Coaching Youth Pitchers: Installment Two

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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:

1. Keep it simple
2. Keep it fun

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…

How You Start Will Impact How You Finish

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.
 
King-Felix
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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.
 
Mariano-Rivera-Pitching-Mechanics
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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.

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