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Drive Mechanics

Mar 22, 2019
What is power from loading... Versus... inefficient movement? What is movement if it is timed poorly? What happens when we lack recruitment (as Jason suggests) in an optimal way?

These are all questions that each have different answers for... depending on the athlete you work with. Each student is entirely unique... so when I publicly recommend a drill (which I really do not like doing, btw)... I like to strip it down as much as possible - involving only the necessary movements/concepts that I would like to illustrate.

In this drill, it's all about developing overlap, positioning the body for successful recruitment, and learning to enhance the stretch-shortening cycle... FOR as many people as humanly possible.

Can we bend at the waist? Sure... but some can never recover. Is too much bend at the knee a contradiction to the stretch-shortening cycle? Absolutely, that's been proven a thousand times over. Is overlap enhanced when our time is spent recovering from contrasting movement (bend down Vs go forward)? I think you get where I'm going...

Last thought... and I truly appreciate your insight and questions...

Efficiency is most often defined as getting more... by doing less. I hope that resonates through those that attempt this kind of drill.


Thank you Java! I posted this video on another thread but what love to have your opinion. This is my DD she started pitching April 2018 so go easy on her. LOL

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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…

View attachment 11436

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…

View attachment 11456

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:

View attachment 11457

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
Can you mention the
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.
Can you discuss the negative aspect of turning the foot on the pitching rubber to push off instead of a vertical foot position?
JJ, I actually prefer that the opening be fully open by 12... meaning that what the feet/hips/shoulders open to is set at 12. The arm circle traveling around the top will influence this some more... but that violence you speak of in opening (and when) is something I'm quite certain many disagree on. My thoughts... Don't open too much while approaching 3. from 3-12, get it open. Early openers usually side-step (turn their foot inward too early). Late openers usually are long steppers. I like getting the foot down fast. All of this is going to be covered in much more detail... I need to get to work on it! I've been slacking... farkin' snow in NY is ridiculous... ;)
Look how quick Rachael Garcia gets on top of her stride foot. Leg speed = Arm speed