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No Substitute for Mechanics in Pitching

No substitute for mechanicsLarry Anderson has studied pitching quite extensively over the years.

His specialty is working with baseball players in second to eighth grade. Grooming a pitcher can be an arduous task, but Anderson is up for it. He loves teaching young players.

“I’m a big believer in mechanics and doing things the right way,” said Anderson, who is the director of player and coach development for the Germantown (Wisconsin) Jr. Warhawks program. “You don’t have to be the biggest guy in the world if you understand how things need to be done. I try to use all my knowledge from when my son and his group were coming through the club and pass that along.”

Anderson taught his son, Ryan, growing up. Ryan graduated from Germantown in 2012 and was a solid pitcher who helped his team place runner-up at state as a senior during the summer season. Anderson weighed just 142 pounds, but could throw 84 miles per hour.

It’s all about mechanics, and that’s what the elder Anderson instructs to his young pitchers.

Anderson classifies himself as an old-school guy who teaches age-old pitching methods. He doesn’t like when the term “balance points” gets thrown around for pitchers, or when kids are taught to stop during the windup or stretch.

“There is no stopping point in the windup or the stretch,” Anderson said. “If you get to a stopping point you basically stop your momentum.”

When Anderson teaches second graders, he keeps everything pretty basic.

“I’ve found with young kids, you don’t really want to get super specific other than everything needs to be in a straight line going toward home plate,” said Anderson, who was a pitcher during his high school days. “My two big things are momentum from the pitcher’s mound going home and everything needs to be in a straight line. No matter where your arm goes, that’s where the ball’s going. If your body goes, your arm goes and that is pretty much going to detail where the ball’s going.”

Anderson likes to reference Hall of Fame pitchers who illustrated great form on the mound.

“In momentum pitching, like in the older days with Bob Feller and Bob Gibson, those guys used to go back toward second base with their body and then home forward – I love that,” Anderson said. “That’s what I got my son to do.”

Before working with a pitcher, Anderson likes to watch the kid throw. Then he can make the necessary adjustments.

When Anderson worked with his son, who threw right handed, he had an issue where he would over-rotate his front leg toward third base, which turned his shoulders away from home plate. In order to get back in a straight line, Ryan Anderson would have to open up his hips. This happens to other kids, too.

“One thing that I would make them do is stand six inches away from a wall and work on everything going up straight and straight forward,” Anderson said. “If you want to open up your hip, your knee would be scraping up against a concrete wall, and it wouldn’t take you very many times to figure out that isn’t the proper way to do it.”

Another thing Anderson has noticed over the years working with young pitchers is they like to lean forward with their shoulders before their hips. Anderson picked up a technique at a Tom Seaver camp a number of years ago to eliminate that and keep pitchers in an upright position.

“What we do is actually have them going out of a stretch and be like eight inches away from a padded wall,” Anderson said. “As they bring their leg up and start driving, we actually want them to start feeling their hip hitting that padded wall before their shoulder hits that padded wall.”

If the mechanics of a pitcher aren’t right, many things can go amiss on the mound. Anderson will continue to teach the proper mechanics to all his young players.

“Pitching is a seven-step process and if something’s wrong in step seven, it happened way before that,” Anderson said. “It’s like a domino effect.”