HS Pitching Coach Advise


#1

My son, a freshman in HS, has been telling me the advice the HS Pitching coach has been giving him and he is very confused. First he tells him not land with his foot straight to the plate but a bit closed. And he insists on it.
I told my son this is not an issue and sounds old school, this is style not a mechanical issue. I even showed my some vids of pros with foot straight to the plate. My son has been pitching since he was 9. He has had good success but still has a lot to learn and work on like most young pitchers. I respect the coaches and would never say anything to them, it is up to my son now to work things out with his coaches. He comes home today and tells me the coach wants him to collapse his back leg, I mean really collapse it like drop and drive. He wants him to point his toe straight down when bring his leg down after leg lift . He even put a chair to the side of him and so that his stride foot would not hit it. I always taught him to lead with his hips and he does this very well. He does not bring his foot out that much during his stride to have his coach use this chair drill. The coach wants him to drive all the way into foot plant. Their should be an initial drive along with the hips going first but not all the way into foot plant, correct? When my son pitches the way he his comfortable with and been taught he does well but when he tries the coaches way he loses some control. I’m all for a coach teaching the players correct mechanics but when they seem a bit old school or just plain wrong then I’m puzzled. I’m trying to give my son good advise on how to handle this but at the same time not to undermine the coach being a coach. Any advice or similar experience.


#2

[quote=“CoachDad”] First he tells him not land with his foot straight to the plate but a bit closed. And he insists on it.
I told my son this is not an issue and sounds old school, this is style not a mechanical issue. I even showed my some vids of pros with foot straight to the plate. My son has been pitching since he was 9. He has had good success but still has a lot to learn and work on like most young pitchers. I respect the coaches and would never say anything to them, it is up to my son now to work things out with his coaches. He comes home today and tells me the coach wants him to collapse his back leg, I mean really collapse it like drop and drive. He wants him to point his toe straight down when bring his leg down after leg lift . He even put a chair to the side of him and so that his stride foot would not hit it. I always taught him to lead with his hips and he does this very well. He does not bring his foot out that much during his stride to have his coach use this chair drill. The coach wants him to drive all the way into foot plant. Their should be an initial drive along with the hips going first but not all the way into foot plant, correct? When my son pitches the way he his comfortable with and been taught he does well but when he tries the coaches way he loses some control. I’m all for a coach teaching the players correct mechanics but when they seem a bit old school or just plain wrong then I’m puzzled. I’m trying to give my son good advise on how to handle this but at the same time not to undermine the coach being a coach. Any advice or similar experience.[/quote]
landing towards the plate is at 0 degrees, and towards third base is 90 degrees. So ‘landing closed’ can be done without causing issues until 10 degrees. So technically that is a closed landing, but doesn’t apply an extra amount of torque on the shoulder.

The pointing the toe straight down may be because your son could be landing on his heel, while that isn’t a bad thing, it can cause him to spin off which would be an issue for control and velocity.

Honestly, he could be seeing something. The best way for us to help would be to see your son on video, and then maybe we could help clear any issues up. It definitely is hard to see eye to eye with every coach. Many have different beliefs, coaching styles, attitudes, and personal quirks. Have your son ask what he is doing, and have him ask his coach why he wants to do what the coach is saying. There is nothing with a player discussing this for clarity, and may actually clear up some of the different thoughts.


#3

everything he said ^^

but it actually sounds like your sons coach is trying to get your son to use “the perfect pitcher” mechanics
everything he said is exactly what you want to be doing


#4

[quote=“FranDaMan”]everything he said ^^

but it actually sounds like your sons coach is trying to get your son to use “the perfect pitcher” mechanics
everything he said is exactly what you want to be doing[/quote]

I know you are supposed to have some bend in you back leg but I thought collapsing it before your hips move forward is not a good thing.

He is landing on his ball of his foot almost flat, coach said to land more with his heel.

Maybe he is seeing something. I’ll have to have him pitch this weekend to see if I notice anything and try to take some video.

Thanks for the replies.


#5

[quote=“CoachDad”]I know you are supposed to have some bend in you back leg but I thought collapsing it before your hips move forward is not a good thing.

He is landing on his ball of his foot almost flat, coach said to land more with his heel.

Maybe he is seeing something. I’ll have to have him pitch this weekend to see if I notice anything and try to take some video.[/quote]
How much of a collapse is he asking for?

Landing on the heel is incorrect. It will make your delivery choppy and will give up balance. This could lead to control issues.

As I said to begin with though, really the thing we need to see is video. Sometimes coaches use exaggerations in order to help players understand what they want them to do. Over spring break I was able to experience a great example of this.
I went back to my high school and watched a game on monday. They had a 2 day break to practice before their next game. The guy playing 3rd never has played there before and in the game was short hopping the ball to first every time. The first baseman is an okay ball player, but he isn’t the greatest. Everything in the dirt just becomes a big hassle. The starting catcher is also plays first. We were attempting to tell the third baseman to just let it fly to first, just to let it go and let it rip. To really just put some juice on it.

