Monday, October 24, 2005

RBI Baseball

Plus Two Baseball


To package players in groups of four, according to their traditional spot in the batting order, facing a relief pitcher who is trying to stop them from scoring two runs with a runner starting on second base.


Standard defense on the field
Groups of four offensive players according to batting order position
Relief pitcher on mound


The coach must break his team up into groups of four according to their spot in the batting order, an example would be: the leadoff, second, third, and fourth hitters are in a group of four. The first person in the group will start at second base. The three other offensive players will try and score two runs before recording three outs. All hitters will start with a 0-1 count. The defense and relief pitcher will try and stop the offense from scoring. The coach will continue to move offensive groups through the rotation. The entire batting order should hit, along with any players that contribute through pitch hitting roles. Players starting at second will work on their leads and are eligible to steal bases at any time during the hitting rotation. Each group will start with no outs, so they drill will stimulate a leadoff double. Every time a group scores two runs they receive one point. The group of four with the most points gets to sit out of end of practice fieldwork. Once the relief pitcher has thrown 50 pitches, another relief pitcher can rotate into the game to try and record outs against the offense.


This drill allows players to work in the proper batting order to help produce runs. Offensive players are able to work on hitting in a negative count, while a runner is at second base. Relief pitchers get to work on improving their delivery from the stretch, holding base runners, and working in a positive 0-1 count trying to throw breaking balls for strikes. The defense will practice working with a lead off run at second base and trying to record three outs before the runner is able to score. Outfielders should try and throw the runner out at the plate and execute proper relays on balls hit in the outfield gaps. This drill promotes teamwork and forces players to execute properly in order to score runs. Furthermore, this drill helps create game-like pressure through realistic situations that both offensive and defensive players will see in upcoming contests. Players that can properly execute these types of drills will have a mental edge when the situation arises in the game.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Looking at Arm Action

Three Pitcher Bullpen


To create maximum arm speed and focus on the pitcher circling the upper arm during the throwing motion.


The drill starts with a flipper, pitcher, and catcher. The flipper will stand parallel to the pitcher, while the catcher assumes his normal stance behind home plate. In fact, the catcher can set up at any distance from the mound, depending on the situation. The pitcher will begin his delivery on the mound without a ball in his glove. After the pitcher reaches his balance point, the flipper, who is standing parallel to the rubber, flips the pitcher a ball to throw. The flipper should be down on one knee, so the ball is tossed low to the pitcher right after the hand break. The pitcher will catch the ball with his throwing hand. After catching the ball, the pitcher will focus on moving his upper-arm in a complete circle. With the flipper tossing the ball low after hand break, it helps the pitcher complete a full circle with the upper arm. The pitcher should try to move his arm as fast as possible. Of course, at first, the pitcher will have to move slowly during the delivery in order to catch, circle, and throw. After mastery of the drill, the pitcher should concentrate on moving as fast as possible with the lower body as well as their arm. The pitchers should throw in sets of eight. Each set should start out with two outside fastballs. After eight pitches, the pitcher becomes the catcher. The catcher becomes the flipper and the flipper becomes the pitcher. The pitchers can work this rotation for 5-10 minutes, measuring arm speed by their momentum during finish after ball release. Good arm speed will almost pull the pitcher to face the 1st baseman when released. The pitcher, who is flipping, can advise the pitcher on what his arm action looks like upon release. The pitcher’s partner should pay attention to the upper arm circle, wrist action, and forward momentum. All these factors contribute to proper and healthy arm action.


This drill focuses on the action of the arm when the pitcher is just reacting to the ball. When an infielder fields the ball, a runner is sprinting down the baseline; he must react by throwing the ball as fast and hard as possible. If the infielder stops to control his stride, arm position, and momentum he will never be able to throw the runner out at first base. This drill puts the pitcher in a similar situation. They are moving forward toward the plate. The flipped ball causes the pitcher to react like an infielder, which has just had the ball hit to him. Also, the flipped ball forces the pitcher to speed his arm up to throw a strike. If the pitcher’s arm doesn’t speed up his moving body will not allow him to throw where the target is set up. Hopefully, this drill will help pitchers establish position player throwing mechanics on the mound.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Looking at the Lever

Front-Side Tilt: Is it necessary to reach maximum velocity?

