In this post I am going to answer the "BUT" at the end of part 1. to recap:
YES-- move forward as quickly as humanly possible (see Lincecum as PRIME example). Mills and others are absolutely correct.
BUT-- if you dont have the front leg strength, hip flexibility, landing mechanics, torso strength and control, it doesn't MATTER how fast you can move forward. It just WON'T transfer up the chain. In the next article we will discuss the mechanics of the plant, and hopefully stroke the egos of those that dont believe that striding is "really that important".
Lets all get up and try something dangerous... better yet, visualize what I am about to say and if you don't get it, try it, but be careful.
Jump into the air and absorb the landing with a relatively deep knee bend. Do you feel that in the rest of your body?
Jump up in the air the same height and try to "stick" the landing. What I mean is with only a slight bend in the knees (to avoid joint impact), land without bending the knees any further. Do you feel a "shock" throughout the rest of the body? Were you even able to stick it?
Lets exaggerate this a bit.
Imagine... and I mean imagine... you are jumping off a 3 story building. Could you even land? let alone stick the landing? No, because the forces of the landing surpass that which your muscles could withstand, and your muscles "fail".
Lets take it back a bit. how high of a box could you step off of and stick a landing? If you don't throw hard, I am going to hazard a guess that it wouldn't be that high.
Why am I bringing this up? Impact forces at landing can be quite high (I have heard around 1.5 x bw... on one leg). If you aren't strong enough, OR (this is much more likely) dont have the proper mechanics to stick a landing at slow speeds (read short and slow strides) it doesn't matter HOW big your stride is, your "block" will still be moving forward.
Step one: if you don't believe me, think the whole aggressive stop is BS, etc. go to the site with all the major league mechanics and watch their front knee relative to their landing foot. At landing NONE of their knees will flex any more than like a half inch or so AND their hips will start to rotate around their front leg. In contrast, I have some pretty disgusting video of myself with a really weak front leg and it is quite obvious why I was topping out at sub 80 mph for the longest time, despite having a prototypical pitcher's build (6'4", 195lbs, body fat sub 10%).
If you still think I am full of it, please direct constructive criticism or clarification inquiries to this forum, I will do my best to reword and clarify. If you have the need to get militant, please refer to the War in Iraq for lessons on fanaticism (or for more topical proof, the lack of Marshall trained pitchers with pro level abilities actually in the pros- see the post script for this posts' tangent of the day).
So what are Proper Landing Mechanics?
This experiment is fun. I want to to get up and do a standing long jump. Remember grade school track meets? if you want to swing your arms and reminisce about your first crush feel free. How did your FEET land? toe-heal or heal-toe?
so which one was it?
try it again
swear at me for using this cheesy web tactic to get you to ACTUALLY do what I am proposing.
the answer is heal-toe. So WHY THE BLEEPING TARNATIONS DID EVERY COACH I HAD SINCE I WAS 2 YEARS OLD TELL ME TO LAND ON THE BALLS OF ME FEET?????????
Answer: they have no clue what they are talking about. Simple eh?
In fact, much more likely, someone who had no idea what they were talking about probably told my coaches that they knew what they were talking about in a confident enough manner with some sort of "expertise" to guide them thus convincing them that landing on the balls of your feet was the best way to land.
Sorry to burst bubbles but they were completely FOS. They took good advice: stay on the balls of your feet to "accellerate", like in ready position and the first 60 meters of a sprint, and assumed it was the most efficient manner for all athletic endeavors and thus landing when pitching.
Am I rocking your world? try the standing long jump test again and try landing and STICKING the landing, by landing on the balls of your feet. Are you stable? are your feet still attached to your ankles?
Still dont believe me, here is a short list of pitchers who off the top of my head land heal-toe:
Roger Clemens (actually kinda lands all foot at once, but slightly more heal)
anyone else who throws hard....
In fact, I CHALLENGE anyone in these forums to find a guy throwing over 90 mph who lands on the ball of their foot.
So why then did these lucky guys not get polluted with this toe heal nonsense and the rest of us actually listened to our misinformed but well meaning coaches and thus doomed our careers from the get go?
The answer is that they were probably REALLY GOOD, having fluked into relatively good mechanics that coupled with above average genetics. If it ain't broke... and they probably went about ruining the careers of the other pitchers on their teams....
If you haven't noticed I feel quite strongly about this. Forgive me for my sarcasm, it is 1:45am and I am feeling passionate.
In fact, the guy who first "noticed" the what he though was a toe heal landing and thus spread the lie probably just looked at the landing leg of a pitcher and got fooled into a toe-heal philosophy because THE MOUND IS SLOPED DOWNWARSDS!!! Kinda looks like the pitcher actively pointed his toe down eh?
I am going to write about the rest of the front leg in a reply to this message so stay tuned!
Front Leg freak