Hi. I've been trying to learn how to do it myself and also teach some little guys about hip/shoulder separation.
Although it doesn't seem that complicated and it isn't that difficult to understand or show it it's pretty tough to actually execute it.
My questions are:
1- What is the best way to rotate the hips? Should I focus on turning inward the back foot? Maybe focus on the back knee? Should I focus on the back hip and leave the foot/knee alone? Or on the front hip? Or should I focus on the pitching arm side shoulder (focus on keeping it back) and just rotate the hips naturally?
After a while it will get second nature, but the first time trying you will have to focus on something.
2- Is there any drills to help with that?
3- Is there any sign that I should look for? I mean, looking at the video in slow motion it's easy to see if someone is getting separation, but not always I have a video device with me. So if I could look for signs that maybe someone is not getting separation would be cool.
And those of you pitchers who have achieved good hip/shoulder separation, pls tell me how you learned, what you focused on etc.
srtech out that back! rotational back stretches helped me out alot.. swimming also helped me longate the spine and create flexibility with my back/spine.
Actually, it's a bit more complicated than you're probably thinking. There are a number of things that can make it difficult to get good hip and shoulder separation - things like dropping or flying open with the glove, postural issues, anything that causes timing problems - early shoulder rotation.
Any of those might serve as cues that could work for different pitchers. But I like to put the focus on the glove arm to make sure it's still in the equal and opposite as close to foot plant as possible as that allows the shoulders to stay closed longer. The longer the shoulders stay closed, the more separation the hips can achieve.
Search this site for "knee drill" and "rocker drill" in posts by me. These drills would allow you to put some focus on separation.
The key is to pick the right time to assess separation. You're basically looking at hip rotation right before the shoulders rotate - slightly after front foot plant.
i say the easiest way is just practicing staying closed
stay closed until foot plant
Hmm this seems a little awkward to me... from everything focusing on the glove arm would be the last thing I would think... From what I've seen, you use a lot of NPA recommendations. I just bought Tom House's The Pitching Edge book (2nd Edition), is this a good one?
Same here... as I'm having trouble with using the lower body and have guys to use it, wouldn't doing drills (knee drill) to isolate the upper body and not use the lower body at all be counter-productive?
The knee drill can be done to practice "showing the numbers" or "tighten the rubber band". That will help you get hip/shoulder rotation if you like doing that. CC Sabathia uses this technique. Some pitchers like to use more hips. If so, you need to do what roger was saying and just practice keeping your shoulder closed. It is just what works for you.
Good question. It took me a while to get this myself. I agree focusing on the glove side is not intuitively obvious. But, just "trying to stay closed" is gonna be difficult if you've got something else going on that competes with your ability to stay closed. A glove-side tilt makes it difficult to separate hips and shoulders. Try it. Stand up and lean to your glove side and then try to rotate the hips as far as they'll go while keeping the shoulders closed. It's much more difficult than if you maintain good posture. Getting good separation requires good timing as well. Flying out with the glove tends to destroy timing by pulling the shoulders open early. Getting good separation means delaying shoulder rotation long enough for the hips to fully rotate first. It really is a timing thing.
That book has some things in it that are still valid but it's not his latest. The Art and Science of Pitching is his latest book that describes his mechanics model. Fastball Fitness describes training protocols but also has an excellent section that describes how each part of the body contributes to velocity. His latest book is called Arm Action, Arm Path, and The Perfect Pitch: Building the Million Dollar Arm. It attempts to use science to debunk a lot of the common traditional wisdom teaches we hear a lot. I originally thought this latest book would be optional reading but I'm just about finished reading it and I think it should be required reading for pitchers. If you can afford it (none of these books are very expensive), I would recommend getting all three of them.
Ok, so it takes good timing to maximize one's separation. How much separation one is able to get is dependent on their flexibility and will differ from pitcher to pitcher. But it also takes some neuromuscular patterning. In other words, you've got to be "wired" to do it. For many young pitchers, this is a real hurdle. For not as young pitchers, it still might be somewhat foreign. In these cases, getting it figured out is the first step. The drills I mentioned put your body into positions and movements where you can start to feel what separation feels like. Once you've got the parts working, then you can start to work on optimizing them.
So, I've given you some up-front stuff in the form of drills and some timing stuff that starts with the glove side. If you do things well - good posture and balance, good momentum, good timing starting with good glove side management, etc. - hip and shoulder rotation should take care of themselves.
I have seen Tom House's Rocker Drill and I had some questions/issues with it.
First he says that it all happens after foot plant. That the knee moves in and the hips start to rotate, the shoulders move back to "show the numbers"
Question I had was does this all really happen after foot strike or does it happen slightly before foot strike?
Reason why I ask is when I look at slow motion video of pitchers their back knee turns in toward the plate before foot strike along with the shoulders looking as if they are loading up. According to the Rocker Drill, the knee and hips don't do anything until the stride foot plants.
So am I confused or is the timing of the Rocker Drill inaccurate?
All drills that isolate part of a high-speed human motion are inaccurate to some degree.
IMO, the salient questions with respect to the Rocker Drill are: (1) How inaccurate is it? (2) Is the inaccuracy, with respect to an actual delivery, enough to render the drill useless, or even counterproductive (3) Is there any other good way to get the kinesthetic experience of hip/shoulder separation near foot-strike?
