Back toes touching ground on release of ball


#1

Just a question for some of you guys who certainly know better than I do.

I’ve seen some still shots of my son pitching, and he has a tendency to pick up his back toe for the back leg drive slightly before the ball is released from his hand.

I went to some of Mr. OLeary’s pictures of major league guys and noticed that several have the toe touching until the ball has left their hand.

However, Clemens appears to have lifted up his back toes off the ground on ocassion prior to the ball being released.

How important do you all feel this is, to keep your back foot…toes touching on the ground…prior to the release of the ball???

I really don’t have a feel for how this can be detrimental.

But I do notice that my son has lifted his post foot off the ground pretty consistently prior to ball release.

Any drills…if this is important NOT to do…which can stop him from doing this?

thanx a bunch for your insights.


#2

I would suggest that you not have the pitcher focus on keeping the toe on the ground until release. I’m also NOT suggesting that you tell him to get it off the ground either. I wouldn’t focus on that component at all. It’s barking up the wrong tree. The action of the back foot will happen as a RESULT of good weight transfer, rotation of the back leg and foot, hip rotation, shoulder rotation and forward trunk flexion. Keeping the toes down is a result not a cause of anything.

I’ve looked at many videos on this and the only one I’ve ever seen who lifts the toes early is Schilling. Anyone else have any video of another? All I’ve seen have the toes touching because they are being dragged a bit. There are those out there who recommend that you should keep the toe down for balance reasons. I’m not sure about this one because it seems that there isn’t any weight actually being borne there.

What drives me up the wall is when I see books or other coaches getting kids to do a drill where they put an object in front of the rubber and get the kid to focus on getting the back foot over that object because they see dragging the foot as a bad thing. Where did this come from? Have they ever looked at major league pitchers? Apparently not or they wouldn’t be doing this useless and potentially damaging drill. All this will serve to do is get the upper body moving forward much too soon.

The healthy way to look at this is to get him to fire the front hip at the target, sideways, rolling the back foot over onto it’s instep and not lifting the heel early. Then, as the weight has been shifted nearly as far as it will go depending on the stride length, rotate that back foot and entire leg around it’s longitudinal axis (don’t let the knee fly outward), rotate the hips INTO LANDING (not after like you’ll see in various placs). Keep the shoulders closed during this to set up the hip/shoulder separation required to stretch the muscles and connective tissues of the front of the torso. As the front foot lands, fire the pecs at the target while rotating the shoulders as violently as possible. The elbow comes at this point also, in conjunction with the shoulders. Continue the forward trunk flexion through release to a nice flat back finish. This will cause the back foot to come off the ground.

It’s all of this stuff that’s important not whether the toe is off the ground and instant before or after release. It’s a result not a cause.

I hope this helps.


#3

thanks for the insight…I agree it sounds like it’s a result of the entire delivery.

He looks to be firing the hips right before front foot plant and staying closed up top…I just remember seeing him with videotape two years ago and then some pics from an AAU tourney last year and you can see clearly that his back toes come up before he releases the ball, but he’s untorqued at that point …

I remember reading Mills book that the back toe should be on the ground until after release and just couldn’t figure out if my kid is losing velocity or any other thing

He’s only about 5’ 4 maybe 5 foot 5 and 118 pounds and is throwing about 68 to 70 mph so it seems like this isn’t killing his speed considering his size…he’ll be 14 in 2 months.

appreciate the time


#4

It was Mills I was referring to when I said that some out there say to keep it on the ground until release. He believes it’s a balance thing and he might be right. Just make sure he’s getting good hip and shoulder rotation and that it’s a nice, smooth transition from one to the other. Make sure that he ends up in a nice flat back finish. The toe issue will happen as it should if all of the other things happen as they should.


#5

In my opinion, what the toe is doing at the ball release depends on the person’s balance. Balance then depends on how long of a stride the person has taken and how powerful that stride is.

If someone has taken a long but soft stride, then their pitching arm side foot has to stay on the ground so that they can stay balanced. The more powerfully they stride into their glove side leg, and the more weight they can get on top of their glove side leg, the less they need to keep their pitching arm side toe on the ground.


#6

Chris,

Your points on balance make a lot of sense.

I just had him this year, begin to take a longer stride and I havn’t had the chance to go back and see if his back toe is still elevating prior to the release.

It may be such that his stride was shorter and he had a more forceful weight shift last year.

Is it better to be long and soft landing, vs. a more forceful stride such as you stated?


#7

I am a believer in shorter strides (and think it should be more of a step than a stride).

The reason is that I think most of the power comes from the properly sequenced rotation of the hips, torso, and shoulders (and not from the stride). Taking too long of a stride can limit the rotation of the hips in some cases.


#8

Too long a stride is certainly no good, but too short is just as bad. All the good pitchers that I’ve played with (including myself here) strided long. And these guys, many of whom are in the majors right now, throw the heck out of the baseball. I understand what Chris O’Leary is saying about hips, torso, etc., but that actually happens when the pitcher has a nice longish stride, not a short one.


#9

Let me clarify and say that I’m a believer in a relatively shorter stride. In other words, if some would say that you should stride 90 percent of your height, I would say that you might want to consider striding just 70 or 80 percent of your stride.

The problem with overstriding – and what overstriding means will vary from person to person – is that it can (and I mean can, and not will) limit how much your hips can rotate. This can then limit the degree to which the torso and shoulders will rotate.

To a degree, whether this will happen will depend on how flexible the person is. For example, Steve can probably do things (e.g. twisting his torso) that put me in pain just thinking about.


