Batting & Pitching Blogs

Pitching with your body to add velocity and control

Posted on July 22, 2016 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

For the last eight years every player that has come in for baseball or fastpitch softball pitching lessons use mainly their arms to throw the ball.  When I talk to these players I am surprised at what they have taught by their coaches, pitching instructors, and at pitching camps. Almost everything pitchers are taught take away their body and makes them use mainly their arms. This puts way too much stress on their elbow and shoulder.  This is why so many young players get sore arms and even quit the sport because they hurt their arm.


I keep reading about Tommy John surgeries being performed on pitchers in Major League baseball, High School, and College and even younger pitchers (as young as 12 yrs old) more than ever.  Sadly I have had many baseball and softball hitters come in that aren't pitching anymore because their arms hurt so much.  Why are more and more pitchers hurting their arms?   When you throw with your arm it puts too much stress on the inside of the elbow especially during the acceleration towards the plate.   This damages the ulner collateral ligament (UCL) that connects the bones of the elbow and helps stabilize the joint.   The harder pitchers try to throw, mainly with their arm, the more likely they are to damage the UCL and hurt their arm some ending up even needing reconstructive surgery.


A couple years ago I watched one of the Little League Regional games and there were two pitchers same age and height throwing against each other.  One pitcher used mainly his arm to throw and the other used mainly his body.   The one that used his arm threw as hard as he could looking jerky.  He was able to get up to 62mph on his fastball and got tired during the fifth inning. The one that used his body looked effortless and routinely threw 70 mph fastballs, looking strong the whole game.


One pitcher used so much effort to barely reach 62 mph on his fastball and the other looked so effortless throwing 70 mph fastballs consistently.   Why the difference, did one pitcher have a stronger arm than the other?   No, the simple reason is one pitcher used his body to generate the energy and the other tried to throw hard using mainly his arm.


In football you hear the quarterback didn't throw a good pass because he didn't have his feet set.   This makes him throw the ball mainly with his arm.  When he sets his feet he throws the ball so much harder and is more accurate because now he can use his body.  For example Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers would be so much better if someone would show him how to correctly throw the ball with his body. He throws mainly with his arm, even with his feet set, which causes weaker with much less accuracy.   That is why he can throw three passes 20 yards and one hits the receiver in the chest, the next one goes ten feet over his head and the next pass hits the ground in front of his feet.  If he would throw the ball with his body he could be much more accurate and consistent.   The game would become slower to him because he would be more effortless.


Tim Lincecum at the beginning of his career used his body very  well.  When the two time Cy Young winner said "the arm comes along for the ride",  I liked him even more because he actually knew what he was doing.    His body was creating all the energy that he then released with his arm.  That is how at 5 feet 11 inches and 175 lbs he could throw fastballs at 95 mph in 2008.   In 2012 he lost about 2 mph on his fastball from the first four years because he started using his arm more and his accuracy also suffered because of this.  He fell behind in counts more often causing him to come back with pitches that were hit much harder.  According to Fangraphs.com in his career he had a home run per fly ball rate of just over 7% which means hitters rarely hit the ball solid.  That  year 14.6% of the time a hitter hit a fly ball it was a home run.  Batters hit the ball harder that year because of his control.


In four years 2008-2011 Lincecum pitched an averaged of 220 innings giving up 69 earned runs per year.  In 2012  he pitched 186 innings giving up 107 earned runs.  His ERA was 5.18 almost twice as high as his average year.  Why the sudden decline in velocity, control and production?  He started to throw more with his arm.  If he would go back to letting the arm come along for the ride while using his body to generate the energy he would do as well as he did the previous 4 years.


I watched the College Regionals Fastpitch Softball Tournament and Tennessee had a pitcher that had the fastest motion and arm speed I have ever seen, as she released the ball she flipped or snapped her wrist and the fastest pitch was 61mph, she was pitching with her arm. When the reliever came in to shut down the other team her motion and arm speed looked so much smoother and effortless.  She didn't flip her wrist and her top speed was 68mph, she was using her body.  In baseball and fastpitch softball it is momentum not arm strength that helps a pitcher throw harder.


Don't do any pitching cue you hear that makes you throw more with your arm.  Learning to use the body when pitching and even in the field for baseball or fastpitch softball makes such a difference in velocity and control.  There is so much less stress put on the shoulder and elbow.  When my students learn to throw the ball with the body they progress rapidly.  Pitchers throw harder, able to spot pitches better and have much more success than ever before.   The game slows down to them because they are so effortless.  They develop amazing confidence that they can get anyone out no matter the situation.


I will write a few more blogs about other problems that arise when trying to throw mainly with your arm and how using your body can help in many different ways.  If you would like more information about using your body to throw you can call Mike Sedberry at 304-722-6393.

