Another quick story for you…

And pay attention because there’s a lesson here and it can be absolute death for you if you’re a pitcher.

So we’re on our way to church yesterday, and my daughter’s behind me in her car seat reading one of her giant animal encyclopedia books.

We’re cruising along and she’s telling us about different kinds of frogs (boggles my mind how much amphibian knowledge she can store in that little head of hers)… and then we come to a stop sign.

I was maybe a little heavy on the brakes. I hear a THUNK behind me.

“Aaah, my book!”

The force of the car stopping had caused it to slide out of her grip and onto the floor.

“Well, that’s inertia for you,” I say with a smile…

My wife just gives me a look like, “you’re an idiot, she’s four.”

So my daughter asks me, “What’s In-Err-Shuh?”

I realize I’m gonna have a tough time with this… how do you explain physics to a 4 year old?

“Well, sweetie… see, a body in motion wants to stay in motion…”

We go back and forth as she questions and I try to explain… I quickly realize my wife is right, I am an idiot.

Then my wife talks about how when you spin a wheel on a bike, how it keeps going until something slows it down. I think my little girl started to get it, and we eventually drop it and move on.

But it reminded me of a lesson I learned from an early pitching mentor, Bill Thurston.

I remember sitting with him in his office up at Amherst College, and he told me about one of his favorite analogies for explaining the pitching motion to young pitchers.

I still use this one all the time with new pitchers…It goes like this:

Imagine you’re pedaling along on your bike… you build up a full head of steam…

You’re pedaling, pedaling, pedaling… that bike is really moving now…

Now imagine what would happen if you slammed on the front brake?

Answer… the back tire comes up and you go flying over the handlebars. Newton’s first law once again…

Well, the same thing is happening in your pitching motion. You want to build up power in your stride (get your body moving towards home plate)…

But then you need to be strong with your landing leg so you can send all the power up into your trunk and throwing arm.

You want everything to catapult powerfully over and around that front leg.

Mess this part up by being soft or wobbly with that front leg and it will destroy both command and velocity…

It’s why the Ballistic Pitching Blueprint includes a slew of drills that specifically target front foot stability and powerful weight shift.

That’s lesson # 1 here if you’re a pitcher. Don’t ignore your lower half mobility and stability…

But there’s another way that INERTIA can wreck your pitching dreams… and this one is more deadly because you don’t even realize it’s happening.

The first part of Newton’s first law states that an object in motion tends to stay in motion…

Remember that second part?

An object at rest tends to stay at rest…

That’s the dark side of inertia… Once you stop moving in the direction of your dreams it’s easy to get offtrack… You lose that positive momentum.

The off-season is long… but believe me, next season will be here before you know it. What are you doing today that’s going to take you a step closer to your dreams? Keep it going…

Okay, that’s all for now, thanks for reading this far. And if you’ve gotten this far, maybe you could do one more thing. Drop a comment below and let me know what you’ve got questions about. I love hearing from you.

 

So I happened to catch some of a Rays/Yankees game a couple weeks ago, and it was my first glimpse of a rising young star… Chris Archer. He pitched a 2 hit shutout.

Have you seen this guy pitch yet?

I had to do a double take. His motion is slow, smooth, almost effortless… but then the ball just explodes out of his hand. The thing that really struck me was his stride – he hardly seemed to be striding at all. And then BAM!!! 96 MPH…

And for a lot of us who spend time analyzing mechanics and working to help young pitchers maximize velocity, some of the things we tend to focus on (because you see it a lot among hard throwers) are good tempo, momentum, and all the things that usually lead to a long, powerful stride.

[h5]So it really got me thinking, “How is this guy throwing so hard?”[/h5] To give you an idea, here’s the only really good sample I was able to get of his delivery. Unfortunately it’s from his warm-up pitches last year, so not totally max effort. But while he definitely gets more momentum and power in the game, based on what I saw the other night, it’s not dramatically different.

And here are a couple of photos from game action – not a long stride, by any measure.

Chris-Archer-Pitching-Short-Stride
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

But, what’s also clear is that he’s obviously doing enough things well to generate a lot of power and whip in his delivery.

Take a look at his torque or hip to shoulder separation. Notice his front knee action in the video above and at pitch release in the photo. Take a look at that intense facial expression – no doubt Archer understands training with the intent to throw hard.

Are there benefits to a longer stride? Sure. One of them is the idea of greater perceived velocity. The ball gets on the hitter quicker (it’s said that every foot closer you release the ball to home plate equals 3 MPH in terms of a hitter’s reaction time).

But with his easy delivery (akin to the great Mariano Rivera) Archer almost lulls the batter to sleep, causing the ball to jump on the hitter with equal effect. And it really highlights something I’ve talked about before. When it comes to velocity, it’s not all about a longer stride: Why a Longer Stride Isn’t Always the Answer

Might Archer be leaving a couple MPH’s in the tank by not getting more momentum towards home plate? Possibly, but 97 isn’t too shabby…

And you also have to consider other factors:

[circle_list] [list_item]Maybe he doesn’t have the mobility or flexibility needed for a longer stride.[/list_item] [list_item]Maybe he’d wind up overstriding and losing some of that great rotational power and whip.[/list_item] [list_item]Maybe if he sped up he’d get out of sync and lose command of his pitches.[/list_item] [list_item]Maybe a longer stride would make it tough to finish off his breaking ball.[/list_item] [/circle_list] [h5]Every pitcher is different. Everyone has their own strengths and weakness[/h5]

It’s why I like to focus on helping pitchers develop a solid foundation for a good pitching delivery rather than adhering to set of “pitching mechanics.” That way they can work on the important things like Balance, Timing and Power and develop their own style around that.

