Common Pitching Faults And Fixes

  • Last updated Dec. 17, 2016
Youth pitching program
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.

The following breakdown of specific faults is meant to be a guide or point of reference for coaches and pitchers when seeking methods and drills to overcome various pitching faults.

I. Rushing the motion

A. Fault: Rushing. The body moves forward early and is ahead of the throwing arm. The throwing sequence is disrupted.

1. Most common in: This fault is a problem for all pitchers

2. Caused by:
A) not closing up during the posting position
B) Improper balance; posting leg flexes too early
C) Pushing off the rubber before stride foot lands
D) Late hand break

3. Effect on mechanics or performance
A) Prevents the throwing hand from getting up to a good high cocked position
B) Changes the arm path and release point
C) Negatively affects control; usually inside and/or high

4. Adds stress on:
A) the medial side of the elbow
B) Anterior shoulder capsule and muscles

5. Correct by:
A) good balance and close position in the posting position
B) proper transfer of weight so not to drift forward until the lead leg reaches its maximum height or starts to lower.

6. Drills:
A) Posting position balance drills
B) Lead-leg drill
C) Front fence drill
D) hand break drill
E) mirror drills from side view

B. Fault: Diving into the pitch. The head and shoulders lead the body forward.

1. Most common in: high school, occasionally college pitchers

2. Caused by:
A) Body out of balance in the posting position
B) Improper transfer of weight forward. Pitcher leads with the upper body instead of the front hip.

3. Effect on mechanics or performance:
A) Prevents proper trunk rotation
B) Prevents trunk arching to proper trunk flexion
C) Negatively affects control, usually low

4. Adds stress on:
A) medial side of elbow since the hand does not get to a good high cocked position
B)posterior shoulder muscles

5. Correct by:
A) Better balance in the posting and stride phases.
B) Proper transfer of weight

6. Drills
A) posting position drill
B) Stride drill
C) Trunk rotation drills

II. Throwing Arm Action Faults

A. Fault: Wrist or Arm Hooking. Wrist curls

1. Most common in: high school, college, a few professional pitchers

2. Caused by:
A) fingers not staying on top of the ball
B) Low, or behind the mid line, hand break
C) Improper arm path. Hand is not aligned with the shoulders as it comes up into the cocking phases.

3. Effect on mechanics or performance
A) Hand does not get up to a normal high cocked position
B) Arm does not stay aligned with the shoulders and body
C) Inconsistent release point which negatively affects control

4. Adds stress on:
A) rotator cuff and shoulder muscles
B) medial side of elbow
C) forearm muscles, unnecessary tension

5. Correct by:
A) keeping the fingers on top of the ball during the entire arm swing.
B) Keeping the wrist in a neutral or slightly extended position
C) Decreasing the circle of the arm path

6. Drills
A) hand break drill
B) Arm path drill
C) Mirror drills from the side and back views

B. Fault: flailing arm behind back. The arm path is out of alignment with the shoulders.
1. Most common in: Is fairly common in all levels of pitchers

2. Caused by:
A) hand break very wide from the body
B) Over-rotation of the hips and trunk during the leg lift
C) During the hand break, the hand swings out of the glove horizontally versus downward.

3. Effect on mechanics or performance
A. Causes a very low preliminary cocked position
B. Inconsistent path of acceleration
C. Pitcher throws uphill. Starts acceleration with a low throwing elbow.
D. Negatively affects control, usually high and/or inside
E. Prevents getting on top of the breaking pitches

4. Adds stress on:
A. Anterior shoulder capsule and anterior rotator cuff muscles
B. Medial side of elbow
C. Posterior rotator cuff muscles

5. Corrected by:
A. Proper hand break of down, back and up
B. Throwing hand stays aligned with shoulders towards second base as it comes up to the early cocked position

