I just did a search for “baseball pitching drills” and Google came back with 1,080,000 results. I share this to illustrate a point: there’s a lot of garbage out there on the internet. You can waste a lot of time trying to weed through it all. Even worse, if you go with some of the more popular drills, you’ll probably waste even more time performing them! Because the sad reality is that most pitching drills are, at best, great time-wasters and, at worst, totally counterproductive.
The problem with most pitching drills is they’re designed to make coaching easier instead of actually helping pitchers develop movement patterns that translate to an efficient pitching delivery. For instance, a lot of drills (particularly at the youth level) focus on developing “good arm action.” In most cases they do just the opposite.
You’ll see drills out there that have kids bring the ball up by getting their throwing arm into a good “L” position and their glove arm pointing at the target. This is where the coach can stop the pitcher to make sure his arms are in the right position and make adjustments if needed. There are so many flaws with this method of teaching I don’t even know where to begin…
[h5]Here are the big problems with most drills that teach “good arm action”[/h5]
[list_item]Teaching the “L” – this works completely against developing fluid, efficient arm action. The “L” is a point in time. All pitchers should get to this position just before arm acceleration (or what I like to refer to as catapult & extend). But it’s just that – a point – and you pass right through it.[/list_item]
[list_item]Starting from the “Power Position” or the “Power-T” (or whatever they’re calling it these days) does not teach good arm action. The act of throwing involves creating momentum and transferring that momentum out into the ball. When you start from a pre-set position, with your arm essentially where it would be mid-throw, you kill momentum and disrupt timing.[/list_item]
[list_item]They teach “Thumbs to Your Thigh, Fingers to the Sky” … Catchy, but an awful teach. This is just not what good big league pitchers do, and is not the way to develop a fluid, efficient arm path. The problem is it teaches getting the arm up as the main objective, when really the focus should be on whipping the arm through and getting to a good fully extended release point.[/list_item]
[h5]So Say No to All Drills??[/h5]
No, I’m not suggesting that either. I said “most” drills are a waste of time… Drills can definitely be effective for developing pitching specific skills and training movement patterns. You can’t beat a good drill for helping pitchers make mechanical adjustments and develop good habits.
Recommendations: Drills to address “good arm action” should focus on getting both arms working together in concert. What the glove arm does directly affects the throwing arm and there should be a sort of seesaw effect. Establish the positions, but practice moving right through those positions in a fluid, efficient manner. And always remember, every pitcher is different, so let young pitchers find their own natural arm slot – avoid teaching cookie cutter pitching mechanics.
There’s a great saying, “Everything with a purpose.” And here’s where we get into the Big 3 Components of a powerful, efficient pitching delivery:
[h5]Balance, Timing and Power… simple as that.[/h5]
Every drill we do should focus on developing these 3 components. Here are two simple rules for effective pitching drills:
[list_item]The drill should address and benefit at least two of these components (Balance and Timing, Timing and Power, Balance and Power, or all three).[/list_item]
[list_item]The drill must not negatively impact any one of these components (for example, if a drill teaches balance, but hurts timing and power by having the pitcher pause and lose momentum, then it is counterproductive).[/list_item]
Here are two drills for promoting good arm action while developing balance and timing in your pitching delivery:
[h5]For a Complete System of Drills for developing a Powerful, Dynamic Pitching Delivery I invite you to try the Ballistic Pitching Blueprint[/h5]