Big Time Velocity KillerAugust 15, 2011
Pitching GripsAugust 22, 2011
A very common velocity killer we correct time and time again with pitchers is dropping and driving mechanics. If you didn’t have a chance to read that email Monday, you can find it here on the pitching blog.
We got a question in response to Monday’s email asking for some more depth in explaining the validity of what we teach (leading with the hip to gain momentum).
Below is a further explanation (a response to the question we received) of the drawbacks of the drop and drive method vs. leading with the hip. It’s important to understand since if you haven’t worked with your pitcher on this technique, there is a good chance he’s doing it incorrectly.
By leading with the front hip, as opposed to dropping and driving/pushing, the lower body is moving faster to the plate than the upper body. Doing this allows the pitcher to create a long stride which is necessary in creating momentum and energy during the delivery of the pitch. Upon landing, the front leg will be flexed and then braces and straightens as the upper body moves over past the front foot. This technique propels the pitcher forward and allows the body to work hard in the delivery rather than the arm.
If a pitcher drops downward from a balanced position he isn’t moving any energy towards home plate and instead is transferring it into the ground. At this point the pitcher will need tremendous leg strength to regenerate that movement forward. Another disadvantage of the drop and drive method is that younger athletes will rarely get their stride to a length that is sufficient in letting their body work in the pitching delivery. More strain will be put on the arm because of this as the upper body will compensate for the energy creation the body couldn’t do because of the short stride. Further, I’ve seen plenty of athletes who drop and drive have trouble with almost jumping to landing position. They land off-balanced with their upper body shifted forward instead of in the center of the body where you want it to be on landing. Finally, when kids drop from the balanced position they tend to shift their balance point backwards some as the leg bends. Once the upper body tilts backwards they are almost certain to open their front side more on landing, which reduces velocity, control, and puts undue strain on the throwing arm.
It’s not to say that there has been nobody in the Bigs who has experienced success with the drop and drive technique. Some of the old school guys (Tom Seaver) threw with this technique, but we don’t see this method used widely in competitive baseball anymore. Technology has allowed us to observe mechanics more closely today and thus learn truly more effective and safer ways of generating momentum towards home plate. Virtually 100% of MLB pitchers use the method described in the previous email. Here are a couple more clips to take a look at below. Notice that momentum begins with the hip “falling” forward and then the back leg flexes to keep the body balanced as the pitcher approaches the landing position.
Of course to be sure you’re teaching the right movements to your pitcher, we explain this technique and much more in the pitching series. It’s well worth your investment to make sure your pitcher’s mechanics are solid for next season.