6. Drills:
A. Hand break drill
B. Arm path drill
C. Kneeling drill
D. Flexed elbow drill
E. Back wall drill

C. Fault: Long arming

1. Most common in: high school, college, and professional

2. Caused by:
A. Tilting the front shoulder up during the backswing and allowing the throwing arm to fully straighten on the back swing
B. Not flexing the throwing elbow as the hand starts upward towards the cocked position

3. Effect on mechanics or performance
A. Increase the arc of the throwing circle and the hand is often late and low in the cocked position
B. Loss of velocity
C. Control problems; usually inside

4. Adds stress on:
A) anterior shoulder capsule and shoulder muscles
B) medial side of the elbow

5. Corrected by:
A. Short arming the backswing by keeping the wrist extended slightly
B. Flexing the elbow as soon as the throwing arm starts upward
C. Quickening hand action during the backswing

6. Drills
A. Arm path drill
B. Kneeling drill
C. High cocked position throwing drills
D. Mirror drills from the back and side view
E quick hand and arm drill

D. Fault: fingers under the ball

1. Most common in: Youth pitchers, occasionally high school pitchers

2. Caused by:
A. Improper hand position in glove
B. Improper hand break; behind mid line or very low
C. Keeping the hand under the break

3. Effect on mechanics or performance
A. Prevents good loose wrist action
B. Hand will be out of position in the cocked position
C. Major loss of ball velocity and movement

4. Adds stress on:
A. Anterior shoulder muscles
B. Medial side of elbow

5. Correct by:
A. Higher hand break keeping the fingers on top of the ball
B. Wrist loaded in the cocked position

6. Drills
A. Hand break drill
B. Hands on passive arm path drill
C. Cocked position throwing drill

III. Cocked position faults

A. Fault: low elbow or hand in cocked position

1. Most common in: occasionally in pitchers of all age groups

2. Caused by:
A. Wrist or arm hooking
B. Late or low hand break
C. Improper arm path
D. Rushing the motion; body ahead of arm

3. Effect on mechanics or performance
A. Pitchers throws uphill from the cocked position to release point
B. Difficult to get on top of the breaking pitches
C. Early arm fatigue
D. Inconsistent control; usually high and/or inside
E. Loss of some ball velocity

4. Adds stress on:
A. Medial side of elbow
B. Posterior rotator cuff muscles

5. Corrected by:
A. Breaking hands earlier
B. Shortening and quickening the path and circle of the throwing arm
C. Staying back, don’t rush body

6. Drills
A. Hand break drill
B. Arm path drill
C. Throwing from cocked position drill
D. Quick hand throwing drill

B. Fault: early external rotation of shoulder

1. Most common in: high school and college

2. Caused by:
A. Throwing hand goes back too far towards 2nd baseman during cocking phase.
B. Earling arching, titling of the trunk towards 1st base.
C. Hip and trunk rotation start too late.

3. Effect on mechanics or performance:
A. Slows and delays the arm getting into the acceleration phase.
B. Inconsistent release point causing control problems
C. Early throwing arm fatigue

4. Adds stress on:
A. Anterior shoulder capsule and rotator cuff muscles
B. Medial side of elbow

5. Correct by:
A. During the early cocking phase have the hand closer towards third base than the elbow
B. Keeping the fingers on top of the ball during the cocking phase
C. Prevent the body from tilting back during the stride phase.

6. Drills
A. Arm path drill
B. Throwing from a proper cocked position
C. Pivot foot roll over drill
D. Trunk rotation drill
E. Quick hand throwing drill

C. Fault: throwing hand out of position. Palm hand faces the hitter during cocking position phase or hand too close to the head in the early cocking phase.

1. Most common in: youth and high school pitchers

2. Caused by :
A. Improper hand break action
B. Keeping fingers under the ball during the arm swing
C. Extreme wrist hooking

3. Effect on mechanics or performance
A. Prevents proper wrist action
B. Markedly decreases ball velocity and movement
C. Negatively affects control

4. Adds stress on:
A. Anterior shoulder muscles
B. Medial side of elbow
C. Forearm muscles

5. Correct by:
A. Keeping fingers on top of ball during the entire arm swing
B. Extending the wrist back and making certain the palm of the hand faces the SS during the cocking phase

6. Drills:
A. Hand break drill
B. Arm path drill
C. Throwing from proper cocked position
D. Mirror drill from the back and side views.

