Little League Baseball Pitching Mechanics
By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
By learning the proper throwing mechanics, players can achieve their best velocity and accuracy while reducing the risk of injury to their arm and body.
Learning the proper throwing mechanics when young, allows a player's muscles and mind to develop the correct memory. Proper throwing can therefore become a good habit that will stay with players throughout their playing lives.
Getting ready to throw
- Proper throwing starts with conditioning activities well before the ball season begins.
- Stretching and warming-up the entire body, as well as the shoulders and arms, is necessary before actually starting to throw. "Warm-up to throw; don't throw to warm-up", as stated by the American Sports Medicine Institute.
- Start throwing slowly, over a short distance. Gradually lengthen the distance and increase velocity. This warm-up period will vary with the individual, but will be typically 10-20 minutes.
Proper pitching mechanics
- Plant the back foot, on the side of your throwing arm, and step with the front foot toward the receiver.
- As you step, turn the shoulder of your gloved hand also toward the receiver.
- Reach down and back for power, keeping your hand on top of the ball palm down.
- Extend the arm of the gloved hand forward, for balance, generally with the elbow somewhat bent.
- Keep your eyes on the target as you "come almost over the top" with the ball. Sidearm throws are sometimes necessary in game situations, but maximum velocity and accuracy can be achieved with an overhand throwing motion. Let this be your natural motion.
- Release the ball out in front of your body after your arm passes your head.
- Follow through with your arm and body -- do not let your throwing side stay back.
- Your arm follow-through will be a smooth arc down and across to the opposite side of your body to allow your arm to slow down after releasing the ball.
- The entire throwing motion should be smooth, not herky-jerky.
- Start off slowly until the entire process becomes natural and comfortable.
How to practice pitching mechanics
- Work on receiving the ball coming to you on either side, high or low.
- Get into your throwing position as you are receiving the ball.
- To be best prepared to make a quick throw, catch the ball with both hands so that the ball can be transferred easily to your throwing hand.
- Get your body moving as you receive the ball so that your step toward the receiver is a natural part of making the catch. A short hop or "crow-step" will give your body momentum to make the throw.
- Try to get set before throwing. Avoid throwing off balance unless it is the only way to make the play quickly.
- Practice getting rid of the ball quickly -- infielders to get a fast runner, and outfielders to nail the runner tagging-up or stretching a hit. Imagine various game situations as you toss and practice.
Related Pitching Materials
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