By Steven Ellis former Chicago Cub pitching pro
There are certainly a lot of mechanical flaws in baseball pitching that can lead to decreased performance and loss of power.
But having a mechanical flaw is only part of the problem. Being able to recognize the flaw is always the bigger challenge.
That's where a good pitching coach or instructor and some video analysis of your delivery can help.
After your knee is lifted to your chest, you will start to stride forward. The proper technique to do it (for a right-handed pitcher) is with the side of your front foot facing the target and his toe pointing at 3rd base. This enables will enable you to keep your hhips closed throughout the "expansion" of the lower body off the mound and to the target. A lefthander should stride with his tow pointing at 1st base.
It's also important to stride out with the front foot low to the ground. This keeps a pitcher's shoulders relatively level.
Notice in the following pictures how each pitcher is striding toward the plate leading the way with the side of his front foot -- NOT his toe, which opens the hips too early.
In general, your stride length should be at least 80 to 90 percent of your height. (It'll be shorter off of flat ground.) Some pitchers may find it beneficial to stride longer, up to 100% of their height.
One thing I continually see in the pitchers I observe and work with is poor hip action during the "stride phase" of the pitching delivery.
Most pitchers either open their hips too early, or they don’t open their hips at all. Both, of course, are mechanical faults that can cause a decrease in power.
The primary reason for the improper hip action usually happens after the pitcher's reached his balance point. (That's the position where the lift knee reaches its highest point in its leg-up movement, by the way.)
Instead of leading the forward movement toward the plate with their stride foot, many pitchers lead with their front knee or front shoulder.
Leading with the front shoulder more times than not leaves the lower half behind and puts the top half out of sync with the lower half. Leading with the stride knee immediately opens the hips, which squares off the shoulders too early. As a result of the latter, all rotational forces and power are lost.
So what’s a quick fix? For one, stride out toward home plate leading with the stride foot, keep your weight on the back leg, and land toes to the target or slightly closed as opposed to open. ("Open" happens when the inside ankle of their stride foot faces the target instead of the toes.)
Major League pitcher Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays, shown above, has excellent mechanics. Notice his stride foot is leading the forward movement. His hips and stride foot are closed.
The hips will always go where the stride foot goes. So, in this case, if the stride foot lands open, the hips will land open. If the stride foot lands closed, the hips will stay closed -- which is what you want.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Then, once that stride foot lands, it’s the action of the "backside knee drive," thrusting forward and inward, that explosively rotates the hips, which rotates the shoulders and creates power.
And power equates to pitching velocity.
Pitching Drill To Increase Pitcher's Stride Length
One drill I did in practice to work on my stride was to head down to the bullpen and mark off in the dirt a spot that I wanted my front foot to attain when I strided. I usually marked this spot slightly farther than my regular stride, to encourage me to really get out there. Then I'd perform 20 or 30 repetitions of my mechanics (without throwing) to work on striding out and hitting that mark with my front foot.
Try it to see what works best for you.
Examples Of How Big League Pitchers Stride
Here are seven great examples of how some of the game's top pitchers stride. Do you stride like them?
(He's a lefty, so he strides with the side of his front foot
facing the target and his toe pointed toward 1B.)
(He's a righty, so he strides with the side of his front foot
facing the target and his toe pointed toward 3B.)
Related Pitching Materials
Want to learn more about baseball pitching mechanics and techniques? Arm yourself with the most innovative and up-to-date baseball pitching training available. These related pitching materials from former Chicago Cubs pitching pro Steven Ellis are guaranteed to help you or the players you coach pitch better and reach the next level faster!