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Thread: Drive Mechanics

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    Quote Originally Posted by starsnuffer View Post
    Many pitchers close the shoulders AFTER the release.
    Yep. It's a result of momentum and follow-through.

    Quote Originally Posted by starsnuffer View Post
    Some start closing the shoulders and release while their shoulders are in motion.
    Yep. Not preferred. In younger pitchers, this is quite common. They lack the core strength and/or try to muscle-through the pitch.

    Quote Originally Posted by starsnuffer View Post
    A lot of old guys focus more on what happens after and what they can see what their eyeballs vs. what actually happens.
    There has been lots of talk of old people lately... Still in my thirties... hope that doesn't put me in that category... lol

    Quote Originally Posted by starsnuffer View Post
    While I agree that 45 degrees is what the best use, if you tell a student this they'll overshoot their target and end up more closed then open. If you emphasize that they stay more open, they'll end up at 45 degrees.

    It's important to understand that explaining exactly what happens isn't always the best way to teach what happens.
    I don't think I said I teach 45 (and if I did somewhere, it was figurative)... but you're exactly right in regards to modifying teaching instructions... so that the result is an evolution into a modeled product.

    This said, and I'm sure this will raise the hair of someone I'd rather not hear from... Hips and shoulders at 45 is something I don't teach or ever really say to a student. Instead, I just make sure I put them into the correct positions so that something near a stabilized 45 is happening at release.

    Another great observation and post SS. I like your thoughts and it's cool that you point this stuff out... it shows you process stuff and think before you speak - and POSITIVELY contribute... just wish that was a universal thing...

    Good segue, too! The stride foot angle post is something I have to get moving on...

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    Stride Angle

    When working with student–athletes, you’ll find (if you haven’t already) that no two are built the same… at least I HOPE you do. Therefore, devising a cookie-cutter system that works for everyone is an effort in futility… You have to be willing to ‘think’ about each athlete and take their differences into consideration – and then apply this knowledge to the individual… so that the movement THEY perform is the most efficient for THAT INDIVIDUAL. Stride angles and stride foot orientations are great examples of this… and you’ll encounter some stride specific variances in your travels… I’ll give you a ‘blueprint’… but understand that each instance of that blueprint WILL be unique.

    What differences? That’s a subsequent post… but rest assured “Differences” will be covered… as they apply to individual structure as well as the ever-contested male vs. female subject… which (put your seat-belt on) does exist. More on that later…

    Many associate the words “Stride Angle” with the orientation of the stride foot at touch down – like “45-degree” or “90-degree” foot plant. Although this will be covered next, stride angle is actually a reference to the angle created between the ankle of the rear foot and front foot at ‘touchdown’. Here’s a handy ‘Birdseye’ illustration that sums up the differences quite well…



    One of the more common ‘tools’ in use is the powerline… either hand-crafted or purchased in the form of a pitching mat… and I’m not a huge fan of the predominant usage, as it is often utilized incorrectly. Here is an example, if you're unfamiliar...



    Kids are often told to start on the line (drive foot) and land on the line (stride foot). Doing so often creates a ‘positive’ (IMO, not good) stride angle (see next illustration) Green = preferred, Red = not preferred… sorry for the low quality..



    This results in a ‘crossing over’ action of the stride foot… which then leads to the drive foot being behind it… and in younger athletes, can result in the hips/shoulders opening too much. As discussed previously, this position often creates what starsnuffer marvelously labeled as a ‘backwards pitcher”.

    From this 'crossed over' position… any subsequent move forward with the rear leg, is actually rearward… and the hips continue to open… while the shoulders close. Furthermore, this adds significantly to compressive forces in the shoulder… Sprinkle in high-frequency usage (lots of pitches), maybe a muscle deficiency or two, and some compensatory postural issues and you’ve an injured pitcher.

