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Pitching Advice

Hi everyone, my dd has been pitching for three years now, all with a pitching coach. She throws in the mid-fifties but at times has trouble keeping the ball down. Is there any thing mechanically, other than release the ball sooner, that you see thats causeing her to be high in the zone? Here is a link to some video of her pitching in game and practice.

http

Thanks Mike
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,752
48
Dallas, Texas
The pitching motion should be simple and direct. You want a "quiet, smooth" pitching motion with her entire body directed to the plate.

(A) The glove is supposed to be pointed at the catcher when she is at 12:00. Here, she has flung it to the side. When a pitcher throws the glove to the side, it creates torque, throwing everything off since she has to fight to stop her body from spinning. When she lowers her glove, it hits the outside of her leg. The glove should hit the inside of her leg.



(B) She doesn't have an elbow bend at 12:00.



The pitcher should pull down with her elbow at 12:00, so she needs an elbow bend of about 25 to 30 degrees.

Also, her left foot is down. At 12:00, her left foot should be off the ground.

(C) Also, someone (you?) has been talking to her about where her arm should be at the finish. If you look at her when she practices, she forces her arm into a position at the end of her pitching motion. She doesn't do that in a game.

After release, she shouldn't be forcing her arm into any position.

(D) You need to do some "smoothing drills". She is doing a bunch of sequential parts of a pitching motion, but she never simply "throws". The idea is to have a fluid pitching motion, not one where the motion is "do A, now do B, now do C, now do D". Does she ever play pitch and catch underhanded? You standing up, and her just tossing the ball back and forth.

(D) Final point: She seems to me to be throwing around 50 mph, not 55 mph. Perhaps you should go to a baseball academy and use the speed gun they use for pro baseball prospects.

Ray
 
Aug 2, 2008
553
0
Ray says,
"Also, her left foot is down. At 12:00, her left foot should be off the ground."

She is a left hander, I think you have the feet mixed up. Her right foot should be off the ground. Otherwise I agree.

Mike
 
HI Ray,

Thank you for your advice, my dd and I read and talked about your suggestions yesterday and after letting them "soak in" overnight I will address them one at a time to see if I understand you correctly.

(A) The glove is supposed to be pointed at the catcher when she is at 12:00. Here, she has flung it to the side. When a pitcher throws the glove to the side, it creates torque, throwing everything off since she has to fight to stop her body from spinning. When she lowers her glove, it hits the outside of her leg. The glove should hit the inside of her leg.

........This makes perfect sense, my dd has been trained from the beginning to bring up the glove hand with the throwing hand in the pitching delivery. However where it went after that was never addressed. If I understand you correctly this "spinning" probably could be a reason why she often ends up landing 6-8 inches off the power line with her stride foot.

(B) She doesn't have an elbow bend at 12:00.

The pitcher should pull down with her elbow at 12:00, so she needs an elbow bend of about 25 to 30 degrees.

Also, her left foot is down. At 12:00, her left foot should be off the ground.

.......This one I can't get my head around.
She has been trained to reach as high (extend her arm out) as far as she can to enable a straight arm circle. I understand the reasoning behind the elbow bend to create more force into the ball. She however was taught that the extra force comes from the wrist snap not the elbow to avoid injury. If that is incorrect I would'nt even know a drill to have her do to create the bend. The stride foot landing I think can be fixed with some pitching with the leg elavated through the whole delivery.

(C) Also, someone (you?) has been talking to her about where her arm should be at the finish. If you look at her when she practices, she forces her arm into a position at the end of her pitching motion. She doesn't do that in a game.

After release, she shouldn't be forcing her arm into any position.


......I am assuming here that your refering to the hand coming up to touch the shoulder after delivery. Again she was taught to do that to ensure a straight pitch. I read about that here after the practice video was made and we worked on being "long" with the fingers and not forcing her arm back up. The game video is the fruit of that practice.

(D) You need to do some "smoothing drills". She is doing a bunch of sequential parts of a pitching motion, but she never simply "throws". The idea is to have a fluid pitching motion, not one where the motion is "do A, now do B, now do C, now do D". Does she ever play pitch and catch underhanded? You standing up, and her just tossing the ball back and forth.

