Drills to Teach Proper Pitching Techniques
The following specific drills may be useful for coaches and/or pitchers as a source of reference for methods to help change or adjust various mechanical pitching faults. Each drill is designed to isolate a very specific technique within the various segments and sequences of the pitching motion.
The techniques recommend are based on extensive study and analysis of many long term, injury free, successful college and pro pitchers.
I. Wind-up Balance Drill (posting position)
1. To teach a pitcher to have good control of this body during the rocker step, pivot, and leg lift.
2. Good balance in the posting position prevents rushing the motion.
1. Pitcher stands in his preliminary sign taking position then moves into a soft and short rocker step, then pivots off in front of the rubber, then to the leg lift to a point at least above the belt.
2. Pitcher balances himself at the top of the leg lift on a firm, straight posting leg for 5 seconds. The head should stay right over the pivot foot leg.
3. The front hip should be closed; the lead knee pointing to 3rd base.
Repetitions: At least 1 set of 10 reps daily. This is a good mirror drill from the front and side views.
II. Front Fence (Wall) Drill
1. To teach a pitcher to get up in a balanced position without moving or drifting forward before the lead leg starts downward.
2. Good body control and balance prevents the pitcher from rushing his motion.
1. Pitcher stands facing a fence, wall or net with his toes within one foot of the barrier.
2. Pitcher moves from his preliminary taking the sign position to the leg lift balanced posting position.
3. If the pitcher uses proper techniques, he will not move up into the barrier. This also demonstrates good balance and body control and prevents rushing
Repetitions: For pitcher’s with balance problems, at least 10 reps daily and hold each for 5 seconds.
III. Lead Leg Lowering Drill
Purpose: to teach the pitcher to;
1. Lower the lead foot nearly straight down approx. Shoulder width apart; front hip bone leads directly to the plate.
2. Control the forward weight shift; a drift or fall versus a drive off the rubber.
3. Lead with a closed outside edge of the instep, not with an open foot.
1. Work in front of a mirror; front and side view
A. From the front view
1. Foot should lower going towards the plate
2. Should see the outside bottom of lead foot
3. Only at foot contact does the foot come out. It still should be closed about 20-30 degrees.
4. Hip will open slightly, but the front shoulder remains closed.
B. From the side view:
1. Lead leg lowers with the feet about shoulder width apart. The foot then glides just above the ground surface before contact.
2. As the body drifts to stable foot contact, the head should stay at the top center point of a perfect triangle with the pivot foot rolled over releasing the back side.
3. Trunk rotation should begin at this point
Repetitions: At least one set of 10 reps daily. If the pitcher has a weight transfer problem, do 2-3 sets daily.
IV. Arm Path Drill (Hand Break to the Cocked Position)
1. To teach a pitcher a smooth down, back and up arm swing with no hesitation and a loose but controlled wrist and forearm.
2. Teach the pitcher to keep his fingers on top of the ball and get to a high cocked position.
3. To keep the pitching hand aligned with the shoulders by flexing the elbow on the way up to a high cocking position
1. Put the pitcher in a hand break position, pivot foot parallel to the rubber, stride out towards the plate 3-4 feet.
2. Hand chest high together
3. Coach stands behind pitcher, takes his throwing hand wrist, and breaks his hand from the glove moving down, back and up, to a high cocked position. Work for a smooth, properly aligned arm path.
4. Check arm path alignment, elbow flexion, fingers on top of ball.
Repetitions: with the coach’s help, 3-4 times; pitcher by himself 10 reps. Perform this drill in front of a mirror.
VI. Cocked Position to Acceleration Phase Drill
1. To teach high hand position in the cocked position
2. Teach a pitcher how to load up his wrist
3. Teach how hip rotation is coordinated with the arm action
1. Start the pitcher in a stride position, pivot foot on the rubber
2. Hand the ball in a high cocked position with the palm of the hand facing the short stop.
3. Throw from this cocked position by starting the wrist and moving through the acceleration phase
4. Get the feeling of throwing downward.
1. During the throwing action, rotate the hips and shoulders to square off the body towards the plate. Work on trunk extension.
2. Upon release, work for good trunk extension to flexion and a long arc of deceleration
Repetitions: 10 reps daily as a lead-up throwing drill
VII. Kneeling Drill (Pivot-leg knee down)
1. To get the feeling of trunk flexion over a flexed front leg
2. To keep good alignment within the arm swing
3. To develop forearm, wrist and hand speed
4. To develop a good angle and long arc of deceleration
1. Kneel on the pivot leg knee with the stride foot out in front flexed at the knee
2. Square off facing the throwing partner. Throw at approx. 30 to 40 foot distance
3. Start with both hands together in front of body. Break normally and throw with a natural pitching motion and throw below 1/2 speed.
4. Use a good long arc of deceleration outside the lead knee
Repetitions: 10-15 throws for those pitchers who have trunk flexion and arm path problems.
