Basic Pitching Technique

Basic Pitching Technique

Don’t be too ‘fine’ as a pitching coach. Work a simple approach and optimize mechanical issues after players have self-corrected.Simplicity is the key throughout all areas of baseball

What you’ll learn


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    The difference between approach and mechanics

    Why you’re much better off to teach an approach as opposed to correcting a bunch of mechanics

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    How humans have naturally evolved to throw small objects

    The program is already in place – how can we build on it instead of reconstructing it from scratch

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    Why coaching pitching is difficult & the best way to make it simple

    If you actually want results, this is the way to teach your players how to pitch

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    A step-by-step approach that we have used for years that will produce results

    You won’t believe how simple it is, but it flat out works

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    Things you need to know before actually coaching your pitchers

    How to warm up, go about your bull pens, and coach your pitchers in game etc.

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    How important it is to make sure that you're not screwing your pitchers up at a young age

    The pitching technique you teach your players at the youth levels are so important and will effect the rest of their future

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    Common flaw reference guide

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    Verbal cues

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Drill Explanation

Implementation


Coaching pitching at the younger levels is more about approach than it is about mechanics
Approach: the method or plan to reach a goal
Mechanics: the step by step movements put together to create an approach

If you’re teaching a new movement (pitching), you want to focus on the end goal an an approach to get to that goal. You want to give the player a chance to try and achieve that goal using self-correction prior to stepping in and messing with their mechanics too early. Once a player understands the end goal and is struggling with their self correction then you can feel free to step in and adjust a mechanical flaw that you’re noticing, but make it simple and focus on one thing at a time.

Humans are the only species that have evolved to throw small objects hard and fast
Think about it this way…the oldest known spear point is dated around 500 thousand years old and humans have been hunting for their food for almost 2 million years. That means that for 1.5 million years people had nothing but sharpened sticks and rocks to hunt their food with. So a big part of being able to eat in those pre historic times was figuring out the ability to throw a small object while hunting. So the human body adapted and evolved to allow us to throw harder and faster than any other species. If you compare us with our closest chimpanzee relatives that are only able to throw a baseball topping out at about 20 MPH, we’re definitely built to throw.

This doesn’t mean that young kids automatically are mechanically efficient and throw 90mph as soon as they start walking around. It’s a learned skill that has to be optimized through trial and error. The mistake that we often make as coaches and parents is that we try to fix small mechanical issues too early instead of letting our players go through self-correction.

For example, think about the following scenario: Let’s say you were stranded on an island with 1 coconut tree and thousands of small rocks. You’ve never played any type of sport that required you to throw. You realize very quickly that to survive you’re going to need to get those coconuts down from that tree. You can’t climb the tree, so you start to throw rocks at the coconut. You’re very wild at first, but with a little practice you start to get a bit more accurate. When you finally do hit the coconut, the rock simply bounces off and the coconut does not fall. You start to understand that you’re going to have to learn how to throw these rocks harder and be more accurate because the energy that you’re using with every miss is counterproductive.

You start to think about all of your previous throws including the misses and the ones that were close or actually hit the coconut and start comparing and contrasting the differences. Since you can’t see yourself throwing, it’s all done by feel. For example, you noticed that you would miss high and to the right when your front shoulder opened up too early. You also noticed that the furthest rock you threw (even though it was way off it’s mark, high and to the right) was when you got a running start and almost fell over forward after your release because of the momentum you created.

So, you simply deduce that you’re going to have to combine these two approaches to be able to accomplish your goal. If it works great, and if not you readjust and test again. That’s self-correction and the value of teaching yourself something sticks with you way longer than if someone gave you directions on how to do it and you simply followed them.

The point at which a coach becomes valuable is when a player has self-corrected about 95% of the movement that they’re trying to achieve and the coach comes in and recognized the mechanical flaw (the remaining 5%) that is keeping the player from reaching their goal and is able to show the player how to fix it to help them get over the hump. That’s called optimization.

We need to learn to get out of the way as coaches when it comes to teaching our kids how to pitch
The throwing motion is hard to understand and even harder to teach. Jumping in too early and trying to teach a kid how to throw from scratch, correcting every mechanical flaw you see on every throw is a losing battle. You’ll get frustrated and the kid will get frustrated.

Give the kid a result oriented goal (ex. throw the ball hard and hit your catcher at knee line) and let him self correct, until it’s very apparent that there’s one or two mechanical issues that need to be corrected and step in at that point. We don’t want to be too fine as coaches when teaching pitching. Make it simple and allow the players to struggle a little bit.

Use this simple approach and you’ll win games
1. A perfect pitch is at the catchers knee line (imagine a string placed between the catchers knees, this should be at the very bottom of the zone)
2. Don’t worry about working in and out, try to throw it right down the middle (you’ll naturally be in and out)
3. If you miss, miss below knee line (no doubles are hit in the dirt)
4. Be able to throw all of your pitches in any count (being able to throw off speed pitches for strikes is crucial to success)
5. Get ahead of every hitter (throwing strike one puts the pitcher in a situation that’s highly advantageous)

Things you should know before you start to coach your pitchers

1. How to warm up – You warm up to throw, you don’t throw to warm up. before bullpens or pitching in a game pitchers should have a good sweat going prior to ever throwing a ball – a simple rule to use is if the forearms aren’t sweating, we’re not throwing a bullpen. What makes the human body able to throw hard is the flexibility of the tendons and ligaments in the shoulder, these need to be warmed up prior to using at full speed.

