Lower Body

Okay so I am slowly getting back into pitching, I want to overhaul my mechanics as I think theyre horrid.
First, I’m all arm. So I was throwing th other day trying to figure out the best way to get my lower half into the pitch and I have two theories so maybe you can help me and tell me if im on the right track.

One: I always figured by utilizing my lower half better, my arm would react kind of like a sling shot. What Im currently doing is trying to keep my shoulder pointed at home plate until my hips start opening a bit. In hopes that this would pull my arm along.

Two : I kind of theorized this watching Stephen Strasbur and joel zumaya pitch a bit and they push off the mound extremely well, almost leaping in a way. I need to start working on my push off.

[quote=“GottyJ”]

Two : I kind of theorized this watching Stephen Strasbur and joel zumaya pitch a bit and they push off the mound extremely well, almost leaping in a way. I need to start working on my push off.[/quote]

No, no, and no. Strasburg and Zumaya do not push off the mound. There is an impression of pushing off the mound. Really it is there lower body “sitting” into foot plant and then there hips firing which creates the “leaping” effect. I believe that 101 posted a nice clip of tim hudson’s lower body, so 101 if you could post that again that would be awesome. If not here is the topic, scroll down. Its the 4th post:

http://www.letstalkpitching.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=13410

When I was a kid I went to the original Yankee Stadium every chance I got, and I watched the pitchers—during pregame practice and during the game. I noticed that the Yankees’ legendary Big Three—Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds and Ed Lopat—were all doing the same thing: they were driving off the lower half of the body, using the legs, the hips and the torso in one continuous (and seamless) motion—and that was how they were generating the power behind their pitches. It seemed to me that the arm and the shoulder were just going along for the ride, and because so much pressure was taken off said arm and shoulder those guys could throw harder and faster, even Lopat who was a snake-jazz pitcher! I saw just how they were doing this, and I made a note of it and started working on it on my own.
As I practiced this essential aspect of good mechanics, I found that not only was I throwing harder and faster but also there was much less effort involved. I was a natural sidearmer, and I used the crossfire a great deal, and I never had a sore arm or a sore shoulder or a sore anything else! Pitching effectively became easier for me. So this is what you need to do—get your whole body involved in the action. There are a number of drills and exercises you can do, such as the “Hershiser” brill which aims at getting the hips fully involved, and you can find them on this website. Go to it! :slight_smile: 8)

Yeah, you absolutely want to use your legs to drive off the rubber. Think of pushing the rubber down and back with your entire foot, which is firmly planted or “rooted” to the ground for as long as possible. Get a long stride by lunging or driving with the back leg until it is near full extension; if done properly, your legs should be tired after throwing a bullpen, not your arm!

That clip of Hudson is not a good representation of what to do, in my opinion. He appears to be “collapsing” his back leg too much and doesn’t show his full stride. We don’t want to teach “sitting” on the back leg because we don’t want the energy to go straight down into the mound, rather we want it to go down the mound toward the plate. The bend in the back leg is used as a “launching” of the body and it must stay firm as it bends. Keep in mind that as this movement is occurring, you are simultaneously leading with the hip toward the plate, rather than “sitting down”. Go to “Video Clips” above and look at a different clip of Hudson for a better view - but even that one is a warm-up and not a full delivery. Another part of the equation is the intent to move explosively down the mound; watching a pitcher in warm-ups with less than 100% intensity doesn’t exemplify proper lower body mechanics. The key is to get to full back leg extension BEFORE rotation, like in the picture posted by hydejing in the 5th post from the before-mentioned topic:

http://www.letstalkpitching.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=13410

[quote=“structuredoc”]Yeah, you absolutely want to use your legs to drive off the rubber. Think of pushing the rubber down and back with your entire foot, which is firmly planted or “rooted” to the ground for as long as possible. Get a long stride by lunging or driving with the back leg until it is near full extension; if done properly, your legs should be tired after throwing a bullpen, not your arm!

That clip of Hudson is not a good representation of what to do, in my opinion. He appears to be “collapsing” his back leg too much and doesn’t show his full stride. We don’t want to teach “sitting” on the back leg because we don’t want the energy to go straight down into the mound, rather we want it to go down the mound toward the plate. The bend in the back leg is used as a “launching” of the body and it must stay firm as it bends. The key is to get to full back leg extension BEFORE rotation, like in the picture posted by hydejing in the 5th post from the before-mentioned topic:

http://www.letstalkpitching.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=13410[/quote]

Ironically the way you just suggested in fact causes more stress to be used on the arm instead of the body.