    So… if you’ve a pitcher that steps onto or across to the pitching side of this line, I’d recommend that you ‘fix’ this. Get her to step with her stride foot forward… and the result will be like 90+% of the modeled pitchers out there… or slightly to the left of the line (RHP). See the green feet above... This is known as a negative angle… The benefits are ever-apparent:

    • Less weight on the heels (try it before you contest it)

    • Better stabilization of the core

    • Better on-plane arm circle

    • Better pitching lane (ball can see the target)

    • Less shoulder compression forces

    • Better hip adduction

    • A connected torso

    • This slightly wider ‘base’ promotes better balance… which also leads to better hip/scapular stability at the top of the circle and through the release zone


    Such a small thing… with such significant returns…

    So, if you use a powerline (which is perfectly fine) put the drive foot on the line, and encourage the stride foot land slightly to the left of the line (for RHP, opposite for LHP). If your drive foot isn't on the line... just make sure your stride foot lands slightly to the left of where your drive foot started. I am not suggesting that you step to the left… just step forward, not across. Don’t go crazy with attaining the perfect stride angle… just prevent it from ‘crossing over’. Later on, you can work with some minor stride manipulations, if desired… but when training someone – I find this is the best place to start… or a ‘blueprint’ – especially younger or beginning pitchers.

    I’m sure some (maybe just one) will read this as a no-brain post… and say… “Why so many words…” My response: Heard it before… go away.

    Next up… Stride Foot Orientation….

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Romrell View Post
    Like minor manipulations for different pitch locations???
    This is an often highly contested subject with some higher level pitchers. IMO, hip angle influences the release angle... so yes... but do realize that the smallest postural or hip angle is magnified over 40 or 43 feet... so a little goes a long way. It's also helpful in teaching body angle that is used in different types of pitches... Foot angles are less telling than stride angles, too... Again, a little = a lot... if you choose to place this way. I'll talk about foot angles next.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJsqueeze View Post
    This particular post is going to help sooo many people. The whole "keep both feet on the powerline" is almost as prevalent on the web as wrist flips. About 5 months ago, DD had a constant inside, hit the batter miss. All due to not landing with her foot at 45 and landing basically right on the power line. The 45 degree landing and me making the power line wider and having her land with her toes on the left hand side fixed it in a jiffy. This whole time I hoped it was OK because I see almost all great pitchers landing a little to the stride side, but in my heart of hearts I thought we might be cheating a little and compromising something else by not "staying on the powerline" In simple terms, I read this as the ball needs to stay on the powerline, not the feet.
    Quote Originally Posted by JJsqueeze View Post
    In simple terms, I read this as the ball needs to stay on the powerline, not the feet.
    JJ, Sorta. The ball (in circle) will go where the pitchers posture puts it. For beginners, I like this in-line with or slightly outside the throwing shoulder... not as severe as Renfroe, per se... but this is an easy example to drive a point home... It might be better to say that the ball has its own powerline... or pitching plane... and it should run as close to and parallel to the powerline as possible (ball side). Certain pitchers will end up to the left of the line... and in those cases, like you said, the ball owns the powerline... point being... this is one of those 'differences'...

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    Quote Originally Posted by fastpitch26 View Post
    I believe this is a very important point and one that I stress with our pitchers all the time. The smallest adjustments can sometimes make all the difference. And sometimes can go too far...
    Good point. Initially, I'd stress consistency... and then build on that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by starsnuffer View Post
    The photo's above have a very straight foot. If you use a 45 degree foot at touchdown, you can have a good result with the drive foot being to the right of the power line, and the stride foot landing toes on the power line. The length of the foot and the 45 degree angle is enough to create the offset you are looking for. In practice, I honestly like my pitchers as far towards third base on the rubber as possible, it increases the effect of an inside pitch, but since power lines are typically drawn down the middle of pitching mats and no one wants a right handed and left handed pitching mat, you have to make due.

    This thread needs to be a sticky or JS's posts put together as a sticky at least.