Many pitchers do begin to open their hips when their stride foot is a couple of inches from planting on the ground. At the speeds they are moving at that point in the delivery, the timing difference between foot-plant and a couple of inches before foot-plant is unlikely to be more than 5 to 10 milliseconds, using the frame rate of a typical high-speed (200 - 300 fps) video camera as a 'clock".
If you wanted to modify the Rocker drill slightly to make it more realistic than it currently is, one might start from the set position, proceed into foot-strike, rock forward, rock back and return to the set position every time....rather than the current drill which usually includes 3 or 4 cycles of rocking forward and back with the hips opening and closing, before finally throwing the ball.
Personally, I don't think 5 - 10 milliseconds of possible timing error is enough to worry about but on the other hand nothing is etched in stone--if you have a better solution for coaching hip/shoulder separation let's hear it.
I think the Rocker Drill is good for teaching hip/shoulder separation. I was questioning the timing of the hip/shoulder movement to be off since I see pitchers start to pop the hips and shoulders before foot strike. Cause in his video for the Rocker Drill he says after foot strike and releasing the back foot is when the hips rotate and the shoulders move back to show the numbers. I see pitchers in slow motion video doing that as they are getting close to foot strike not after landing.
Am I wrong?
"Many pitchers do begin to open their hips when their stride foot is a couple of inches from planting on the ground. At the speeds they are moving at that point in the delivery, the timing difference between foot-plant and a couple of inches before foot-plant is unlikely to be more than 5 to 10 milliseconds, using the frame rate of a typical high-speed (200 - 300 fps) video camera as a 'clock". "
-------------No, I don't think you're wrong. I just don't think the timing discrepancy is enough to be concerned about, but that's just my personal opinion.
Nevertheless, if you wanted to modify the Rocker Drill to incorporate the hips opening just before the stride foot touches down, I think it might be possible...instead of doing 3 or 4 cycles of "rock forward/rock back" you could return to the set position, stride (with hips starting to open a little before foot plant), plant, rock forward, rock back, return to the set...and repeat.
My question about a better solution was sincere...hip/shoulder separation is not an easy teach for those kids who don't just seem to naturally get it, so I am always interested in how coaches approach this.
Still in the process of reading House's Million Dollar Arm book, really good so far.
I was using the hip/shoulder separation technique but for some reason it felt weird doing it but I think it was from landing more on the front of my foot than on my heel. I have been trying it when landing on my heel and it feels a bit more comfortable.
Shoulder rotation should occur after front foot plant. Hip rotation will usually start right before foot plant for most pitchers as necessary to open up the front leg and foot into foot plant. How much is dependent on flexibility. There are some pitchers who can open up front front leg and foot without rotating this hips at all. For them, all hip rotation occurs after foot plant. For others, some hip rotation occurs before foot plant and the rest - probably the most - occurs after foot plant.
The back leg/knee turns to allow the hips to rotate and I believe that happens right before hip rotation.
I agree with you Roger and Flap. I realized why it may have not felt so comfortable, I wasn't extending my lower back aka "stack n track" Now that I'm doing that my arm is whipping really fast and feels really comfortable.
So not only is Hip/Shoulder Separation important but so is "Stack n Track". Even though 20% seems small compared to 80%, I think they are equally important.
Any thoughts on Stack n Track? Does it just happen or does a pitcher have to make an effort to extend his lower back while keeping his upper torso and spine upright?
re: "...thoughts on Stack n Track? Does it just happen or does a pitcher have to make an effort to extend his lower back while keeping his upper torso and spine upright?"
--------I think some pitchers may do this without training, just like some pitchers seem to have very good hip/shoulder separation without any particular training for it. Jim Dixon wrote a little-known book in the early '90s (Exceptional Player) where he asserted that some small percentage of the population seems to get how to effectively use their hips and shoulders without ever thinking about it...the rest of us probably need to train for that to more-or-less extent if we want to be really, really good. I think the whole "Stack & Track" thing is kind of similar...If your delivery is already efficient for that don't train it, just maintain it. If it's not, then yes I'd isolate that issue and train and condition for it.
I was askin you flippin about the vid...
So this is Stack n Track, you can see the belt buckle pointed at the plate, the low back extended and the right pec and arm still facing 3B.
The more and more I'm learning from reading this book the more I realize how whoever came up with pinching the shoulder blades as a reason why pitchers throw harder was very well misinformed. Pinching the shoulder Blades is not a teach, it happens naturally when you do a lot of things right such as Hip/Shoulder separation and Stack n Track. You extend the low back which in turn makes the scaps look like they are "pinching together" or "loading" but in fact they are just waiting their turn in the Kinetic Chain.
re: "is this you pitching?"
-------naw, I'm quickly closing in on 60 (years old... my mph is probably a little less than 60 , ha ha ha...not so much funny as it is true...popped something in my throwing shoulder 5 or 6 years ago, never had it fixed, doesn't work so good anymore.
Anyway, that video is my 16 yo son pitching
I like a lot of the slow motion videos you or your son has uploaded on youtube.
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