By Dan Gazaway
Proper pitching mechanics are key to your success! Before a pitcher begins transferring his weight toward home plate, he has to establish a solid starting point or foundation (Balance and Posture). This foundation must be set properly or a pitcher will not have balance in his delivery. With little or no balance, too much pressure can be put on the throwing arm and the location of the pitch can be effected.
If a pitcher is having a hard time throwing strikes, he may need to work on his posture and balance. To create proper balance and posture, a pitcher should follow a few basic guidelines. Here are some simple steps for successful pitching mechanics :
1. Line up your feet- Line up your feet properly to establish an effective delivery. All pitchers should start with their feet shoulder width apart, in the stretch position. If he starts with his legs further apart than shoulder width, weight transfer often goes back toward second base when he lifts his front leg, throwing off his balance.
Right-handed pitchers start with both feet evenly together, move the left foot forward about 2-5 inches, then spread the feet shoulder width. Left-handed pitchers line up the same way; however, they would be moving their right foot forward instead of their left. This way you start in a closed position with the intent of ending closed at foot strike.
2. Bend your knees and keep weight on the balls of your feet-I cannot think of one sport where an athlete keeps the weight of his body on the heels of his feet. Could you imagine a basketball player guarding his opponent that way? Anyone would be able to get around him and score. Why is it then that many pitchers are often found putting a lot of their weight on the heels of their feet? It makes no sense. Pitchers have a hard time finding the strike zone if they have that habit. Why? They cannot maintain proper balance. Think about it! If the pitcher lifts his leg up and the majority of his weight is supported on the heels of his feet, his balance goes where? Directly behind him! Where is their momentum supposed to go? Toward home plate.
3. Incorporate your hitting stance into your pitching posture- what does this mean? If you are a coach or parent, watch the athlete take a few swings with their bat. If you are the athlete, get into your hitting stance and look in the mirror. What are we trying to identify? We are looking for the angle of your shoulders in your hitting stance after you load. This is not only a natural angle for the athlete, they will find that angle to be much more comfortable for them because they will have more balance. If this is incorporated correctly into his posture, the pitcher will maximize his power throughout the delivery. The key to a successful pitch is to maintain this same posture until the lead foot strikes the ground.
4. Place glove and baseball in the center of your body- if the glove and ball are placed too far to the right or left of your body, you will struggle finding balance. If a right-handed pitcher places his glove too far to the right, too much weight will be transferred back when he delivers the pitch. In turn, his momentum will be lost. The majority of his weight can continue to stay back, but he has to correct the problem at some point in his delivery. It’s best for the pitcher to start with his hands in the center of his body. If a pitcher begins positioning his glove too far in front of his center, he will also have a problem maintaining proper balance.
5. Chin over shoulder- this is a very simple concept to understand. Wherever your chin goes, your head goes. What direction should your head go throughout the delivery? Forward. Keep your head level with the target for a smooth delivery.