Dragging back foot for changeup?

My friend was saying that he was tought to drag his back foot when he threw a changeup… What does this do?

If he only drags his back (post) foot on change-ups it alerts the entire opposing team, including the hitter, that something radical is different in his mechanics and he is going to deliver a change-up, not a FB.

If your friend is in Little League, that probably won’t matter much for now. As soon as he graduates from LL, opposing hitters will generally be more perceptive and opposing coaches will be looking for advantages like this “tell”.

With “good” traditional mechanics the majority of pitchers make a “drag-line” with their posting foot on every pitch, and it looks the same on every pitch.

Before we fire up a salvo of posts about good pitchers that don’t have any obvious drag-line, yes…there are a few. But, really…it’s very few. And those few who do not have a drag-line from their FBs do not suddenly produce one from their change-up.

Nothing wrong with a back foot drag on the changeup and there is no way a hitter can see a back foot drag when he’s looking for the ball at that time. I did it throughout my career, through college, and I teach it as another way to take a couple miles an hour off.

laflippin, you are mistaking a dragline for a back foot drag, completely different. A dragline is an indication of late hip rotation and does not actually impede any energy created, a foot drag holds back the linear energy created that translates into the ball with the unloading of the lower back.

With all due respect, I don’t think it’s as simple a matter as, “the hitter is not able to concentrate on what the pitcher’s foot is doing while he is looking for the release of the ball.”

IMO, many pitchers do show the same exact dragline across every type of pitch, precisely because they don’t change their mechanics or release point from pitch to pitch. Instead, their different pitches, all released from very nearly the same spatial point, may look indistinguishable for 15 or 20 feet of flight. There are definitely some exceptions, for example, a “freeze” pitch thrown from a greatly different release point that surprises the hitter but drops into the strike zone.

But, the main point is: Pitcher’s who purposely drag their post foot, to slow down their delivery for a change-up, are generally doing something that is different and noticeable all the way up the kinetic chain.

I believe that a pitcher cannot exert a greater force on his post foot, one that is sufficient to to slow him down by FB vs CU speed, perhaps 10 or 12 mph, without greatly altering his mechanics from the bottom up.

Is the difference subtle? Perhaps it can be made to be fairly subtle with practice. But… hitters don’t have to actually focus on a pitcher’s post foot, if dragging it to slow down creates a ripple change in the pitcher’s timing and/or mechanics–all the hitters need to learn is “FB delivery looks different than change-up delivery”–in any sense of the word different–and they will be able to correlate that difference with a specific outcome.

Dragging the post foot to slow down your delivery for a change-up, again, just my opinion, defeats the purpose of the change-up grips and how they are properly released.

Well RBish if you didn’t get lit up over the old foot drag…I tip my cap. I would submitt that the very act of changing your motion is detrimental though…certainly a batter may not be able to pick up the first time…but your posture by concentrating back would be more the give away than the act of dragging…in this age of instant video you imho would necessarily look different and thusly develop a stiff neck from watching the ball rocket back over your head. I wonder how it was that you couldn’t lose enough mph by choking the ball back in your hand and still making no change to your mechanics? Again I have no reason to doubt the success you mention, I just can’t see it as a winning strategy when every single pitching coach I’ve ever met talks seriously about making every pitch look the same (No I don’t know them all…so I’ll caveat that it is an anecdotal limited cross-section…but it is unamimous).

I appreciate the backhandness of your comment. I also appreciate the different is bad mentality. You guys are overthinking things if you think a foot drag not only becomes distinguishable to the hitter but changes a pitcher’s mechanics. Akin to suggesting a change of grip can be seen by the hitter or changes mechanics.

“I believe that a pitcher cannot exert a greater force on his post foot, one that is sufficient to to slow him down by FB vs CU speed, perhaps 10 or 12 mph, without greatly altering his mechanics from the bottom up.”

It is not a case of not using grip to take velocity off but rather using in conjunction with. A “good” changeup will be in the 8-10 mph off range. Many pitchers will struggle to get more than that to make it a strike out pitch in the 10-13 mph range without tipping. All dragging the back foot does is limit some of the unloading of the lower back that happens AFTER shoulder rotation and the arm is laying back into launch. I would suggest, as you might question the effectiveness of a foot drag, that you might lack a bit of understanding of the sequencing of biomechanics. My neck is fine mind you.

I would submitt that the very act of changing your motion is detrimental though…

Ok so you are insulted that I would disagree, so present opposition to my proposition…by the way I do not nor did I doubt you succeeded…Marishall succeeded by kicking his front foot over his head…would you propose that as a method of instruction…because that is my point…no backhandedness…straight forward…you did it good…whatever…now are you proposing it as a method of instruction?
And I would also point out that unless you drag your foot in your regular delivery, you are in fact altering your delivery to drag your foot, which would necessitate a change in the biomechanical sequencing I might know so little about.

