Pitching mechanics is defined as your throwing motion. The powers that be have determined the “proper” motion that pitchers should use in order to “correctly”
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2 some ideas for developing your pitching mechanics, which will improve your overall pitching performance. Pitching can be as easy or as complicated as each player wants to make it. This packet will attempt to keep pitching simple, yet effective. The ideas in this packet should be practiced as often as possible (everyday, every other day, three times a week). There are four areas that a pitcher must be improving upon in and out of season: 1. Arm strength (along with total body) 2. Pitching mechanics 3. PitcherÕs defens e (bunts, come -backers, covering bases) 4. Pick-offs There are three other areas that a pitcher must develop as the season progresses: 1. Backing up bases 2. Mental development (understanding the game ÒupstairsÓ) 3. Bull pens/ pre -game warm up Arm Strength (Total Bod y Strength) Refer to the player development packet Pitching Mechanics Pitching mechanics is defined as your throwing motion. The powers that be have determined the ÒproperÓ motion that pitchers should use in order to ÒcorrectlyÓ deliver a pitch to the pl ate. There are some basic things that a pitcher should do during their delivery; however, we want to avoid the cookie -cutter approach. Pitchers should be allowed some personal freedom in their mechanics. Pitching mechanics can be easily broken down in to three basic positions. 1. Balance 2. Direction 3. Extension Balance Ð Whether you are in the windup or the stretch, all pitchers must achieve a balanced position . Pitching is a lot like dominoes (in order to knock down the last domi no, the previous dominoes must be lined up correctly and fall in their correct order). Your balance position is the first domino. If we are inconsistent with our balance point, we stand a greater chance to make more mistakes during the rest of the motion . Here is w hat a proper balance Here is what balance should Point should look like: Not look like:

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3 Keys to the Balance Point ¥ Straight line through body from pivot foot to chin (do not lean back) ¥ Keeping sh oulders in a straight line to the plate (avoid the coil; a little is ok) ¥ Leg Lift is around 90 and under control (avoid leg kicks that are too high) ¥ Slight knee bend with leg on ground (avoid locking straight) ¥ Lifted foot is relatively under lifted knee (l efties should never cross, picks) Practicing Balance Point There are several drills we can do to improve our balance point. Remember that we want to reach the same balance position every time. MUSCLE MEMORY! Regular Leg Lift Cross -over Leg Lift lift leg to balance point cross feet then lift to balance point hold for as long as possible hold for as long as possible repeat many, many times repeat many, many times Facing the Wall Leg Lifts Back to the Wall Leg Lifts stand close to the wall Ð fac ing stand close to wall – back lift leg to balance point lift leg to balance point lifted foot should be 1 -inch away keep back close to wall keeps from raising too high stops you from leaning back repeat many, many times repeat many, many times Partner Balance Point Ð hold your balance point and have a partner toss you a ball. Try to catch the ball while maintaining your balance. The partner can circle around you and toss from all angles. *Challenge yourself by standing on some sort of a balanc e beam. Can you stay on? Direction After reaching your balance point, pitchers must stride to the plate in order to deliver the ball. This is called direction. It is important that pitchers step straight towards the plate. If our stride is not straight (meaning closed or open), our dominoes are not lined up and mistakes are made. It makes it very hard to be consistent with our mechanics. Also we increase our risk of injury. Here is what good Here is what bad

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4 direction looks like : direction look s like : Keys to Direction ¥ Stride is straight to the plate ¥ Body and head stays balanced over center of gravity ¥ Weight does not get transferred too soon (just like hitting) Notice the two on the right: open stride and bad balance ( falling over) Practicing Direction Drills for improving direction are fairly limited. Start with the balance position every time. MUSCLE MEMORY! Length of stride should be slightly less than the height of the player. Place a tapeline on your floor to re present the pitching rubber. Lay down so that your head is on the line and your body is straight. Place another tapeline on the floor just short of where your feet are. Connect the two lines with tape down the middle (you just made a capital ÒIÓ). This is generally the comfortable distance that pitchers use for stride. Adjust as you see fit, however we should be able to get our head over our stride knee when releasing the ball. If not, shorten up! See picture below (good example): Stride Out ¥ Start in balance position using your tape setup; stride out to the proper distance ¥ Weight stays back when stride foot hits ground; Back knee has a slight bend ¥ Glove -side arm should be pointing towards the plate with tension ¥ Throwing arm should be 90 with hand to the sky ¥ Torso should not have begun to twist yet; Head is looking at the plate ¥ Repeat many, many times