HERE’S A LINK TO OUR ULTIMATE PREGAME WARM UP IF YOU NEED IDEAS ON HOW TO GET PITCHERS READY TO THROW

2. How to coach bullpens – Explain to your players that their only goal is to hit knee line while throwing as hard as they can without being totally out of control. You don’t care how they do it, just as long as they can figure it out. It’s ok to miss down, but we never miss up, even though missing up often is a strike, it’s also in the hitters wheel house. Hitters, especially young hitters, hit the high pitch much more consistently. You don’t want to go over 30 pitches in bullpen session in general. You want to have 80% of the pitches from the stretch, and 20% from the wind-up. Make sure to point out the difference of how they “feel” when they do hit knee line compared to when they miss up. Make sure to have players or coaches stand in as a hitter often for your pitchers to get used to it.

3. How to coach pitchers during games – You need to make sure that you’re using the same verbal cues that you’ve used during your bullpen sessions. Don’t try and correct mechanics that you’ve never talked about before, just because you see something new. Make sure your pitchers understand that it’s not about keeping hitters from hitting the ball, it’s about hitting knee line with every pitch. Make you team understand that the best outings are judged by efficiency not meaningless numbers (ex. a complete game, 2 – 1 win, with 80 pitches thrown is better than a complete game, 2-1 win, with 100 pitches thrown). Constantly remind them to get ahead of every hitter. Before pitchers ever go out on the mound make sure that they know that the umpire is going to miss some calls, probably a lot of calls, and they should expect that and react accordingly. Never let your pitcher display any type of bad body language – umpires are going to miss calls and fielders are going to make errors, there’s nothing the pitcher can do to change that. Their job is to stick with their approach and not let outside factors influence their performance.

Don’t let youth pitchers throw over 90 pitches in a single game & don’t let them throw over 35 in a single inning.

The Reasoning


Good vs. Bad

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Verbal Cues


Beginner’s Fielding Technique Verbal Cues

Left eye – refers to the position of the ball relative to the players body when they’re fielding it. If you were to drop a string from the players left eye, that should be about the place they’re fielding the ball (on a routine gb). If you want to read more about left eye you can do so in a couple of articles [LINK TO TRIANGLE DRILL] [LINK TO FIELDING POSITION ARTICLE]

Glove presentation – refers to how the player is carrying his glove from the time the ball is hit to the time he fields the ball. We want it on the outside of the left hip or left side of the body hanging and loose. We don’t want it inside of the frame of the body or flexed.

Clear yourself – refers to creating an angle toward any type of ground ball. We want our players to do this on any routine ground ball no matter what direction. It gives the players a better perspective to judge hops and speeds. It also helps with keeping the players feet moving. It also helps with keeping the players from over pursuing on the ball to the left, as well as, creating momentum towards first on the ball to the player’s right. If you want a deeper explanation on the line drill you can read this article [LINK TO THE LINE DRILL]

Field the right side of the ball – This is a good one that helps the players with clearing themselves. If you were to take the ball and split it in half vertically, you want them to try and field the right half of the ball. Will they actually field the right side of the ball, no. But, it’s all about the approach and the steps prior to even fielding it.

Never let your feet stop – this is a big one, as soon as the feet become stuck errors will follow. Even if the player clears themselves and is in the right position waiting to take his final approach steps, their feet should still be moving. The feet should either be chopping (not like a football player, just an easy movement) in place or gaining ground toward the baseball. You’ll use this cue a lot on the ball to a players left. Often, they get their early and aren’t quite sure what to do when they’re sitting in that “hallway”. We tell them, if they’re in the hallway early, and they feel like they’re waiting to long to go ahead and “gain a level” (explained next).

Sneak up on the ball – refers to the posture and general approach to the ball. We tell our players to sneak up on the ball when they are approaching it too tall or they have heavy feet. This cue seems to really connect with players and they pick it up quickly.

Gain a level – you can use this when you’re explaining how to correctly charge a baseball. You don’t want your players charging the baseball and becoming out of control or being late with their approach steps. Gaining a level simply refers to taking 1-2 steps towards the ball (while staying in the hallway) so as to cut down the distance, but to still be in control and be able to take our final approach steps into a routine ground ball.

Funnel – refers to the hands coming to the center of the body around the belly button area after the player has received the ball. Even if the player picks a short hop, with his hands moving through the ball, we want them to bring them back to the center to have a consistent breaking point leading into a throw.

Right to left, left to the target – refers to the feet after the player has received the ball. We don’t teach the step in front method because in our experience, you don’t gain a significantly larger amount of of ground towards the target and it seems easier for the kids to pick up. Remember, often times on a routine ground ball it will end up being shuffle, shuffle, throw. The right to left, left to the target is only talking about the initial steps out of the fielding position. Feel free to start with the shuffle, shuffle…which would be right to left, left to the target, right to left, left to the target and throw.

Verbal Cues Printable PDF