My stupidity , ignorance or lack of intelligence is not the point…You are right I don’t understand the sequencing of biomechanics…a point you may want to make…why…well I suppose you think it controverts my point that EVERY single pitching coach I’ve ever met preaches against altering delivery…you didn’t address the point you got rankled that your method was questioned.
Glad your neck is fine…now explain it to some kid who follows your method and isn’t successful, instead of attempting to properly learn how to throw a change-up, while you are at it, why don’t you list out some college level or above pitching coaches that advocate that as an approach.
In my opinion what you advocate is a “short cut”…I don’t personally believe it is to any students benefit to build a base, based on a short cut…that you did it and got away with it is to your credit…I mean that, most who try to get away without doing things in their proper way pay for it…yes with a stiff neck in our art…I wasn’t trying to do anything more than point that out without directly saying what I am now.

I’m not convinced this is the case. When does this intentional drag start? I would say during the stride - before front foot plant. If that’s true, how can it affect trunk flexion which occurs near the end of the delivery but not affect the other events that occur in between? I think that for most young pitchers, intentionally dragging the back foot will throw off their timing. At the elite level, this can tip a pitch.

Tom House once showed us some motion analysis video of Greg Maddux from a time when batters were teeing off on his change-up. The video show Maddux’s cange-up delivery superimposed on top of is fastball delivery. The only difference was that Maddux was getting out front further and faster on his fastball delivery. The conclusion was that this subtle difference was enough for batters to detect a difference and adjust their timing. They may not have been able to tell what was difference - just that there was a difference and that’s all they needed. Getting Maddux to match tempo and stride length in his change-up delivery was the fix.

Why this is such a big argument is beyond me. This is my 4th/last year in college baseball and typically on the teams I have been a part of there has been 14-18 pitchers on the staff and about half of them, including me, intentionally drag the back foot on a change-up. Yes it might alter your motion but its not that big of a deal and there is NO way a hitter is going to pick it up. The purpose is it MAKES you have to throw the pitch as hard as you can.

I will agree that before you fall on this that you should try and learn it the “right way” first, but there is nothing wrong with this habit.

The thing to focus on is there is no “right” way to pitch. Everyone does things a little different and if it is working then don’t try to fix it.

Jd, I’m certainly not insulted that you disagree, however I would suggest the comment below was unwarranted in a community of discussion and instruction, particularly between administrators and its posters:

“in this age of instant video you imho would necessarily look different and thusly develop a stiff neck from watching the ball rocket back over your head.”

re: "…it might alter your motion but its not that big of a deal and there is NO way a hitter is going to pick it up. "

—It might be more accurate to say that not every hitter will pick it up. However, good teams who are highly motivated to win will watch pitchers very carefully for signs that something is different in your delivery when you throw your change-up or breaking ball versus what you look like when you deliver your FB.

If they figure out that you have a discernible pattern…look out.

Roger, after front foot plant, after shoulder rotation, before the lower back unloads into the forward momentum created in the stride. There is no altering of mechanics involved. There is no distinguishable change for a hitter to see, the hips, shoulders, arm, arm angle and intensity of the pitch are exactly the same.

Before comparing and dismissing this teach the way of the radical suggestions of Marshall, maybe you should look at it, try it, feel it.

I am honestly amazed there is this much aversion to a pretty common technique. Please don’t think I force this on pitchers, if it doesn’t work for them that’s the way it is. All it is is another way to take another 2-3 mph off the changeup.

Laflippin, sure you might pick up a foot drag from the dugout, but there is no way a hitter, at the moment of ball launch is looking at a pitchers feet.

I apologize for the antagonistic nature of my posts in this thread, certainly not my intent on this board. I really enjoy this community.

RBish,

“…sure you might pick up a foot drag from the dugout, but there is no way a hitter, at the moment of ball launch is looking at a pitchers feet.”

-------We are starting to grind water here, as an old friend of mine used to say…

As mentioned in several earlier posts, hitters do not need to specifically focus on the pitcher’s post foot during a series of deliveries to notice that “something is different” when a change-up is coming. Good ones will only need to notice that something about the pitcher’s motion is different when he throws the change-up.

If a pitcher exerts a different kind of force during his change-up delivery, i.e., any extra force that is capable of making his post foot drag against his forward momentum enough to take off meaningful velocity, I believe that must change his mechanics and timing enough so that an alert hitter can pick up the pattern.