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5 NOTE: it doesnÕt really matter where your glove points. What does matter is that your shoulders are in a straight line for as long as possible. The three pictures above are good examples. Below you can see how these pitcherÕs shoulders are out of line. This adds more stress to your throwing arm and will increase your chance of injury Extension (which includ es follow through) The final step in our pitching delivery is called extension. The goal of extension is to reach out as far as possible towards the plate in order to maximize our power potential. Too many pitchers short arm their throws. This not only de creases velocity but also increases the risk of injury. People who short arm their throws are generally inconsistent with their mechanics. Here is what good Here is what good extension looks like : follow through looks like :

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6 Keys to extension ¥ Head is over stride knee ¥ Stride knee is slightly bent during release ¥ Glove returns to glove side shoulder Keys to follow through ¥ Throwing arm finishes on outside of opposite leg ¥ Stride foot remains stationary while back foot swings up and aro und ¥ Head stays up and looking at target ¥ Body bends over at the waist Extension naturally flows from good direction. Think of reaching out and placing your hand in the catcherÕs glove during release. Full extension allows us to maximize our power and hand speed. Just as important, full extension will assure consistency. If we are consistent with extension early on in the game and we tire as the game progresses, we should be able to feel ourselves short arming the ball. If we can feel a difference, then we should be able to make an adjustment to get back to extension. Always allow your arm to stop itself naturally. Let your muscles work. Practicing Extension These two drills can be done with a partner or alone. Either way you will need some sort of a target to strike. Cut a strip of an old, thin towel so that it is approximately 3×12 inches. During drills hold the middle of the towel like a baseball so that the ends of the towel are on the sides of your index and middle finger. Your partner holding a glove or whatever target you are hitting should be far enough away so that only the ends of the towel strip will strike. If you use enough hand speed, you should hear a crack upon impact. Direction Towel Drill Balance Towel Drill Start in direction position Start in balance position Throw a pitch Throw a pitch Ends of towel hit target Ends of towel hit target Make sure you are reaching Make sure you are reaching Repeat many, many times Repeat many, many times Practice dry mechanics with a slightly larger towel strip to simulate a ball. Muscle Memory = Consistency By practicing these drills as often as possible, you will attain muscle memory. Dry mechanics will help you build muscle memory. Muscle memory will build consistency.

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8 3-6-1 (possibly 4 -6-1) ¥ Run straight to bag; forget the banana curl; get to bag ASAP ¥ Break down body to slow down ¥ Must stop on bag, become the first basemen ¥ NOTHING GETS BY YOU! Take it off the face if you have to, save the run ¥ Look in for other runners especially at home If there is a ball hit to where both 1 st and 2 nd go for it and the 2 nd basemen gets it, he may try for two. This will leave the 1 st basemen out of position and the pitcher needs to cover first. See example below: Covering Home Plate After a pass ed ball or wild pitch, pitchers need to cover the plate to try to stop the run from scoring. Anytime there is a runner on third, pitchers need to be prepared to cover. However, pitchers also need to keep themselves safe. Keys to covering home (WP/PB) ¥ Poin t to location of ball as you run to home plate ¥ Yell out direction for catcher to take (it is important to point and yell) ¥ Straddle home plate with back to first base (stay standing up) ¥ Do not stand over the plate; give the runner a place to slide ¥ Avoid get ting hit at all costs ¥ Apply the tag by slapping your glove straight down (do not sweep tag) ¥ Immediately bring glove back up and show umpire the ball (sell it!) ¥ Look for other runners advancing Look home after out is made