IV. Stride Problems

A. Fault: striding across the body. Measuring from the ball of the pivot foot to a line towards home plate, the pitcher steps across this mid line by more than 2-3 inches.

1. Most common in: high school, college, and professional .

2. Caused by:
A. The body being out of balance during the leg lift.
B. Swinging the stride leg out to the landing area.
C. Improper direction during the transfer of weight forward.

3. Effect on mechanics or performance
A. Inhibits proper hip, trunk and shoulder horizontal rotation
B. Negatively affects control and decreases velocity
C. Negatively affects the breaking pitch

4. Adds stress on:
A. Posterior rotator cuff and shoulder muscles.

5. Correct by:
A. Maintaining good balance during the rocker step, leg lift and posting position
B. Transferring weight directly towards the plate
C. Hanging the free foot nearly straight down with the knee flexed during the leg lift and lead with the outside instep of the stride foot.

6. Drills
A. Posting position balance drill
B. Stride drill.
C. Mirror drill form the front
D. Use chalk lines on practice mounds

B. Fault: Striding open

1. Most common in: Youth pitchers, occasionally high school

2. Caused by:
A. Improper balance
B. Not closing up the front side during the leg lift

3. Effect on mechanics or performance
A. Front side flies open early decreasing effective rotational forces
B. Diminishes velocity and negatively affects control
C. Path of the throwing arm is too wide

4. Adds stress on:
A. Anterior shoulder muscles and shoulder capsule
B. Medial side of the elbow

5. Correct by:
A. Closing up the front side during the posting position
B. Keeping the front hip and shoulder closed in a straight line towards the plate

6. Drills
A. Posting position balance drill
B. Stride drill
C. Mirror drills

C. Fault: Over striding

1. Most common in: high school, some college, a few pros

2. Caused by:
A. Improper transfer of weight, pushing off the rubber before the stride foot lands
B. Swinging the stride foot out to the landing area
C. Out of balance in the posting position

3. Effect on mechanics or performance:
A. Prevents proper trunk flexion during acceleration and release
B. Prevents proper trunk rotation
C. Causes control problems, usually high
D. Decreases velocity

4. Adds stress on: posterior rotator cuff, shoulder and upper back muscles.

5. Correct by:
A. Better balance and weight control during the stride phase contact
B. Proper weight transfer and backside drive upon stride foot contact
C. Lowering the lead leg at about shoulder width and sliding the foot forward near ground level instead of swinging the lead foot out
D. Landing on the ball of the stride foot with the foot pointed closed slightly

6. Drills
A. Posting position balance drill. Do not flex posting leg until the lead leg starts downward.
B. Lead leg lowering drills
C. Mirror drill from side.

D. Fault: stride leg does not brace up. Upon landing, the stride leg knee continues to move forward during the acceleration and release phases.

1. Most common in: high school and some college pitchers

2. Caused by:
A. not landing on a closed stride foot
B. Not bracing the stride leg as the trunk rotates and squares off to release the pitch.

3. Effect on mechanics or performance:
A. Delays and prevents proper trunk rotation and angular velocity
B. Prevents good trunk flexion
C. Causes a loss in velocity
D. Negatively affects control; it is difficult to pitch away from the throwing hand side.

4. Adds stress on:
A. Posterior shoulder and back muscles.

5. Correct by:
A. During the arm acceleration and ball release, brace the stride leg so the hips and trunk can square off and the upper body can come down over the lead leg.

