Curious George

Right now my stride is about 6’3". 100% of my body height off the mound… Here’s the deal. I’m really not sure the significance of this question is, but I thought I’d propose it anyhow. When I’m playing long toss, and going out to about a hundred feet, I’m curious as to where my stride is at. If I’m letting it rip I’m pretty sure my stride is not near my stride length on the mound. I come up a bit shy. I know that in long toss my main focus right now is building arm strength. However, there are alot of timing issues in pitching and I’m curious to know about stride length and other mechanics that are important in long toss.

Any comments?

I’m not sure that very many people are much concerned about stride length in flat-ground throwing.

Using identical mechanics, there is no question that you will get greater momentum and a longer stride throwing from the sloped surface of a mound versus throwing on flat-ground. 100% of body height on the mound (as measured from the front edge of the rubber to the toe of the stride foot) is very good. Some elite pitchers get less than that, some get more.

I think most people tend to ignore flat-ground stride length–maybe the importance of stride in flat-ground work is really more qualitative than quantitative: Stay dynamically balanced through your complete stride, land with your stride foot the same way as you do on a mound, etc, etc.

I understand the length is going to be shorter simply because it’s flat ground. However, don’t you still want to get your momentum going, and get extension?

Here’s the real question I’m trying to get at.

On a mound, you can use gravity to get the momentum, simply because before you lift your leg your feet are spread apart. If balanced, once you lift your leg your momentum will begin.

How do you explain momentum with a step behind cro-hop? How do you get proper momentum with the step behind?

House would tell you that pitchers should only throw long toss at a distance for which they can maintain perfect (for them) mechanics and timing. This says that he wants you to use your pitching mechanics/timing when doing long toss. And that means you should still be trying to build momentum, etc.

Now this is most applicable to pro and maybe some college pitchers that don’t play any other positions.

So your talking about going out to reasonable distances and using a leg lift? Makes sense

I believe House would not have a pitcher use a “cro-hop” when doing long toss. But a step behind is fine. In a way, it’s taking the place of gravity because it lets you get a little extra momentum using essentially a “running start”.

Yes.

I see. Thanks Roger.

That point of view certainly makes sense. I will say however that I’m very surprised to rarely see this in pro ball. I wonder why this is?

I would take it then that house doesn’t believe in going for extreme distance?

Not for pitchers.

[quote=“Roger”]House would tell you that pitchers should only throw long toss at a distance for which they can maintain perfect (for them) mechanics and timing. This says that he wants you to use your pitching mechanics/timing when doing long toss.[/quote]As you know, Roger, I do not agree with House on this one. There are just too many differences in body position and timing of the parts when on a mound vs. flat ground. How could one possibly use the same mechanics in long toss as you do in pitching?

“I would take it then that house doesn’t believe in going for extreme distance?”

House uses long toss at varying distances but he has pitchers start out at very modest distances. When they have made about 10 or 15 ‘perfect’ throws at the starting distance, he will have them lengthen out by 10 ft or so. 10 or 15 more perfect throws, you lengthen out again–etc.

When you reach the limit at which you can no longer throw with good mechanics and hit your target, you shorten up to the last distance where you were able to throw with good mechanics and consistently hit your target.

The goal is to stretch that last distance with reps of good mechanics, not achieve some extreme distance with just any kind of mechanics.

I think that this is an interesting topic. I apologize if this topic was beaten down before I signed up for this site.

I will say that I’m on the fence with this topic. In the last system I was in we used controlled distances where it wasn’t recommended to go any further than 180’. But we also used a cro hop when throwing.

When looking back on this, it doesn’t make much sense?.. Personally, if I’m going to cro hop and try to throw hard, I mine as well air it out if I’m going to disregard “pitching” mechanics.

Yeah, I know. And I’ve always felt pitching on flat ground was more similar than dissimilar to pitching on a mound as Mills would have us believe. Maybe we should identify what the differences are and attempt to qualify/quantify them rather than just make vague reference to their existence. Or has that already been done before?

The differences may have been pointed out before. But I would like to here what they are!

I wouldn’t mind a few intelligent baseball minds trying to hash this one out.

Here, I’ll start this one off with the obvious difference.

-Throwing off a sloped mound downhill to a crouching catcher.

“…if I’m going to disregard “pitching” mechanics.”