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9 *Note Ð it is important to point and yell to help the catcher find the ball ¥ Catcher does not see where the ball went; pitcher knows immediately ¥ Pitchers must yell because the catcher may not see you point ¥ Pitchers must point because the catcher may not hear you yell ¥ Yelling means YELLING!!! If the ball goes to the first base side Ð ONE, ONE, ONE! And point If the ball goes to the third base side Ð THREE, THREE, THREE! And point If the ball is straight back Ð STRAIGHT BACK, STRAIGHT BACK! And point If the ball is under the catcher Õs feet Ð DOWN, DOWN, DOWN! And point *Note Ð if the catcher does not see the ball at all and is lostÉ..THE PITCHER MUST GO GET THE BALL!!! Pick Offs (holding runners) The pitcher is more responsible for keeping runners from stealing than the catcher. Th e catcher reacts to the steal while the pitcher is more proactive. Picks to First Base (left – and right handed) ¥ Right handed move is built around speed and quickness ¥ Left handed move is built around deception As a right -handed pitcher we need to get rid of the ball as fast as possible. There are two keys to quick release. Many pitchers confuse quick release with throwing the ball as hard as possible. In order to have a quick release, pitchers should: #1 – short arm the ball (this is the one time it is ok to short arm a throw). #2 Ð use the jump turn instead of stepping back first before throwing Quick Release ¥ Separate hands as soon as you start your pick off ¥ Throwing hand should go form glove directly to your ear ¥ Do not take your arm through the entir e throwing motion ¥ Make sure your shoulders get squared to your target (first base) ¥ Think quick shoulders and your feet will follow Stay on your feet

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10 Jump -turn ¥ Take a small step with your right foot towards your left foot ¥ Drop step left foot so that it is pointing to first ¥ OR spin both feet at same time so that they are squared to first ¥ Make sure your hips get all of the way around When performing a pick to first, our body momentum should be moving to first. After throwing the ball, our body should drif t to first a few steps (walk off the throw). Think QIUCK not HARD. As a left -handed pitcher we will try to fool the runner into thinking that we are throwing home. In order to have a deceptive move to first, pitchers should: #1 Ð develop consistent mec hanics to the plate #2 – make our move to first look like we are going home as long as possible Important Keys to a Left -handed move to first ¥ Stare at the runner (lefties give the pick away when they look home right away during their leg kick). Try to look at the runner as long as possible. ¥ Look away at the last second then look back to first to complete the throw (Look at 1 st base dugout as a Òlook -awayÓ) ¥ Leg kick needs to look the same as when you are going home (never cross) ¥ Drift with your hips towards home a little to make it appear that you are going home It doesnÕt matter where your hands come set Hands separate straight up to ear Going home Going to First

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11 ¥ Try to keep shoulders straight to home as long as possible before committing to the pick ¥ Use the 45 rule to the best of your ability ¥ Walk off the mound towards first after throwing (do not let the umpire get a good look at where your right foot came down) Lefties do not forget the snap throw to first too. Wait until the runner is in the middle of taking another step off of first and then snap over. Some other things to co nsider for lefties/righties ¥ Freeze Ð hold the ball, ruin the timing of the base -stealer ¥ Make the runner stop moving Ð donÕt give up the walking lead ¥ Show off a few bad moves first Ð then get them with your best ¥ Mix up your timing to home Ð avoid getting in to a pattern ¥ Pick off to first to expose the bunt (third basemen is watching batter) ¥ Off speed counts are good for stealing ¥ Fastball counts are good for hit -and -runs ¥ DonÕt wait for the catcher to call a pick; do it on your own Pick Offs to Second Base The re are two main ways to pick to second. There is the inside move (a.k.a. the spaghetti move) and the spin move. The spin move is the same as a right -handed pick to first except that the body will keep spinning until it is lined up with second. It is built around speed. The inside move is similar to a left -handed move to first except that the body will rotate back to line up with second base. It is built around deception Keys to the spin move to second base ¥ Take a small step with your back foot towards you r front foot ¥ Drop step your front foot back so that it is pointing to second base ¥ OR spin both feet backwards at same time until they are squared to second ¥ You must step behind the rubber ¥ Make sure your hips get all of the way around ¥ Use the short arm thro w just like a pick to first for righties ¥ Keep your elbow up or you will tail your throw into center field Keys to the inside move (a.k.a. the spaghetti move) ¥ Lift front leg to balance point while looking at the runner ¥ Look home and spin on back foot to lin e up hips to second ¥ Make sure lead foot lands behind rubber *Note Ð try bending pivot -foot leg a little more to help with rotating your body. It is important to make it look like we are going home during our leg kick. Obviously you need to set up a timing play with your middle infielders.

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