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Drive Mechanics

javasource

6-4-3 = 2
May 6, 2013
1,342
48
Western NY
Run Better, Pitch Better

The Power Line (The Goal)

Teaching student athletes to run is often one of the most overlooked fundamentals in softball. Every year, I find myself dedicating a good portion of the pre-season working on this fundamental with teams; and every pitcher I work with spends a good deal of time developing this skill, too.

In pitching, the power-line is often a reference to an imaginary line extending from the pitchers drive toe, to their target. In running, The Power Line is referred to as a postural line that runs from head to foot (the ankle). It is best summarized as an imaginary straight - but angled - line starting at your ankle and running up your knee, hip, shoulders, and head. This illustration sums it up really well…



As you can see, the body angle forms The Power Line. Notice that ALL the joints (ankle, knee, hip, shoulder) of the body are nearly in-line. The other areas noted in the illustration are the following:

A) High Knee Drive – The best way to enable your hips to move through a full range of motion is to have substantial knee drive; getting your thighs perpendicular to the torso should be a focus.

B) Shin Angle – The forward lower leg should be at, or near the same angle as The Power Line, NOT perpendicular to the ground. The more upright the angle of the shin, the more the ground will absorb your energy… this will slow you down. Many people that teach running limit it to bringing the knee high; it’s also important to encourage a high range of motion of the leg below the knee.

C) Ankle Dorsi-Flexion – By keeping your toes pointing towards your shins as your knee comes up, the Achilles tendon and calf muscles become engaged; helping you transfer energy form your hips and thighs to your feet and into the ground.

Teaching proper running mechanics to your DD, will undoubtedly make her a better softball player. How will it help her with pitching? Take a look at these high-level pitchers… and the positions they reach at the beginning of each pitch they throw…



Good drive mechanics will result in a pitcher reaching this diagonal, straight-line position. Some call it a lean, or simply a rock forward – but this is not enough. Forming this Power Line position is the result of an immediate transfer of energy from stride leg to drive leg, just like we do when running (properly). Simply teaching a backward/forward rocking motion or lean often results in these first two positions (which are not correct); the last one is correct:



I’m horribly satisfied with my stick figures… as they would make a great bumper sticker… ;)

If this becomes a thread that generates a lot of interest, I’ll continue with some drills and further insights on how to help your DD explode off the plate AND down the baselines. If not, I hope this helps you and your DD become a better pitcher and runner! ~JS
 
Jul 17, 2012
1,071
0
DD's pitching coach taught this by positioning her on the rubber and telling her to lean forward...not at the hips, but rather her whole body, bending only the pivot foot knee.... and when she felt like she going to fall on her face... push with the pivot foot to catch her balance. How do you teach it?
 

javasource

6-4-3 = 2
May 6, 2013
1,342
48
Western NY
Rope - On the rubber... I put emphasis on weight distribution. I actually encourage a slight bend at the waist... more of a get the 'lean forward' started with the head cue - this... in turn, gets the whole body moving.

Completely agree on the necessity to bend the drive knee - as it helps lessen the pitchers desire to transfer weight too early - which often results in a lazy/slow stride foot. I want the pitchers feet to quickly transfer weight. I also don't want them to get to the point of no return... or the fall on the face feeling... as this is a difficult feeling to recover from, typically resulting in the weight remaining too far forward, a compromised resistance to the plant, and makes it a little more difficult to put emphasis on getting the stride knee out.

I also don't teach the stride foot 'rocking chair' that is often utilized by many younger pitchers. I like to see the stride foot heel remain on the ground, creating a stretch of the Achilles and calf muscles, until the moment of immediate weight transfer... which happens to be timed with a back-swing (when used).

This is simply a summarized response to your questions, I'll expand on this with some drills - and more of the routine that I use... hopefully tomorrow... seems to be a 'bug' running around our house...

Thanks for sharing, Rope.
 
Jul 26, 2010
3,567
0
Great post. I've found that once a pitcher has matured a bit and has sound mechanics (about sophomore year in HS) they benefit much more from running/sprinting/agility training then they do from their actual pitching/softball practices. There are a lot of great athlete only training facilities around that help out with this.

-W
 
Jun 18, 2010
2,624
0
JS, thank you for this post.


DDs pitching coach calls this the Attack Posture, and says this is a critical position for DD to get in.