–Good point, Hammer. I’d never recommend any type of practice for pitchers that disregards pitching mechanics. In some practice activities the main emphasis may clearly not always be directly on mechanics, but you would never want to do reps of some activity that actually ingrains bad mechanical habits, right?

I was never so dismayed as when I was working with a team of Little Leaguers a few years ago whose head coach wanted the kids to do all of their long-toss reps from a flat-footed position directly facing the target, using nothing but their arm to power the ball. He thought that was what long toss was for–his idea was “just warm up the arm, without getting the rest of their body parts tired”. He didn’t care how sloppy the throws were, how high in the air they arced, nothing–he just wanted those arms “warm”. Nevertheless, he was constantly angry with his team because very few of them could throw the ball in game situations.

When I mentioned in private that perhaps he was training his team to throw the same way in games that they were being encouraged to do in long-toss, he got very angry–he just couldn’t see it that way.

[quote=“laflippin”]"

I was never so dismayed as when I was working with a team of Little Leaguers a few years ago whose head coach wanted the kids to do all of their long-toss reps from a flat-footed position directly facing the target, using nothing but their arm to power the ball. He thought that was what long toss was for–his idea was “just warm up the arm, without getting the rest of their body parts tired”. He didn’t care how sloppy the throws were, how high in the air they arced, nothing–he just wanted those arms “warm”. Nevertheless, he was constantly angry with his team because very few of them could throw the ball in game situations.

[/quote]

This is the point right here that to me is overwhelming.

Even though this case is taking things to the extreme, your exactly right on here. Why would you ever throw like that if your a pitcher?! If your just a pitcher, why would you practice throwing a ball any different than with your pitching mechanics? Can throwing off flat ground with pitching mechanics have an ill effect on transferring it to the mound for “mound” mechanics?

"Here, I’ll start this one off with the obvious difference.

-Throwing off a sloped mound downhill to a crouching catcher."

–You are right, Hammer, this topic is very interesting. If you use the same motions (i.e., starting from a wind-up or set position) for making a flat-ground pitch as you do a pitch from the mound, I don’t think the difference is substantial at all–not in your actual mechanics.

What does differ between the two scenarios is the amount of acceleration you are able to generate going down the mound is higher, and the stress from deceleration is also higher. I view the main differences between mound and flat-ground throwing to be just those–big changes in kinetics, little or no differences in mechanics.

Within reason, I also don’t think the height of the target (between standing partner in flat-ground throwing and crouching catcher in mound throwing) makes much difference. You can get that much variance with very minor, controllable differences in the angle that you release the ball. Side-to-side or up-and-down, you’re going to get about 1 1/2 feet of variation in location (over a typical pitching distance) with just 1.5 degrees difference in angle of release.

I like to think I use throwing mechanics on flat ground. Even if I am emulating the movements on the mound (leg lift, etc), the mechanics are still different. This is because you are throwing more ‘uphill’ on flatground than on a mound since your back foot is higher if on a mound and lower on flatground.

When I get upwards of 120’ I start to do a fast shuffle/step behind with no leg lift and really try to emphasize the hip/shoulder separation.

Here is a picture showing what I mean:

[quote=“flippin”]
What does differ between the two scenarios is the amount of acceleration you are able to generate going down the mound is higher, and the stress from deceleration is also higher. I view the main differences between mound and flat-ground throwing to be just those–big changes in kinetics, little or no differences in mechanics.[/quote]

Not only the amount of acceleration, but hip angles would differ to I’m sure but then again, I haven’t checked…

If you rotate Chien-Ming Wang so that he is throwing from flatground, his pitch will hit the backstop and similarly, if you rotate Royce Clayton so he is throwing on a mound, his ball will hit 30ft short of the 1st baseman. Something has to change.

Simply put, you can emulate your ‘pitching’ mechanics but they won’t be the same as on a mound. What implications does this have? I’m not completely sure…
Thoughts?

IMO, the pictures that you are using are not a fair comparison since they are of different people and even taken at different points in the delivery sequence, Spencer.

Using a regular videocamera to capture the images, pictures of the same thrower taken at the same point in a delivery look very, very similar for mound throwing and flat-ground throwing.

A more sophisticated look at Hammer’s question could be an extremely interesting topic to answer with the Vicon system at NPA–I’ll talk to Doug about it when I see him at USC next week.