As I was watching the Angels versus White Sox, I could not help but notice Francisco Rodriquez pitching delivery. He is able to generate so much momentum during his motion to the plate that is body almost does a complete rotation off the mound. Also, I noticed his glove arm, after the hand break, shooting straight up and then forcefully down. The movement looked extremely similar to the illustration above. It was not only practiced with his fastballs, but his breaking balls as well. Also, it was quite obvious that his breaking ball was able to break very sharply at a 12 to 6 location. As a coach, I have always preached the front-side tilt because I liked the fact that pitchers are forced to throw overhand when incorporating this style.

But after looking further, I think there is more evidence that can support this claim that front side tilt leads to increased velocity. By extending the lead arm up, the pitcher is lengthening the amount of time they have to apply force to the opposite side of the lever. If more force is applied to the “effort” side of the lever, the “load” side of the lever should move more rapidly. Furthermore, it seems that if the “load” side of the lever starts lower, compared to the force side, more speed can be generated as it moves upward on the fulcrum. If this hypothesis is correct, pitchers that practice a high cocked arm position definitely are not maximizing their velocity potential and circling the upper arm along with creating front side tilt can help pitchers achieve a higher throwing velocity.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Going Downhill

Flat Ground Downhill Momentum


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


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.


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.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Pitching Discussion on the Web

Check out the following FREE information on the web:

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The Complete Pitcher has a variety of information on strength, mechanics, and drills that can improve developing pitchers in many ways. CHECK IT OUT!

Working with the Elbow

Elbow Extension: How can it be Improved?

Velocity Variable: Elbow/bicep extension during the pitching motion

According to a 2001 Fleisig and Andrews’s study, elbow extension is one of the four key elements found in high velocity pitchers. Elbow extension occurs during the acceleration phase of the delivery right before release. High velocity pitchers like shot putters, typically pronating their pitching arm and extending through release.

The following drills promote strength and increase speed of elbow extension. The Two Knee Shotput Throw practices the final stage of elbow extension and concentrates attention on release. The Standing Shotput Throw practices both stages of proper release. First, it has pitchers perform the proper upper arm circle and maxium extentsion of elbow. Both drills, if done correctly, slots the pitcher’s arm in the proper spot and helps achieve maxium external rotation.

Two Knee Shot Put Throw:

The pitcher starts on both knees facing the target, which should be approxamately 25-30 feet away. The pitcher will rotate torso so the lead arm’s elbow is facing the target. When the lead arm is bent and pointing at the target the pitcher will raise their throwing upper arm to shoulder height. When the arm is raised to the proper height, the pitcher will relax the elbow, forearm, and wrist. When relaxation is complete, the pitcher should find their forearm resting on their bicep. By relaxing the elbow, the pitcher should achieve increased external rotation. The ball should be by the pitcher’s ear and the pitcher’s position will resemble a shotputter getting ready to throw. When the pitcher’s position is correct, they will rotate torso and bring the lead arm/glove right to their stomach. The pitcher will then extend the elbow, forearm, and wrist out towards their target. The pitcher should focus on the feel of the extension and how it takes place out front when a pitch is delivered properly. The pitcher should also play close attention to the wrist and give it an aggressive snap at the end of the pitch.

Standing Shot Put Throw:

The pitcher starts in the set position with a target 50-60 feet away. With the hands and glove together, the pitcher will break the ball from the glove. When breaking the hands, the pitcher will focus on circling the upper arm and the relaxing of the forearm, elbow, and wrist. The pitcher’s lead arm should be bent and the elbow pointing at the target. The upper arm should make a complete rotation. The pitcher can start this circling process slowly and work on picking up the speed once the action is mastered. In this drill, the pitcher should practice the load, taking the weight back, and the stride, taking the weight toward the target. The load must take place inorder to get momentum moving in the stride. The break and circling of the upper arm should take place simuitiously while the stride is occuring. While relaxing the forearm, elbow, and wrist the pitcher should weight until the forearm contacts the bicep as soon as this happens the pitcher must concentrate on extending the elbow toward the target. This touch tells the pitcher it is time to release the pitch. The pitcher should also play close attention to the wrist and give it an aggressive snap at the end of the pitch. Again, the arm action can start out slow, with a partner at 20-30 feet. Once the motion becomes familiar, the pitcher can increase the tempo and the distance of the target can be lengthen. The pitcher’s goal should be to circle the upper arm and extend the elbow at top speed.

Matsuo, T, Escamila, RF, Fleisig GS, Barrentine, SW, and Andrews, JR. Comparison of kinematic and temporal parameters between different pitch velocity groups. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 17(1): 1-13, 2001.