    -W
    Good catch, and very intentional. It's about 30-degrees. More on that later... maybe tonight. Drive foot orientation on the plate is a matter of preference - but you've a compelling point - as always. I actually get them using the majority of the plate... more on that later, too. Thanks, SS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bleacher Bum View Post
    Not to derail the thread, but if you're still looking for ways to archive this stuff into your own document on your computer:
    Open a WORD file. Highlight the info in the browser (including the GIF), copy it, and paste it into the open WORD file. "SAVE AS" and use file type "Web Page (*.htm, *.html). The pictures will look like static pictures, but if you open the WORD file with a browser (I.E.) the GIFs are all animated. I made my own "Best of Boardmember" file that I used for documenting the I/R in the classroom and other relevant messages. It helps to cut out some of the back-and-forth exchange and condense all the info into one spot (although having all those active GIF pictures all moving at the same time can be distracting).
    Note that:
    a) for some reason this doesn't work with Firefox;
    b) when you save the WORD file as a *.html file, it also creates a folder with the same name as the file. That folder contains all the GIFs. If you move the file, you also have to move the folder to the same directory.
    c) if anyone is interested in getting the I/R files, just let me know and (with Boardmember's approval) I'll send them to you, or put them into a DropBox location (if DFP doesn't have an FTP or similar site).
    Handy info from Bleacher Bum...

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    Quote Originally Posted by lhowser View Post
    What are your thoughts about this pitch from Sarah Pauly (from Model Pitch thread) based on the above?

    lhowser,

    Great question... I'll try my best...

    My thoughts on Sarah are singular... she's incredible...

    As it relates to stride angle?... The gif from the model thread was a little small... and didn't have a good reference angle to home. So, I used two different pitches from Sarah filmed from behind. This allowed me to capture the line to the plate, as well as her feet in relation to it...

    Here it is:



    So, I'll run down the list...

    1) Stride Angle... check.
    2) Less weight on the heels... check
    3) Stabilization of the core... check (Sarah is the poster child of core...)
    4) On-plane arm circle... check
    5) Pitching lane... check
    6) Compression forces controlled... check (this is mainly for younger)
    7) Hip Adduction... check... she does this as well as any
    8) Connected Torso... check... really nice sequencing
    9) Balance, Stability @ shoulder and hips... check. Has really controlled and consistent drive mechanics

    It's always a nice exercise to perform, so thanks for bringing it up!

    I could also post some pitchers that step across the body... but the focus of this thread is on teaching mainly younger pitchers - and the importance of putting their body in positions that yield positive results, injury prevention, and a foundation to build on.

    One interesting thing about these two pitches... though... The one on the left is change-up, and the one on the right is a rise... At TOB (top of backswing), Sarah has a noticeable tell with the flexion in her wrist. I don't know if this is a persistent trait... or if it's simply this day and these two pitches... but I found that kind of cool...

    Again, thanks for the inquiry! ~JS

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Pauly View Post
    JS
    Regarding the comment below about the wrist flexion at TOB......for Sarah the flexion is really not a trained item. If you asked Sarah she would probably say she doesn't even realize it happens. What causes it......probably happens because of the intent to keep the knuckles facing the catcher on the back swing and forward swing up to 12 o'clock. This way there is only 90 degrees of wrist/hand rotation required to get the ball facing third after it passes 12 o'clock.....trying to minimize extra movements plus the knuckles to the catcher seems to help keep the backswing parallel with the powerline.

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    Stride & Drive Orientation – Part 1

    There are many goals to discussing these subjects, but at the core, I hope they give you a different and compelling viewpoint regarding drive mechanics… and challenge your beliefs – making you a better bucket-parent, coach, and PC… and I look forward to your insights, as well.

