Teaching Right-Handed Pitchers A Pick-Off Move To First Base

  • Updated on Dec. 17, 2016

2017 MLB Tryouts

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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.

Chris Tillman pickoff to first base
Chris Tillman makes a pickoff throw to first base

For the right hand pitcher, the important thing is how quick and how deceptive you can get the ball to first, not how hard you throw it. Hard thrown balls are more difficult to handle and tougher to control. Work on getting rid of the ball quickly.

Pick off moves from the set position

Start your move like your normal pitching motion. Use the same rocker step, hand position, looks and be relaxed. Learn to start turning your front shoulder and break the hands milli-seconds before stepping towards first. Bring the throwing hand back and up like a catcher. Don’t use a rule range of motion action, it’s too slow. As you step and throw, pivot the back foot to release the hips and trunk, then follow-through for accuracy. Throw to the first baseman’s inside knee. Let him catch the ball and make the tag. Don’t try to be too fine.

  1. The pivot move. We believe this move is more deceptive than the jump turn technique.
  2. The jump turn move. Use the same short arm throwing motion, but jump turn with both feet and gain ground towards first base. This move is slightly quicker, but not as deceptive.

Pick off move on ball-glove touch. Use this off the forward rocker step.

This  move is very effective versus runners who like to extend their lead during the stretch movement. As the pitcher swings his arm out and together, transfer the body weight off the front rocker step onto the pivot foot and pivot and throw. Use the catcher’s arm action and jump turn technique.

Pick-off move from the top of the stretch.

Some pitchers take a long deliberate stretch and come up over the head with both hands. If a pitcher does this naturally, this is a great poit at which to break the hands, use a catcher’s snap throwing action, and use the jump turn to get rid of the ball quickly.

Fake to third throw to first play
The fake to third and throw to first play

The “31” Play. Fake to 3rd, throw to 1st.

This is very effective versus teams that like to fake steal or use various first and third offensive plays. The RHP uses his normal leg lift to a good balanced posting position. As the front hip starts to drift forward, he strides within the 45 degree angle towards 3rd, feints a full throwing motion towards third, clears the rubber with the pivot foot, plants the foot and wheels to throw to 1st. If there is no play, the pitcher does not have to throw.

The Back-door play. Runners on 1st and 2nd or bases loaded.

The RHP pitcher can do this out of the set or wind-up position, but usually done from set.

The 1st baseman plays behind the runner and breaks into the base inside the runner.

Get my pitching velocity program

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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Are there any additional tips for picking off runners that I missed?

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