Here’s another look… An “easy” 97 MPH…


PS – When it comes to managing your stride, one of the things to consider is how it affects your curveball. Shortening up a little with your stride can help you get over your front leg and avoid the dreaded “hanging curve.”

For more Free Curveball Training Tips head over to CurveballMastery.com

Are little league pitching mechanics the same as major league mechanics?

In a previous post, I wrote about teaching pitching mechanics to Little League pitchers, and how I recommend taking a different approach with very young pitchers than with more mature athletes (you can read that post here).

What I didn’t really get into, though, is what I consider to be the biggest problem with the way most young pitchers are taught “proper pitching mechanics” these days.

Do you work with young pitchers? CLICK BELOW for a FREE Youth Pitching Lesson Framework

Download Your Free Youth Pitching Program

 

I was working with a 12 year old pitcher over the weekend, and we were working on things like creating good momentum, staying fluid, good rhythm and tempo… and then something he said stopped me in my tracks.

“They’ve been teaching us to do this,” and he raised his knee up and paused. Then he separated his hands and made a “T” with his arms, all the while holding that balance position. Then he strode out and paused in the “Power Position.” Then he finished his throw…

I just stared at him. “Wow… okay, let’s talk about this,” and I began explaining that while I’m sure his coaches have very good intentions, what they’ve been teaching him and other young pitchers is not what you see among the majority of successful, major league pitchers. Which raises another question…
 

Are Little League pitching mechanics the same as Major League mechanics?

In theory, Yes… The mechanics used to throw with speed and power are the same regardless of the pitcher’s size and age. But expecting Little League pitchers to move with the same sort of power and athleticism you see among world class major league pitchers is pretty unrealistic (minus the rare exceptions).

So does that mean it makes sense to teach young pitchers using drills that force them to move slower?? Or would they be better off doing things that actually made them more explosive and athletic in their pitching deliveries? In my experience, many of the drills used for teaching “good pitching mechanics” to little leaguers actually work against moving powerfully like the major league’s best pitchers.

Here are the top 3 mechanical issues I see with Little League pitchers:

1. Raising the Throwing Arm Early (lack of early momentum)

2. Opening (Unloading) the Hips Early (front foot points towards home too soon)

3. Collapsing Front Knee after Landing

So what are some reasons young pitchers might have a tough time moving like their major league counterparts?

1. They may lack the necessary mobility and leg strength:
Yes, leg strength IS important for a powerful pitching delivery!
(more on this in a future post)

I highly recommend getting a full assessment by a trained Strength Coach or Physical Therapist. If you’re unable to do that, Eric Cresssey’s Assess & Correct is an excellent program.

2. They likely don’t possess the same overall athleticism:
That’s right… pitchers ARE athletes. Mariano Rivera started out as a shortstop. Dylan Bundy trains like a prize fighter, Tim Lincecum (known affectionately for his athleticism as “The Freak”) can walk around on his hands like a circus clown…

Heck, even the big overweight guys that sometimes give pitchers a bad name are usually a lot more athletic than you’d think.

3. Youth pitchers have been taught to get to “positions” rather than learning the right movements for a big league pitching delivery:
When you teach kids to get to positions, training things like getting to a Balance Point, getting the throwing arm up, and getting to the Power Position, You effectively rob them of their natural athleticism, kill their momentum, and turn them into slow-moving mechanical throwers (see this article for more on why I’m against most pitching drills).

I’m generally okay teaching these positions when kids are just starting out so they can know what that feels like. But once they get comfortable with them, the emphasis should be on staying fluid and dynamic, flowing right through those positions!

And while possessing the necessary strength and athleticism is important, a big part of developing “Big League Pitching Mechanics” is just learning the right motor coordination. This is why video analysis can be so powerful. Nothing speeds up the learning process like being able to see how you’re moving vs. the pros.
 

So if drills that teach getting to “positions” are bad, what do you do?

 

  • Train the athlete: Focus on improving overall strength, stability and body awareness. These things can be developed through conditioning and strength training (beginning with bodyweight exercises) and dynamic balance/stability drills.
  • Train the intent to throw hard: As a young kid, I developed my “arm strength” by throwing a tennis ball against the back of my house and playing with friends at school, throwing against a brick wall (played a game called “butts up,” probably outlawed these days). That freedom to just throw without a coach constantly telling me things like “Get balanced!” or “Get your arm up!” taught me how to recruit my entire body in order to throw with more power.
  • Avoid drills that teach cookie cutter mechanics: No two pitchers are exactly the same, and they shouldn’t be taught to have exactly the same pitching delivery. That said, there are components within the delivery that are consistent among the majority of elite pitchers. Things like Early Momentum, Loading the Hips, creating Torque, and Stabilizing the front side.
 

Do you work with young pitchers? CLICK BELOW for a FREE Youth Pitching Lesson Framework

youth-pitching-lesson

Download Your Free Youth Pitching Program

Page 1 of 3123