In a previous piece for The Season, I wrote about the importance of pitchers throwing strikes and that velocity does not matter if a young player can't consistency hit the strike zone with his fastball.
Since we're now all in agreement that pounding the strike zone is essential to being an effective pitcher, the next logical question is: "How do I teach my pitcher/son/daughter to throw more strikes?"
Unfortunately, the pitching mechanics are pretty complicated. But, there is one aspect that often fixes many of the other problems in the delivery, is easy to identify, and can help your pitchers throw more strikes. You don't have to have given 10,000 lessons like I have in order to see it!
I've worked with literally thousands of young pitchers in my coaching career and can say without a doubt that the single biggest cause of inconsistency has to do with the glove hand/front side.
That's right. The glove hand causes more problems than the throwing hand. Most young guys struggle to throw more strikes not because of their balance points, or arm action, or stride (although these are all important components of the delivery).
They struggle because their glove hand is completely out of control during the pitch (usually flying towards the 1st base for righties, 3rd base side for lefties), and this mistake causes a chain reaction that makes throwing consistent strikes nearly impossible.
So, if you see your son's glove flying towards 1st base during the pitch, or finishing behind his back after the delivery, I guarantee he's making throwing strikes harder than it needs to be and is likely very inconsistent with his command. It's also robbing him of velocity, but that's obviously a secondary concern.
I've seen incorrect and excessive glove movement cause problems at all ages of Little League - from 8 year olds pitching for the first time, for 12 year old All-Stars, as well as for position players who will never throw a pitch in their life but suffer from the same problem with the glove.
This concept is much easier to show in pictures than in words, so watch the video below to see exactly what I'm talking about, and how to fix it.
Dan Spring was drafted in 2003 by the Detroit Tigers, and has spent the last 10 years providing instruction for over 17,000 youth baseball players. He currently runs the Spring Training Baseball Academy in Palos Verdes, California and runs the Eye Black Academy, a youth baseball instruction site.