Downward angle

Tall and Fall vs. Drop and Drive? What are the preferences here? I am 6’4" and spent my entire career being told to keep my back leg straight in order to create that infamous “downward angle” and take advantage of my height. I wonder how much velocity I might have left on the table in my career while trying to creat one or two extra degrees of downward angle. Anyway, I have no regrets, but why do I keep hearing “tall and fall” come out of so many coaches mouths? Can we all agree that velocity is, indisputably, the most important attribute a pitcher can possess? And, isn’t it impossible to reach peak velocity without considerable back leg drive?

I am tired of pitching coaches that devalue the importance of velocity in order to disguise the fact that they have no idea wher velocity comes from or how to find it.

HB

Velocity isn’t #1 in my opinion. It might be 2 or three but movement (the later the better) and command can trump power.

Nobody ever got drafted throwing 85 with a good cutter. Everyone gets drafted that throws 95 with no off speed pitches at all.

If a high school kid throws 75 and gets hit around a couple times, he will usually cease to get the ball anymore. If a high school kid throws 85 and gets hit around they will hand him the ball over and over again as they try to “fix” him.

It may be unfair, but velocity = opportunity, whether that opportunity is on your high school baseball team or in the MLB draft. Obviously it isn’t the only important attribute, but it is most definately #1.

HasBeen,

Back leg drive, or “push off the mound” are of course routinely accepted concepts in baseball. Almost no one critically examines the actual meaning of these phrases.

In my view, the back leg neither drives or pushes a traditional pitcher off of the mound.

Think this through, preferably while you are viewing a high quality slo-mo clip of any baseball pitcher perform his delivery…

If the pitcher’s back leg is really straight, there can clearly be no “push” at all (unless it occurs at the ankle or at the pelvis). If you disagree, balance on one leg held completely straight and then “push”…

Such a pitcher could sag down a bit, by bending at the knee–but that is the exact opposite of “push”.

Most pitchers go into leg lift with a slight bend in their post leg knee (sometimes called ‘free-throw posture’). Either during leg lift, or at some balance point, there is a weight shift at the hips that gets momentum going forward. If there was a “push” off the rubber at that point, the post leg would straighten out.

You cannot do a push-up without straightening your arms and you cannot do a “push off” without straightening your post leg.

I can understand why many pitchers are so resistant to debunking “push off” the rubber, and “drive with the post leg”, but that doesn’t make these ideas right, and it is never a good idea to coach athletes with incorrect notions.

If pitchers really “pushed off” they would crow-hop off the mound–just like Mike Marshall wants his pitchers to do.

[quote=“laflippin”]If the pitcher’s back leg is really straight, there can clearly be no “push” at all (unless it occurs at the ankle or at the pelvis).[/quote]la
It has been my contention that this is a form of “push”. Check out some of the video and note what happens with the femur and it’s relationship to the hip joint. As high level pitchers progress in their strides, the femur of the back leg has a noticeable bend at the hip. As they rotate off the rubber, into landing, this angle straightens out. Now, one could say that’s a function of momentum and isn’t the cause of anything but I’m not so sure. Any thoughts?

laflippin,

I am not sure I am fully understanding your logic. Here are a couple of Lincecum quotes from an SI article from this summer:

“My dad always told me to sit down on my back leg as long as I could and push off as much as I could. I’m trying to get as much out of my body as possible. I’ve got to use my ankles, my legs, my hips, my back. . . . That’s why I’m so contorted and it looks like I’m giving it full effort when it’s not exactly full effort.”

“It kind of came naturally. That ankle kick that I get and the drive that I get from my back leg will make a big difference in how I get to the plate and how I pitch that day.”

If you watch his film you can definately see the actions that he is describing play out. I don’t know that I will ever be able to explain my feelings on this subject other than to say that; I know when I am not using my back leg in my delivery it shows up on the gun.

In my opinion, I think the athletic position (some bend on the leg, less taller than being ‘fully tall’) from the start is the better way to generate velocity with the push forces (or leg drive) from the leg.

Here’s one of my favorite deliveries ever: Matt Lindstorm’s

IMO, Lindstrom, who can hit 100mph, is a golden standard for me on tempo and arm action.

