down to the ball so he can cover the ball and get on top of it.  Then he says you don't want to come from the inside with barrel down because you will hit lazy fly balls.  When they show him hit a homerun he isn't doing anything he says he does in his swing. He is actually doing exactly what he says not to do in your swing.  


These three examples shows, you need to beware of getting hitting and pitching lessons from anyone without video of the best players to back up what they are going to teach you.   No matter how good of a player or coach they are or were.  There is a big disconnect between what the very best players do in their swing and what they are taught.  That is why 99% of what is taught in hitting is wrong.


Parents want to make sure the instructor they choose is able to video their students for hitting and pitching.   They can then put them next to the very best  Major League baseball or Team USA fastpitch softball players and show you a detailed frame by frame comparison.   Only then will you be able to see how the best hitters and pitchers actually use their body, not their arms.  This is very important because almost every new student and parent we have come in can't believe what they have been taught and what they see a professional actually doing is almost the opposite of each other.


A video lesson is the only way to truly see what your swing or pitching motion looks like now and have it compared to what the best players are actually doing.


If you would like to learn how to use your body correctly to improve your hitting and pitching call Mike Sedberry at 304-722-6393 for more information. 

Tommy John Surgery What Is The Problem

Posted on August 7, 2016 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Seems like almost everyday ESPN is talking about another pitcher out for the year to get Tommy John surgery or coming back this year from the surgery.  They have many segments talking about why there is such a rise in the number of pitchers with sore arms needing the surgery.  On ESPN Sports Science: Tommy John Epidemic, they say there were 70 Tommy John surgeries performed from 1990 to 1999. In 2014 there were 80 plus surgeries by September.  These arm problems don't start at the pro level, they start at the youth level.   The big problem is now many more youth pitchers and even position players are having arm injuries.  Why is there such a rise in pitchers of all ages getting sore arms, needing to rest their arm or even needing surgery?

 

Many people on the ESPN segments say to help prevent this is to avoid overuse of the arm.  While less innings and pitches could help some it doesn't fix the real problem.   Almost every pitcher in both baseball and fastpitch softball throws mainly with their arm, that is the problem.   Pitchers and position players are learning bad throwing mechanics that make them throw mainly with their arm.  I see this every day with new students from 8 years old and up.  Last week I had two catchers come in because they couldn't throw the ball to second very well and their arms were hurting.  They were from different schools but were taught the same bad throwing cues.   

 

I am working with way too many young players that  come in with sore arms and even a couple who have already had Tommy John surgery.  They come in for a lesson to see if there is any way they can learn to pitch or throw without pain.  When using mostly the arm there is too much stress put on the elbow and shoulder.   When they keep throwing this way for a period of time it will cause arm problems, as they get older and try to throw harder the problems become worse.  This is true for both pitchers and position players in baseball and fastpitch softball.

 

I video all new students pitching, throwing and/or hitting.  We talk about the pitching cues they have been taught.  I hear so many different cues and almost everyone of them (99%) makes a player throw mainly with their arm.  I have them warm up and throw about ten pitches to see their mechanics and video them.   Sadly, some of them will tell me their elbow and shoulder are already starting to get sore.  I then show them and their parents on the video how these cues are making them throw mainly with the arm and helping cause their problems.

The top 7 bad pitching cues being taught that help cause arm problems are

 

  • As you start the windup and the stride knee comes up, balance on your back leg
  • As your front foot hits the ground have the ball looking at second base and your glove pointed to home plate, in a power T
  • Take your chest to your glove to go forward
  • Twist or rotate your hips
  • Have your elbow go above the shoulder as your arm comes forward
  • Snap your wrist at release for more speed
  • Finish down (pick up dirt)

 

These pitching cues make you throw mainly with your arm. The problem is these are taught by almost every baseball coach, instructor, at pitching camps and by other parents.    DO NOT do any of these pitching cues or any others you hear that make you throw mainly with your arm.


I then show the student and their parents the difference in their mechanics and the mechanics of the very best pitchers in Major League baseball and Team USA fastpitch softball.  They are amazed to see the pros are doing almost the complete opposite of what they had been taught.  This is true with every new pitcher and position player that comes in for a lesson.

