A pitchers drag line a result of efficient mechanics

I’ve heard that a pitchers “drag line”, the line he leaves with his pivot foot, gives a good idea of how good/efficient ones mechanics are. Is the drag line suppose to be a straight line or curved? Is is the longer the drag line the better? How long (in inches) should an effective drag line be starting from the rubber?

There was recently a long and entertaining discussion of this very topic at the HSBaseballWeb site…

I think there are a few conclusions that most people can agree with:

  1. The vast majority, but not all, of elite pitchers have a drag line. For those that do have one, it is not random from pitch to pitch but rather it is a highly reproducible pattern that is associated in some way with an individual’s particular mechanics.

  2. For those that do have a drag line, it can be almost any shape, and can even be interrupted by a brief moment when the post foot comes off the ground and then returns to the ground before the ball is released.

  3. Pitchers’ drag lines, measured from the edge of the rubber to the last point where the post foot leaves the ground (somewhere around the time of ball release), can vary widely in length but may average out at about two feet.

Here are some ideas that some people find value in while others do not:

  1. Young pitchers who do not have a drag line may sometimes benefit from making postural changes that usually will result in a drag line. This is not to say that a pitcher should ever focus conciously on dragging his foot. The idea is, by adopting a stable, dynamic posture through to ball release, the pitcher will automatically develop a drag line…so, a drag line may be a signature or symptom of certain postural changes in a delivery, but not a “cure” for poor mechanics.

  2. For pitchers who have a drag line and are having trouble controlling the east-west dimension of the strike zone, picking a starting place on the rubber that causes their drag line to finish on an imaginary line from middle of the rubber to middle of HP, may help them. Many people believe that the end of the drag line can give information about the direction of the pitcher’s total momentum at, or near, ball release.

Hope this helps some…

P.S. Here’s a video of one of my personal favorite drag lines: :lol:

Before the start of this delivery, you can clearly see the drag line that Oswalt has already carved into the mound on previous pitches. Then, watching his post foot throughout the current delivery, you can see that he produces the exact same drag line perfectly. While every pitcher’s drag line will look superficially different, I don’t think you can ignore the drag line as a diagnostic for a controlled, reproducible delivery.

:applause: :allgood: Great post, la!

Chew, keep in mind that the goal is not to have a drag line but to do well those things that usually lead to having a drag line. Oh, and the length of the drag line is also affected by doing things well (e.g. good posture and balance, staying closed and rotating late, good momentum, etc.). Coaches like me who pay attention to the drag line use it as an indicator but we never work on it - at least not directly.

One should be aware that not every coach or instructor will be as open-minded as the gentlemen in the above posts.

Indeed there appears on the western horizon an ever-increasing number of fanatics, attempting to convert the young, not so young, but all impressionable, to the gospel of drag. What better way to impress than to point at the obvious visual in the dirt?

This reminds me of a previous inquisition only of a few decades ago when the position regarding drag was just the opposite. Certainly some of the elder members here can recall that crusade.

Instructors, for whatever reason, decided drag was a mechanical evil, the new Commandment at that time, “thou shall not drag.” A number of tortuous devises were created to prevent this evil. Bricks and chairs in front of the rubber, cords attached to the leg to pull it up, almost anything that would eliminate the dreadful drag, was considered good.

And so…. the inevitable forward march of progress continues….La de da de dee, la de da de daa

But be shamed not…those of inferior drag…you may be growing up in the wrong decade, but all is not lost! A little research will reveal there are many professional pitchers who have little if any dragline, many are Cy Young winners, and many are in the Hall Of Fame. Be warned however, if you’re a college prospect and don’t drag, it might be wise to find out if your future coach is a dragger before you commit.

Should you need further encouragement…here is a young man doing quite well in an area hot on drag, yet lucky for him, drag rules are apparently not being enforced….

A link for those desiring a closer examination

Incidentally looking at drag lines is not the panacea some would have you believe. Get a copy of Bob Shaws 1972 PITCHING bible…page 51 :shock:

And the “theory of drag” beat just goes on and on…. :wink:
http://popup.lala.com/popup/360569449467746476

[quote=“Hired Guns”]One should be aware that not every coach or instructor will be as open-minded as the gentlemen in the above posts.

Indeed there appears on the western horizon an ever-increasing number of fanatics, attempting to convert the young, not so young, but all impressionable, to the gospel of drag. What better way to impress than to point at the obvious visual in the dirt?

This reminds me of a previous inquisition only of a few decades ago when the position regarding drag was just the opposite. Certainly some of the elder members here can recall that crusade.