[/quote]IMO, Lindstrom, who can hit 100mph, is a golden standard for me on tempo and arm action.[/quote]

I agree that his arm action and tempo are phenomenal, but that front side makes me very nervous. I wouldn’t be surprised if he runs into arm trouble sooner than later.

I agree that his arm action and tempo are phenomenal, but that front side makes me very nervous. I wouldn’t be surprised if he runs into arm trouble sooner than later.[/quote]

Yes… I do not recommend that front side mechanism

Randy Johnson has a gold standard of front side mechanics, imo

[quote=“HasBeen08”]Tall and Fall vs. Drop and Drive? What are the preferences here? I am 6’4" and spent my entire career being told to keep my back leg straight in order to create that infamous “downward angle” and take advantage of my height. I wonder how much velocity I might have left on the table in my career while trying to creat one or two extra degrees of downward angle. Anyway, I have no regrets, but why do I keep hearing “tall and fall” come out of so many coaches mouths? Can we all agree that velocity is, indisputably, the most important attribute a pitcher can possess? And, isn’t it impossible to reach peak velocity without considerable back leg drive?

I am tired of pitching coaches that devalue the importance of velocity in order to disguise the fact that they have no idea wher velocity comes from or how to find it.

HB[/quote]

Velocity the best attribute for a pitcher? It depends on what the goal is. I completely agree that coaches try and downplay its importance. Whether we like it or not, there is always a velocity standard to make it to the next level, whatever that may be. Doesn’t matter if you’re trying to play high school, college, pro, a certain velocity threshold usually needs to be achieved.

With regards to getting people out, it’s not the most important attribute, but that’s been stated many times over.

As far as “drop and drive” vs. “tall and fall.” I don’t think these terms are valid anymore and their connotation is very misleading. I do think that most on here would agree that staying somewhat tall while using as much momentum down the slope of the mound is the way to go. You can still have good downhill angle and use your body.

Putting all pitchers into 1 of 2 categories is just stupid and outdated.

DM,

Yes, I’ve read before your detailed and very articulate description of the “push” that must occur at the femoral head and hip socket and I completely agree with the idea–there must be a force that makes the hips pivot over the post leg.

But, I think that is not the “push” that almost everyone else believes in.

The greatest part of the push forward comes from the gravitational force on an unstable lever (the pitcher) whose fulcrum is the post foot and whose center of gravity is up around his belly button, which is created when the pitcher lifts his stride leg and shifts weight at the hips. The post leg either maintains constant isometric tension (not a push off) or it actually bends down a bit at the knee (most definitely not a push off–just the opposite, in fact).

I think this is very clear in the post leg of Lindstrom which GDN kindly posted.

I think whatever cue gets a pitcher to move to the plate correctly should be used whether it’s push, pull, jump, drive whatever. This debate comes up so much that it probably creates more confusion.

I thought it was dodge, dip, dive, duck and dodge? Anyway…

I am certain this topic has run it’s course on this site so I apologize for reintroducing it. I was just curious about everyones take on the subject and wasn’t sure how to find it in an old thread.

As for your previous post. I think my eagerness to overvalue velocity comes out of frusteration with so many that run away from the subject. Clearly we need to figure out how to throw at peak velocity with command and also learn how to “pitch”.

The subject of where velocity comes from in an effective pitching delivery shouldn’t really ever become passe at a pitching forum. This is not ‘beating a dead horse’, in my opinion.

I completely agree with the sentiment that pitchers themselves do not necessarily need to understand in “physics detail” what makes them good or not good. They need to perform while they are on the mound, not analyze mechanics.

On the other hand, whether their coaches have an intuitive grasp of pitching, a scientific grasp, or even better—a deep intuitive understanding combined with scientifically-based logic–it seems clear that coaches do need to have a much deeper well of knowledge, experience, and fact-based understanding of details to draw upon for effective coaching of their athletes.

If you buy the general conclusion that came out of House’s research a few years ago, i.e., that 80% of velocity arises from hip-shoulder separation and delayed shoulder rotation, then only about 20% of a pitcher’s velocity arises from his stride. And, if the stride forward is primarily driven by the gravitational force once the pitcher has shifted his weight and lifted his stride leg, then it is somewhat pointless to teach “push off the rubber”. Proper sequencing to get the correct timing of weight shift, yes, but “push off the rubber”? That is vague, at best, and a classic misdirection at worst.