VIII. Stride Drill (Direction, length, foot landing)
1. To check direction of the pitcher’s stride
2. To check length of stride
3. To check stride leg knee flexion on landing
4. To check the stride foot landing - slightly closed and landing on flat foot
1. Wind-up or set position
2. Mark a straight line from the ball of the pitcher’s pivot foot to the plate. The pitcher’s stride foot should land on or within 2-3 inches to the closed side of the line.
3. Pitcher takes his normal motion and throwing action and checks his stride.
Repetitions: For pitchers with problems of throwing across their body, or opening up too much, 20 reps per practice. Place a towel over the improper landing spot.
IX. Lead Leg Bracing Drill
Purpose; To practice and feel lead leg flexion to extension. During the acceleration and release phase, the lead knee should brace the front side so the trunk can rotate up against the front side.
1. Start in the kneeling position using proper arm action
2. Move from the kneeling to standing position
1. As the arm accelerates and nears the release point, brace the front leg and bring the body up over the lead leg.
2. After release, flex at the waist bringing the head and throwing shoulder down over the braced front side.
Repetitions: For pitchers who have a problem bracing the front side, 10-15 reps in front of a mirror, 10-15 reps throwing a ball.
XI. Pivot-foot roll-over drill
1. To teach pitchers to release the backside into the pitch by rolling over their pivot foot.
2. To teach pitchers that their pivot foot comes forward off the rubber even before they release the pitch
1. Put the pitcher in a stride position with the pivot foot still on the rubber
2. Pitching hand is in a high cocked position
3. Coordinate the arm action with the roll-over of the pivot foot (do not throw the ball)
4. Pitcher should feel the hips and shoulders rotate and square off and the lead leg stay flexed, versus stiffening early.
Repetitions: 10-15 daily for those pitchers who have hip rotation problems
XII. Back knee drive drill
1. To teach a pitcher to drive his pivot leg knee forward and inward after the stride foot lands stabilizing the body.
2. This technique increases the angular velocity of the hips- a major source of power in pitching
3. Proper hip rotation allows the pitcher to square off to the plate which will place the arm path at the proper angle during the acceleration phase.
1. Pitcher throws with an easy motion
2. As the stride foot lands, the pitcher drives forward with the pivot leg knee
3. This will also bring him up on a straight stride leg with trunk flexion which is not a good technique. That’s a reason the pitcher should not throw full velocity during this drill.
Repetitions: 15-20 throws daily for those pitchers who lack a backside drive or good hip rotation.
XIII. Front pocket to back pocket drill
1. To teach proper hip rotation in the leg lift position
2. To teach proper hip rotation during the pitching motion
1. In front of a mirror, take a full wind up and upon the lead leg lift, look to see the front hip pocket
2. Using the normal throwing motion, on the follow through, look to see the back hip pocket.
Repetitions: 10 reps in front of a mirror, 10 reps of 1/2 speed throwing.
XIV. Hand Speed Drill
1. To increase throwing hand speed
2. To drill proper arm path and rearly elbow flexion
3. To develop good wrist action
1. Have the pitcher face the catcher with his stride foot forward by approx.. 3 feet.
2. Warm-up properly before doing this drill. Throw at a distance of 45-50 feet.
3. Start with the hands together in front of the body
4. Break the hands properly while keeping the feet in place. Rotate the hips and shoulders back as the hand comes up into the cocked position.
5. Come out of the high cocked position through the acceleration phase quick and hard, working on good hand speed and wrist pop.
Repetitions; 12-15 throws on pitching practice days
XV. Arm Deceleration Drill
1. To develop proper arm extension and arm path during a long smooth arc of deceleration
2. Practice bringing the throwing shoulder down over the lead leg.
3. To regain a good glove position to protect himself on come-backers
Techniques: Looking into a mirror:
1. Use a slow motion form throwing motion (no ball)
2. With a proper follow through, the pitcher should be able to see the top back of the throwing shoulder.
3. 90% of the pitcher’s body weight should be on the lead leg
4. A pitcher may have to bounce step with the stride foot to regain good balance to field his position and to protect himself
Repetitions: 10-12 reps daily in front of mirror.
XVI. Return to rubber technique
1. To teach the pitcher to conserve time and energy between pitches
2. To teach the pitcher to maintain his visual and mental perception of the plate and focus on the job at hand
1. After throwing a pitch which is not hit, start backing up on the mound
2. Catch the return throw will back up on the rubber
3. Relax, catch your breath, and then toe the rubber to take the sign
4. With no runners on base, 8-10 seconds between pitches is a good rhythm to establish.
5. With runners on base, if it’s not necessary to throw over, 12-15 seconds between pitches is a good time.
Repetitions: practice this during BP and bullpen work
XVII. Form Throwing Drills
A. In front of a mirror; no ball, use a slow motion throwing action
B. Below half speed throw into a net
Purpose: this drill allows a pitcher to focus on very specific techniques within the motion without worrying about control. Also, a pitcher can perform numerous repetitions without fatiguing the throwing arm.
1. Throw into a net from a 10-15 foot distance
2. Throw real easy. Concentrate on one technique at a time
Repetitions: 15-20 reps on each technique, with a max of 50-60 throws.
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