 

The way to fix the real problem is for baseball and fastpitch softball players, young as possible, to learn how to use the body correctly when pitching and throwing.  When players throw more with his or her arm they can feel the added tension in the elbow and shoulder. Most students think it's normal to feel this tension, they are use to their arms getting sore.  This should not happen!

 

The key is when they first feel this tension they need to know how to easily make the adjustment to get out of the arm and back into the body before it becomes sore.  A player being able to do this correctly is very important.  There is a big difference in the mechanics between pitchers that have pitched many years with no arm trouble and ones that have arm problems.

 

If you are currently getting a sore arm or want to prevent this by learning how to use the body correctly call Mike Sedberry for more information at 304-722-6393. 

 

Good luck and hope everyone has fun this season.

 

Pitching With Your Body For Much More Success

Posted on July 22, 2016 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

In my previous blog I talked about how pitching with your body will help you increase your velocity, control and take stress off of your arm. You look and feel so much more effortless whether pitching or in the field when you use your body to generate the energy when throwing a baseball or softball.   The problem is each student that comes in for lessons throws mainly with their arm because of what they have been taught.   When I start a new lesson with each student I ask what they have learned from coaches, other instructors and on the Internet.   Most everyone tells me the same bad pitching cues they have been taught which are:


 

  • When your stride leg goes up balance on your back leg
  • When front foot hits ground throwing arm elbow should be above the shoulder
  • When front foot hits ground have baseball looking at second base and the glove to home plate
  • To throw take your chest to your glove
  • Keep elbow above shoulder when throwing
  • Twist or rotate hips
  • Snap wrist at release
  • Finish down, pick up dirt

 


Any one of these will make you throw mainly with your arm.   Almost all instructors from Little League to the Major Leagues teach these. They will decrease your velocity and take away the control you need to be more successful.   These are also what causes pitchers to get sore arms because of too much stress put on the shoulder and elbow.  Too many pitchers in baseball and fastpitch softball are having arm problems because of bad pitching cues.  There are so many misconceptions about the proper mechanics of a pitcher.  When pitchers start using their arm more they look tighter, more jerky and they start having problems getting hitters out.


Depending on the statistics you read when a batter in the Major Leagues hits a fly ball 79% of the time it is an out.   When they hit a ground ball 72% of the time it is an out.  When they hit a line drive they are out only 20 to 26% of the time.  This means at any level if a pitcher gets hitters to hit fly balls and grounders they can be very successful.  This means they need the control to be able to hit spots consistently with their pitches to keep hitters from hitting line drives.  If a pitcher loses their control and leaves pitches out over the plate it gives a hitter a better chance to hit a line drive.  Then they won't be as successful.


I video each new student that comes in for a pitching lesson because 99% of them have been taught one or more of these pitching cues. Because of this every pitcher that come in for lessons throws mainly with their arm.  With video they are able to see step by step where and why they are losing velocity and control. They see how much effort they are having to put into their arm to try and throw the ball hard.  I then put them beside a top Major League pitcher so they can see how they actually use their body.  They see how effortless they look especially with their arm.    When they learn how to use their body they are amazed how much harder they throw, their control is so much better and they barely feel their arm.  They are especially excited when they become much more successful.


If anyone would like more information about pitching mechanics and how they can help make you more successful call me at 304-722-6393.

Pitching with your body to add velocity and control

Posted on July 22, 2016 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

For the last eight years every player that has come in for baseball or fastpitch softball pitching lessons use mainly their arms to throw the ball.  When I talk to these players I am surprised at what they have taught by their coaches, pitching instructors, and at pitching camps. Almost everything pitchers are taught take away their body and makes them use mainly their arms. This puts way too much stress on their elbow and shoulder.  This is why so many young players get sore arms and even quit the sport because they hurt their arm.