Instructors, for whatever reason, decided drag was a mechanical evil, the new Commandment at that time, “thou shall not drag.” A number of tortuous devises were created to prevent this evil. Bricks and chairs in front of the rubber, cords attached to the leg to pull it up, almost anything that would eliminate the dreadful drag, was considered good.

And so…. the inevitable forward march of progress continues….La de da de dee, la de da de daa

But be shamed not…those of inferior drag…you may be growing up in the wrong decade, but all is not lost! A little research will reveal there are many professional pitchers who have little if any dragline, many are Cy Young winners, and many are in the Hall Of Fame. Be warned however, if you’re a college prospect and don’t drag, it might be wise to find out if your future coach is a dragger before you commit.

Should you need further encouragement…here is a young man doing quite well in an area hot on drag, yet lucky for him, drag rules are apparently not being enforced….

A link for those desiring a closer examination

Incidentally looking at drag lines is not the panacea some would have you believe. Get a copy of Bob Shaws 1972 PITCHING bible…page 51

And the “theory of drag” beat just goes on and on…. :wink:
http://popup.lala.com/popup/360569449467746476[/quote]

I’ve got a feeling we’ll get some good responses to the bolded text…

My thoughts (assuming I am correctly interpreting stiff):

How would a pitcher maintain his balance, posture, etc. if his back leg isn’t stiffened? Surely he would collapse under his own weight if that back leg was not taking on the load while the lead leg is off the ground. And I don’t mean straight-legged, as the knee can be bent while the leg is “stiff” holding the weight that both legs usually share (like when one is doing one-legged squats for example).

One of the real beauties of this site is the lack of dogmatic fervor…we don’t do “drag gospel” :shock: …someone spouting that sort of gibberish would be challenged…I do recognize your prose though and someone must have really pissed you off…or maybe it’s the west aspect…I’ve never heard of drag line as more than a single way marker amongst hundreds…like La said…and I reiterated in the thread he referenced. You make it sound like it is a “cult” that excludes players, like Marshall has been “excluded” from the bigs. I know D-1 pitching coaches and CC coaches and none of the 10 or 15 that I’ve had serious pitching conversations with ever even mention it, other than the way La and I’ve described…if they mention it at all.
I really don’t think that, presented with the pitcher you use for an example, the vast majority of coaches at that level would be concerned at all with drag line or lack of, with the quality of mechanics he displays. Are you saying that the kid was black-balled or changed and forced to drag his foot??? If so lets hear it.

For the record this is what House trains…coming from a House trained instructor;

It’s not a “teach”…if anyone has a kid whose instructor is using it as such, they may want to reconsider and perhaps shop around a bit…or at least question him.

JD,

Funny you should respond with the above statement, as the primary impetus for posting is that nearly everywhere I visit, apart from this site of course, I see birds of like feather flocking together in alarming numbers…

Pleased to know I’m among the open minded yet critical. Obviously, welcoming different perspectives is one way of avoiding like-mindedness.

Aside from that early childhood Oz trauma I can’t imagine why I should be west phobic, although I do have an innate fear of becoming gator bait. :lol:

Seriously though, no ax to grind against anyone personally, rather I’d prefer to examine only the ideas. The impersonal nature of Internet discourse has its strengths and weaknesses like any medium. The advantage to its impersonality is the possibility of discussing ideas in an isolated manner. Obviously, this can be difficult to do, given the inevitable associations we make between certain ideas and specific individuals. Nonetheless, I’m more interested in the responses an idea has received, how it is being implemented, and what influence it is having. No matter who the alleged originator, ideas do indeed “take on a life of their own” especially in a large group, which is why all these similar looking birds gathering on our playgrounds has attracted my attention.

Perhaps I’ve just been looking in all the wrong places
http://popup.lala.com/popup/360569449467838261

And yet… I’ve heard MANY members associated with recent cults of drag (again, historically there have been many pro and anti movements) state that rule number one is to determine ones place on the rubber based upon their drag line. Just so I know I’m not totally deaf and blind I would encourage all those who have heard or read something similar to chime in…

To quote chew 1109

Yes it’s definitely something being discussed out there…

Pitching: Dragging the Back Foot

So what I’m questioning is whether this is a good starting point, in knowledge of all the elite level pitchers who have little or no dragline, whose draglines don’t end up on a centerline, and without substantial proof that those who drag are mechanically superior.

Could it be, that this procedure is really about ensuring a certain desired appearance a priori?

One starts from the unproven premise that draglines are a necessary component of good mechanics and before a student even throws a ball we are asked to be looking out for his dragline so he can find the right place on the rubber?

What if there is no dragline…what do you think your average Dad schooled in drag is going to do next with his ten year old?