6. Drills
A. Kneeling drill, flexed lead leg up onto braced leg upon ball release
B. Backside knee drive throwing drill
C. Front pocket to back pocket drill

E. Fault: landing on a stiff front leg.

1. Most common in youth and high school pitchers

2. Caused by:
A. Driving of the rubber too early, poor balance and improper weight transfer
B. Swinging or kicking the stride leg out
C. Landing on the heel with the foot pointed open versus closed

3. Effect on mechanics or performance:
A. Hinders good trunk flexion
B. Causes a recoil action: the body moves upward and back off the stiff front leg
C. Control problems usually high

4. Adds stress on:
A. Superior and posterior rotator cuff muscles
B. Causes a recoil action; the body moves upward and back off the stiff front leg
C. Control problems usually high

5. Corrected by:
A. Controlling the stride leg and foot, they should glide out, not swing or fire out.
B. Making certain the stride foot lands flat footed pointing closed slightly.

6. Drills:
A. Kneeling drill
B. Flexed leg to braced leg drill
C. Lead leg drill; posting position lowered to landing position
D. Stride drill; mirror drills, front and side views

V. Lead Arm Action Faults

A. Fault: Dead front side; little or no lead arm action

1. Most common in: youth, high school, and some college pitchers

2. Caused by:
A. Pitcher not leading with the glove, or high elbow
B. Pitcher not driving the lead elbow back and down outside the lead hip

3. Effect on mechanics or performance:
A. Prevents a good arching of the trunk during the stride and acceleration phases
B. Prevents good trunk rotation
C. Does not distract the batter’s view of the throwing arm action

4. Adds stress on:
A. Total throwing mechanism. Pitcher throws with his arm; does not properly use his body.

5. Correct by:
A. Throwing the glove hand out at the hitter then whipping the elbow and glove back outside the lead hip
B. Leading with the front elbow shoulder high towards the hitter and whipping it back down outside the lead hip

6. Drills
A. Lead arm action drill, from the hand break
B. Pitcher’s stretcher exercise; include lead arm action
C. Form throwing into a net
D. Mirror drills from the front and side views

B. Fault: Lead arm action is slow or late
1. Most common in: high school, occasionally college

2. Caused by:
A. The lead arm is still high as the throwing arm comes into the cocking phase
B. Lead arm action disrupts the proper throwing sequence

3. Effect on mechanics or performance:
A. Decreases angular velocity of the trunk
B. Diminishes ball velocity
C. Prevents the trunk from arching and thus restricts the pitcher’s range of motion of the trunk

4. Adds stress on:
A. This acton does not add any more stress, but it does decrease the force and velocity a pitcher should be able to generate

5. Correct by:
A. Speeding up the lead arm action so the glove hand is going downward as the throwing hand comes into the cocked position and begins to accelerate
B. Whipping the glove and lead elbow back and down outside the hip

6. Drills:
A. Lead arm action drill
B. Pitcher’s stretcher drill
C. Form throwing into a net
D. Mirror drills from the front and side views

VI. Trunk Rotation Problems

A. Fault: Lack of trunk rotation

1. Most common in: youth, high school, some college

2. Caused by
A. Pushing off the rubber too early and over striding
B. Not bracing up the stride leg
C. Diving into the pitch
D. Throwing across the body

3. Effect on mechanics or performance
A. Upper body tilt
B. Arm slot too close to head; elbow too high
C. Prevents good forward trunk flexion
D. Negatively affects control; usually inside
E. Decreases ball velocity

4. Adds stress on:
A. Shoulder impingement problems
B. Posterior shoulder due to poor arm path of the follow through

5. Corrected by:
A. Rolling over pivot foot as early as possible to square hips to plate
B. Once the front foot lands to stabilize the body, driving the back knee inward and forward.
C. Getting the head and throwing shoulder over the lead leg at ball release

6. Drills
A. Pivot foot roll over drill
B. Back knee drive drill
C. Front pocket to back pocket drill

B. Fault: Flying open; trunk opens too early

1. Most common in: youth, some high school pitchers

2. Caused by:
A. Not closing up during the leg lift and posting position
B. Weight falls back during stride phase
C. Pitcher swings his stride leg out to the landing area
D. Landing on the heel of the stride foot; foot flexes open and hip opens too early

