Pitching Use Your Body For More Power And Success
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.