Monday, October 17, 2005

Going Downhill

Flat Ground Downhill Momentum

Objective:

To generate downhill momentum on flat-ground surface to increase downhill force when throwing from a pitching mound.

Procedure:

The pitcher sets up in the stretch position. In the stretch position, the pitcher’s legs should be approximately shoulder width apart. A coach should place a cone or marker in front of the lead leg’s foot. The pitcher will perform his leg kick. When fully raised the pitcher’s lead foot should align with the foot still on the rubber. The pitcher will have to slightly rotate their glove side hip during the leg lift. When this occurs, the pitcher lead leg’s back pocket will be visible to the hitter. When the pitcher reaches the top of the kick, he should forcefully push off the rubber with the back foot. By pushing toward the plate, the pitcher will create straight-line momentum. After the push, the pitcher’s lead leg should clear the marker that was placed in front of the foot at the beginning of the drill. The pitcher should try to clear his lead leg’s hip over the marker before lowering the lead leg into the plant position. The pitcher should “feel” his weight getting out in front during the delivery. Once the movements are mastered, the pitcher should focus on “falling” for as long as possible before getting into the plant position. Once the lower body movements are reviewed, the pitcher can start focusing on upper body mechanics. The lead arm, after the hands break, should be tilted up and pointed above the target. By incorporating the front-side tilt, the pitcher is forced to come up and over with the pitch in order to throw a strike. Furthermore, when the stretch position has been practiced, the pitcher can throw from the complete delivery. The marker will need to be adjusted according the individual pitcher’s height and stride length.

Summary:

This drill focuses on the creation of down hill momentum in a flat ground setting. The rationale is that if a pitcher can create this momentum without a hill the force and momentum should be increased when a mound is added. Getting the pitcher to slightly angle their lead leg back with a small hip rotation on the kick helps create a downward angle because the landing braces has be moved back and the pitcher’s weight will begin to “fall” forward. When the pitcher pushes off the rubber at the top of the leg kick their momentum is increased even more because of the brace being removed from the front of the delivery. By adding a radar gun to this drill, coaches can show pitchers quantitative evidence on the difference between downhill momentum and flat ground movements.



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