Driving with back leg

hello everyone i did an experiment and i throw harder when i push off the mound instead of gliding idk wat to do though

define gliding

Well dude if you throw harder that way, then work on incorporating it into your regular mechanics. If you want to be a drop and drive guy though, make sure you really hit the weights and build up your legs, otherwise you’ll find everything ending up high in the zone as the game progresses because your back leg is collapsing.

Sounds to me that you simply haven’t learned how to get your center of gravity moving forward early enough and fast enough to build momentum without out pushing off. If you do what I’ve described well, you will find your back foot is pulled off the rubber. There might be a slight sideways push and the start of the stride just to initiate movement but after that there isn’t much, if any, pushing off.

Hey Roger, what do you think about creating this shape with your body < as a righty or > as a lefty. Obviously it’s exagerated, but Dusty touched on it as it was done well ofcourse by Koufax and Feller. Okajima and many other big leaguers apply shoulder tilt along with leading with the hips. Can this be beneficial?

You want some of that - just not too much as that creates posture and balance issues. The reason you want it is if you look at the sequence of events in delivery, the last event to occur right before the throwing arm whips forward is the forward flexion of the trunk. Keeping the head and shoulders slightly behind the front hip into foot plant and then squaring up puts the torso in a position of hyper-extension. In other words, the low back is arched and, hopefully, the head and shoulders are stacked upright. This creates a load just as hips rotating before shoulders creates a load through the core. Right about the time the throwing arm is ready to come forward, the low back releases, the trunk flexes forward (i.e. unloads), and the arm whips forward.

That makes perfect sense Roger.

Since this momentum idea is new to me, I’ve been a drop and driver in the past, when I was practicing dry work I noticed I wasn’t getting that trunk flexion forward. I was getting momentum, but I was leading with my upper body, with no shoulder tilt. I was having an impossible time getting on top of the ball in the one side session that I did throw. Thanks for the help.

You have to be careful about getting the upper half out front too soon or too far. That limits use of the lower half and you’ll probably try to make up for it with just the arm. And that means an increased chance for injury.

roger is exactly right. you want the hyperextension of the back (sometimes called getting a “c” with your lower back to transfer the momentum generated from the lower body through the trunk and into the shoulder. pedro martinez can really get to this position. there is an excellent video clip in latin superstars showing him almost directly from the side. this requires your shoulders to be behind or at least verticle at foot strike. clemens looks like his shoulder is in front of his hips at leg pump but then he agressively pendulums his hips in front of his shoulders which is phenomenal. if your shoulders are in front of your midline (belly button) at footstrike you are going into rotation too early and losing some leverage and velocity by failing to time the transfer of force you develop in your lower body pushing against the rubber and driving force into your hips. no way you can get maximum hip and shoulder separation.

if you break the kinetic chain running from your back foot to your throwing hand fingertips, your arm takes over and the small muscles tire quickly. this is where many pitchers lose velocity or get hurt and why some pitchers can throw 50 pitches and go down, and some guys can throw 110 pitches with no problem. the farther your shoulders are behind the hips, the farther you have to accelerate the ball using the big muscles by separation of the hips and shoulders stretching and activating the big muscles of the core if you time it properly. this takes great strength and flexibility to do 100 times in an outing and why developing core strength and flexibility are critical to maintaining a healthy, high velocity fastball. you should see the core workout my 15 yr old does 3 times per week. it’s tough.

there is a great clip of nolan ryan from behind doing this on one of the other threads on this site. as he pumps his stride leg up (extremely high), when it gets to the top, the first move is to get the hips going toward the plate and the upper body lags behind. then he keeps an excellent angle from his head/shoulders to his stride foot as he breaks from the glove and continues down the mound. notice how he keeps about 90" of flex in his elbow as it comes up to the high cock position. he never extends it behind him.

he starts to rotate and square to the plate just before foot plant but he has plenty of room left to rotate and square the shoulders up to release the ball way out in front of his head. his front leg does straighten and lock out momentarily but that happens immediately after he releases the ball, then he continues toward the plate with his head down. he watches the pitch with his head below his waist.

the hand then comes to rest on the glove hand side of the body loose and with plenty of time and room to decellerate and cushion the elbow. if the throwing hand stays in front of you it sends force and a shock back to the arm and shoulder instead of the large muscles of the back.

then the other plane you can use is rotating away from the plate (showing your back to the hitter) to get more leverage and torque. you must be careful here because excessive counter rotation (like kevin brown) is hard to control and if mistimed, can place pressure on the throwing arm. big payoff but a big gamble.

a good way to practice late rotation is to place the stride foot in a chair or on top of a weighted 5 gallon bucket about 3/4 of your stride length toward the plate (3/4 of your height, i advocate striving for a stride length as long as your height or more). your back foot is wedged against the rubber ready to push, and your throwing hand is in the glove preparing to break (not separated with elbows up). i think you need to feel the critical timing of the lower body and hand break to keep the kinetic chain and momentum moving through the body properly.

you then count “1” placing your weight on the front foot on the bucket or chair, “2” shift your weight against the back foot slightly lifting your stride foot off the bucket/chair (someone must move the chair out of the way quickly when you do this so you do not alter your finish, and “3” break the hands and push off the rubber staying sideways (or closed) as long as possible moving toward the plate and getting the throwing hand into position behing the head (some people call this short arming and a bad thing but we’ll talk about that in another post). then stride the length of your body and throw the ball finishing with your head below your waist and you should be in pretty good position. it’s easier to explain with a video clip. i’ll have to try to upload one sometime.

try it, it’s one of the first lessons i do with a rookie pitcher after backward chaining to feel release in front of the body and then throwing with a running start.

this is turning into a dissertation, hope you didn’t doze off.

good luck

Thanks Dusty. That post, along with Roger’s is very helpful. I certainly need to work on keeping my upper body behind my hips, thus getting me in that proper “C” position. Thanks guys.

you need to throw a bunch using the new mechanical adjustment so your body can get used to it. the only way to do that is to throw without straining the arm. if you set a target up about 20 ft away and throw at 60 to70% you can throw up to 150 pitches 3 times per week without danger. not too hard, but not lazy. this will reprogram your nervous system, and develop touch in your throwing fingers. it’s the only way i know to develop new mechanics and throw strikes safely. your body will tell you if it’s too much.