One more final witness and thought…would someone please tell Mr.Maddux that according to where his dragline finishes in this video that he is standing about two feet toward the wrong side of the rubber?

I rest my case.

[quote=“Roger”]:applause: :allgood: Great post, la!

Chew, keep in mind that the goal is not to have a drag line but to do well those things that usually lead to having a drag line. Oh, and the length of the drag line is also affected by doing things well (e.g. good posture and balance, staying closed and rotating late, good momentum, etc.). Coaches like me who pay attention to the drag line use it as an indicator but we never work on it - at least not directly.[/quote]

Exactly as Roger says here. In pro ball, I never once had a pitching coach say, “Ellis, you’re a little wild today, let’s fix that drag line.” Like your follow through, it’s a byproduct of other parts of your delivery and not something that any pitcher should spend a lot of time focusing on. The fix, if one’s needed, needs to come earlier in the delivery.

Well the Johnny Lee song didn’t play…so I’ll offer one of my favorites…a bit of a cautionary tale, by a band I consider the best ever…
Let everyone remember…if they are “preaching a gospel”, they may actually be performing what we, who grew up in an urban atmosphere, might term a “Wallet dive” :wink:

Honestly though I haven’t seen the coalescing of morons and bozo’s you hint at…HSBBWeb is somewhat “long toss” centric maybe…BB Fever is more inclined towards hitting…haven’t seen what I’d consider “great” pitching discussion over there, Joe on the site you pose as an example, used to post over here, he seemed more mystified by the examples he ran across…the one poster who commented in the affirmative about it seemed like the sort that may also recommend “dragging the foot” in order to produce a change-up as well. Not that it (Dragging the foot) hasn’t been “trained” before, it’s just a shortcut to inefficiency…much like a kid can produce a slider by getting their hand outside of the ball…they also get a poor fundemental mechanic and an increased opportunity for a sore shoulder/elbow.
You sir have allies in your noble quest…and believe it or not it’s the same La and Roger and coaches like them that you addressed originally over on the other thread this topic was examined (In your interesting and creative way of illistrating the absurd with sarcasm and analogy…you really are a creative writer, I tip my cap)…Not that House or the House family of coaches end the discussion…He doesn’t seem to believe that nor teach it…no his approach is more of a learning/evolving teaching experience, more Socratic, one that will take “conventional wives tales” such as this and apply real world thought to the subject. Paul Nyman was/is similar in his approach just way more bombastic, even Mills tries to be more scientific and less dogmatic…he just gets all tangled with his desire for image.
I’ll share some wisdom of the ages in conclusion…very pertainent in this current time…

I think Hired Guns makes some good points, and always in a clever and amusing way, but… it’s too easy to be clever and sarcastic so much of the time, without carrying more of the burden of critical thinking about one of his favorite subjects–which Hired Guns/TG3 is certainly capable of doing, when he wants to.

By now, though, I think much of the sarcastic wit expressed above has kind of degraded into “grinding water” as an old friend of mine used to put it.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m for skepticism, not against it. But, unrelenting mockery suggests something different than skepticism–it suggests that the person doing the mocking may have made up his mind (i.e.; closed his mind), may have an axe to grind, and is more interested in shaming others away from their point of view than really trying to plumb the subject.

I may be wrong about this, but I’m guessing that part of Hired Guns’ issue really has more to do with the basic nature and the limitations of communication on the internet than it has to do with drag lines.

As DM said in another thread, there is no reason for a coach not to use all of the tools in his toolkit. Doing so doesn’t necessarily mean that all teaches in the coach’s toolkit are to be applied as absolutes. Forcing any teach on a pitcher is usually “cookie cutter” (i.e. wrong).

It is well understood that some pitchers don’t have drag lines. In fact, I consider Curt Schilling the poster boy for not having a drag line. And noone would argue with his success. But just because some pitchers don’t have drag lines doesn’t mean you should avoid the drag line concept completely. If moving a pitcher on the rubber based on his drag line helps improve a postural issue, then it would be foolish not to do so. Similarly, if a pitcher lacks a drag line due to some mechanical issue, it would be foolish not to use that as an indicator to look elsewhere or other possible issues.

Thanks for your replies JD and the highly entertaining vids. No further need to preach to the choir here. I will only add that I suspect you may not be fully aware of the most recent drag movement headed your way.

I’m not saying looking at draglines is an entirely useless endeavor. Why not strive for a greater understanding of all aspects of a throw? However before we start adjusting a young child’s delivery in accordance with those draglines wouldn’t we want to be certain what it is we looking for and it’s significance? This is something that is far from being established IMO.

