How To Develop Proper Pitching Mechanics For The Stretch Or Set Position

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ATTENTION PITCHERS: One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not. To get to the next level, preparation matters. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.

If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my proven programs for pitchers of all ages.

Aroldis Chapman pitching gif
Aroldis Chapman

Pitching is a very individualized, highly skilled activity. Certainly, not all successful pitchers throw exactly alike. A pitcher’s motion will depend on size, strength, balance, flexibility, leverage, and coordination. Therefore, when teaching pitching mechanics, a coach should teach within a pitcher’s own style, physical abilities, potential, and limitations. If a pitcher is successful, let him use his natural delivery

As stated earlier, no one pitcher will follow each one of these techniques within his motion. Based on extensive study and analysis of the pitching motion, these are some common and good techniques used by long term, successful and hard throwing pitchers. Hopefully this outline can be useful as a point of reference, a checklist, or a guide for young pitchers attempting to develop or improve a basic pitching motion.

II. Basic Pitching Mechanics From the Set Position

Of course the top priority for a pitcher is to get the batter out. But, with aggressive running style of today’s game, the pitcher must also be adept at holding runners. The left hand pitcher has a major advantage when pitching from the set position with a runner at first base. Not only is the left hander facing the runner, but he does not have to change or adjust his leg lift, hand break, or arm action. The RHP needs to lower and quicken the leg lift, quicken the arm action, vary his motion, and unload the pitch as quickly as possible. With a runner at second base, the LHP should quicken up and adjust his delivery.

A. Position on the rubber
1. The pivot foot is in front of and parallel to the rubber with only the outside edge of the instep actually touching the rubber.

2. The RHP works from the right half of the rubber, the LHP from the left half. This angle threatens a RHH vs RHP and LHH vs LHP, and enhances the angle of the breaking pitch.

B. Stance
1. We prefer the pitcher be upright, balanced, and relaxed when taking the sign. Hands must be clearly apart with the pitching hand at the side or back.

2. We prefer that young pitchers hold the ball in the pitching hand for feel and grip, plus it gives the pitcher a quick pick off move. The pitcher adjusts the grip for various pitches as he brings the hands together.

C. The Stretch is the movement used to get into the pitching position.
1. The pitcher can take his stretch in various ways, but we prefer the pitcher to use a little forward, then backward rocker step for body rhythm, relaxation and balance. The feet should be about shoulder width apart.

2. The pitcher must come to a complete stop, or use a change of direction with his hands.

3. Stop at least above the belt. We prefer the RHP to stop between the letters and the chin so the pitcher can break the hands downward and not bounce the hands up as he starts the motion.

4. During the stop, the front shoulder and front hip should be closed and aligned directly to the plate. Check the runner, and vary the looks and the holding time.

D. The Leg Lift.

1. The RHP must quicken up and reduce the height of his lead leg lift. A good technique to use is to bring the lead knee back to the pivot leg thigh area which transfers the body weight over the pivot leg. A little leg lift is necessary to allow time for the pitching arm to make its normal arm swing to the cocked position, and to transfer some body weight and momentum back before starting the body forward.

E. The Hand Break and Arm Motion
1. The hands should break down along the mid-line of the body between the letters and the belt. The actin of the pitching arm should be down back and up, exactly the same as  in the wind up. The RHP may want to break the hands on the first downward movement.

2. The LHP may use a lot more preliminary hand action of up and down to hold and deceive the runner (runner on first only), but the RHP must break quickly to get the hand up into a good cocked position and unload the ball quickly.

3. After the hand break, the pitcher’s motion and arm action should be the same as from the wind-up.

F. Use of the Slide Step Technique
1. This is an effective pitching technique to control base runners, but should be used sparingly because it necessitates a change in arm action, causes more stress on the shoulder, and often negatively affects control.

2. It’s effective to use occasionally on pitch-outs, on high percentage steal attempt situations, and is a good way to vary the pitching rhythm to prevent runners from getting a consistent read on the pitcher.

G. Special Situations where Pitchers Should Pitch from the Set Position
1. Runner on third, less than 2 outs, take away the squeeze attempt.

2. Bases loaded, three-two count, two outs. Keep the force out in order.

3. When certain pick off plays have been called.

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Youth pitching program
One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not. To get to the next level, preparation matters. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.

If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my proven programs for pitchers of all ages.

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