I keep reading about Tommy John surgeries being performed on pitchers in Major League baseball, High School, and College and even younger pitchers (as young as 12 yrs old) more than ever.  Sadly I have had many baseball and softball hitters come in that aren't pitching anymore because their arms hurt so much.  Why are more and more pitchers hurting their arms?   When you throw with your arm it puts too much stress on the inside of the elbow especially during the acceleration towards the plate.   This damages the ulner collateral ligament (UCL) that connects the bones of the elbow and helps stabilize the joint.   The harder pitchers try to throw, mainly with their arm, the more likely they are to damage the UCL and hurt their arm some ending up even needing reconstructive surgery.


A couple years ago I watched one of the Little League Regional games and there were two pitchers same age and height throwing against each other.  One pitcher used mainly his arm to throw and the other used mainly his body.   The one that used his arm threw as hard as he could looking jerky.  He was able to get up to 62mph on his fastball and got tired during the fifth inning. The one that used his body looked effortless and routinely threw 70 mph fastballs, looking strong the whole game.


One pitcher used so much effort to barely reach 62 mph on his fastball and the other looked so effortless throwing 70 mph fastballs consistently.   Why the difference, did one pitcher have a stronger arm than the other?   No, the simple reason is one pitcher used his body to generate the energy and the other tried to throw hard using mainly his arm.


In football you hear the quarterback didn't throw a good pass because he didn't have his feet set.   This makes him throw the ball mainly with his arm.  When he sets his feet he throws the ball so much harder and is more accurate because now he can use his body.  For example Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers would be so much better if someone would show him how to correctly throw the ball with his body. He throws mainly with his arm, even with his feet set, which causes weaker with much less accuracy.   That is why he can throw three passes 20 yards and one hits the receiver in the chest, the next one goes ten feet over his head and the next pass hits the ground in front of his feet.  If he would throw the ball with his body he could be much more accurate and consistent.   The game would become slower to him because he would be more effortless.


Tim Lincecum at the beginning of his career used his body very  well.  When the two time Cy Young winner said "the arm comes along for the ride",  I liked him even more because he actually knew what he was doing.    His body was creating all the energy that he then released with his arm.  That is how at 5 feet 11 inches and 175 lbs he could throw fastballs at 95 mph in 2008.   In 2012 he lost about 2 mph on his fastball from the first four years because he started using his arm more and his accuracy also suffered because of this.  He fell behind in counts more often causing him to come back with pitches that were hit much harder.  According to Fangraphs.com in his career he had a home run per fly ball rate of just over 7% which means hitters rarely hit the ball solid.  That  year 14.6% of the time a hitter hit a fly ball it was a home run.  Batters hit the ball harder that year because of his control.


In four years 2008-2011 Lincecum pitched an averaged of 220 innings giving up 69 earned runs per year.  In 2012  he pitched 186 innings giving up 107 earned runs.  His ERA was 5.18 almost twice as high as his average year.  Why the sudden decline in velocity, control and production?  He started to throw more with his arm.  If he would go back to letting the arm come along for the ride while using his body to generate the energy he would do as well as he did the previous 4 years.


I watched the College Regionals Fastpitch Softball Tournament and Tennessee had a pitcher that had the fastest motion and arm speed I have ever seen, as she released the ball she flipped or snapped her wrist and the fastest pitch was 61mph, she was pitching with her arm. When the reliever came in to shut down the other team her motion and arm speed looked so much smoother and effortless.  She didn't flip her wrist and her top speed was 68mph, she was using her body.  In baseball and fastpitch softball it is momentum not arm strength that helps a pitcher throw harder.


Don't do any pitching cue you hear that makes you throw more with your arm.  Learning to use the body when pitching and even in the field for baseball or fastpitch softball makes such a difference in velocity and control.  There is so much less stress put on the shoulder and elbow.  When my students learn to throw the ball with the body they progress rapidly.  Pitchers throw harder, able to spot pitches better and have much more success than ever before.   The game slows down to them because they are so effortless.  They develop amazing confidence that they can get anyone out no matter the situation.


I will write a few more blogs about other problems that arise when trying to throw mainly with your arm and how using your body can help in many different ways.  If you would like more information about using your body to throw you can call Mike Sedberry at 304-722-6393.