As for focusing on young kids draglines as soon as they step on the mound….

How do you know your not working with the next Curt Schilling, Dennis Eckersly, Jim Palmer, Rollie Fingers or Cliff Lee if he doesn’t drag….and if he does, are we absolutely certain that the drag line finishing on the rubber to plate center line is what we want to be doing? There is still some uncertainty about this, especially given the many examples like Maddux and other successful pros whose draglines don’t finish center. It all seems a little premature to be doing this with very young throwers…forcing something, that doesn’t yet need force.

Hi LA,
Appreciate your reply. Certainly not trying to “shame” anyone. My sincerest apologies if you feel that way. :frowning: Again it’s about the drag idea not individuals. If you and other “elders” feel this is an impossible distinction to make I will immediately delete this and all my posts. No problem.

The intent is to offer an opinion, which might save some people a whole lot of time and possibly frustration, all while having a little fun along the way. No denying the truth will sometimes have a little sting to it, and humor doesn’t always work. I suppose this is why it’s so much easier for the majority of us to just look the other way most of the time, and probably why I rarely post on open public forums.

If you really want to plumb the subject, show us the studies and data that led to the conclusion drag lines ending on the centerline lead to greater mechanical efficency. I’m not talking about what people may have said in books about the data, but rather copies of the actual data and conclusions drawn. Find us the studies and lets have a look. If it’s quality information there is a good chance it’s published somewhere. I don’t have a degree in biomechanics but have a related degree, and did spend the night at a well-known biomechanics lab last summer….

I’m currently reading through the following timeline with some interest. not done yet but doesn’t really look like what I’m after. Get back with you when I’m done.

There are two aspects to drag being investigated. First is the type of drag itself, the second, how one adjusts their position on the rubber based upon when the back foot leaves the ground.

It has already been established elsewhere that the three groups of pitchers who:

  1. don’t drag at all
  2. have short or partial drag lines
  3. have a lift off/ tap down action with their back foot
    Constitute a large number of professional pitchers, possibly a majority. Due to the fact they leave little or no marks on the mound they create some obvious problems for those in search of a nice clean line in the dirt… so come prepared.

The second aspect of drag concerns ones adjustment on the rubber, if and when he does drag of course.

The key word here is obviously “efficiency”. In this case being defined as the hips and shoulders “squaring up” at the moment the back foot leaves the ground. Is this what we can consistently observe among elite level throwers and is this really a good definition of what constitutes “efficiency”?

(to be continued….???)

“It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us in trouble. It’s the things we know that ain’t so.” Artemus Ward

It isn’t uncommon for me to notice my teammates draglines and see they are not straight lines. Rather they are arched, as if they’re rotating earlier and letting their front shoulder rotate too soon.

It is important to note that although not all pitchers have draglines, the majority of elite pitchers have straight -direct- draglines to homeplate. A straight dragline implies the pitcher is in direction with home plate.

Chew,

Curved drag lines are quite common and there’s nothing wrong with them. If you think about it, a pitcher’s delivery starts with linear motion down the hill before the rotational part kicks in. You will see drag lines that mimic this - they start out fairly straight as the body tracks down the hill in a straight line and then they veer off to the side as upper body rotation toward the glove side causes the posting leg to swing out to the throwing arm side.

Well chew… ya done it again!

Your questions do seem to part-the-waters in some circles.

I had a guy like you, a bullpen catcher, that had a talent for starting an exchange of comments that reminded me of an ole Early Flynn movie - Captain Blood … with cannon balls a flying and cutlasses a waving. My bullpen was made up of guys with college degrees and those with a sixth grade mentality, so you can only imagine what this intersection looked like once the light turned green.

One evening he saw one of my pitchers in the pen with a pitcher’s toe. So, before I could say …” Ahhh, we’re not going there…” doesn’t scooter start an analysis going, not that it made any sense, but he just had to ask if the pitcher’s toe affected the man’s curve ball. Well, let me tell you, those that responded covered everything from the changing of tides to who’s buried in Grants tomb. I swear to the Almighty, in one spilt second, concentration went out the window, three guys nearly came to squaring off at one another, and on it went.

Chew … have you ever been in East Patterson, New Jersey???

Any who, good question.

Coach B.

Coach B.'s pegged it with you Chew…looks like you go to as many sites as you can and find the most controversy and bring it on down here… :lol:
I for one appreciate it :wink:

[quote]I’m currently reading through the following timeline with some interest. not done yet but doesn’t really look like what I’m after. Get back with you when I’m done.

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2008/0058126.html[/quote]

Interesting how in the entire House timeline/patent he never uses the term…must not be that meaningful to the pitcher then huh? 8)
or the “pitching delivery timeframe” at least per the patent app.

