Okay, so mixing it up a little with today’s post. I get asked a lot about pitching mechanics…

“Where should the front foot land in relation to the back foot?”

“What’s the right way to break your hands?”

Drop and Drive or Tall and Fall?”

“What about the back foot?”Pitchers-Drag-line

That last one can be a little tricky… As I’ve written before, people often make too big a deal about the back foot lifting early (before ball release). That said, it CAN be very telling.

It can tell you if a guy is “jumping” instead of driving down the mound…

Whether he’s blocking himself off and not getting his hips open (a nasty little breakdown that compounds as it moves up the chain).

Or whether getting out over his skis or stuck back on his heels…

And you can tell a LOT by a pitcher’s drag line… That line in the dirt created when the back foot leaves the rubber. You can often tell the same thing by looking at a pitchers spikes after a game… Where is the toe getting scuffed – more over the big toe, or off to the side of the foot by the pinkie?

And here’s where it would be easy to get bogged down in technical jargon… Rather than go down that path, I thought it might be helpful to show some examples of guys with pretty good track records…

See any similarities?

Different pitchers with different styles… But some important things you see with all of them.

Oh, and be sure read to the end…

I’ve got a surprise in store for the FIRST person who can correctly name these big league pitchers:

 

Mystery Pitcher #1 (his nickname wasn’t “spaceship”)

Clemens-Back-Foot
 

Pitcher #2 (no hints, you should be getting to know this guy by now)

Arrieta Back Foot
 

Pitcher #3 (the lanky lefty slinger)

Sales-Back-Foot
 

Pitcher #4 (not Kong)

Felix
 

Pitcher #5 (I hear he’s a mean golfer)

Smoltz
 

Pitcher #6 (POWER… ’nuff said)

Synd-Back-Foot

[h3]FLASH QUIZ! Can you name these pitchers?[/h3]

First to nail it (in order) wins free Lifetime Access to the Ballistic Pitching Blueprint.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Head over to the BetterPitching facebook page and find this post
  2. List the MLB pitchers in the clips above (in order)
  3. BOOM – if you’re the first one to get it right, the program is yours!

Head here and post your answers to enter!

Okay, that’s all for now. In my next post we’ll dive in a little deeper on the back foot… Specifically on your drag line and what that can tell you about whether you’re leaking power. Hint you see some of it in this high school pitcher below… More to follow…

Back-Foot-Spin-Out

In the meantime, enjoy the pitching clips (props once again to @PitchingNinja for a couple of these). Soak them in… A good visual (mental blueprint) can go a long way towards developing a more powerful pitching delivery.

When it comes to pitching mechanics, you know I’m a big fan of giving young pitchers the freedom to develop their own style… But there have to be some constants, don’t there?

I mean, you can’t just have young pitchers just trying to figure it all out on their own, can you?

Okay, I’d agree with that… But I also think you want to avoid being too cookie cutter.

  • Focus on the important things… the Key Power Drivers
  • Develop good mechanical efficiencies
  • Avoid reinforcing major mechanical flaws
  • Start developing powerful movements early on….

But what does all of that mean?

Yesterday, I had the honor of being a guest presenter for one of Powerchalk’s training webinars over at GetBetterFaster.tv. The topic?

[h3]Drop and Drive versus Tall & Fall Pitching Webinar[/h3]

Drop_and-Drive_Tall_and-Fall_Webinar

Really had a great time talking shop with Chaz… And we got into what I see as some of the big problems I have with both terms…

It’s why you’ll never hear me actually use the terms Tall and Fall or Drop and Drive with my pitchers.

A lot of times guys hear “Drop and Drive” and they think it means sinking or “dropping” over their back foot and then pushing or “driving” off the rubber. Here’s a post from a while back where I talk more about that.

On the other hand, when pitchers hear “Tall and Fall” they think, “Okay, I just want to get tall and let gravity take over.” You end up with a stiff, passive back leg and a pitcher who’s totally upper-half dominant.

In case you’re not quite sure what I’m referring to, I dug up some clips here (you’ll see more if you head over and watch the webinar).

[h4]Some Classic Drop and Drive vs. Tall and Fall Pitching Examples[/h4]

Drop_and_Drive_or_Tall_and_Fall_Cone_Wood

That’s a David Cone (19 strikeout game) and a young Kerry Wood (only 20 K’s that day).

As you watch, I think it’s pretty easy to see which one of them would be considered the “Drop and Drive” guy. Another thing we discuss on the webinar is how a lot of guys you might think of as “Tall and Fall” really aren’t… they’re active with the back leg. Kershaw’s a great example. Brandon McCarthy’s another…

Real tall pitcher… High center of gravity… Throws “downhill”…

Looks like a “Tall and Fall” guy here, right?

Brandon_McCarthy_Pitching_Tall

But what about here?

Brandon_McCarthy_Pitching_Back_Leg

 This is a key move that most pitchers miss out on when they think about “staying tall”… Here’s another clip… Rosenthal on the left (more “Drop and Drive”), McCarthy on the right (“Tall and Fall”?)

Drop_and_Drive_or_Tall_and_Fall_Pitching2

Pay attention to McCarthy’s back leg… Look pretty active?

Okay, I’ll end it there today… Definitely plenty of room for more discussion.

So what do YOU think? Tall and Fall or Drop and Drive?

Or maybe Neither and Both???

Until next time…

Keep Learning. Keep Growing. Get Better!

 

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.
 
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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