Again, if you are a fairly subtle pitcher and you are not attempting to take too much off with this extra drag force, then probably not every opposing team is going to pick it up…but the ones that do figure you out are certainly not going to tell you about it.

This is not a simple black & white world–there are many shades of grey to this discussion.

The fact is, even if the opposing hitters at your level always knew exactly what you intended to throw on your next pitch you would likely not give up a base hit on every pitch. So, the advantage to the hitter of finding a “tell” is never a 100% guarantee of success–it is a much smaller advantage than that. Nevertheless, when talent levels are relatively equal, success in baseball seems to be carefully built on recognition and pragmatic use of lots and lots of very small advantages.

Just my opinion, and naturally everyone is welcome to their own.

[quote]Jd, I’m certainly not insulted that you disagree, however I would suggest the comment below was unwarranted in a community of discussion and instruction, particularly between administrators and its posters:

"in this age of instant video you imho would necessarily look different and thusly develop a stiff neck from watching the ball rocket back over your head[/quote]

Humm…Maybe it’s my ignorance again, but I just don’t see what is inappropriate or unwarranted…Do you disagree that if you show a pitch that you may in fact get a stiff neck from watching balls rocket over your head? I’m not infallable and certainly would like to understand how it is that this is objectionable for you.

As to Ace…the discussion seems to have traveled slightly from the op…I’d accept part of the responsibility for that. I’m certain that guys have incremental differences…and really don’t have issue if it’s worked for you or RBish, I’m simply advocating that we first and foremost attempt a fundementally sound approach. As in…and this is directly related only to “how” to throw a pitch…it is injurious for example to “spin” your arm when attempting to throw a hook…or could lead to shoulder issues if you lead your fastball with your pinky on the side of the ball instead of having your hand behind it…I think that throwing a change doesn’t need a foot drag to be effective and stated such…vive la difference if it works for some, but I would urge that training first for the pitch with no additional machinations would be prudent…and then if a guy feels like he needs to modify for whatever reason…well ok, but there may in fact be a negative ramification. Is that unreasonable?

thanks guys.

We’ll just have to agree to disagree. To me, if you’re using the back foot drag to take something off a pitch, then you’re reducing the transfer of energy up the kinetic chain starting during the stride. You’re reducing hip rotation which means you’re reducing hip and shoulder separation and that means the timing is different because there will be less time between hip rotation and shoulder rotation. And that means the pitcher doesn’t get out front as far. I think all of these things taken together makes for enough of a difference that an elite batter can detect there is a difference.

Now I won’t deny that someone could practice dragging the back foot enough to get good at it and pull it off. There are MLB pitchers that have gotten good at doing all sorts of different things. But I don’t feel it’s the best teach for reducing velocity on the changeup. Just my opinion.

I have not done a good enough job of explaining the timing of the foot drag and I apologize for that. Stride is done, hips are done, shoulders are done, then foot drag.

i do not MYSELF drag on the changeup but ive heard of it, talked about it with teammates who do it, and tried it myself. when people are saying there is no way a batter can pick it up they are not lying… there is no way… by the time u drag, the ball is out of your hand, and its nowhere near the release point… all it does is allow you to throw with the same arm speed as a fastball but hold back your full momentum so you simply can not throw it as hard as a fastball. with a fastball you are trying to move your body momentum towards the plate to throw as hard as you can, the same logic applies with dragging your back foot… it ever so slightly slows your momentum which will slow the pitch while usiong the same arm speed

"…there is no way… by the time u drag, the ball is out of your hand, and its nowhere near the release point… "

----I’m trying to let go on this thread because it seems unlikely that folks with a preconceived notion, one way or the other, are going to change their thinking about this.

However, I do think qcbaseball should reconsider the meaning of his own words, quoted above.

Nothing that a pitcher does after the ball is out of his hand can possibly have any effect on its speed, direction, spin, or any other of its properties.

No one said RBish is lying, either. Some people here disagree with his perception that hitters cannot sense a difference in the pitcher’s motion between a ‘normal’ delivery and application of ‘intentional drag’ to slow down for a change-up delivery.

But whether hitters can or cannot sense the difference, any drag force that is meant to slow the ball down must clearly be applied well before the release point. Otherwise, you have just as good a chance of throwing a change-up by praying that the ball will do you a favor and decide to slow itself down after you’ve released it.

“Otherwise, you have just as good a chance of throwing a change-up by praying that the ball will do you a favor and decide to slow itself down after you’ve released it.”

LOL, you know, I’ve had some days I just release and pray. :slight_smile:

I think he didn’t quite say what he meant to on the timing of it but I know what he was saying. Interesting discussion.