If you watch the majority of high level throwers, the sit on that back leg and then it rotates which creates tons of energy. Their back leg does eventually straighten but not at the beginning of rotation.

Watch ryan:

notice how his leg sits in rotation, where he then drives his knee in. He is not pushing he is storing energy in that back leg and then rotating it which creates the kinetic whipping of the hips and upper body.

Beckett does it as well:

So does Oswalt:

And Kazmir:

There legs do straighten, but they are not pushing off the rubber. They are getting propeled by there hips firing

Now there is a right way to sit on the back leg, and that way is the way that ryan demonstrates in which you sit until you have reached your lowest point and then the kinetic whip starts

I’m not sure I am following what you are saying… what exactly do you mean when you say that his leg sits in rotation? And when you say to sit until you reach the lowest point, I don’t get that either. I mean, I can sit all the way down to the ground on one leg - that would be the lowest point. But why would I want to sit down on the rubber? And if all of the power and energy comes from hip rotation, why don’t I just torque my hips really hard and fast like I am swinging a bat? Why stride at all? In fact, I know some pitchers who pretty much do that - virtually no stride and sthey spin really hard - they all have lots of arm pain and no control.

Just trying to understand your terminology and explanation -

[quote=“structuredoc”]I’m not sure I am following what you are saying… what exactly do you mean when you say that his leg sits in rotation? And when you say to sit until you reach the lowest point, I don’t get that either. I mean, I can sit all the way down to the ground on one leg - that would be the lowest point. But why would I want to sit down on the rubber? And if all of the power and energy comes from hip rotation, why don’t I just torque my hips really hard and fast like I am swinging a bat? Why stride at all? In fact, I know some pitchers who pretty much do that - virtually no stride and sthey spin really hard - they all have lots of arm pain and no control.

Just trying to understand your terminology and explanation -[/quote]

I will try to sum it up in words as best I can:
By sitting into rotation, I mean that the back leg remains bent at a similar angle until the rotation begins. Hence the appearance of sitting into rotation. By loading on the back leg I do not mean simply bending the back leg and then going forward. That is the complete opposite of what I want.
What I want to see from a pitcher is that as the move forward toward home, there back leg bends and they continue to sit getting lower and lower as they progress towards home. Then at the point of the lowest sit, the knee rotates inward which begins the rotation of the hips.
Watch Ryan’s head, it moves downward and then after his knee rotates goes forward.
When you teach a push, rotation in the lower half is lost.
Btw if you watch a major league hitter, they don’t just spin open there hips (although Mark Texiera does this), they shift their momentum.

I’m still not quite following - you said the leg remains bent at a similar angle until rotation begins, but then you say the back leg bends and they continue to sit getting lower and lower as they progress toward home. If you continue to sit aren’t you changing the angle?

Couldn’t Ryan’s head move downward simply as a product of moving down the slope of the mound with his long stride?

With regard to what you want to see happen, how do you teach this to pitchers? What are the instructions/cues to make this happen?

My point about hitting was that most hitters take very little to no stride - sure there is a weight shift, but once the heel drops, almost every hitter will swing around a stationary axis - purely rotational at that point. Why not just let a pitcher do the same thing? Take little to no stride and whip the hips…

[quote=“structuredoc”]I’m still not quite following - you said the leg remains bent at a similar angle until rotation begins, but then you say the back leg bends and they continue to sit getting lower and lower as they progress toward home. If you continue to sit aren’t you changing the angle?

Couldn’t Ryan’s head move downward simply as a product of moving down the slope of the mound with his long stride?

With regard to what you want to see happen, how do you teach this to pitchers? What are the instructions/cues to make this happen?

My point about hitting was that most hitters take very little to no stride - sure there is a weight shift, but once the heel drops, almost every hitter will swing around a stationary axis - purely rotational at that point. Why not just let a pitcher do the same thing? Take little to no stride and whip the hips…[/quote]

The term sitting does not mean simply remaining the same angle, but instead the back leg being bent until point of rotation. No doubt Ryan’s head downward movement is because of the mound. But it is also because of the loading on the back leg. Next time try pushing off the rubber and video yourself, notice how your head moves down, then forward and up. The head should only go forward at least until follow through.