Why successful pitchers keep the ball low

Posted on July 21, 2016 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (0)

A baseball and fastpitch softball pitcher that is able to consistently keep the ball down between a batters knees and thigh will be successful in baseball or fastpitch softball at any level.  The reason is most hitters hit the low pitch right into the ground because they are taught to swing down.  Studies show that 25% of grounders are hits.   In contrast 70% of line drives are hits.  A line drive has a success rate of almost threew times more than a grounder.  These studies show why pitchers want to keep the ball low to get hitters to hit a ground ball.


Another example of ground balls hurting a hitter is Derek Jeter.  When he went to the no stride swing in 2011, because the Yankee hitting coach wanted him to start using fast hands, it turned him into a ground ball hitter.  He used this new approach all spring and even into the start of the regular season.  After the first 16 games he led the Major leagues in ground balls at 72.9%.   That is why during this time his batting average was .219 with only one extra-base hit in 64 at bats according to NBC sports.  By far the most powerless time of his career.


Ninety-nine percent of hitting instruction makes a batter use mainly their arms when hitting a ball.  When the first thing going forward in your swing is the hands you will swing down through he ball.  This means if you are a good hitter and swing with your arms and hit the middle of the ball it will be a ground ball that hits 10 to 15 feet in front of you.  When a good pitcher throws the ball at the knees 99% of hitters that swing with their arms will hit a ground ball.   With 25% of ground balls on average being a hit a pitcher that keeps the ball down will give up one hit every four ground balls making him or her very successful.  I see this proven every day from Little League to The Major Leagues.


Almost every hitter that comes in for lessons has been taught to swing down through the ball.  Even to this day some of my best hitters are being told by their coaches, even on elite travel teams, that they need to swing faster down through the ball.  This is why pitchers that keep the ball low are very successful.  Lucky for my hitters they do the opposite of everyone else.  That is why my hitting students excel so much.  Every dad tells me "they use to swing down through the ball faster but that was the problem.  They are at least twice as good now since they stopped doing that and started doing Mike Sedberry's swing." 


Every pitcher is trying to keep the ball down hoping the batter will hit grounders.  Batters that swing down are what pitchers are hoping for. 


If pitchers would like to learn more about keeping the ball down and/or batters wanting to learn how to hit line drives with the the low pitch call Mike Sedberry at 304-722-6393 for more information.

Pitching Bad Warm ups And Drills To Stay Away From

Posted on July 21, 2016 at 11:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I have been working with High School baseball and fastpitch softball pitchers and I have seen they all throw mainly with their arms.   The reason for this is that the warm ups they are taught make them throw mainly with their arm.   There are many warm ups and drills that are hurting pitchers and position players much more than helping them.   In basball these are the four most popular and worst arm drills or warm ups that a pitcher or position player can perform.


They are:

1- with your throwing arm in front of you shoulder high, put your glove hand under your elbow to hold it up.  Snap the wrist with only your forearm moving to throw the ball.   Your glove keeps the elbow from moving.

2- Get down on one knee (your throwing side knee), put your throwing arm back, ball looking at 2nd base, throw the ball and snap your wrist.

3- Standing and facing your target.   Keeping your feet planted you bring your throwing arm back, ball looking at 2nd base, throw the       ball and again snap the wrist.

4- Stand sideways with your throwing arm facing the target which is behind you.  Keeping your feet planted, with your throwing arm up, you turn your shoulders to the right (if you are a right handed) face the target throw the ball and snap the wrist.


In fastpitch softball pitching these are the most popular and worst arm drills or warmups you can do: 

1- With your throwing arm at your side while not moving your arm,  flip your wrist to throw the ball.

2- Get down on one knee (your throwing side knee), with your arm only do your arm circle and flip your wrist to throw the ball. 

3- Standing sideways to target do three fast arm circles then release ball and flip wrist.


None of the above drills will help a pitcher or any other player with throwing the ball.   Whether you snap the wrist or not these are bad drills.  They will only put players into very bad habits and teach them to throw mainly with their arms.   Because of these teachings most pitchers will not come close to their true potential.  Worse, these teachings will lead to hurt arms and many arm injuries.  This doesn't need to happen.  Pitching can be very easy, I see so many things people teach that make it much harder for players to be successful..


A dad called me today to thank me for saving his son's arm.  Last year he was doing these drills with all the pitchers on the team.   Dad said he couldn't pitch two innings before he had to stop because of arm soreness.  I video taped him the first lesson and they could see how, because of these drills, he was throwing with only his arm.  I showed them three pitchers that pitched for 20 years in MLB and they couldn't believe how they looked almost the opposite to him.  We started working on using the body and right away it was feeling better on his arm.  Today his dad said  "he pitched 7 innings, gave up 6 hits and only 1 run against a very good travel team.  What I am most excited about is his arm doesn't hurt at all.  This is amazing!"


