I’m the father of an 11U player trying to figure out this pitching thing for him and his three bothers who will follow into baseball in a couple/few more years too. After a couple years of studying, I think I’ve got a pretty good handle, but don’t feel 100% comfortable on how the hips completely gets opened. Is it the drive leg/knee/ankle pushing into the ground that opens them the rest of the way? Is it the stable front foot at plant that then allows the front hip to stop completely and then the back hip just rotates around to opening? Is it from the swinging/rotation of the front leg/foot into front foot plant? Is it a confusing mixture of all of them? I can promise you I’ve researched this quite a bit before reaching out and have seen many different sources say many different things, but just can’t seem to get this one piece down correctly in my head. What are your thoughts on the subject? Thank you so much for your help!
Hi, Good question.
In order for the hips to fully open, a few things have to happen. A pitcher needs good flexibility, proper timing, and sequencing. If a pitcher is moving through his mechanics correctly, the pitcher should stay closed as long as possible. If a pitcher opens up his front foot to early in the delivery, he is starting to open up his hips. A pitchers hips should fully open up at front foot plant.
Is it the drive leg/knee/ankle pushing into the ground that opens them the rest of the way?
Yes and No. The drive leg, knee and ankle absolutely need to be engaged but they should not be pushing into the ground at foot plant. If they are still loaded, or pushing into the ground at foot plant, the hips will not be able to open and rotate. The drive leg foot has to remain flat to produce enough energy (momentum) to drive the pitcher down the mound in a closed position. The front foot has too work with the back foot. As the front ankle starts turning (the beginning of opening the hips) then then back foot ankle has to start peeling away from the rubber or kicking over to help the hips open. If the back heel doesn’t kick over when the front foot starts to open (timing and sequencing) then you will not see the hips fully open at foot plant.
Is it the stable front foot at plant that then allows the front hip to stop completely and then the back hip just rotates around to opening?
Yes. If you do not have a stable front side, opening the hips efficiently can not happen. Keep in mind, if the pitcher lands to closed off with his front foot, he may not be able to fully open his hips.
Is it from the swinging/rotation of the front leg/foot into front foot plant?
Yes but… This is the beginning of the hips opening or rotation. Full opening of the hips occurs when front foot strikes and the back heel has turned over. In this position a pitcher will demonstrate hip and shoulder separation. To get the hips too open fully and correctly, timing is everything.
To sum it up, a pitchers hips fully open when he drives closed down the mound. Just before heel strike the front foot starts to open. At the same time the back ankle has to start peeling away from the mound. At foot plant the lead knee and foot are pointing to the catcher and the back leg knee should be extended and pointing to the catcher - this is where the hips have fully opened. So, flexibility, timing, and sequence through proper back leg drive, staying closed through the delivery, moving the center of the body down the mound, front foot opening up at the proper time with back heel kick, and a stable front side will produce fully opened hips at landing.
My take is that the front hip starts to open into front foot plant and then rotates the rest of the way as soon as the front foot plants and the front leg braces.
“What are your thoughts on the subject?”
“don’t feel 100% comfortable on how the hips completely gets opened.”
Not sure why anybody needs to know this in depth kinesiological movement. It happens automatically but can be enhanced by mechanical timing and voluntary emphasis at a particular time in the driveline.
This all depends upon the mechanical approach you choose.
If your approach takes advantage of a short stride the mechanic alone changes the leg drive from mono pedal splits gate (traditional) to using a bipedal gate (state of the science), by pulling against the glove side leg to pull (triggered by the natural walking response) rotation while forwards acceleration is simultaneously accruing.
Unlike the traditional long stride where 90 percent of pelvic and shoulder rotations are used to get your Humerus ready to throw, not during the forwards acceleration phase. In other words it is used to attain length not project the ball.
“ Is it the drive leg/knee/ankle pushing into the ground that opens them the rest of the way?”
This depends on the mechanics you employ! If you are teaching the traditional splits drive none of your ball side leg push off gets used to actually throw the ball. This menuever is used to attain length not drive the ball. In fact 90% of all hip/shoulder rotation rotation ( and all H/S separation) is wasted in getting your humerus and forearm outwardly rotated so it can then begin the 2nd kinetic (drive/shortening) chain.
This early landing rotation is full body passive until the glove side leg plants firm sending a signal to then contract (walking response) against that leg in order to powerfully rotate the pelvis then shoulders. If your Humerus is late in arriving to full range of motion in outwards rotation you can not use most body rotation to add to velocity, it is used to get the Humerus outwardly rotated.
Powerful pelvic rotation can not start until the glove side leg is planted and this is where it emanates from, not the ball side leg.
“Is it the stable front foot at plant that then allows the front hip to stop completely and then the back hip just rotates around to opening?”
This is the problem. Most pitching coaches believe this rotation needs to stop because they see it in many. Better to continue body rotation to a full 175 degrees to a defensive drop step position by staying tall and fully rotating the way you see many of the MLB pitchers changing to.
This also eliminates eccentric deceleration injuries in your upper back.
"Is it from the swinging/rotation of the front leg/foot into front foot plant?”
This is that full body passive rotation that is only a postural set, no power being produced yet, only length. This is why it is important to not drive power in this lengthening kinetic chain.
Better to attain it smoothly and with perfect timing all the way to full body length at the “benchmark” glove side foot plant while simultaneously arriving to full Humeral outwards rotation.
“I can promise you I’ve researched this quite a bit before reaching out and have seen many different sources say many different things, but just can’t seem to get this one piece down correctly in my head.”
You like most have been following novice anecdotal reasoning thru marketing not kinesiological science!
Always look at the credentials of the information giver and I’m not talking about sport psychologists with doctorates who took the shortest root to a title that does not actually cover what they are quacking.