Why successful pitchers keep the ball low

Posted on July 21, 2016 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (0)

A baseball and fastpitch softball pitcher that is able to consistently keep the ball down between a batters knees and thigh will be successful in baseball or fastpitch softball at any level.  The reason is most hitters hit the low pitch right into the ground because they are taught to swing down.  Studies show that 25% of grounders are hits.   In contrast 70% of line drives are hits.  A line drive has a success rate of almost threew times more than a grounder.  These studies show why pitchers want to keep the ball low to get hitters to hit a ground ball.


Another example of ground balls hurting a hitter is Derek Jeter.  When he went to the no stride swing in 2011, because the Yankee hitting coach wanted him to start using fast hands, it turned him into a ground ball hitter.  He used this new approach all spring and even into the start of the regular season.  After the first 16 games he led the Major leagues in ground balls at 72.9%.   That is why during this time his batting average was .219 with only one extra-base hit in 64 at bats according to NBC sports.  By far the most powerless time of his career.


Ninety-nine percent of hitting instruction makes a batter use mainly their arms when hitting a ball.  When the first thing going forward in your swing is the hands you will swing down through he ball.  This means if you are a good hitter and swing with your arms and hit the middle of the ball it will be a ground ball that hits 10 to 15 feet in front of you.  When a good pitcher throws the ball at the knees 99% of hitters that swing with their arms will hit a ground ball.   With 25% of ground balls on average being a hit a pitcher that keeps the ball down will give up one hit every four ground balls making him or her very successful.  I see this proven every day from Little League to The Major Leagues.


Almost every hitter that comes in for lessons has been taught to swing down through the ball.  Even to this day some of my best hitters are being told by their coaches, even on elite travel teams, that they need to swing faster down through the ball.  This is why pitchers that keep the ball low are very successful.  Lucky for my hitters they do the opposite of everyone else.  That is why my hitting students excel so much.  Every dad tells me "they use to swing down through the ball faster but that was the problem.  They are at least twice as good now since they stopped doing that and started doing Mike Sedberry's swing." 


Every pitcher is trying to keep the ball down hoping the batter will hit grounders.  Batters that swing down are what pitchers are hoping for. 


If pitchers would like to learn more about keeping the ball down and/or batters wanting to learn how to hit line drives with the the low pitch call Mike Sedberry at 304-722-6393 for more information.

Pitching Bad Warm ups And Drills To Stay Away From

Posted on July 21, 2016 at 11:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I have been working with High School baseball and fastpitch softball pitchers and I have seen they all throw mainly with their arms.   The reason for this is that the warm ups they are taught make them throw mainly with their arm.   There are many warm ups and drills that are hurting pitchers and position players much more than helping them.   In basball these are the four most popular and worst arm drills or warm ups that a pitcher or position player can perform.


They are:

1- with your throwing arm in front of you shoulder high, put your glove hand under your elbow to hold it up.  Snap the wrist with only your forearm moving to throw the ball.   Your glove keeps the elbow from moving.

2- Get down on one knee (your throwing side knee), put your throwing arm back, ball looking at 2nd base, throw the ball and snap your wrist.

3- Standing and facing your target.   Keeping your feet planted you bring your throwing arm back, ball looking at 2nd base, throw the       ball and again snap the wrist.

4- Stand sideways with your throwing arm facing the target which is behind you.  Keeping your feet planted, with your throwing arm up, you turn your shoulders to the right (if you are a right handed) face the target throw the ball and snap the wrist.


In fastpitch softball pitching these are the most popular and worst arm drills or warmups you can do: 

1- With your throwing arm at your side while not moving your arm,  flip your wrist to throw the ball.

2- Get down on one knee (your throwing side knee), with your arm only do your arm circle and flip your wrist to throw the ball. 

3- Standing sideways to target do three fast arm circles then release ball and flip wrist.


None of the above drills will help a pitcher or any other player with throwing the ball.   Whether you snap the wrist or not these are bad drills.  They will only put players into very bad habits and teach them to throw mainly with their arms.   Because of these teachings most pitchers will not come close to their true potential.  Worse, these teachings will lead to hurt arms and many arm injuries.  This doesn't need to happen.  Pitching can be very easy, I see so many things people teach that make it much harder for players to be successful..


