Saturday, September 20, 2014

When to start switch pitching

Some parents who have seen the video of Pat Venditte switch pitching, ask:

What is a good age for my son to start throwing with both arms?

7-9 years old is a good age to start throwing with both arms.

Many switch pitchers start throwing with both arms as a toddler, but they often have poor throwing mechanics when they get older. Poor throwing mechanics can lead to arm injury.

Players who learn to throw with good mechanics with the dominant arm, can have success throwing with the other arm with proper training. Learn throwing mechanics from a pitching coach first, then work on the throwing motion at home - doing mirror drills.

Does my child need to be ambidextrous to throw with both arms?

No. You don't need to be ambidextrous to begin throwing with either arm. This skill can be learned and most of the current switch pitchers are not ambidextrous - but right-handed.

Stick to throwing a baseball -
Teaching a child to write with both hands, or throw a football with both arms doesn't help a kid to pitch with both arms (I have tried this and it was a waste of time).

The Pat Venditte Effect

Minor league switch pitcher Pat Venditte, started training when he was a toddler, so some parents think this is the way to go. Start training them really young, work them hard and they will be successful. The training strategy worked for golfer Tiger Woods and seems to be working for Pat Venditte.

It's not necessary to start throwing with both arms as a toddler. Some parents discover that their 2-3 year-old can throw a ball with either arm, but this is very common and does not mean the child will be ambidextrous when older.

From my experience, I found that it is best for a young player to learn proper throwing mechanics before attempting to throw with the non-dominant arm. I think it is better for a kid to spend time learning to switch hit first.

Learn to switch hit first

Most of the switch pitchers could also switch hit when they were young. Switch hitters are fairly rare and valued in game situations, so I recommend that players start off with switch hitting before attempting switch throwing. The hitting practice helps with body coordination and hip rotation from both sides. Switch hitting is fun and it takes less work than switch pitching.

Only about 3% of all college players are switch hitters, but switch hitters are more common in the big leagues.

Sometimes, a right-hander finds that they hit better left-handed and lefty hitters often do well in youth baseball. Henry Knight is a natural right-hander who primarily hits left-handed in games (.500), but switches to hit right-handed when facing left-handed pitchers. He also can lay down a bunt from either side of the plate, which comes in handy during close games.

Switch pitcher, Drew Vettleson from Washington State, found that he hits better left-handed. He was drafted out of high school by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Kurt Johnson - Simi Valley CA

Royal High School (Class of 2015)
Kurt Johnson
Simi Valley, California

College: Commitment to Sacramento State
as a left-handed pitcher
(Division I, Western Athletic Conference)

Height: 6'1"
Weight: 190
Positions: First Base, Pitcher
Bats: Left
Throws: Both (Ambidextrous)

Velocity: 80 mph (at Perfect Game 2013)
Throws harder left-handed

1.91 ERA, 55 IP, 60 K, 32 BB (Junior year 2014)

How Kurt Johnson got started throwing with both arms ....

"As a 9-year-old, Johnson said he didn't know whether he was left-handed or right-handed, so he threw both ways. During youth ball, he sometimes threw both ways in games. The only time he has thrown left-handed and right-handed in high school was as a freshman." - LA Times

by Eric Sondheimer  @latsondheimer, LA Times
September 10, 2014

Get ready for a little bit of a freak show this spring at Simi Valley Royal.

Come one, come all to see the Highlanders' ambidextrous pitcher, senior Kurt Johnson.

Committed to Sacramento State as a left-handed pitcher, Johnson spent much of the summer throwing right-handed to rest his left arm.

On Wednesday during baseball class, he was throwing left-handed and right-handed.

"It's the coolest thing in the world," assistant coach Tony Ortega said.

Read More  | Watch the Video

Data from Perfect Game and MaxPreps

Kurt Johnson - BeRecruited Profile


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Long Toss Programs

Long toss is a systematic throwing routine

Jaeger Sports
Jaeger Sports is well know for their long toss program. 
Throwing is a lost art. Throwing isn't something that we should do "just" to get our arms loose.
The key to a good throwing program is learning how to listen or "follow" your arm. 
Read more
   Long Toss Step by Step

Crossover Pre-Season Throwing Program

The ultimate goal of the Crossover Symmetry throwing program is to maintain arm health while building a strong foundation in the pre-season.

Long toss throwing program for high school pitchers


The Facts Behind Long Toss
By Kyle Boddy, Driveline Baseball

Long toss has become a hotly-debated topic as it pertains to training baseball pitchers and position players alike. Popularized by Alan Jaeger, recent proponents of “extreme” long toss include 2011 MLB draft standouts Trevor Bauer and Dylan Bundy, who both have no problem getting the ball out there 300+ feet on a regular basis. Read more

Long toss is simply playing catch.

By Alan Jaeger, Special to Collegiate Baseball

Alan Jaeger  contacted hundreds of high profile baseball players and coaches on the high school and college levels to find out what throwing programs they utilize. 

The Long Toss Revolution Is Here
Source: | May 2011
By Greg Schaum

This is an article about how the cutting edge training programs available to amateur players (via schools like Vanderbilt, Rice, UCLA, Texas, Fullerton, Stanford, ASU, and others) well educated high school programs, the internet, and independent coaches is outdating many of the throwing programs at the professional levels. More specifically, this is an article about a belief system at baseball’s highest level that’s in need of change.

By Mike Reinold
I wrote this article for one simple reason – there is no such thing as the best baseball long toss program.  Everyone wants one, but it just doesn’t exist.  Everyone is different, including their body type, size, age, experience, and mechanics. 
By Eric Cressey
Learn why long toss doesn't work well for everyone - and how to avoid the common pitfalls of long toss in a throwing program.

By LOU PAVLOVICH JR, | Oct. 1, 2005 issue of Collegiate Baseball
One of the key reasons why Russell County High School (Seale, Ala.) rolled to a 38-1 record last season and won the Easton Sports National High School championship was pitching.
A big reason for the success of the pitching staff and its velocity improvement has been an innovative long toss program initiated by Head Coach Tony Rasmus. The long toss program paid huge dividends for his athletes in the way of velocity gains as well as arm and shoulder health.

Why 120' long toss is not enough 

By Alan Jaeger
Covers the reason we need a better long toss approach, and how to remove the constraints.

Jaeger Sports - articles about long toss