As pitchers shift from Off-Season training mode to In-Season pitching mode, it’s generally a good idea to shift the focus away from mechanics, and spend more time working on things like command, feel, location and “pitchability”.
You can basically think of that last one as your ability to achieve these key things:
- Keep Hitters Off Balance
- Miss Barrels (induce soft contact)
- Execute Quality Pitches
- And get OUTS…
That said, this does NOT mean you can’t work on your mechanics during the season… In fact, for most developing young pitchers it can be the BEST time…
- You’re outside throwing every day (or close to it)
- You have daily access to a mound (even if it means getting there early or staying late)
- Every time you pitch you get feedback you can use to get BETTER
I dive into this a bit deeper in a previous post, so I won’t belabor the point… You can read more on that here:
Can You Gain Velocity During the Season
“But won’t working on my mechanics during the season mess with my control?”
Possibly… But it doesn’t have to.
Sure, if you’re pitching in college or the pros and you’re in the middle of a playoff hunt it probably doesn’t make sense… But in just about every other case, monitoring your mechanics is one of the best ways for a developing young pitcher to make rapid, meaningful progress.
* Notice I said “monitoring”… not “obsessing over”…
Identifying the key areas where you’re leaking velocity… and putting in consistent work to groove better movement patterns.
And if you’re a high school pitcher who’s even thinking about pitching in college, there’s a harsh reality in today’s college recruiting world that isn’t going away anytime soon.
Your Velocity Matters…
Pitchers are throwing harder than ever… And even if you know how to pitch, if you’re not getting out of the low 80’s, a lot of college coaches won’t even give you a sniff. It’s not unheard of… but let’s just say if you’re hovering around 80 you’ve got your work cut out for you when it comes to convincing college coaches to give you a serious look.
Don’t have to like it… but that’s the reality (Josh Heenan nails it on the head below).
Which brings me back to my point.
You worked HARD all winter…
You got on a good Strength Training and Throwing Program…
Awesome. Now you get to UNLEASH that power on the mound… provided you’re not leaking energy in your pitching motion.
For example… Below you’ll see some clips of a dedicated high school pitcher I’ve had the privilege to work with on a Semi-Remote basis. In the first video he sent me it was pretty clear he was leaking some power late in his delivery. He got started okay… but then right at that crucial moment in the last 5% of his motion things broke down…
Velocity Leak: Vaulting Off The Mound
What you see in the clip above is a classic example of a pitcher with an unstable landing leg… This usually shows up in one of two ways:
- A collapsing front knee (see: The Importance of Good Front Knee Action and Little League vs. Big League Pitching Mechanics)
- Getting the weight out front too soon, making it tough to stabilize and finish over and around a strong landing leg (leading to “vaulting” or “running” off the mound – tip o’ the cap to Lantz Wheeler for that last phrase)
When you’ve got either of these things going on, you’re missing out on some power in your motion (and lost speed on your fastball). In simple terms (I have a major bias towards “simple” when it comes to pitching), you’re not able to transfer all that momentum and energy through your hips and up into your upper half. It’s kind of like throwing in quicksand or shooting a cannon from a canoe (your power and command will suffer).
But the good news is this one is highly “fixable”…
It’s just a matter of developing a certain level of body awareness (helping the pitcher feel where his body is in space at key points in his delivery) and grooving more efficient movement patterns through drill work and dry work… Then putting gradually putting it all together on the mound.
Below is this same high school pitcher the first time we got together at the facility. You can see that same “vaulting off the mound”, getting out front early and a short stride.
Notice the unstable landing foot and how his center of gravity never stops (the hips have to stop/stabilize over front foot if you’re going to transfer momentum effectively to the upper half).
Seeing it on video can be a big eye-opener…
And once he knew WHAT to work on, and some good drills and exercises he could do on his own for fixing this issue, he was able to make some really good progress. This included things like :
- Dynamic Balance Drills (great for body awareness)
- Drill Work for isolating that key phase in his delivery (finishing over and around a strong landing leg)
- Dry Work (working on his motion without a ball – if you have a mirror you can get in front of, even better)
Drills like this modified Rocker (what I call Power Catapults) can be great to isolate this feel
Between the pitching clip above and the one below we only actually worked together a handful of times – he had to travel a good way to get up to Connecticut, so for the most part he was working remotely. I’d check some video, give him feedback and direction, and then he’d go to work.
The improvement you see below is a testament to this pitcher’s dedication and work ethic. You’ll notice a few things:
- A longer stride (something we never even discussed)
- A significantly more stable landing foot (great job maintaining connection with the ground)
- He stabilizes and finishes over and around his front leg a WHOLE lot better
Really proud of the progress this kid has made and how far he’s come in a short amount of time. Now is he all the way there? Of course not. And you can nit-pick if you want, but I’m much MUCH more concerned with steady progress than with “pitching perfection”.
And now that he’s fixed his #1 Velocity Leak in his pitching motion he can take the next step.
Now that he can accept force well with his front leg and stabilize in his finish, he’s ready work on putting more force behind it. Excited for this kid and what lies ahead… Because he’s just demonstrated one of the single most important skills you can have as a developing young pitcher:
The ability to Assess…
And once you understand how simple it can be to get BETTER…
You can’t be stopped.
If you’d like to fix some Velocity Leaks in your own pitching delivery, I recently opened up a new coaching program… It’s specifically for serious high school pitchers looking to add 3-4 MPHs and improve overall command over the next 60-90 days to gear up for college camp/showcase season.
If you’ve ever been told by college coaches that they like what they see, but you just need a little extra velocity… this 1×1 Remote Coaching program might be a fit.
For more info on this 90 Day “Motion Review & Mentoring” package, hit the link below and fill out an application. If it looks like you’re a fit, you’ll be hearing from me soon with all the details for getting started.