A dad called me today to thank me for saving his son's arm.  Last year he was doing these drills with all the pitchers on the team.   Dad said he couldn't pitch two innings before he had to stop because of arm soreness.  I video taped him the first lesson and they could see how, because of these drills, he was throwing with only his arm.  I showed them three pitchers that pitched for 20 years in MLB and they couldn't believe how they looked almost the opposite to him.  We started working on using the body and right away it was feeling better on his arm.  Today his dad said  "he pitched 7 innings, gave up 6 hits and only 1 run against a very good travel team.  What I am most excited about is his arm doesn't hurt at all.  This is amazing!"


Baseball and fastpitch softball pitchers need to start learning how to use the body to create momentum towards the catcher.  Not how their arm needs to go faster or snapping their wrist.  That is why we are in an epidemic of sore arms.


Learn how to throw with your body instead of your arm.   This is the best way to pitch or throw, in baseball and in softball. You will be surprised how easy it is to do, you will throw harder and be amazed how much better your control will become.  For more information call Mike Sedberry at 304-722-6393.

Baseball Pitchers Get A Video Pitching Lesson

Posted on July 21, 2016 at 11:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Every baseball pitcher that comes in for a lesson, no matter what age, throws mainly with their arm.   I ask each one what they are trying to do when they pitch. Most are trying to get their arm coming forward faster to throw the ball harder.   This is great except they are using mainly their arm and not using the body like they should to actually get the arm being pulled forward faster.


They have been taught and told many things about pitching that will not help them, it will only make them throw mainly with their arm even more.  Almost  99% of what is taught by instructors, coaches, at pitching camps and by other parents makes them develop bad pitching mechanics.


These are a few bad pitching cues you need to beware of are:


When your front leg goes up, balance on back leg  (this stops forward momentum when pitching, terrible cue)

At foot plant ball looking at 2nd base  (you have to rotate your hand as you pull it forward, again arm and body disconnected)

Keep elbow above shoulder  (this will cause you to use mostly arm because the body and arm are not connected)

Chest to glove  (glove is tucked in close to chest, chest in going no where)

Snap wrist at release  (sure sign of future arm problems)


These are three very bad pitching drills:

One knee throwing drill  (this will teach you to throw with your arm only)

Holding elbow and throw with forearm  ( used be most high schools, terrible drill again teaches to throw with arm only)

Towel drill to help throw your arm forward and down faster  (this will teach you to throw down with your arm only)


Any of these bad pitching cues or drills will cause major problems in a pitchers mechanics, it will decrease their speed and will cause arm problems because they take the body out and makes you throw only with your arm.  You should never perform a pitching drill standing still or on your knee.   Your body needs to be going forward when performing any drill.


Don't listen to anyone, no matter how good a pitcher they say they were, unless they have video of great pitchers that had no arm problems to back up what they are teaching you.   You should never learn any of the bad pitching cues or drills listed above.  Only learn how to use your body when pitching.


Pitching can be very simple and safe if you use your body.  If you do with the right mechanics it will look and feel smooth and free flowing because everything is working in the proper sequence.   When you pitch without the proper mechanics it looks jerky because you are not working in a correct sequence.  Pitchers that mainly use their arm will throw slower than they should and put way too much stress on their shoulders and elbow.   Pitchers try to make up for this lack of speed by trying to make their arm go faster and snapping their wrist at release. Pitchers as they get older and throw harder put more stress on their arm causing soreness and eventually arm problems, maybe even Tommy John surgery.  I have had 2 pitchers come in wanting to learn how to throw with the body that had this surgery at 12 and 13 years old because they were taught many of the bad cues from above.  They came in just wanting to learn how to pitch without pain.


Don't let this happen to you, call Mike Sedberry at 304-722-6393 and get more information how you can learn to throw harder, have more control and take the stress off of your arm.