The first baseman/catcher was playing first. “Watch this!” He cries to our third baseman, then he looks at me and says “He robo, hit me one (robo is my nickname back home).” So I hit him a routine groundball and he turns to throw it to third, yells “LET IT GO!!!” and lets it sail way over the head of our third baseman continuing to land about 30 feet past third base.

After that, the third baseman really had some juice on his throw. I saw a guy who barely threw 65 throw around 72 mph, simply because he learned by an over exaggeration how to be aggressive with his throw. He made my hand hurt a few times. Now, while our catcher/1st baseman grossly exaggerated our intentions, that is exactly what it took to break our guys bad habit.

I think that sometimes, we get advice from ballplayers all over, and there are so many things going through our minds that we simply put it to the side. Something bigger and more obvious really will catch our attention and make us think about it.


#6

That’s what had me so puzzled. I had him show me and it wasn’t just a bend it was beyond the sitting position.

He has good balance and stabilization through out his delivery. But things I know he needs to work on:
I know he needs to use more hip and core.
He tends to start turning his shoulders right before foot plant.
Needs to get his chest out over his front knee more its a little behind his knee.

I’ll have to get some video.


#7

Confusion worse confounded…
Years ago, the St. Louis Browns had a pitcher named Fred Sanford. He wasn’t a bad pitcher—in fact, he was a pretty fair country hurler who had the misfortune to be pitching for the lousiest team in all creation. The Yankees saw something in him, and they acquired him in a trade. But then the trouble began. Sanford had a motion best described as “herky-jerky”, and it didn’t matter that he was getting the batters out. Pitching coach Jim Turner didn’t like it. Third-base coach Frank Crosetti (and how did he, a former infielder, get mixed up in thsi?) didn’t like it. That motion offended their esthetic sensibilities. They wanted Sanford to have a smooth—yes, “perfect pitcher”—motion, and so they started futzing with him. What they did was screw the pooch, was what they did; they got the poor guy all confused and discombooberated, and by the time they gotr through with him he wasn’t a good pitcher any more. At the end of the 1950 season he was traded.
Esthetic sensibilities, my Aunt Fanny!
I learned something a long time ago, when I was getting into serious pitching. I call it “The Secret”, and I got it when I would go to the original Yankee Stadium every chance I got. I used to watch the pitchers, and I saw just what the Big Three pitching rotation—Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi and Ed Lopat—were doing and how they were doing it. They were all driving off the lower half of the body, using the legs, the hips and the torso in one continuous—and, it seemed to me, seamless—motion, and I realized that this was the real key to a pitcher’s power. They were generating the power behind their pitches, and at the same time they were taking the pressure off the arm and the shoulder so they could throw harder (and faster) with less effort. It seemed to me that said arm and shoulder were just going along with the ride, and those three guys were finishing their pitches, following through, no problem at all, and not a sore arm or a sore elbow or a sore shoulder or a sore anything else!
I made a note of all this and started working on it on my own. As I practiced this essential—and believe me, it is essential—element of good sound mechanics I found that I was doing the same thing they were. Maybe I didn’t have the speed (neither did Lopat), but I was indeed throwing harder with less effort, and my natural sidearm delivery had more snap and sizzle to it. Later on Lopat, who had become my pitching coach—and what an incredible one he was—helped me refine this move and expand my repertoire.
It’s true, different pitching coaches have different ideas—but if they have any sense in their heads they will not go around trying to create more confusion and uncertainty, but instead zero in on what will work for the individual. You and the kid are both right—landing on the heel is all wrong and will only make the delivery more awkward, not to mention create a stumbling block in the delivery. We don’t want that, now do we?


#8

I know this is not directly related but you constantly hear “drop and drive” related to Tom Seaver, I’ve watched this clip many times (http://www.pitchingclips.com/players/tom_seaver.htm) and I just don’t see it. His hips are moving forward quite a ways before his knee is at its peak and before you see a bend in the knee. Shouldn’t it really be “drive and Drop”. It may not seem like much but for my money it’s huge. Tell someone to “drop then drive” they will sit down on the post leg. Unless I’m missing something Seaver never “sits down” on that leg. His hips are moving early. Just something I’ve been curious about.


#9

RL35, drop and drive is referring to the front leg actually. Look at the front leg on Tom Seaver (Drop and Drive) and Don Sutton, who believed in keeping a tall body. Yet he got the top of his body over his leg.

Sutton once said that “With drop and drive you have to have very strong legs, and if you’re going to throw that way you’re going to have to have your mind made up that you’re not going to have a curveball.”