The hitting swing is different than a throw simply because the objective is different as well as the plane. A pitcher throws on a downward slope. I’m not suggesting throwing like how you would swing, like you said that would cause numerous problems. However, the lower body action is very similar. The objective is just different. When you swing you are trying to hit a baseball in a straight line or up. Therefore your body will remain back, but as you pitch your body comes forward as you attempt to deliver the ball as close to the plate as possible. Remember that all of this is unconscious.

Instruction is often not needed if a kid has been taught nothing. I watched a 6 year old a few days ago with perfect lower body form. He sat on his back leg until it reached his lowest point and he rotated inward.

However, sometimes kids (like me) have been taught to stride as far as possible. But what that encourages is a linear “push” not necessarily an actual push but the appearance that they are pushing off the rubber. There leg is simply pulled off the rubber as there front leg pulls them forward and then the upper body is forced to do all of the rotation leading to injury.

First thing you have to ignore stride length for a while. Length is not determined simply by how far you stretch your front leg, but by how low and how long you sit on that back leg. The longer and lower, the farther the stride. I can’t explain it well, but I will try to record myself doing a few drills the next couple days to show you how I would instruct a student of mine.

I think I see what you are getting at… I just think that the cue to “sit” is not the best terminology. In order for a student to follow instructions and to make his body do what you want it to do, you need to give instructions that the student can consciously replicate - and to make sure it is a “teachable” part of the delivery (cause vs. effect); many movements in pitching are natural and therefore should not be taught (or over-taught). But I believe there are certain cues that are very important for the pitcher to understand.

The key with the back leg, in my opinion, is shown in Ryan’s clip above. Look at how he keeps his back knee over his back foot - in other words, the angle that is created between his upper and lower leg. Most youth pitchers turn the back knee inward way too early - which leads to early hip rotation. By staying sideways as long as possible, and keeping the knee pointing in the same direction as the belly button (pelvis), the pitcher has a cue to work with. The other instruction I think is important to follow is to get the hips moving toward the plate as soon as the front leg starts to move downward from its highest point in the leg lift. Too many young pitchers lift the leg and bring it down while still positioned over the rubber - they haven’t moved anywhere. Rather, get the body moving toward the target, leading with the hips, and driving (gliding down the mound) sideways as long as possible.

So I think the videos from behind the mound are deceptive because they imply “sitting down” directly over the rubber; you can’t see the fact that the pitchers are simultaneously gliding down the mound as the back knee bends - but bends facing the foul line, not turning downward until landing. This can be seen well in the side view clips of Oswalt and Lincecum posted here:

http://www.letstalkpitching.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=12914

Watch the angle of their back legs, the direction the knee faces, and how far they get from the rubber so soon in their deliveries; just like Ryan.

[quote=“structuredoc”]I think I see what you are getting at… I just think that the cue to “sit” is not the best terminology. In order for a student to follow instructions and to make his body do what you want it to do, you need to give instructions that the student can consciously replicate - and to make sure it is a “teachable” part of the delivery (cause vs. effect); many movements in pitching are natural and therefore should not be taught (or over-taught). But I believe there are certain cues that are very important for the pitcher to understand.

The key with the back leg, in my opinion, is shown in Ryan’s clip above. Look at how he keeps his back knee over his back foot - in other words, the angle that is created between his upper and lower leg. Most youth pitchers turn the back knee inward way too early - which leads to early hip rotation. By staying sideways as long as possible, and keeping the knee pointing in the same direction as the belly button (pelvis), the pitcher has a cue to work with. The other instruction I think is important to follow is to get the hips moving toward the plate as soon as the front leg starts to move downward from its highest point in the leg lift. Too many young pitchers lift the leg and bring it down while still positioned over the rubber - they haven’t moved anywhere. Rather, get the body moving toward the target, leading with the hips, and driving (gliding down the mound) sideways as long as possible.

So I think the videos from behind the mound are deceptive because they imply “sitting down” directly over the rubber; you can’t see the fact that the pitchers are simultaneously gliding down the mound as the back knee bends - but bends facing the foul line, not turning downward until landing. This can be seen well in the side view clips of Oswalt and Lincecum posted here:

http://www.letstalkpitching.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=12914

Watch the angle of their back legs, the direction the knee faces, and how far they get from the rubber so soon in their deliveries; just like Ryan.[/quote]

Exactly, very well put. Although there are some pitchers in the majors who do come to a balance point like Dan Haren, I think that Kazmir might do this as well. Except then the move towards the plate when they come out of that balance, instead of sitting down on the rubber.
I agree that sit is not the best terminology, but I can’t really think of another one better.