And Hired…we don’t delete stuff because of digression or because it doesn’t necessarliy fit. I feel certain that La was addressing the vigor of your dissent vs the theorhetical discussion of a minor pitching point of interest and information, in essence killing an ant with artillery. It is just pretty overwhelming the amount of venom you direct towards this…seems misplaced…

JD,
I would agree it SHOULD be a minor point but some are trying to make it the “tell tale” sign of an entire delivery. I know that may sound a little absurd to you but read the following.

http://www.pitchingperfect.com/files/Glass_Wall.htm

The above position has changed. Quoting LA

Now if I had been working with a pitcher to make sure his dragline was straight and long based on the first statement only to find out later any type dragline is okay I wouldn’t be real happy. Fortunately, I always knew the first position was incorrect because of the time I’ve spent in the video room.

As I said my intent is to save people from wasting their time and effort. So given they got it wrong the first time wouldn’t it be wise to do a little investigating the second time. We have all made mistakes and the second position might well be right. What I’m encouraging people to do is take a look for themselves then decide. Unfortunately your average Dad working overtime to pay the bills may not have the time to do a lot of research. They pick a famous instructor and trust that he knows what he is talking about.

It’s a little ironic that the more light I shine on this the more I defeat the purpose of relegating it to something of lesser importance, so I’m not going any further. Of course I didn’t start this post and questions surrounding drag are being asked…incorrect answers being given. And so I’ll leave it to others to figure out if indeed they got it right the second time and if it’s something everyone should be doing. Consumer Beware!

Here is a vid of Sandy’s hooked drag line finishing way off center similar to Maddux.

Hired this is the last statement of the piece you cited. It would appear, though I don’t know the publishing time of the link you provided, that it is proof of Houses ability to evolve after more study of what he has proposed. Roger and La are both as up-to-date with Houses current teachings as there is short of TH himself so it would appear that what he thinks about it has changed.
This reminds me of the time when Chris O’Leary had an issue with a specific portion of a comment the House had. I would encourage not throwing the baby out with the bathwater based on finding an inconsistancy in one aspect of what he teaches though. Caveat emptor fer sure though dude.
I, as I’ve mentioned, am not “House” trained, I come by it another way. I see value in much of the huge amount of information he provides, he’s a D-1 pitching coach and a former MLB pc with an impressive list of students who praise him liberally…including a couple who fit in a top 20 pantheon anyway. So his efforts to impart as much knowledge is to me admirable and the likes of people like you will keep him hopefully honest and humble as he appears to be. I appreciate that he is currently humble enough to modify a position that, as you point out and he apparently acknowledges, as untennable.
Honestly though…are you doing a daily lexus/nexus on the phrase “drag-line”? :shock:

Re: “…before we start adjusting a young child’s delivery in accordance with those draglines wouldn’t we want to be certain what it is we looking for and it’s significance? This is something that is far from being established IMO.”

-----------That’s the crux of my difference with your approach to this subject, Hired Guns.

Coming up through HS and early college years, “experimentation” in every one of my science classes was pretty much “canned”, as they say. That is, we were not so much experimenting with any new ideas…we were learning current standard techniques so that we could faithfully reproduce other people’s historical results.

Somewhere along the line, it started to become apparent that real-life experimentation starts with a combination of observation and hypothesis and this leads to design of experiments for hypothesis testing. In every case, a responsible experimenter should be fully prepared to modify his hypotheses to accomodate newly emerging observations from his experiments and discard ideas that are rigorously proven to be wrong.

I think what I’m trying to say is, good coaches are probably a lot like good scientists…after they learn the basics of their craft they do their best work just beyond the realm of “canned” experiments.

So, rather than thinking that rational experimentation with mechanics is going to lock young kids into a single rigid vision of what a pitching delivery should look like…I think the opposite of that. You try things that make sense, but if the results don’t work out as hoped/expected you learn from that and move forward.

Experimentation in the pitching world has one ultimate goal: To allow individual pitchers to develop into the most effective pitchers they can become. This is a firm grasp of the obvious, of course, but it’s at the bottom of all the experimentation, all the trial and error, all the success and failure.

That’s why I tried not to take your bait concerning making changes to the deliveries of Koufax, Maddux, etc…I hope most coaches wouldn’t presume to change highly effective deliveries unless (1) the pitcher is experiencing unsolved chronic problems of some type and (2) the pitcher specifically asked for advice about it.

First, one tries ones best to avoid fixing that which is not broken. Second, when there is a problem that someone wants help with one uses the best tools and hypotheses available to understand and fix the problem.