Okay, so in Part One of this series on coaching youth pitchers, I talked about the importance of the glove-arm, throwing-arm connection. And that was mainly about upper-half mechanics (getting the arms in sync). Well in Part Two, we’re gonna take a look at the lower half…

More specifically, the feet.

Because we tend to think of throwing a baseball as something you do with your arm, it’s easy to lose sight of the important role that your feet play in your pitching delivery. Your feet are your base, your foundation, your connection with the ground…

And when you break it down, having a good pitching delivery means being able to transfer your weight well from your back foot to your front foot as you stride.

Now this series is geared towards coaches/parents working with very young pitchers, so we want to resist getting too technical here. When it comes to coaching pitchers who are just starting out, I have two big guidelines:

[h5]1. Keep it simple[/h5] [h5]2. Keep it fun[/h5]

So that’s what I’m going to do here. Keep it simple…

Yes you want to lead with your hips, yes you want a powerful stride, and yes you ultimately want to develop torque and power in your delivery… But let me ask you this:

What do you think is the best part of the motion to focus on if you want to affect change (in a good way) in a young pitcher’s delivery?

“The Balance Point?”

“The Stride?”

“Front Foot Plant?”

How about, “At the beginning!”

And what I’m mainly talking about it is this:

Pay Attention to How You Set Your Feet Before You Throw

As with a lot of things in life, with your pitching delivery, how you start is going to have a major impact on how you finish. Let me repeat…

[h4]How You Start Will Impact How You Finish[/h4]

But what you see with a lot of young ballplayers is they give very little thought to setting their feet before they throw a baseball. Just watch them playing catch… it’s usually pretty haphazard.

It’s funny because with HITTING guys place this major importance on their stance. They work to get their feet positioned just right, they bend their legs, they get in an athletic position… They seem to understand that you want to be balanced, strong and stable in order to hit a baseball with authority.

At the same time, most don’t give much thought to their “stance” when getting set to throw a baseball. You’ll see a lot of kids flat-footed, legs locked out, weight on their heels.

They’re not setting themselves up well to be successful!

Here’s a short video I put together with just some quick tips for helping young pitchers learn to set their feet well before they throw. The more they make this a habit, the more they’ll be able to consistently get their legs and hips into their pitching delivery.

Note: the little hop I show is just something to help them get the feel for getting set in an athletic position. Once they’ve done this a few times, it’s not something they should have to keep doing every time before they throw – and if they do that at the higher levels, they’ll get called for a balk 🙂

Two pitchers who really demonstrate the importance of setting your feet in your pitching delivery are Felix Hernandez and Mariano Rivera.

What you see with both is a sort of toe tapping with the front foot, as they turn that foot in slightly to load up. Add a little bend in the back leg and you’ve got a great starting position.

The biggest thing that set Mariano apart (aside from that cutter) was his consistency. And if you saw him pitch, you know he started out this way on every pitch.
If there were one guy I would show a young pitcher to help them understand the idea of being sound with your feet in your pitching delivery it would be Mo. His rhythm, balance and consistency were unbelievable.

Hope you found this post helpful. And if you did, do me a huge favor and share it with anyone you know that could benefit. And as always, keep those comments and emails coming! I’ll be back with Installment Three soon.

So I’ve been loving all the feedback on the Curveball Video series. If you haven’t checked that out yet, click here. But there’s one misconception I’ve been seeing more and more, and it’s about something I didn’t get to address in that series. So I just put together this short video to help clear things up.

[h5]Have you ever heard a pitcher refer to their curveball as a “Knuckle Curve”?[/h5]

Usually what they’re talking about is the index finger, where they spike it with the tip of the finger and the knuckle is raised off the ball. Now whatever you want to call any of your pitches is really up to you. But in a lot of cases, when a pitcher says he throws a knuckle curve, what he’s really throwing is just a traditional curveball with the knuckle up.

And the reason this is an issue and important to understand is that there IS such a thing as a true knuckle curve.

And while it acts like a traditional curveball, the two pitches are thrown very differently. Check out the video to see what I’m talking about.

So hopefully that helped clear this up for some people. And as I point out in the video, while I’m familiar with this pitch, I’m not the best guy to teach it. The curveball I threw (and the one you see most pitchers throw at the college and professional levels) was the traditional curveball. If you want to know how to throw that pitch, I’ve got you covered (here’s that Free Video Series again).

But if you want to know how to throw a knuckle curve (a true knuckle curve), I’ve yet to see a better explanation than you’ll find in this video by Georgia pitching coach Fred Corral (worth a follow if you’re on twitter: @FCorral34).

Hope you found this post helpful. And if you did, do me a favor and share it by clicking one of those buttons down there… Thanks for stopping by, be back with more soon.

In response to some questions I got about my last post, Curveball Release & Pronation, I thought it would be helpful to clarify something. The purpose of that video was simply to show what a pitcher’s hand actually does when throwing a traditional curveball.

To be clear, I am NOT suggesting that pitchers actively attempt to pronate or turn the hand palm-out when throwing this pitch. That kind of pronation into pitch release is what you see on screwballs, changeups and sinkers.

BUT… pronation IS something that happens naturally after ball release on every pitch… even the curveball. Too often, young pitchers think they need to twist their wrist or “turn the doorknob” to get good curveball spin.

See, hand and wrist position is the real key on this pitch (in addition to a good grip and finger pressure). You want the hand turned palm-in (a supinated wrist position) as it passes by your head. That, together with getting over the ball with a strong middle finger, leads to tight forward spin and sharp downward break.

And when thrown properly this way, the hand will naturally pronate just after release. Again, this shouldn’t be the focus or objective here… but if it’s not happening, you’re probably not throwing it correctly, and could risk damaging your elbow.

To further demonstrate what I’m talking about, I put together these videos with Clayton Kershaw and Cliff Lee, a couple big league pitchers with pretty decent curveballs…

Note hand turned palm-in, followed by pronation just after release.

So I hope this helps clarify things. Thanks, and keep those questions coming!
PS – For more Free Curveball Training, head over to CurveballMastery.com

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