#10

Very interesting. I have heard drop and drive discussed many times and read many articles and it always referred to people sitting down on the post leg and that it’s not efficient because it’s hard to get moving at that point unless you are really strong and the drop of the head/line of site effect control etc…and people point to Seaver as someone who managed to pull it off…I see what you mean about the landing leg, most firm up at greater than 90 degrees and his is at 90 or lower when it firms up…Thanks for the insight.


#11

[quote=“RJ35”]Very interesting. I have heard drop and drive discussed many times and read many articles and it always referred to people sitting down on the post leg and that it’s not efficient because it’s hard to get moving at that point unless you are really strong and the drop of the head/line of site effect control etc…and people point to Seaver as someone who managed to pull it off…I see what you mean about the landing leg, most firm up at greater than 90 degrees and his is at 90 or lower when it firms up…Thanks for the insight.[/quote]Right, and I think that the understanding of drop and drive is different in those cases than what Seaver and others saw it as. The Louisville Slugger Complete Book of Pitching says that it is when someone pitches over a bent front leg and this is done after dropping the whole body closer to the ground during pitching. Maybe we both should look at it more as a whole system, as that is what it truly is to a pitcher.


#12

CoachDad,

Welcome to high school pitching instruction.

Clearly your son’s coach does not understand what is important and what’s not. He’s insructing the unimportant things and, in effect, cloning pitchers. Thus is the type of instruction that often happens at the high school level.

Foot angle at foot plant is a non-teach unless a pitcher plants with too extreme of an angle that it’s causing some other problem. How far out the front foot swings is also a non-teach unless, again, it’s causing some other problem. Same for the toes pointing down or not (though I don’t even know what kind of problems might occur from pointing the toes up).


#13

Toes pointing up Roger have been linked to some pitchers landing on their heels, which can cause balance problems, although pitchers such as Nolan Ryan were able to get away with pointing their toes up since they still landed properly.

Tom House actually worked with one of Nolan Ryan’s sons and his son had this exact issue. Landing more on his heel, causing balance problems. Although Ryan was somewhat adverse to how House was fixing the problem, after a long discussion, they decided that it would be better if his son pointed his planting toe downward throughout the motion.


#14

No doubt about it - he must lead with the hip! It’s ok to have a slight bend in the back leg from the start, but the hip goes first. There should not be any collapsing of the back leg, though - none at all! It flexes once the hips get moving and then straightens (extends) as the pitcher drives toward the plate, but there is always tension on that back leg - do not let it collapse!

The deal with the toe pointing on leg lift is not a huge deal but I agree it could lead to landing on the heel. It can also cause too much tension (muscular contraction) on the front leg/foot. The tension is on the backside until the front leg lands. The landing leg should firm up but land bent - I wouldn’t go 90 degrees like Seaver, but it doesn’t matter much as long as the landing leg doesn’t collapse - it needs to land firm and brace up.

The landing foot should try to land flat - but if the heel happens to land a tad before the rest of the foot, usually not a big deal. Same thing with the ball of the foot. I agree that the foot could point directly to the plate or closed off at a slight angle: the big thing is if it is landing across the mid-line.


#15

[quote=“CSOleson”]
Toes pointing up Roger have been linked to some pitchers landing on their heels, which can cause balance problems, although pitchers such as Nolan Ryan were able to get away with pointing their toes up since they still landed properly.[/quote]
House has taught us that landing on the heel is not itself a problem. If this is somehow causing a balance issue then I’d propose that there’s something else going on like a non-athletic starting posture or a lack of momentum. Maybe the kid was trying to use a Nolan knee lift. Hard to say without being there.

Must have been a special case because I have never heard House teach pointing the toes down. House is big on allowing as much as possible to differ from pitcher to pitcher and this would be one of those things.


#16

[quote=“Roger”]
House has taught us that landing on the heel is not itself a problem. If this is somehow causing a balance issue then I’d propose that there’s something else going on like a non-athletic starting posture or a lack of momentum. Maybe the kid was trying to use a Nolan knee lift. Hard to say without being there.[/quote]
You are right, landing on the heel in itself is not an issue, but in some pitchers you can see them land on the heel and spin off, have balance issues, etc. A way to fix that is a simple on. Don’t let them land on the heel. I’m all for the fact that you can do either one, as long as there is no issue involved before, during, or after this particular movement.

[quote]
Must have been a special case because I have never heard House teach pointing the toes down. House is big on allowing as much as possible to differ from pitcher to pitcher and this would be one of those things.[/quote]
I believe the discussion about having Reid (Nolan’s son) point his toe down on House’s advice was in either Nolan Ryan’s Pitchers bible or Fit to Pitch by House. I cannot recall which one it is though.