Baseball and fastpitch softball pitchers need to start learning how to use the body to create momentum towards the catcher.  Not how their arm needs to go faster or snapping their wrist.  That is why we are in an epidemic of sore arms.


Learn how to throw with your body instead of your arm.   This is the best way to pitch or throw, in baseball and in softball. You will be surprised how easy it is to do, you will throw harder and be amazed how much better your control will become.  For more information call Mike Sedberry at 304-722-6393.

Pitching Use Your Body For More Power And Success

Posted on July 21, 2016 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)

In my previous blog I talked about how pitching with your body will help you increase your velocity, control and take stress off of your arm. You look and feel so much more effortless whether pitching or in the field when you use your body to generate the energy when throwing a baseball or softball.   The problem is each student that comes in for lessons throws mainly with their arm because of what they have been taught.   When I start a new lesson with each student I ask what they have learned from coaches, instructors, other parents and on the Internet.  

 

In baseball almost all players say they are being taught one or more of these bad pitching cues that cause bad pitching mechanics:

 

  • When stride knee comes up balance on back leg
  • When front foot lands ball is looking at 2nd base 
  • When front foot lands glove is pointed to home plate
  • Take chest to glove when throwing
  • Twist or rotate hips
  • Elbow goes up above shoulder when throwing
  • Faster arm for more speed
  • Snap your wrist at release for more speed
  • Finish down (pick up dirt)

 

In fastpitch softball almost all players say they are taught one or more of these bad pitching cues that cause bad pitching mechanics:

 

  • Make faster arm circle
  • Ball looking at 2nd base when front foot lands 
  • Snap or flip wrist at release
  • Rotate or snap hips at release
  • Hello elbow or curl elbow after flipping wrist

 

Any one of these pitching cues taught in baseball and fastpitch softball will make you throw mainly with your arm.   Almost all instructors from Little League to the pros teach these. They will decrease your velocity and take away the control you need to be more successful. These are also what causes pitchers to get sore arms because of too much stress put on the shoulder and elbow.  There are so many misconceptions about the proper mechanics of a pitcher.  When pitchers start using their arm more they look tighter, more jerky and they start having problems getting hitters out.


A good example of this is a few years ago in 2011 Jose Valverde was one of the best relievers in baseball with 49 saves, no blown saves and a 2.24 ERA.   The next year he had 35 saves, 5 blown saves and a 3.78 ERA.   The decline continued in the playoffs, he pitched in 4 games lasting a total of 2.2 innings in which he gave up 11 hits and 9 earned runs for a 30.38 ERA.  He pitched only two more years with his ERA never below 5.59.  


According to Fangraphs.com his average fastball only went down only .5 mph from 93.8 in 2011 to 93.3mph in 2012.   That is not much of a problem. The problem is his line drive percentage went up from 16.2% in 2011 to 22% in 2012, almost a 36% increase.   In the playoffs his line drive percentage went up to a whopping 53.8%.   How could this happen?   

 

In 2012 his pitching coach was watching video and he noticed Valverde was dragging his back foot.  The pitching coach told him he needed to raise his back foot not drag it.   You have to be kidding!   All pitchers drag their back foot.  You could see him actually raising his back foot as he threw the ball which took his body completely out of his motion.  This made him start throwing with his arm.  He started throwing much harder with his arm so he wouldn't lose much velocity which meant he wouldn't have the control needed to hit his spots. With the ball out over the plate more often he continued to get hit harder.  That is why so many more line drives were hit off him during 2012 and in the playoffs.

 

The real problem was the new pitching cue made him start throwing with his arm.  He just needed someone that had a clue about pitching mechanics to work with him on using his body correctly to generate more energy forward.   Then he could have started relaxing his arm to let this energy release through the ball.  He would have his control back and he could hit his spots much more consistently and not leave the ball out over the plate.  He would also feel so much more effortless which would slow down the game for him.

 

Depending on the statistics you read when a batter in the Major Leagues hits a fly ball 79% of the time it is an out.   When they hit a ground ball 72% of the time it is an out.   When they hit a line drive they are out only 20 to 26% of the time.  This means at any level if a pitcher gets hitters to hit fly balls and grounders they can be very successful.  This means they need the control to be able to hit spots consistently with their pitches to keep hitters from hitting line drives.  If a pitcher loses their control and leaves pitches out over the plate they will not be as successful.


I video every new student that comes in for pitching lessons whether they play baseball or fastpitch softball.   The reason is every pitcher that comes in throws with their arm beacuse of the bad pitching cues (listed above) they are taught.   I then put them beside a Major League or Team USA pitcher so they can see how the very best pitchers actually use their body.   They are amazed how the pro pitchers look so smooth and effortless.  When they learn how to throw with their body they are amazed how hard they throw, their control is so much better and how effortless it feels on them and especially their arm.


If anyone would like more information about good pitching mechanics and how they can help make you much more successful call Mike Sedberry at 304-722-6393.