    Here are some commonly ‘applied’ stride foot orientations... in 15-degree increments:



    Commonly referred to as “stride angle”, stride orientation is the angle the stride foot lands. The importance of stride foot orientation is ever-apparent… in that it helps determine the angle of the torso… which is obviously a large factor in successful pitching. The 'preferred' angle of the stride foot varies greatly in high-level pitchers - and anyone professing to know the magic angle, has obviously not taken the time to see that it varies between every athlete. The visual evidence should absolutely quash on-going arguments… but for whatever reason… they persist. What visual evidence?

    Pitchers like Ueno and Abbott have stride orientations MUCH less than 30-degrees… while others like Tincher and Nelson have middle-of-the-road stride orientations (between 30 and 45)… and lastly… there are pitchers like Osterman and Lawrie that use stride orientations greater than 45-degrees. To say any of these is right or wrong is just goofy… Stride orientation is pitcher specificeven pitch specific… and should NOT be a cookie-cutter number.



    Why 45?!

    If I had to put a number on it – I’d say 80+% of the people I’ve encountered (on the subject) think that this is one of those absolutes… and that the absolute is 45-degrees. I often ask: Why 45? Why not 30? Why not 60? Some will change the subject, some will side-step the question, but most will use the “dangers of too little or too much angle” spiel or… because it “keeps the pitcher from opening too much and too little”.

    Does it? Abbott and Osterman must be doing something wrong…

    You see, it is pitchers - like these two - that challenge what you think you know. As a PC/student, they challenge your beliefs and rattle your confidence. Years ago – before I tried my hand at being a PC – I made a list of everything I wanted to teach… and how I thought it should be taught. Through trial and lots of error, very few - if any - of those beliefs are ones that I hold today… and stride orientation is no exception. I started out as a staunch 45-degree advocate, moved to more open, back to 45, and then to less than 45 (closer to 30)… only to FINALLY realize that there is no magic angle. Rather than make a girl hit a mark - I let her 'do her own thing' and then make adjustments to manipulate it based on the results.. and finding a good opening position often involves more than just stride foot orientation.

    If you’ve been following this thread - or are a regular at DFP, you know that stabilizing and opening the torso is paramount to an efficient and safe arm circle. We need to reach an upper body position that effectively allows the humerus to elevate and rotate safely/freely – as the arm travels around the circle. That is it… the angle of your stride foot is contingent on what the rest of your body does... so that you can achieve this goal. There is no need to put a number on it – or a piece of tape on the ground at a preset angle… especially if it’s counter-productive to the ultimate goal. A 45-degree foot orientation is more often the wrong number than the correct one – as evidenced by the sheer number of top level pitchers that do not use it. If the visual evidence and practical application of stride foot orientation is not evidence enough for you… well… all hope isn’t lost… perhaps the next post will help…

    End Part 1
    Last edited by javasource; 06-08-2014 at 02:52 PM.

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    Stride & Drive Orientation – Part 2

    Hopefully, you’ve arrived at this post with an open mind... and all you care about is putting your DD or student in positions that allow her to maximize her potential; safely and efficiently. If so, let us take a moment to put YOU in a couple of positions…

    The following assumes you are right-handed. If not, ‘flip’ the following instructions…

    Exercise 1 – Stride Orientation

    1. Stand, feet side-by-side (comfortably spaced), with the right side of your body 6-12 inches from a wall… facing forward. This is also a handy thing to perform in front of a full-length mirror.
    2. While keeping your right foot pointed straight ahead, take a decent sized step forward with your left foot; at a 45-degree (inward) orientation/angle on plant.
    3. If it helps you keep your right foot pointing forward, feel free to raise the heel up so you’re on the ‘ball of your right foot’.
    4. Once you’ve landed… hold your position and look at your hips. You should see that, naturally, your hips responded to the angle of your stride foot. They won’t be at exactly the same angle as your foot… as we are all designed a little different. The wall will serve as a reference to this angle…
    5. To drive the point home, after checking out your hip orientation, square them up (forward) while in this position. In doing so, you’ll feel a stretch in your right hamstring and glutes… And you’ll also have a reference as to how much your hips opened… which was about 45-degrees.


