Roger I agree with you and I am going to steal your verbage of “throwing practice” if you don’t mind…
As far as “backward thinking” I believe what your take is when you make this comment and mine is proabably about the same as yours. Meaning the front side of every thing is far more important then the backside. I could not agree more!
However with guys like us who believe in this approach we sometimes fall victim to not paying nearly enough attention to the back side specifically in my opinion the back leg swinging around too soon…guys who take our front side approach at times think the front side will correct this bad habit of the front side will be so strong in the fundamental proper respect that the back leg swinging around ever so slightly will have no affect. This is something I do not agree on as I firmly believe the back leg swinging first is a direct result of poor direction later regardless of whether or not the front side is solid as a rock or not…not the improper affect from the back leg swing will be far less detrimental the stronger the front side is but just the same…
As far as stride let me clarify…I mentioned lazy catch. When players are warming up espcially at short distances we could put them on their rears and for most players/ages they would be able to throw the ball say 60’. My point is they do not need their legs nearly as much at short distances. What happens in my opinion is players of all ages get lazy with that lead leg/stride…they generally open up too far or not enough, or they swing the lower half of the leg open which gate swings the front side leg and hip. All of these are not conducive to helping one get out front.
Simply stated a lazy front leg and “catch stride” is exactly what it is; lazy.
I too do not believe stride length is something you pay attention to in teaching principles however remember I was simply talking about playing catch and not building bad habits.
I totally agree that stride length is a result of momentum and in part the other things you mentioned. To clarify further I do not see the need to have kids striding out to full length by any means when they are playing catch. What I was trying to get at is more towards the kids who are way across their body with a lazy lead leg/foot or too much to the glove side…or the swing open of the lower half of the lead leg…all of these things are prevalalent in many instances when players are playing lazy catch and not thinking about direction…not stride distance but proper direction.
Now I believe I mentioned something about striding out further but to clarify that what I was getting at is the more we ask our players to stride out a bit further (not maximum distance by any means) the more apt they are to remain on good direction towards the target as compared to being lazy with their lead leg/foot and being across or swinging to the glove side.
Getting back to the back foot/leg swing I reiterate that I am a firm believer in front side being far more important and alot of things on the back simply take care of themselves if the front is doing its job. However I cannot stress enough that unless a player is playing catch building solid habits of heel to the sky first they are undoubtedly going to be swinging the back foot around and getting lazy with it.
In closing, I had the opportunity to coach a former major league pitcher of 7 or 8 years son for three season and after that I had the opportunity in college to coach with him during fall ball. At one time he was the Kansas City Royals Minor League Pitching Coordinator for several years and presently he is a AAA Pitching Coach. No one I have ever been around has coached front side mechanics more then him. Yet he was constantly talking about “heel to the sky.” Matter of fact that was basically the only thing he focused on with the back side because as you stated in a sense, the front side will dictate what the back side does.
I take my approaches to a large extent from him when it comes to front side and also back side “heel to the sky.”
One day I had the opportunity to sit in the bull pen of a KC spring training game in a chair about 15’ from the catchers while they ran all their non-40 man guys through various drills…he never once talked about back side with any of those cats except “heel to the sky” about 100 times. His biggest focal point with that was not letting the back leg swing around or begin to until the ball was about ready to pass into slot…he wanted drive or as he put it “lift” of the back foot which he said was a major contributing factor to getting more out front and allowing the back side to work in conjunction with what the front side was doing…by letting the back leg swing out too soon it would be fighting the whole principle of front side mechanics being the mainstay of pitching…made sense to me and still does to this day.
I picked up a great deal from this baseball friend of mine and to a very large extent about ten years ago he changed no less then 75% of my approach to teaching pitching mechanics…I can tell you are knowledgeable and I am grateful to have had the exchange of knowledge with you. Like you would probably agree coaching has alot to do with the beg borrow and stealing of other guys information.
Great discussion and I want to thank you for that!