THE PITCHER'S DELIVERY: Maximum Velocity Efficiency

The pitcher taking the sign. Remember, you decide what pitch to throw. Always throw the pitch you believe in. Throw it with conviction. It is your decision which pitch you throw. The catcher makes suggestions. You decide. Remember, the art of the winning pitcher is ONE PITCH AT A TIME. Each pitch is the entire game.

The more relaxed you are, the better you will pitch. You are in charge. Always be in control. If you feel you are not in charge, step off the rubber, re-focus and start again.

Leg lift. Also known as the gathered position. Each pitcher has a different height in his leg lift. However, it is imperative that you lift your knee to at least waist level to get the most out of the energy you have gathered during your leg lift.

At the apex of your knee lift, you must have visual contact with your target. Your eye is on your target. No later. You must be able to see where you are throwing if you are going to throw accurately and hit your spot.

Lead with the hip. This position, illustrated by Hall of Fame pitcher, Sandy Koufax, is also known as the pitcher's Power Angle. This position is critical and must be accomplished if you are to get the most out of your pitching delivery. The way to get to this position is as soon as the lead foot leaves the ground, you must start your hips moving forward toward your target. Your first movement must be to your target. This enables you to explode toward the plate efficiently and effectively.

First movement is toward the plate. This is the most mechanically efficient position. The average MLB pitcher is about two feet off the rubber and toward the plate at leg lift. If you stop at the top of your delivery, you are hanging out. Nothing is happening. You have actually stopped your momentum, taking away from you efficiency, movement, location and velocity of your pitch.
Move straight to plate as you lift your lead leg.

As you can see in this picture, the pitcher's throwing hand is pointing straight toward the ground, while at the same time, the front leg (landing leg), is straight out. The throwing hand is pointing straight toward the ground, at the same time that the front leg is extended.
About the time the front leg hits the ground, the throwing hand is still pointing to the ground. Just about and as the landing leg hits the ground, the body spins into throwing position.

Landing leg extended. Throwing hand pointing to the ground. This is a critical position during the pitching delivery. With most youth league pitchers, as you can see in the next picture, when the landing leg is in this position, the arm is up way too early. That causes the arm to hang out, waiting for the body to spin. This upsets the pitcher's timing and leads to using the arm, rather than the body, during the pitcher's delivery.
Arm up way too early.

Opposite and Equal elbows. This position gives maximum shoulder rotation during the pitch. The energy travels up the legs into the torso, the chest, and finally into the shoulders. At this point the arm is along for the ride. It is the snap at the end of the whip. A pitcher throws the baseball with his body. The body dictates to the arm. Also, fingers remain on top of the ball throughout the delivery. You can see Orlando Hernandez fingers on top of the ball in this picture.

By holding your glove between the ball and the hitter's eye, you are delaying the time the hitter gets to see the ball, giving you an added extra mile or two on your fastball. This was one of the secrets of Tom Glavin's success and his eventual induction into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Also notice his fingers are on top of the ball. (You can see his change up grip.)

Once the pitcher's elbow reaches shoulder height, the back heel peels starting the hips into rotation. Then, both the elbow coming up and over the shoulder and the back heel and foot peel into forward motion toward the target. The timing at this point is critical and needs much practice to perfect

This is where you create your maximum torque. As you can see, the arm is back and the hips and belt buckle are completely turned toward the plate.
This is where you unleash all your energy into the ball and to home plate. The chest is starting to turn and twist toward the plate, sending chest almost parallel over the front knee (you can see this illustrated in the next two pictures), with the shoulder and arm trailing behind and being carried and brought forth by the complete turn of the torso.
Think about it this way, the energy you have created in your leg lift moves up through your legs, into your hips, which start spinning at this point, sending energy into your core, up into your chest into the shoulders which are rotating and spinning tightly (the shoulders are pinched, created an even tighter spin), and finally that energy cascades into the arm and finally into the hand and the ball.

Here the arm is laid back flat. This will happen naturally if all aspects of your delivery are right from the beginning. This position is called External Rotation. Ideally you want the arm laid back 180 degrees, or more. The chest is forward. All energy is directed toward the target. Also notice the pitcher's body is thrust up against the front leg and behind the knee.The foot must be in front of the knee for maximum leverage.

Again, the chest is directly over the landing leg, the head will come directly forward and over the chest. No side to side movement. The arm is still back as the torso thrusts forward for maximum efficiency and power.

Ball release is out in front of the body. As you can see in this picture, the chest is still coming forward, while the ball is in hand.

The closer to the plate you release the ball, the more difficult it is for the hitter to time your pitch. This is what it means to have Visual Velocity. What this means whatever the velocity, as in the case with Greg Maddox, the ball arrives earlier than the hitter expects it, which is what made him such an effective pitcher. Maddox released further out in front than all the other great pitchers of his time. Therefore, he got more out of his delivery and did Clemens, Johnson, etc.
If you compare Maddox release point with Randy Johnson in the next picture, you can see the difference in chest position at release point.

This is a great illustration of a low three quarter arm angle. Each arm angle is specific to the pitcher and his biology. It is not taught, it just is. This type of arm angle creates great leverage for the slider.

Throwing elbow finishes across the opposite knee. This finish is critical to your health as a pitcher.When you finish in this position, all the excess energy not used in your delivery will flow into the legs. (There is always excess energy, no matter what). 
Also, with the glove tucked into this position, you will have your glove ready to field as well as to protect yourself from a ball hit in your direction. With the glove tucked up again the body creates tighter rotation for your shoulders.
If you finish in a high position and the throwing elbow does not cross the opposite knee, that excess energy boomerangs back into your shoulder. You don't want that. That leads to an injury in the shoulder. Scapula, most likely.

If you do everything right from the beginning of your delivery to the end of your delivery, this is the Flat Back finish you will have in your delivery. This is ideal. It is all about form. Moving the right parts at the right time in the right rhythm.

Again, the great finish. Neck bowed and eyes on the hitter. Glove tucked in.

Just hit that ball to me, I am ready for it.

1 comment:

  1. This was great. It was awesome to see some of the greats in these vital points of their delivery.