.....No we havent and yes we will give that a try.

(D) Final point: She seems to me to be throwing around 50 mph, not 55 mph. Perhaps you should go to a baseball academy and use the speed gun they use for pro baseball prospects.


.....This is inconsequential, she has been gunned at 55mph. However, much to my chagrin when she is struggling or trying to throw perfectly she does slow down to try and throw a strike.

Again thanks for your help and anymore you can give me Mike.
 
Jul 14, 2008
1,722
38
You Asked.........

She throws in the mid-fifties but at times has trouble keeping the ball down. Is there any thing mechanically, other than release the ball sooner, that you see thats causing her to be high in the zone?
Yep.......Right now, her release reference point is the front leg.........

Move it back to the front of the rear leg...............

Understanding cause and effect is critical to being a good pitching coach.....

Lets think about 2 important negative causes/effects regarding your DD's front leg release reference, and "throwing up".....

Causing the release reference at the front leg has the following 2 negative effects:

1.) It requires keeping the hips fully open at release in order to keep the target line of the circle toward the plate..........In Other Words, if the hips begin to close properly and she releases at the front leg, the ball would be thrown into her front leg, or at the first base dug out.

2.) It requires a forward bend at the torso to get the hand forward to the front leg release reference point because it has strided away from the release mechanism (the hand)............

3.) IF the release reference point was properly moved back to rear WHILE in this poor position of hips fully open/torse bent, the ball would be thrown into the ground toward the 3rd base dugout.

Focus on point number 2 and how it affects high/low trajectory.

Since the front leg is moving forward during the stride, maintaining that point as a release reference causes the hand to travel to far forward in the circle before release. This causes an inconsistant release reference as that front leg moves away from the release hand.

So in essence, she is using a "forward moving target" as a release reference.

Moving the release reference to the inside of the rear leg gives her a reference point that isn't moving away from the release mechanism.

Now the positive effects of rear leg reference........

1.) IF you bend at the waist and release at the BACK LEG, you will throw the ball into the ground. So you will NATURALLY stand taller to keep from doing this.

2.) If you DO NOT begin to square the hips toward the target and release at the back leg, you will throw the ball toward the 3rd base dug out.........

In essence, moving (causing) the release reference to be the rear leg has the following effects.....

You WILL STAND TALLER, and you WILL BEGIN TO CLOSE THE HIPS into release in order to stay on the target line, eliminating these postions:



As far as the "pointing the glove", as long as it's pointing forward at 9:00, the rest is "a gyroscoping" counter balance action to keep things in balance.

By 12:00, moving the glove hand out away is a "balancing the system" action that varies infinately between pitchers.

Finch moves her glove out and slaps the outside/front of her thigh, as do MANY top line pitchers........

As seen here......

If the release reference is moved back, i suspect the slap will move forward toward the front of the thigh as the hips become more active on the down swing NATURALLY......

The Fix?

Simple 1/2 and 3/4 drills that focus on reinforcing the release point at the rear leg. As she focuses on release at the rear thigh, her hips will (must) begin to close more naturally, and she will stand taller in the process.........

Watch the stripe on Seldons pant leg at the hip as she uses the rear leg as the release reference point, causing her hips to close to about 45 degrees to the target line on the way down, and finish after release.......



You may also notice her glove hand moving OUT before 12:00, and down to the outside of her front thigh..........
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,752
48
Dallas, Texas
The idea is that the arm is fully extended on the way up, but bends at the elbow before the arm starts its downward path.

Here are "the elites" at 12:00:



Jenny Finch



Cat Osterman



The arm acts like a whip. In a whip, the energy flows in a wave down the length of the whip and is released at its tip. Similarly, with a pitch, the energy moves down the arm in a wave and it released at the finger tips.

If that sounds a little crazy, think of the arm as a three-piece linked lever (upper arm, fore arm, wrist) with each one "firing" sequentially.

Learning this is pretty simple. Show her the pictures of Osterman, Finch and Abbott. Have her stand open, raise the ball over her head, and then tell her to bend her elbow at an angle like she saw, and then pull down with her elbow, and throw. Do some pitches like that.