I read the Lincecum quote, and I’ve read many other pitchers’ conclusions about “pushing off” of the rubber. In the end it doesn’t matter to Lincecum whether or not his analysis of his own delivery is literally correct, because his delivery works great for him. It is usually much more instructive to carefully watch what pitchers do than it is to listen to what they say. Since high quality slo-mo video is much more common these days than it used to be, it is sthat much easier to separate the fact of what pitchers do from the occasional fiction of what they believe.

There is nothing wrong with optimizing pitchers’ velocity–that’s what most pitchers and their coaches want.

If you buy the general conclusion that came out of House’s research a few years ago, i.e., that 80% of velocity arises from hip-shoulder separation and delayed shoulder rotation, then only about 20% of a pitcher’s velocity arises from his stride. And, if the stride forward is primarily driven by the gravitational force once the pitcher has shifted his weight and lifted his stride leg, then it is somewhat pointless to teach “push off the rubber”. Proper sequencing to get the correct timing of weight shift, yes, but “push off the rubber”? That is vague, at best, and a classic misdirection at worst.

This post by Laflippin deserves more attention that casual reading. A lot more.

I’m going to qualify my next remarks to the mature payer, say eighteen and above. A player that has the skills and concentration to deliberately focus on proper sequencing of body motion and the platforms, sequentially and deliberatly builds the body’s progression. And by platforms, I’m referring to feet platforms that support and build for the legs, the legs that support and build for the pelvis/hips, and so on.

A pitcher’s load and release of any pitch – any pitch, starts and finishes with a energy level that actual builds and releases said energy from the pitcher’s body TO the ball. And since the pitcher, unlike a fielder, has a very limited space to work with- area wise, the pitcher has to use all the body’s efficiency that will promote all the forward momentum that he/she can, leaving none of that energy behind.

Now the human body has unique senses to do this, and some athletes are more pronounced in this area of coordination and momentum then others. This is especially true for the playing segment eighteen years of age and older. Weight – height – tolerance – perception sensitivity, coupled with other factors like maturity, natural endowments and one’s attention span all play a key role in this managing coordination of forward momentum to release the body’s energy.

Now consider this – the concentration necessary to focus on doing everything necessary to accomplish all the proper body movements, and in the proper sequence(s) mind you, are a lot to ask of any human being – amateur and pro alike. Hence, the pitcher’s attention span can have a conflicting imprint overshadowing good sequential form and postures, as brute force(s) tries to dominate the emotional and physical delivery of the pitcher. In short, when a pitcher delegates his pivot leg and foot to do nothing more or less than provide a stable platform for the rest of the body’s progression, and allow that body’s progression to simply pull the pivot foot off the surface its standing on – a lot more energy can be focused on the pitch (per say) then would be otherwise.

The bottom line here is that pitchers PITCH off their front leg – not their back leg. There’s no sharing of the pitch with feet and legs. The Transfer of energy is smooth and complete once the pitcher has planted that front foot (stride) and his/her natural body signature takes over.

Pushing off with the back leg will hold back a pitcher’s senses of transferring momentum by stretching out the release phase of his/her delivery. If you happen to waatch two players in the act of releasing the baseball – a pitcher Vs a fielder… say a short stop, you’ll see what I mean.
The pitchers PITCH is off the front leg, the short stop has more a level, stable, both feet in balance type of THROW. The short stop is using his back leg/foot for stability and push, thus this throw draws accuracy and some velocity from it. But notice, the short stop is not on a mound or anything close to it - also, the short top doesn’t have any space restrictions to his fielding the ball, setting himself up to throw the ball, and then releasing it.

Nice post Laflippin.

Coach B.

Thank you, Coach B., your posts are of course always worth reading and sometimes they are magnificent for their deep insights. I don’t say that just because we seem to agree on some issues, and I am certainly not alone in my high esteem of your baseball experience and knowledge.

“…pitchers PITCH is off the front leg”

----I wish I had thought of that, Coach B.