#10

Good points.

Thanks for the replies.

From talking to my son, I’ve explained the virtues of striding enough, yet not overstriding so you can’t rotate well.

He believes he is getting much more pop now that I’ve lengthened his stride somewhat.

I actually did that because of one of the posts I saw on here where Steve had stated he had lost some velocity and it was likely do to losing a little stride length.

That seemed to give my son some more pop and he’s adamant that he wants to stay with the longer stride…i.e. 90% of height

I’ll keep an eye on it and ensure he can still rotate

thanks again


#11

Let me clarify and say that I’m a believer in a relatively shorter stride. In other words, if some would say that you should stride 90 percent of your height, I would say that you might want to consider striding just 70 or 80 percent of your stride.

The problem with overstriding – and what overstriding means will vary from person to person – is that it can (and I mean can, and not will) limit how much your hips can rotate. This can then limit the degree to which the torso and shoulders will rotate.

To a degree, whether this will happen will depend on how flexible the person is. For example, Steve can probably do things (e.g. twisting his torso) that put me in pain just thinking about.[/quote]

Chris you have never once agreed with anybody ona “stride” you have wrongly advocated a “step” on every single occasion this subject was ever discussed. Now its a “relatively” short stride? THe ONLY predictor for stride length is ability to rotate into landing. If a person could stride out 10 feet and still rotate into landing he would be a STUD. Not a person in the world would try to change him. The point is the length of stride is directly inherent on ability to still rotate. The longer the strride the better as long as rotation is occuring. Many different factors determine ability.


#12

Steve,
Although I agree that a long stride is preferable for most pitchers it isn’t ideal for everyone. Power pitchers are especially effective with a long stride - Seaver, Oswalt, et al.

Pitchers who throw a lot of breaking balls and throw over the top often are more effective with shorter strides even if it takes a bit off their fastball or puts more stress on the arm - Sutton, possibly Zito and others. You’ll also see some of these pitchers tend to stride more closed to help with the break and the angle.

My tendency would be to teach kids the longer stride since you want to focus on fastball development early on anyways and let them shorten it up later on if they find they need to do so to get the movement they need on breaking balls.


#13

Not necessarily.

The longer the stride, the lower the release point. The research shows that the greater the vertical movement of the ball, the harder it is to hit solidly.

By overstriding (assuming you don’t interfere with the ability of the hips to turn) you could pick up a few MPH but still end up with a ball that is easier to hit hard due to the flatter plane of the pitch.


#14

Not necessarily.

The longer the stride, the lower the release point. The research shows that the greater the vertical movement of the ball, the harder it is to hit solidly.

By overstriding (assuming you don’t interfere with the ability of the hips to turn) you could pick up a few MPH but still end up with a ball that is easier to hit hard due to the flatter plane of the pitch.[/quote]

Obviously your notion is WRONG over 95% of major league pitchers strides are longer compared to shorter Not to mention all the biomechanical research. Can you show me a single piece of REAL research that claims your notion? Currently there is NO major league pitchers that simply take a step like you have advocated all along , until last night at least when I read your new “notion” of a “relatively” short stride. If what you are saying holds any meat at all than OBVIOUSLY more pitchers would stride shorter. A shorter stride is a FLAW that novice players consistantly show compared to people that are regular players. Better yet you tell me what research say about a pitchers optimum stride length. I know that a higher release is said to be better, probably why Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez have been so successful huh? To be honest I could care less that you disagree with everything I say. Just gives me more confidence that I am right. After all you are the only one besides Mike Marshall, Kharma aka. Mike Marshall and colt 45. Other than your two cult buddies and the other split personality Dr. you are all alone in regards to your thinking.


#15

Whether or not the pivot foot drags depends on the pitcher’s ability to keep their torso upright as long through their stride as possible. This ability depends on flexibility and functional strength. Pitchers who cannot maintain an upright posture will bend forward and get their weight out front. This lifts the pivot foot off the ground instead of allowing it to drag.

There is such a thing as a stride that’s too long but what this means is that the stride is too long for the pitcher’s flexibility and functional strength to maintain proper posture and balance.

Throwing breaking balls does not depend on a shorter stride. It depends on maintaining posture and balance and getting to the same release point as when throwing a fastball.

-Roger


#16

you want your back toes on the ground, otherwise its like throwing off one leg, if you try throwing on one leg you will notice you have a much harder time than if you have both on the ground.


#17

pitcherman95 Posted: Aug 27, 2010 Post subject: toes


you want your back toes on the ground, otherwise its like throwing off one leg, if you try throwing on one leg you will notice you have a much harder time than if you have both on the ground.

Pitcherman95
Wow…A post to this subject was 4 years ago on toe drag were did you dig this up?


#18

[quote=“tmcgregor”]Pitcherman95
Wow…A post to this subject was 4 years ago on toe drag were did you dig this up?[/quote]

i forget, i was browing different topics, didnt bother looking at the date, wasnt expecting a four year old post haha


#19

"The longer the stride, the lower the release point. The research shows that the greater the vertical movement of the ball, the harder it is to hit solidly. "

In acuality, research has shown the exact opposite. Read Chapter 18 of House’s latest book “Building a Million Dollar Arm”.

Synopsis of the research is that even if you could release the ball 10" higher, you are gaining less than 1 degree of trajectory. That trajectory change would produce, in theory, 0.5% more groundballs. The data says that gain is not scientifically significant.

On the other hand, that same 10" towards the plate would gain the pitcher in excess of 2 mph of perceived velocity, effectively taking reaction time away from the hitter.