Basic Pitching Mechanics Question

Today I threw a bullpen and my pitching coach told me to start planting my foot flat instead of planting my heel. It worked I just want to know more of why. It feels unnatural compared to my natural planting of the Heel. Thanks,


He probably meant to say land with the ball of the foot (like Nolan Ryan and the great power pitchers of yesteryear). Landing with the heel is new to today’s game, but these “heel-landers” have been led to believe that by leading and then landing with the heel the stride would be longer and therefore more powerful. This is incorrect. Leading with the heel straightens the front leg causing it to act like a pole-vault, which directs the force upward not forward. Power pitching is a forward motion on a downward angle. If you want to long-toss then you can straighten the front leg as you are now throwing on an upward angle. If you want to pitch with power and avoid elbow injuries then land on the ball of the foot and use a bent front leg. More of this discussion below:

Nowadays, these so-called pitching experts and assorted gurus also believe that by landing with the heel, which stiffens and then straightens the front leg that they are setting up what they refer to as the Lead Leg Block. This is also incorrect and leads to what I refer to as Pole-vault Pitching. You can read my article if you wish below. Pole-vault pitching has become a prescription for Tommy John surgery (repair of a torn UCL) and this is unfortunate.

So plant your lead leg on the ball of your foot, which should also help you achieve a bent-front-leg (e.g., Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden) rather than a straight-front-leg. You also might like to know that the fastest fastballer of all-time Steve Dalkowski (1939 - 2020) threw his 110 mph heater with a very much bent front leg. The article is also below. Good luck.

Latest Victim of Pole-vault Pitching (Straight-Front Leg Landing)

New Britain, CT: Home of the World's Fastest Fastball

Ryan 1217,

Today I threw a bullpen and my pitching coach told me to start planting my foot flat instead of planting my heel.

He like others do not understand how body rotation is signaled in Humans by their bipedal gait that is practiced 1000’s of times a day and when walking, trotting and running has you role across the foot from Heel to Ball to Toes. Only when we sprint do we land on the ball!

This old school teach (Lock the landing foot in) perturbs full body rotation by limiting body rotational range of motion that gets worse as you stride longer then bend your back more to recover.

“It worked I just want to know more of why.”

You can still throw very well with limited rotation and poor rotational signaling that first comes with foot plant stability. The difference comes by attaining better rotational length by Striding shorter staying tall and recovering tall as you rotate a full 80 degrees ending in the best “Drop step” defensive position. This best happens when you extend your glove side knee fully and pull back against that leg the same way gait is signaled from heel to toe action allowing powerful body rotation.

Watch the current trend of MLB pitchers Striding short and staying taller that helps the fastball Sinker to where we are seeing Velos going up

“It feels unnatural compared to my natural planting of the Heel. Thanks,”

It is! Thanks back at chya.

Plenty of biomechanical ignorance to go around in discussing the throwing of a baseball. When throwing a ball for longer distances than say 50 yards it is okay to land the lead foot on the heel (though still not necessary) as in a pole-vault. However, pitching is not a long-distance throwing motion (less than 20 yards at the release point) and therefore you would be better off planting a tree than your heel. Interestingly, a heel landing on flat ground is less jarring to the body than when falling off the mound. So go with the flat foot (e.g., ball of the foot) when pitching. Nolan Ryan did it for nearly 30 years as a pro.

Even outfielders who throw a ball more than 50 yards (no more than 80 yards) land on the ball of the foot that is if they throw like the great Dwight Evans: Dwight Evans Had a Gun.

As stated by the “expert” above, you should never ever straighten your front leg, just like Nolan……

Another “fool” who has missed the point. His leg straightens well after the ball is released and only due to momentum. No energy is lost to the throw. Bruce Lee once said: Correct the wise man - never the fool. So many fools and so few wise men…