    Exercise 2 – Drive Orientation

    1. Repeat Step 1 from above.
    2. While keeping your left foot pointed straight ahead, rotate your right (drive) foot outward 45 degrees. Take a decent sized step forward with your left foot; keeping the left foot pointed straight ahead on plant.
    3. If it helps you take a decent step forward, feel free to raise the heel up so you’re on the ‘ball of your right foot’… but be sure to keep the right at a 45-degree angle and left foot at no angle – or straight ahead.
    4. Once you’ve landed… hold your position and look at your hips. You should see that, naturally, your hips responded to the angle of your drive foot… Check angle with the wall to your right.
    5. Square up the hips… once again… feeling this ‘stretch’. Depending on your flexibility – squaring up will be a resisted feeling… as it’s not natural… hence the reason our hips open.



    Exercise 3 – Stride & Drive Orientation

    By now… some of you may have just had an epiphany… but do the exercise anyway.

    1. Repeat Step 1 from above.
    2. With feet side by side, rotate your right foot outward 45-degrees. Take a decent sized step forward with your left foot AND land at a 45-degree angle with the left foot, too. Both feet should be angled (to the right) 45-degrees.
    3. Again, feel free to raise up on the ball of the right foot, if it helps you take a larger step.
    4. Now… look at your hips… Holy smokes… that’s not a 45-degree hip angle!!!
    5. Reference the wall, you should be pretty close to ‘fully’ open… and definitely a lot further than you were in Exercise 2 or 3. Try them all again, and compare if you don’t believe me.


    Hopefully, that epiphany has set in… If not… you’re either one-legged, a mutant, or just generally disagreeable… (not that any of those things are bad attributes... I'm keeping it positive this New Year!)

    Drive foot turn-out ADDS to the stride angle… and if you really want to put it to the test… try Exercise 2 with the right foot rotated outward 90-degrees with no stride foot angle. Now… let us have a peak at Ueno and Monica… one more time… but through a ‘different pair of lenses’…



    This introduces a subject that has led to a couple heated debates on DFP… drive foot turn-out. Drive foot turn-out is completely natural and NOT a negative thing. Every decent sprinter in the world does it… many pitchers do it, and if your DD doesn’t do it… your limiting the amount she can engage the largest muscles in her leg… and they’d like to help her drive forcefully off the plate…so let them! If you still don’t believe it… well… you might be getting in your own way... and hers.

    All this said… I often limit drive foot turn-out. Turning the drive foot out much more than 45-degrees (I prefer only what is necessary) is counter-productive… similar to stretching a muscle too far… you’ll negate the directional force if you take it too far… and put the quads at a disadvantage.

    So… if I’ve said/say that your DD is opening too much… and that it appears her stride orientation is fine… you need to realize that the additive effect of her drive turn-out and stride orientation… are creating a hip/torso angle that allows her to open beyond 90-degrees.

    Couple this with the last main post… Stride Angle… and you’ll see how easy it is… and unbelievably prevalent… that younger/inexperienced pitchers open too much. You might have just checked the stride foot… now you know better… Check the stride angle (across the body adds to the angle, to the left for RHP subtracts)… check the stride foot orientation, and then check the drive foot orientation (as it PUSHES off the rubber). This last one is key... a delayed or slow push is one of the most common pitching faults I see in younger pitchers today.

    Lastly, should your goal be 90? IMO, no. I like 70ish… because I know the effect that the upper torso and arm momentum have on adding to the torso angle. Setting 90 with the feet… results in 90+ overhead…

    Pitching is never as simple as one thing… it’s a bunch… added up… and with every pitcher - they are never the same.

    End Part 2

    Next up... "Differences"... I think...
    Last edited by javasource; 06-08-2014 at 02:56 PM.

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