By STEVE KRAH
So you pitch and you come over the top or at three-quarter overhand and you’re not getting the results you want. How about changing arm angles and tossing the baseball as a sidearmer or submariner?
Geoff Freeborn, who pitched from the left side at Northern Kentucky University, North Idaho College as well as independent professional baseball and for Team Canada, has created Sidearm Nation to help hurlers with dropping down.
An Illinois Sidearm Nation Camp open to all ages and featuring former pro sidearmers/submariners Peter Sikaras, Kenny Long and Ken Raines is scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. CST Aug. 19-20 at Pro Player Consultants, 5112 Prime Parkway, McHenry, Ill. All pitchers are welcome. Specialized coaching will be provided for sidearmers and submariners. Cost is $290 for both days and $150 for one. The camp will be limited to 40 participants.
For more information, email info@sidearmnation or visit http://www.sidearmnation.com.
Recently, Freeborn participated in an IndianaRBI Q&A session.
Q: Why do pitchers change their arm angle?
A: I guess most pitchers change their arm angle out of necessity. Either struggling with current arm angle and something needs to change or down on the depth chart, not pitching that much. Dropping down isn’t for everyone, if you’re pitching well, why change what’s working? But if you’re getting hit around pretty consistently then why not? You have nothing to lose. If you do drop down or are asked to drop down, you have to fully commit to it for it to work.
Q: What are the advantages of an arm angle change?
A: Overall it’s about deception from a lower angle. For the most part it’s not going to be about lighting up the radar gun. Movement is going to be the key from there.
Q: Is it about changing eye levels?
A: Hitters overall get used to seeing the same angle all the time from coaches in batting practice etc. Sidearm/submarine pitchers can mess that up.
Q: What are the disadvantages?
A: I think one of the disadvantages is that you can get pigeon-holed a little bit, that you can only get same-side hitters out. In pro ball for example I tended to just be a lefty-specialist. Would have been a fun job in the MLB but not necessarily for Indy ball. Guess you also tend to just be a reliever, but at same time that can be a pretty good change for some.
Q: Can anyone change their arm angle?
A: I think overall anyone can change their arm angle or at least give it a shot. It tends to be the pitchers that are tall and lanky that pick up on it quicker. Multi-sport athletes or multi-position players tend to pick up on it quicker than say someone that is just a pitcher only.
Q: Do you have favorite sidearmers?
Q: What about favorite submariners?
Q: How many sidearmers/submariners would you say are in pro ball?
A: That’s a good question. I’d say pretty much at least every time in each level in the minors usually has 1-2 in their bullpen. I think more and more sidewinders are getting drafted now and MLB teams are realizing how important they are.
Q: What about in college baseball?
A: College baseball-wise almost every program probably has 1-2 also in their pen. More colleges are recruiting high school sidewinders instead of having to drop someone down that’s struggling in college.
Q: Do these players tend to be starters or relievers?
A: Most sidewinders do tend to be relievers, do tend to be more successful one time through the order.
Q: I’m guessing there aren’t that many coaches that are familiar with the mechanics of a submariner?
A: I think were there can be some problems is when a pitching coach suggest to a pitcher to drop down but then doesn’t know what to do. Sometimes they get left in the corner to figure it out on their own, which I guess can be a good and bad thing. That’s where hopefully Sidearm Nation can be of help. We have over 200 interviews with current/former pros, basically a free e-book and then we run 5-6 camps per year.
Q: Are the number of sidearmers/submariners on the rise, the decline or steady?
A: Like I mentioned previously I think they are definitely on the rise. More pitchers are realizing by dropping down that can be there ticket to say playing college baseball. Majority of the pitchers I’ve interviewed if didn’t drop down the weren’t going to make their high school or college team then after dropping down, ended up making it to AAA/MLB.
Peter Sikaras, who pitched with the South Bend Silver Hawks, Gary SouthShore RailCats, Team Greece and others, is to be an instructor at a SidearmNation camp Aug. 19-20 in McHenry, Ill.