Pitching: Importance Of Proper mechanics

Posted on July 21, 2016 at 11:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I am seeing more players every day coming in for pitching lessons from 8 years old to college that throw mainly with their arms.  Many have already developed sore arms because of trying to throw harder with the wrong pitching mechanics and putting too much tension on their elbows and shoulders.  This is something that should not be happening!  


New students that come in for their first lesson tell me the pitching cues they have learned from their coaches, former instructors, at pitching camps and from other parents.   The problem is almost everything they have been taught (99%) is why they have bad pitching mechanics.   As they grow older and throw harder they will likely develop arm soreness and even arm injury leading to surgery.  


These bad pitching cues will lead to bad pitching mechanics:


  • When front knee goes up balance on back leg
  • When front foot lands ball looking at 2nd base glove out towards home plate
  • Chest to glove
  • Twist or rotate hips
  • Elbow goes up when throwing
  • Pull arm faster
  • snap wrist at release
  • finish down (pick up dirt) 

 

I had a 13 yr old come in that already had Tommy John surgery.  They wanted to see if I could show him how to throw without pain in his arm.   He had been taught every one of the above bad pitching cues.  He was still having pain after surgery when he threw because he still had the same bad mechanics.  We worked hard on changing him from throwing with his arm to using his body.   After the fifth lesson we had a break through, he finished the lesson with no pain and he was throwing 6 mph harder than he was before.  The next four lessons were the same, no arm pain, he learned how to throw two new pitches and had even added 4 more mph on his fastball.  He was ready for the Middle School season.  


They started practice and he called me 2 weeks later that his arm was hurting again.  I asked if anything in his mechanics had changed, he said no but they were doing an arm routine that was suppose to strengthen their arms.  His arm would hurt after these and he was told it would go away as his arm got stronger.  But it wasn't going away, the pain was getting worse.  When the pain is in the elbow it will not go away as your arm gets stronger, it wll get worse as you try to throw harder with your arm.  He came back in and I first wanted to see the arm routine.

 

The arm routine consisted of these four moves:

 

1-with your throwing arm in front of you shoulder high, put your glove hand under your elbow to hold it up. You throw the ball and snap the wrist with only your forearm moving.  Your glove keeps the elbow from moving.

 

2- Get down on one knee (your throwing side knee), put your throwing arm back, ball looking at 2nd base, throw the ball and snap your wrist.

 

3- Standing and facing your target.  Keeping your feet planted you bring your throwing arm back, ball looking at 2nd base, throw the ball and again snap the wrist.

 

4- Stand sideways with your throwing arm facing the target which is behind you. Keeping your feet planted, with your throwing arm up, you turn your shoulders to the right (if you are a right handed) face the target throw the ball and snap the wrist.


These were the problem.  He had worked hard for three months to throw with his body so his arm would quit hurting and he was even throwing harder.  Now in just 2 weeks he was learning again to throw with his arm and it was hurting him again.   When I had him pitch he was back to using his arm because this arm routine put him back into the same bad habits as before.  His speed was down 8 mph and he could only throw 16 pitches when his arm started hurting again.


The bad thing is this arm routine for throwing is used by almost all of the Middle School and High School, baseball and fastpitch softball teams.  I have had many players come in that their arm is hurting and/or their control is off, everytime they are doing these arm routines.  I put them on the radar gun and every one of them is throwing slower because they are back to throwing with their arm and they aren't coming close to their target.  What we see with every baseball and fastpitch softball student is when they throw with their body the ball goes an average of 6 mph faster and they hit their target.  They get so excited when they do this and tell me they didn't even feel their arm.


Make sure that any drills or warm up routines you are shown mainly use the body to generate the energy rather than mostly the arm.  Any drills on one knee, keeping both legs on the ground, the towel drill or holding your elbow up while warming up will only instill using the arm more than your body and by themselves could even cause injury.  Make sure your coach or instructor only shows you drills that will strengthen your body to help you throw harder with much less stress on your arm.

 

If you would like to learn more on how to use your body when pitching and throwing in baseball and fastpitch softball call Mike Sedberry at 304-722-6393.   Please contact us before your arm starts hurting.

