Pitching Fundamentals Part 2By
Stance / Setup
Keeping things simple is the best thing you can do for amateur pitchers and is the main reason why I encourage them to work from the stretch instead of the wind-up. Balance is always a problem for young pitchers and the wind-up will only make it more difficult to achieve proper balance before the move toward home plate.
Key reasons to have players work from the stretch:
- It’s easy for coaches to teach to young pitchers.
- It’s easy for players to learn.
- It’s less likely to lead to flaws in the delivery.
- Pitchers will be more effective with velocity and control, especially younger players.
- Developing good balance is easy to obtain.
Knee Raise / Balance Point:
The knee raise will start the delivery and is accomplished by raising the front leg straight up to the belt or mid section. The player should be balanced and slightly turned away from the hitter. The hitter should be able to see the pocket from the lead leg on the back of the pitchers pants. The hitter should not be able to see the entire number on his back and if he does the pitcher is making too much of a turn.
During the break the pitcher makes his move toward home plate. The pitcher presses the front foot down as the ball is separated out of the glove and into throwing position.
Landing / Arm Swing
After the pitcher makes his break he will glide/stride into his landing position which is the moment the lead foot plants on the ground.
Extension and Finish
Extending the throwing arm down across the body will ensure there is no deceleration as the pitch is released. It’s very important the pitcher not decelerate prematurely as that will kill the effectiveness he has, especially against a good, well disciplined hitting team.
Note about mechanics: There are countless examples of pitcher’s that deviate from the sound fundamentals presented above. You need to make sure you are not just changing everything a pitcher does if he has been doing it for a while.
What you need to ensure is that he is not binding up at some point during the pitching motion. Is he sore after throwing? Does he have good control and velocity? Based on those answers you can design a plan to improve the results. If you can honestly say he has good control, velocity and not binding up then you should most likely leave them alone. Pitchers at high levels do have mechanical flaws in their delivery so if the pitcher is effective you might just consider leaving it alone; however question whether this flaw will become a problem at higher levels. If you don’t know, get other professional opinions as it’s best to correct these things early on.
If you do decide to make some changes then make sure you are doing one thing at a time. Take it slow and work out the changes over an extended period of time. The slower you progress this the more likely you will effective change the delivery.
Youth Baseball Insider feels the foundation above is the best way to teach pitching to young ball players through the high school level. Start them out early with solid fundamentals and you will create great pitchers that can be highly effective. Hopefully it will also keep injuries to a minimum.
A word about what pitches to teach young players
I teach young players to throw the fast ball along with a good change-up. I feel the risk of injury on young arms is too great to risk throwing anything other than a change-up as a breaking pitch.
The problem is not the breaking pitch itself. It’s how it’s taught or how it’s actually executed by the pitcher that causes the injury risk. You could be the best teacher in the world and know exactly how a curve ball should be thrown but your young pitcher may not be able to execute it properly thus exposing himself to serious injury.
It’s not worth it for young pitchers so I would encourage all coaches to teach your pitchers sound mechanics that will help with velocity and control. Then teach them a regular change-up or the circle change. This combination if handled correctly will make the pitcher very difficult to hit while limiting the risk of injury greatly.