Kaede

Kaede is Matt’s younger son and like Kolt, he is primarily a soccer player. As a classic soccer player with three workouts a week he has limited baseball practice time, but we attempt to sneak in a little throwing mechanics work from time to time as we do with Kolt. Of course, Matt is quite knowledgable about pitching and works with Kaede when there is time. In these pictures Kaede is 11-years old and pitching in a recreational league game.
Front View

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Kaede has a nice clean leg lift with an athletic bend in the knee of the pivot foot. His eyes are on the target from the start. In the third picture we see that Kaede’s hands separate after the stride knee is almost down. We want the hands to separate very close to the second picture when the knee is near the top of the lift. Kaede is balanced and over-closed in the early part of the delivery, but he has very little upward tilt of the hips and shoulders to help him keep the weight back. Kaede starts the stride with the side of the foot rather than the toe which helps keep his hips closed.

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In the first two of these pictures Kaede raises his stride foot more than we would like. Our thought is that the stride foot moves level or slightly down hill “searching” for the landing position. The first picture shows Kaede’s hand on the side of the ball rather than directly on top of the ball. The ball is hidden in the second picture; but in the third picture Kaede’s lower arm is hooked away from his head rather than directly in line with his head. By the fourth picture it’s back in line, but we would like the arm action to be as simple as possible. The third picture shows the lead arm being used as a “rifle sight.” The fourth picture shows Kaede in a very good position with his hips open and the upper body mainly closed. This is the desired hip to shoulder separation to build upper body speed. Also, in the fourth picture Kaede has recovered from his late break of the hands so that the ball is above the head at stride foot landing. There’s a lot good about these eight pictures.

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In the first picture Kaede is in full external rotation in the shoulder but it’s difficult to tell from the front view if he has any upper body rotation remaining to assist his arm speed. In the second picture his shoulders are pretty level and he is creating a little higher arm slot with elbow bend. The most efficient and repeatable position is for the arm to be in line with the shoulders at release. The finish of the arm is just below waist high which tends to cause a more abrupt deceleration of the arm than is desirable. We would like to see the throwing arm extended straight at release with more shoulder tilt. The shoulder tilt will develop the desired three-quarters arm slot and a long finish outside the calf of the stride leg. In all three of these pictures the lead arm is pretty inactive, hanging at his side. The lead arm should pull backward to assist the upper body rotation. Kaede has kept his eyes on the target from start to finish.
Side View

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In these shots from the third base side we see that Kaede has some upward tilt of the hips, but not as much as necessary to hold the weight back going down the hill. The side of the stride foot is taken to the target in the first two pictures and the stride foot lands when the hips start to open in the third picture. This is all pretty good. The inactive lead arm is obvious in the third picture as it starts to drop rather than coiling to help with the upper body rotation. The stride knee is bent at landing which is what is desired. The third picture shows the throwing arm hooking away from Kaede’s head rather than being in the desired position in line with the shoulders.

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The first picture shows Kaede pulling his arm in towards his head just before he starts into external rotation. Shortening the arm makes external rotation less efficient. This is a problem Kaede has had for a while and will need to do quite a bit of work to eliminate. The arm bend should to be outside 90 degrees at foot plant and that angle should be maintained into external rotation. The second picture shows that Kaede’s upper body is very nearly square to the target when he is in full external rotation. In this second picture we would like to see Kaede at release with full extension of the arm that is shown in the third picture. Release in the second picture would better match his upper body rotational speed to his arm speed. The third picture shows that Kaede bends his upper body forward at release so the throwing action moves from rotational to linear.

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This last picture shows how abruptly Kaede’s arm decelerates. This rapid stopping can create issues with the biceps tendon or the belly of the biceps muscle. An increased shoulder angle will create the three-quarters arm slot naturally, and when coupled with a bent stride knee at release and afterward allows the arm to decelerate over a longer distance.