Hitting And Pitching Why Get A Video Lesson

Posted on July 21, 2016 at 11:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Any baseball or fastpitch softball players that are interested in getting a batting or pitching lesson want to make sure that the instructor you are talking to can provide a video lesson.  I see many students come in and they are being taught things that are actually making them worse.   They trust the instructor because they are a coach, were or are a good player, played in College or even played professional baseball or fastpitch softball.  Students and parents trust they should know what they are teaching.   The problem is 99% of instruction is wrong in some way because every new student that comes in has been taught to swing and/or pitch with their arms whether they are in baseball or fastpitch softball.  This is the opposite of the very best hitters and pitchers in baseball and fastpitch softball, they use their body when hitting and pitching.


Because of this make sure before taking a lesson the instructor can video you hitting and/or pitching and can compare you side by side with the very best Major League baseball or Team USA fastpitch softball hitters and pitchers.   Only then are you able to see what you are doing versus what the best are actually doing when hitting and pitching.  It doesn't matter how good of a player or coach they were, make sure they do a video lesson with you.   Almost every parent that comes in and gets a video lesson becomes upset that they have spent alot of money for lessons from someone that was a good player but taught their kids wrong.  They have them hitting and pitching with their arms, the opposite of the very best players.  Do not take anyones word for it, make sure you do a video lesson. 

 

For example,  Alex Rodriguez was one of the best hitters in baseball that used his body when he swung the bat so well. His then hitting coach for the Yankees came up with the bright idea of having him quit taking his 7 inch step and just start putting his front foot up then down, so he could stay back and use fast hands.  They ended up doing a video of the workout they were doing.  On the cover (below) you can see the way the hitting coach wants him to look at impact.   In the video he has Rodriguez working on staying back, driving his back knee down, twisting his hips, squishing the bug and swinging down. These bad hitting cues he was teaching Rodriguez made him start swinging with his arms and he immediately started struggling.

         


 

Because he was the Yankee hitting coach Rodriguez trusted that he should know what he was doing and what he was telling him would help.  The problem, here is the former hitting coach for the Yankees and now for the Mets teaching Rodriguez  hitting cues that when he started doing them in games would put his career into a downhill spiral that he would never recover from.   Sadly, he trusted that his coach knew how to teach hitting.  If he would have looked at video of himself when he was hitting his best, he would have seen he looked the exact opposite at impact. (below)



Then he would have known what the coach was wanting him to do would not work.  Do not take anyones word for it, that they know how to teach hitting and/or pitching.


This is just one of many times hitting coaches have changed a players swing and if they take the body out of it they will also start struggling immediately.


Pitching is the same with 99% of what is taught by everyone will make you pitch with your arm in baseball and fastpitch softball.  Again the very best players in baseball and fastpitch softball pitch with the momentum of their body, not the arm.


With our video lessons we have seen that what great hitters and pitchers actually do is different from what 99% of people have heard or been taught.   When we show our new students their video hitting and/or pitching beside a major leaguer or Team USA player, they are amazed at what they see and it cements to our students and their parents that what we are teaching is exactly what they want to learn.


Our results with our students have been truly amazing because they are learning step by step the very best way to pitch and hit.   Even students that are not great athletes are doing so much better then they or their parents ever dreamed of because they are doing it the right way.   We hear everyday how much better they are hitting and pitching and how more enjoyable it is now, how their confidence has skyrocketed, and the game even seems to be slowing down to them because they are so much smoother.


If you would like to work with someone that can truly make a significant improvement in your hitting and pitching call us Mike Sedberry now to make an appointment at 304-722-6393, you will be amazed with the results.

Pitching Use Your Body For More Power And Success

Posted on July 21, 2016 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)

In my previous blog I talked about how pitching with your body will help you increase your velocity, control and take stress off of your arm. You look and feel so much more effortless whether pitching or in the field when you use your body to generate the energy when throwing a baseball or softball.   The problem is each student that comes in for lessons throws mainly with their arm because of what they have been taught.   When I start a new lesson with each student I ask what they have learned from coaches, instructors, other parents and on the Internet.  

