There are eight key elements of the pitching motion that we will cover in this section:
· Begin with a relaxed stance and the shoulders square to the plate.
· Both feet on the rubber, the pitchers toes should be slightly in front of the pitching plate.
· Be sure that there is space between the pitcher’s feet (a little closer than should width apart).
· Starting position of the hands will vary. Pitchers can hold the ball in the throwing hand behind the back, in their glove to the side or in the glove resting against the waist or chest.
· Pitcher takes a small step – about five or six inches - straight back with the foot on their glove-side. One important checkpoint is to make sure that the bill of the pitcher’s cap never leaves the plane of the rubber.
· Keep an unobstructed view of the target.
Square off the pivot foot and place it in front of the rubber with outer portion of the foot in contact with the rubber.
Instep of the pivot foot should be directly at the target.
Leg (knee) Lift
· As a right handed pitcher’s weight transfers to the pivot foot, their shoulders will automatically square toward third base establishing a pointer with the glove side pointed toward the catcher.
· The pitcher then begins the knee lift.
· There are three checkpoints to an effective knee lift.
o Pitcher’s thigh is at least parallel to the ground at the peak of the lift.
o Keep the lift foot somewhat underneath the knee. Kicking the foot out will cause the pitcher to lose balance.
o at the height of the leg lift, the knee should be turned back slightly toward the plane of the rubber. By bringing the knee back, this ensures that the hips stay closed and the pitcher’s weight is completely back on the back leg.
· Length of the stride may range anywhere from 85% of the pitcher’s body to the actual length of the entire body – the goal is to take the longest stride that is comfortable.
A maximum stride will allow the pitcher to release the ball closer to the plate and with a higher velocity.
Make sure that the stride foots lands is on the ball of the foot with the toes pointing just slightly closed to the plate.
Landing on the heel of the foot will cause a “jerk” or momentary stop in the delivery.
Stride foot should be in a direct line with the target when landing.
· As the pitcher lifts the leg and takes a comfortable stride, the hands separate and get to the launch position.
· Turning their thumbs in toward the body (down) and turning the palms away from the body when separating the ball from the glove.
· Be sure the pitcher separates the ball and glove inside of the lift knee
There are three checkpoints in the launch position.
- The glove side elbow is at shoulder height when the pitcher is ready to deliver the ball.
- Throwing elbow at or slightly above shoulder height. If the elbow drops or drags when throwing, elbow and shoulder problems soon follow.
- Make sure the ball is facing away from the catcher towards second base. Keep the elbow slightly bent in an “L” shape. If the ball is not facing away, the elbow will have a tendency to drag below shoulder height as the ball is thrown.
Acceleration of the Arm
· pitcher must drive the glove side elbow down vertically past the hip.
By “driving the front side down” the pitcher ensures that the throwing shoulder is up and the throwing elbow is at shoulder height. If the pitcher drives the glove hand or elbow horizontally, the throwing elbow will drag. Be sure to stress driving the front side elbow straight down and back.
Pitchers must adhere to two absolutes for an effective follow through
1. The pitcher must bend at the waist and get their head out over the stride knee. The front knee should be slightly bent to cushion the weight transfer and to aid in smooth follow through action.
2. It is important that the pitcher is in a good fielding position after following through. Make sure that the pitcher does not stop the throwing arm during the follow through.