3. Effect on mechanics and performance:
A. Front side opens too early which will change the path of the throwing arm
B. Loss of power and velocity because the weight transfer is not towards the plate
C. Loss of maximum angular velocity from trunk rotation
D. Negatively affects control

4. Adds stress on:
A. Anterior shoulder capsule and muscles
B. Occasionally on the medial side of elbow

5. Control by:
A. Closing up during leg lift
B. Proper stride angle and weight transfer
C. Landing on a closed stride foot

6. Drills
A. Posting balance drill
B. Leg lowering drill
C. Stride drill
D. Hip rotation drills

C. Fault: Extreme Tilt of trunk

1. Most common in: high school, college, and some pros

2. Caused by:
A. Flexing and collapsing the posting leg early and getting out of volume
B. Body shifts towards 1st base during the stride phase
C. Lack of horizontal trunk rotation

3. Effect on mechanics
A. Changes the acceleration path of the arm
B. Body is out of balance
C. Some loss of velocity and movement

4. Adds stress on
A. Anterior shoulder capsule and muscles
B. Posterior shoulder muscles

5. Correct by:
A. Better balance and proper transfer of weight
B. Proper trunk rotation instead of upper body tilt
C. Keeping the shoulder more level during the release phase

6. Drills
A. Posting position drill
B. Pivot foot roll over drill
C. Back knee drive drill
D. Front pocket to back pocket drill
E. Mirror drills from the front

VII. Acceleration and Release Problems

A. Fault: Elbow too high

1. Most common in: youth, high school, and some college pitchers

2. Caused by:
A. Attempting to throw too much over the top
B. Extreme tilt of the upper body
C. Poor horizontal trunk rotation

3. Effect on mechanics
A. Arm slot too close to head
B. Prevents good movement on the fast ball

4. Adds stress on:
A. Impingement in the throwing shoulder
B. Rotator cuff muscles

5. Correct by:
A. Better balance and transfer of weight during stride
B. Earlier and better trunk rotation
C. Getting the throwing hand extended away from the head

6. Drills:
A. Pivot foot roll over drill
B. Trunk rotation drill
C. Front pocket to back pocket drill
D. Hand speed drill
E. Throwing from cocked position

B. Fault: Arm slot too close to head

1. Most common in: youth, high school, some college

2. Caused by:
A. Elbow being overly flexed and too close to the head during the cocking phase
B. Aiming or guiding versus throwing the ball
C. Improper trunk rotation

3. Effect on mechanics or performance:
A. Prevents good ball velocity and movement

4. Adds stress on:
A. Does not add any more stress because the pitcher cannot throw very hard

5. Correct by:
A. During the cocking phase, getting the hand back away from the head

6. Drills:
A. Pivot foot roll over drill
B. Trunk rotation drill
C. Hand speed drill

VIII. Deceleration and Follow-Through Problems

A. Fault: Recoil action of the arm

1. Most common in: youth and high school pitchers; some college and pros

2. Caused by:
A. The front leg straightens or braces too early due to over striding or landing on the heel
B. The lack of trunk flexion during the acceleration and release phases.
C. Head and shoulders do not get over the stride leg. Pitcher does not transfer forces downward onto larger trunk and leg muscles.

3. Effect on mechanics:
A. Causes early arm fatigue
B. Negatively affects control, usually high

4. Adds stress on
A. Superior and posterior rotator cuff muscles
B. The elbow, because of over extension and a lack of a long arc of deceleration

5. Correct by:
A. Landing on a flat stride foot and a flexed leg
B. Flexing at the waist during acceleration and ball release
C. Controlling stride leg action and landing
D. Getting the head and throwing shoulder down over the stride leg

6. Drills:
A. Kneeling drill, practice proper trunk flexion
B. Stride leg lowering drill
C. Stride drill, landing on a flexed leg
D. Mirror drill, head and throwing shoulder down over lead leg