Next, go to the "slingshot drill". Have her stand open, glove pointed at the catcher. Have her take her arm back so the ball is directly over her left shoulder. (Her upper arm will be against the right side of her head, the ball will be over her left shoulder). She then lifts her left foot and pulls down with her elbow and lowers her left foot at the same time.

You want to build up the speed on the slingshot drill until it is all one smooth flowing motion.

As to smoothing, what you are trying to do is "get her mind out of the way" and have her body do it without her mind trying to consciously control her body movement. Another good drill is "rapid fire". She throws the ball, you catch and *immediately* throw the ball back to her. As soon as she catches the ball, she starts her motion. No thought, no back swing, no adjusting her feet, no finding the rubber--nothing. She just catches and throws *IMMEDIATELY*. E.g., if she catches the ball with two hands at her waist, she immediately starts her circle.

So, you want to do this drill as fast as possible. When my DD and I started with this, she could do it perhaps 3 times before the ball went over my head. In the end, she got up to 70 or 80.

The only way for your DD to successfully do this drill is for for her to get into what is popularly referred to as "the zone".

As to speed, be aware that there is a "one time max" speed and a "cruising speed". My DD could hit 67 once in a while, but cruised at 62. Abbott and Finch cruise at 67.

Ray
 
Her landing posture is backwards. Definitely check out the posts of the elite pitchers. Your pitcher is landing in a verticle to forward leaning posture and then in an effort to get speed on the ball she is "yanking" her arm and body back which in turn often creates a high pitch. She needs to land with a backward lean (spine tilt) and then let her spine move to a verticle position when she reaches release. That is what the elite pitchers do.
Correcting this issue will not be easy. But if you don't do it now there is very little chance to do it after she throws another several thousand pitches.
 
The idea is that the arm is fully extended on the way up, but bends at the elbow before the arm starts its downward path.

Here are "the elites" at 12:00:



Jenny Finch



Cat Osterman



The arm acts like a whip. In a whip, the energy flows in a wave down the length of the whip and is released at its tip. Similarly, with a pitch, the energy moves down the arm in a wave and it released at the finger tips.

If that sounds a little crazy, think of the arm as a three-piece linked lever (upper arm, fore arm, wrist) with each one "firing" sequentially.

Learning this is pretty simple. Show her the pictures of Osterman, Finch and Abbott. Have her stand open, raise the ball over her head, and then tell her to bend her elbow at an angle like she saw, and then pull down with her elbow, and throw. Do some pitches like that.

Next, go to the "slingshot drill". Have her stand open, glove pointed at the catcher. Have her take her arm back so the ball is directly over her left shoulder. (Her upper arm will be against the right side of her head, the ball will be over her left shoulder). She then lifts her left foot and pulls down with her elbow and lowers her left foot at the same time.

You want to build up the speed on the slingshot drill until it is all one smooth flowing motion.

As to smoothing, what you are trying to do is "get her mind out of the way" and have her body do it without her mind trying to consciously control her body movement. Another good drill is "rapid fire". She throws the ball, you catch and *immediately* throw the ball back to her. As soon as she catches the ball, she starts her motion. No thought, no back swing, no adjusting her feet, no finding the rubber--nothing. She just catches and throws *IMMEDIATELY*. E.g., if she catches the ball with two hands at her waist, she immediately starts her circle.

So, you want to do this drill as fast as possible. When my DD and I started with this, she could do it perhaps 3 times before the ball went over my head. In the end, she got up to 70 or 80.

The only way for your DD to successfully do this drill is for for her to get into what is popularly referred to as "the zone".

As to speed, be aware that there is a "one time max" speed and a "cruising speed". My DD could hit 67 once in a while, but cruised at 62. Abbott and Finch cruise at 67.

Ray
A little hair splitting here but an important point. If you back up these elites to a true 12 O'clock position you will note that their glove arm is angled up near a 2 O'clock position---- not at the catcher. Also, they typically will have a slight bend in the glove arm elbow. This helps them create whip with glove arm also to aid in the pulling together of the ball hand and glove hand.
Often I see young pitchers who have been taught to drive the glove out toward the catcher----resulting in a stiff arm and poor "pull-together" timing of the ball hand and glove hand.
 

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