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Mule Kick

Feb 19, 2009
196
0
Hi,

I coach a 10u rec team with a couple of first time pitchers. Knowing how tough it is on rookie pitchers I began working with them last fall and through the winter in our garage.

I've got one girl who is really progressing nicely but she does the old mule kick with her pivot foot out towards first base after releasing the ball. I know this is fairly common as I've seen a lot of young pitchers do this and I was just wondering if there were any effective drills out there we haven't tried yet. She does most other aspects very well, she doesn't bend over at the waist, makes a good circle and has a nice follow through. Unfortunately, she frequently throws strikes when mule kicking so other than me telling her to work on it she's often getting decent results doing it.

So far, we mostly do dry pitches and work through the finish (legs in the "4" position then bringing the right leg around into defensive fielding position) but then she'll pick up a ball to pitch again and start doing the mule kick again.

Thanks,

Dusty
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,921
83
Dallas, Texas
Try the "Carolina Walk through". The pitcher starts behind the rubber and walks forward, pitching the ball as she crosses the pitching rubber. After she throws, she is to keep her right foot off the ground until the catcher throws the ball to her.

This is a good drill to get rid of herky-jerky motions on the part of the pitcher.
 
Feb 19, 2009
196
0
Thanks sluggers we'll give that a try. We do the "two-step drill" all the time where you take a couple of steps and then go into a windmill and pitch, so this is basically the same thing except you keep your right leg off the ground until the catcher throws the ball back?
 
Aug 21, 2008
863
28
Dusty

If I understand this correctly, it seems you are reinforcing this "mule kick" habit by encouraging the figure 4 finish. In this finish, the foot still goes in the same direction as when she mule kicks, right? Just not as hard? I know this finish is popular by Michele Smith but, I've never understood why anyone would want ANY part of their body going in a direction other than where the catcher is. If the back foot kicks behind the body to do a figure 4 (or mule kick) then the energy of the body has been diverted away from homeplate and into another direction. Plus it means an additional movement is going to be necessary to get into any kind of fielding position and will make it slower for a RH pitcher for field bunts to her left side as she has to throw the ball, let her leg go sideways, catch her balance, bring the leg back around again, then change body weight to where the ball is and field it. That's difficult. But then again, maybe I'm not understanding something here.

Personally I try to keep everything going in a direct line to my catcher, and that includes my drag foot. Shoe laces point to the target as the foot drags. This allows me to naturally FALL into my fielding position vs. FORCING myself into it.

Bill
 
Feb 19, 2009
196
0
Thanks Bill,

By "figure 4 finish" you mean the legs look like a the number 4 to the catcher after the ball is released, right? Sorry for the newb clarification but I'm fairly new to fastpitch pitching geekdom.

Then I guess I have been teaching her the figure 4 finish and I thought I picked that up from your video but now that I think about it I believe it may have been my dd's pitching coach who first taught that finish to my kids (I don't have the Smith video). Incidentally, the pitching coach was the one who recommended your video to me, jeez the details of this stuff can get confusing :confused:*

So I guess I need to take a closer look at your video, I recall your segment about falling into fielding position and try to teach that to this girl but I guess I didn't pay close enough attention to what comes beforehand.

Any other suggestions on how to untrain this habit would be appreciated, I'm surrounded by smug rec ball pitching coaches who are feeling pretty self assured about the closed-hip, elbow-up gospel they preach. I'm kidding really, but they might feel that way if any of their kids were doing half as well at this as mine are.
 
Feb 19, 2009
196
0
Quick update:

I got about 1/2 hour of work in with our pitchers yesterday before we got rained out and tried the "carolina walk through" and I thought it worked very well. Her finish (when she could do it correctly) seemed to turn into what I'd loosely describe as a "lazy 4 finish" where the legs look like the number 4 with the 1B side of the crossbar falling down and the 3B side knee not extended out so far. I hope that description made sense and appreciate the tip Sluggers.

Dusty
 
Aug 21, 2008
863
28
Dusty

Yea, I think you're confused about getting that from my video. I'm not a fan of the figure 4 but again, I've seen it work for some people. I just think there are more benefits to doing it another way.

Here's what I do to help people fix this problem.. they need a full length mirror, ball of socks, and masking tape. Put an 8 ft line on the ground with the tape, in front of the mirror. Have her throw the socks into the mirror and drag her back foot on the tape. She should keep her shoe laces pointed to the catcher. Make sure her forearm touches her stomach as it passed through to insure she goes THROUGH her hips. If she drags the foot with the laces to the catcher, she will be insuring that she closes AFTER the ball. Doing this 2,000 times in a mirror will be a good way to correct the muscle memory. In her reflection she should use the tape as a target and stay on line.

The other thing to do is put her back against a wall and have her pitch. The second she kicks her foot out like the mule, she will whack the wall. It should only take once.

Bill
 
Feb 19, 2009
196
0
Thanks Bill, we'll work on that not only with the girl I'm coaching but my own dd's as well.
 

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