JS, in your opinion, is there a particular pre-motion that helps a pitcher get into this Running Start, Attack Posture, better than others? The reason I ask, is remembering back to an exchange between your and BM regarding overlap, and was also wondering how much overlap does or does not play into getting into a good Attack Posture.
 

javasource

6-4-3 = 2
May 6, 2013
1,342
48
Western NY
JS, in your opinion, is there a particular pre-motion that helps a pitcher get into this Running Start, Attack Posture, better than others? The reason I ask, is remembering back to an exchange between your and BM regarding overlap, and was also wondering how much overlap does or does not play into getting into a good Attack Posture.
Knightsb, Great questions. I would say there is an 'optimal' pre-motion.

I've no interest in fueling the debate as to whether or not a backswing is good/bad, I'll just refer those people to the hansen principle with four of the best pictured above. They all use it, and I know that it is a useful teaching tool, regarding timing. You can always learn this way, and change it later, too.

To me, an optimal pre-motion consists of a few keys: For RHP, weight transfer in a right, left, right fashion - assisted by a slide or 'sweep' of the plate, a decent lean, and a backswing - that starts BM's overlap sequence... or AKA, timing. This backswing acts as a good balance mechanism, as well as a cue to reach this first point in overlap...

Which brings me to your second question... The amount of overlap is contingent on the athlete and stride style. Two great examples of this on here are the DD's of Boomers2012 and txNick - both of which you, or others, can look up to reference. KK (txnick) has an amazing stride - marked by her stride leg staying elevated for an extended time. Lizzy (Boomers2012) has a very aggressive style, that leads to her getting her stride foot down much sooner. Neither are right or wrong, just unique to the DD. This is not to say they can't work on it... ;) Because of the elevated stride KK uses, she will need to activate her stride leg much sooner than Lizzy. If put side by side in video - you'd see Lizzy reach her first point in 'overlap' before KK, but they both reach it now, and marvelously. ;)

I was really hoping to have a few more posts up by now... but I'm playing Doctor in an infirmary known as my home...

Thanks for asking great questions. knightsb. Hopefully, I've answered them... and I definitely will expand on your two key points in subsequent posts.
 

javasource

6-4-3 = 2
May 6, 2013
1,342
48
Western NY
Ok…. Back from my mini-vacation to Hades... :mad:

I really like this statement/observation from starsnuffer:

I've found that once a pitcher has matured a bit and has sound mechanics (about sophomore year in HS) they benefit much more from running/sprinting/agility training then they do from their actual pitching/softball practices.

This brings me to an effective routine that builds on the Power Line concept from the original post. I recently stumbled on an article during halftime of my DD’s basketball game – and was pretty stoked to see it mirror a routine I’ve been using for years. Be warned, it may not appear that exciting – but ingraining proper running mechanics will yield some of the most significant returns for your DD when she steps on that field.

Although I like Hal’s recommendation, he’s not close enough to allow me to push him around… ;)

That said… I’ll use Wall Sprints instead...

Wall Sprints

NEVER sacrifice proper form for speed. It’s never the quantity of workout that matters, it’s the quality. Speed is the result of these routines – and must not be the goal in performing them.

Starting Position for all exercises, is on one leg, like this:



Put your hands on a wall in front of your shoulders. Keep your arms straight. Step back until your body is roughly at a 45-degree angle. Lift one leg off the ground as shown above. Posture is paramount; maintain The Power Line. Maintain the shin angle and focus on reaching a high knee drive WITH a dorsi-flexed ankle (See OP for more detailed explanation).

Single Leg March: Slowly raise and lower the same leg. Lower it so that it is side by side with your rear foot – and raise it so that you achieve the position in the picture above. Perform 10 repetitions with each leg.

Slow March – Slowly march, alternating legs. Perform 20 repetitions.

Two-Count March – Perform one march by switching quickly from one leg to the other. Hold the landing for 2 seconds - then switch legs. Continue in alternating fashion. Repetitions = 8-10.

2-Step, Two Count March – Same as the Two Count March, but perform two marches.

3-Step, Two Count March – Same as above, but with three marches… ;)

Rapid Fire March – Assume the starting position and perform as many marches as possible in 10 seconds. DO NOT SACRIFICE FORM FOR SPEED!

I’ll try to continuously evolve this thread each day, introducing new concepts and building on existing ones. My goal is not to just teach beginners – but also help experienced players, parents, and other coaches (if they so desire). Be warned, there will be all types of info on here… boring technical stuff, routines, video, and who knows what else.

Teaching over the internet is not an easy thing… If I generalize or list single examples – it’s not that I’m discounting other methods or strategies, but just trying to choose those that are easiest to communicate via the internet (for me). There are far too many articulations to list… and these are better taught in person… so… yeah… be careful – and seek out good PC’s and trainers if they are available. ~JS
 

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