 

In baseball almost all players say they are being taught one or more of these bad pitching cues that cause bad pitching mechanics:

 

  • When stride knee comes up balance on back leg
  • When front foot lands ball is looking at 2nd base 
  • When front foot lands glove is pointed to home plate
  • Take chest to glove when throwing
  • Twist or rotate hips
  • Elbow goes up above shoulder when throwing
  • Faster arm for more speed
  • Snap your wrist at release for more speed
  • Finish down (pick up dirt)

 

In fastpitch softball almost all players say they are taught one or more of these bad pitching cues that cause bad pitching mechanics:

 

  • Make faster arm circle
  • Ball looking at 2nd base when front foot lands 
  • Snap or flip wrist at release
  • Rotate or snap hips at release
  • Hello elbow or curl elbow after flipping wrist

 

Any one of these pitching cues taught in baseball and fastpitch softball will make you throw mainly with your arm.   Almost all instructors from Little League to the pros teach these. They will decrease your velocity and take away the control you need to be more successful. These are also what causes pitchers to get sore arms because of too much stress put on the shoulder and elbow.  There are so many misconceptions about the proper mechanics of a pitcher.  When pitchers start using their arm more they look tighter, more jerky and they start having problems getting hitters out.


A good example of this is a few years ago in 2011 Jose Valverde was one of the best relievers in baseball with 49 saves, no blown saves and a 2.24 ERA.   The next year he had 35 saves, 5 blown saves and a 3.78 ERA.   The decline continued in the playoffs, he pitched in 4 games lasting a total of 2.2 innings in which he gave up 11 hits and 9 earned runs for a 30.38 ERA.  He pitched only two more years with his ERA never below 5.59.  


According to Fangraphs.com his average fastball only went down only .5 mph from 93.8 in 2011 to 93.3mph in 2012.   That is not much of a problem. The problem is his line drive percentage went up from 16.2% in 2011 to 22% in 2012, almost a 36% increase.   In the playoffs his line drive percentage went up to a whopping 53.8%.   How could this happen?   

 

In 2012 his pitching coach was watching video and he noticed Valverde was dragging his back foot.  The pitching coach told him he needed to raise his back foot not drag it.   You have to be kidding!   All pitchers drag their back foot.  You could see him actually raising his back foot as he threw the ball which took his body completely out of his motion.  This made him start throwing with his arm.  He started throwing much harder with his arm so he wouldn't lose much velocity which meant he wouldn't have the control needed to hit his spots. With the ball out over the plate more often he continued to get hit harder.  That is why so many more line drives were hit off him during 2012 and in the playoffs.

 

The real problem was the new pitching cue made him start throwing with his arm.  He just needed someone that had a clue about pitching mechanics to work with him on using his body correctly to generate more energy forward.   Then he could have started relaxing his arm to let this energy release through the ball.  He would have his control back and he could hit his spots much more consistently and not leave the ball out over the plate.  He would also feel so much more effortless which would slow down the game for him.

 

Depending on the statistics you read when a batter in the Major Leagues hits a fly ball 79% of the time it is an out.   When they hit a ground ball 72% of the time it is an out.   When they hit a line drive they are out only 20 to 26% of the time.  This means at any level if a pitcher gets hitters to hit fly balls and grounders they can be very successful.  This means they need the control to be able to hit spots consistently with their pitches to keep hitters from hitting line drives.  If a pitcher loses their control and leaves pitches out over the plate they will not be as successful.


I video every new student that comes in for pitching lessons whether they play baseball or fastpitch softball.   The reason is every pitcher that comes in throws with their arm beacuse of the bad pitching cues (listed above) they are taught.   I then put them beside a Major League or Team USA pitcher so they can see how the very best pitchers actually use their body.   They are amazed how the pro pitchers look so smooth and effortless.  When they learn how to throw with their body they are amazed how hard they throw, their control is so much better and how effortless it feels on them and especially their arm.


If anyone would like more information about good pitching mechanics and how they can help make you much more successful call Mike Sedberry at 304-722-6393.