Viascheslav Shmelev: RHP Russian National Team




 1. Could you tell us your story on dropping down?

I have been playing baseball since my childhood. The trouble was that there were not enough pitchers in our team, so I had to play this position. I worked on my speed, but it was lower than among my peers. So I had to train much harder… When I was 17 y. o., I had torn my shoulder ligament. Doctors told me that I would not be able to pitch any more.

But I began rehabilitating. I was lucky as there was no need in surgery. I had to do massages, physiotherapy just to live without pain. I couldn’t even imagine I would return to the mount.

It took me half a year to return my right arm to normal statement. When the pain went away, I began to experiment with my throw, with my arm angle. So at the age of 19 I began to throw sidearm.


 2. What are some of the advantages you have from your arm angle?

To my mind sidearm pitchers are inconvenient for batters. It is possible to win the game even without a great speed, just don’t let them to beat.

 3. If you didn't drop down, do you think you would have had the same success?

If I didn't drop down, I consider I wouldn’t have the same success, I’d be a regular pitcher. I am not sure I would begin to throw sidearm if I didn’t have the injury.

 4. What would you tell someone debating on changing their arm angle?

In Russia many coaches believe that it isn’t right to throw sidearm. That’s why many pitchers have to retrain to throw with classic motion. But to my mind you have to listen to yourself and not to worry about speed. You should train curve (breaking) balls and control yourself.


 5. Are there any mechanical tips that you'd give to someone throwing sidearm/submarine?

I pay much attention to warming-up and lead-up exercises. I try to maintain the state of my hand by throwing in a distance, training breaking balls. After games I run a lot and go to the pool.

In ofseason I train with

In offseason, I also pay a lot of attention to elastic, hand and body mechanics. But the main thing for me is throwing weight balls. I start throwing right after the season (October) and by the new year I’m almost at my limit. I throw balls weighing 3kg, 2kg, 1.5kg, 1kg and after the new year I begin to throw a 500g ball with the ball closer to the season. All these throws allow me to raise the stamina of my hand. In Russia, as I have already said, there are not so many pitchers, and because of this, you have to throw a lot. In the Russian final series of this year I had to make 211 pitches in one game, we won. At the 210 roll, my line was 75 miles per hour. A day later I had to go out again and close the game. 2 inning my hand calmly held out.

For beginner pitchers who are just starting to throw on the side, I always say, be sure to pay attention to warm-up, elastic and mechanics.

6. What pitches do you throw?

Fastball (sinker): 82-85

Changeup: 70-74

Slider: 75-78


  7. How do you pitch to lefties/righties?

Usually I pitch to the lower zone, don't throw simple balls.
I pitch to the furthest zone for lefties and throw sliders to the nearest very rarely.
As for righties, I usually pitch sinkers on his arm or sliders to the furthest lower zone.


8. What is your favorite part about pitching from down there?

I like to make the batter nervous and not to understand why he can't hit.
As I have already mentioned, my speed is not very high for many batter, but thanks to control and movement I can handle them.