Extending Toward the Plate

Velocity Variable Push and Lead leg Stability

The strength and stability of pitchers lower body has been proven to be very important for throwing velocity. In 1998, Bruce MacWillams conducted a study that examined ground reaction forces during the pitching motion. The study’s results indicated that leg drive is a significant factor in pitcher’s throwing velocity. The push motion in the delivery is not the only important action of the lower body. The lead leg that blocks forward movement is also an essential element in a pitcher’s throwing velocity. In a 2001 study, Matsuo found that high velocity throwers were able to plant and extend the lead knee to provide stability to the pitching motion. In addition, the Lexington Clinic was provided an outline evaluating kinetic movements. They included a .89 correlation between throwing velocity and lower body strength. The following drill promotes strength and extension of the lower body:

Lead Knee Extension Drill

Objective: To promote forward momentum and the transfer of energy directly toward home plate from the pitching rubber by forcefully extending the lead leg.

Procedure: The pitcher will stand with their feet shoulder’s width apart. Their arms will be crossed at chest level. The pitcher will pivot the throwing foot and kick the lead leg up, just like a regular pitching delivery. With their arms crossed, the pitcher will bring the lead leg down and plant. When planting, the pitcher will have transferred all their weight from the backside to the lead leg. This will be indicted by the back foot sliding forward approximately 3-4 inches. After the plant, the back leg will stop moving. At this point, the pitcher should be in a lunge type position with their weight forward. In the next step, the pitcher will forcefully extend the lead leg. The back foot should be turned over, with the toe dragging on the ground. The pitcher should bring the back leg forward to a standing position. The pitcher should feel a strong pull in the lead leg’s groin, hamstring, and quadriceps. Once the movement is mastered with the lower body, the upper body can be added. The pitcher must remember to stride forward as far as possible, landing on a flex lead leg. Eventually, the pitcher can add 10-15lbs. ankle weights to the back leg to increase resistance during lead leg extension. If the drill is done in pairs, a partner can add resistance by holding on to the back ankle during the front leg extension. The tension can vary and the drill should be done until the groin, hamstring, and quadriceps is fatigue to failure. After mastery, pitchers can incorporate throwing into the drill. If a baseball is added to the drill, the pitcher should release during the extension and drag of the back foot. If a pitcher releases before lead leg extension occurs, the focus point of the drill is lost and bad habits may be formed. Players should thoroughly master the drill and add resistance to the ankle before incorporating a ball.

Lexington Sports Medicine Clinic, Kinetic Chain in Function and Dysfunction.

MacWilliams, B, Choi, T., Perezous, M, Chao, E, McFarland, E. Characteristic Ground Reaction Forces in Baseball Pitching. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 26(1): 66-71, 1998.

Matsuo, T, Escamila, RF, Fleisig GS, Barrentine, SW, and Andrews, JR. Comparison of kinematic and temporal parameters between different pitch velocity groups. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 17(1): 1-13, 2001.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Working with the Lead Arm

Lead Arm Infield

Objective: To promote lead arm extension while practicing different defensive situations.

Offense: Outfielder and Catchers

Defense: Infielders

Procedure: Outfielders and catchers will be at the plate. The coach will flip soft toss to the offense having them swing with just their lead arm. The hitter, after making contact, will run out the play like a regular batted ball. With regular game-like intensity, the defense will field the ball and try and record the out at 1st base. To start, the infield should be positioned at a shallow depth. When the offense is familiar with lead arm hitting, have the defense move back to normal depth. If the batted ball reaches the outfield, the hitter will stay at 1st base and become a regular base runner. When a runner reaches 1st base the defense should concentrate on turning a double play. As the offensive players get more familiar with the drill, they can practice increased bat control by putting the ball either to the right or left side of the infield. Infielders can also adjust the drill to work on backhands, slow rollers, or diving to field balls out of reach. Catchers and pitchers could be added also to work on a wide variety of defensive situations like plays at the plate or 1-2-3 double plays.

Application: Lead Arm Infield is a good drill to use when trying to break up the regular routine of practice. Also, it allows the coach an opportunity to see which players are getting maximum lead-arm extension. This team drill can be incorporated into a pre-game warm-up for infielders since space can be adjusted for different settings. This drill is effective indoors to simulate game- like situations without needing the space of an entire field.

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