B. Fault: short-arming the follow through

1. Most common in: youth and high school

2. Caused by:
A. Improper arm path
B. A lack of trunk flexion
C. Lack of arm extension
D. Throwing shoulder never coming down over the lead leg

3. Effect on mechanics:
A. Prevents good long arc of deceleration
B. Early fatigue
C. Negatively affects control, usually inside
D. Loss of some velocity

4. Adds stress on:
A. Posterior rotator cuff and shoulder muscles
B. Biceps, the forearm decelerators

5. Correct by:
A. Squaring body off and flexing forward at the waist
B. Working to get more arm extension towards the plate
C. Having a long smooth arc of deceleration outside the stride leg

6. Drills:
A. Pivot foot roll over drill
B. Backside knee drive
C. Kneeling to standing throwing drill
D. Follow through drill; form throwing and mirror drills from front view

IX: Release of the breaking pitches

A. Fault: undercutting the curve ball or slider

1. Most common in: youth, high school, and some college

2. Caused by:
A. During acceleration and release phase the fingers get too much on the side or under the ball.
B. Attempting to create a side spin vs a 45 degree angle over spin
C. During acceleration,the palm of the hand is not turned in facing the head.

3. Effect on mechanics or performance:
A. Curve ball and slider will break in a flat plane
B. Breaking pitch will not have a sharp or late break
C. Breaking pitch ineffective from RHP to LHH and vice versa.
D. Difficult to control

4. Adds stress on:
A. Medial side of the elbow
B. Forearm muscles
C. Compression of elbow joint

5. Correct by:
A. Getting the hand up high during the cocking phase
B. Getting the fingers on top of the ball with the palm of the hand facing the heads
C. Breaking the wrist downward and inward upon release

6. Drills:
A. Throwing the curve ball easily starting form the cocked position
B. Curve ball arm action drill
C. Mirror drills from the front

B. Fault: Hyperextension of the Elbow

1. Most common in: youth and high school pitchers

2. Caused by:
A. Upon release, snapping the wrist nearly straight downward
B. Arm path of deceleration nearly straight down into the body versus outside the body

3. Effect on mechanics or performance:
A. Only breaks in one plane; downward
B. Difficult to control
C. Very stressful on the forearm and elbow

4. Adds stress:
A. Medial side of elbow
B. Compression forces on the back side of the elbow
C. Upper forearm muscles

5. Correct by:
A. During release, breaking the wrist inward and downward
B. Short-arming the follow-through to outside the lead hip versus the lower lead leg
C. Better horizontal trunk rotation

6. Drills
A. Curve ball release drill
B. Follow through drill with the throwing shoulder over the lead leg

C. Fault: Stiff wristing the slider or splitter

1. Most common in: high school, college, and some pros

2. Caused by:
A. Tightening the forearm muscles instead of just the grip with the fingers
B. Attempting to over throw the pitches
C. Attempting to produce a bigger break

3. Effect on mechanics
A. Decreases velocity
B. Negatively affects control
C. Very stressful on the arm and shoulder

4. Adds stress on:
A. Forearm muscles
B. Elbow
C. Posterior rotator cuff and shoulder muscles

5. Correct by:
A. Throwing with a firm grip on the ball, but relaxing the wrist, forearm and upper arm muscles
B. Throwing with a normal fastball arm action

6. Drills:
A. Throwing a with firm grip, but a loose wrist and forearm
B. Bullpen work at half to 3/4 speed or shorter distances

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.

What do you think?

Now it's time to hear from you:

Are there any additional pitching mechanics tips that I missed?

Or maybe you have an idea of how I can make this article even better.

Either way, leave a comment and let me know.




Get exclusive pitching tips

Are you in yet? Click the button below and enter your email to get advanced pitching strategies that I ONLY share with my 87,431 newsletter subscribers. (This is where I share my best material, and it's FREE!)

Get Exclusive Tips From Steven »

Seriously, pitchers and coaches are loving these tips

Great reviews of Steven Ellis exclusive baseball pitching tips