Basics of Baseball Pitching
The basics of pitching are not that complicated. It is the throwing motion with a couple of added elements. I believe pitching is one of the most over coached aspects of baseball, but basic throwing is one of the most under taught skills. With that in mind, coaches should always address players’ basic throw and catch mechanics first. Throwing fundamentally correct when warming up, needs to be addressed before practicing pitching. When kids throwing mechanics are sound, a smooth pitching delivery comes much easier.
Correct throwing mechanics require the correct arm swing with fingers on top of the ball, a solid, closed front side, and a direct, athletic move towards the target. Once correct, the pitching motion simply adds an increased power build up, a longer stride, and grip changes. The rhythm and timing of the pitching delivery is always a work in progress, just as timing is with hitting.
Like with teaching most skills it is best to begin slowly with the basic motions, before moving into actual pitching; the repetitive movements of these drills will translate into the correct pitching delivery.
Baseball Pitching Mechanics
- The power build up begins by getting the weight to the back leg with the front knee lift while the ball is set in the glove. The key to the power build-up is that the pitchers weight remains on the inside of the rear foot. This is not an easy move for young pitchers. I have pitchers practice this beginning pitching move by raising the front foot and placing it on their back knee. This practice drill helps them close their front side but at the same time, it keeps their weight slightly forward, leading to an aggressive front side move to home plate. It is important that the ball remains in the glove until the forward descent to home. Once set, the pitchers lead leg and ball separation begins together. Once again, by setting the foot on the knee in this manner, pitchers close their front side but keep their weight forward as their head will be leaning slightly forward with this drill, leading to the crucial velocity-increasing move.
- The next necessary aspect of pitching requires a direct movement of the front side, led by the hip, towards home plate. Setting two lines down, as seen here, gives pitchers the parameters of their stride and direction. Starting with the stride foot down and gradually working on raising the knee back and slightly higher, is good way to begin. This helps pitchers understand the importance of landing on the ball of the foot in a closed direct manner.
- The final stage of pitching fundamentals is a complete follow through. This action requires level eyes at release with a steady head, along with arm extension and weight transfer. I teach the follow through with a balance position; where players hold their finish with the ball out front, head over their glove and back leg up in the air. Pitchers who are out of balance will have difficulty holding this position.
Once pitchers are able to perfect these moves, throwing balls in this same manner should begin, remembering that the head is the key to balance and any incorrect head action will make it difficult to hold the correct pitching positions.