How would you help a pitcher who needs help leading with the front hip? What do you teach? Push off the rubber? Visual cues? Pitching drills?
Showing pitchers this (and getting them to feel it) is helpful:
If you tell a young pitcher to push off the rubber and he does so too aggressively I have noticed many end up moving much of their momentum upward and not toward the plate. The push has to be coordinated with hip lead and getting the body down the hill…the best way to teach this? I don’t know.
To me the further confusion comes in with hip rotation.
Drills like the Hersheiser drill are great for teaching the beginning movement or feel of it, but, it is still hard to implement into a motion. Add in one person telling you that rotation needs to be initiated with the back hip and others saying the front it gets confusing.
This is a good topic. Most young pitchers throw their front leg open instead of being able to lead with the front hip and stay closed.
The second video Mclovin posted is really good. The pitcher is just not showing a great hip lead but also “showing the spikes” of his lead foot. I am assuming this helps keep the front closed (better separation) and probably assists with getting the desired hip lead. I have noticed many hard throwers “showing the spikes” but almost no soft tossers do it.
The NPA has a drill progression that helps with this. As fearsomefour already mentioned, there is the Hershiser drill. Not only does it allow a pitcher to practice getting into the position of leading with the front hip but it also allows him to practice the timing of when he shifts his weight relative to knee lift.
The drill progression that really lets you practice leading with the front hip starts with the cross-over drill. In this drill, the pitcher sets up in the stretch but crosses his front leg over the pivot leg such that the front foot is on the ground behind (i.e. towards 2B) the pivot foot. Then the pitcher pre-sets the hips by pushing them forwards towards home plate. From that position, the pitcher lifts and goes. The preset position puts the pitcher in a hip leading position. It also creates an imbalance that causes the pitcher to start forward as soon as the stride foot comes off the ground.
The next drill in the progression is the narrow stance drill - same as the cross-over drill but feet together (touching) instead of being crossed over. This is followed by the normal stance. The idea behind the progression is that in the first drill gravity helps make things happen while in the last drill the pitcher has to make it all happen.
Good info Roger,
I have seen many coaches have kids do the Hersheiser, but, it is just sort of out there by itself. This given a good way to sort of tie that together, thanks.
Any thoughts on how rotation should be initiated once the pitcher is headed down the hill with hip lead?
I think rotation starts with the opening/rotation of the front leg and foot into foot plant. Late opening of the front leg and foot should lead to late, and therefore more explosive, hip rotation. If you lead with the front hip and you get yourself moving early (earlier than peak of knee lift), it will be difficult to open up the front leg and foot early.
We use the term butt out.
Really like the video.
Just some ideas that I have used with my guys. They have thrown hard for their respective ages but the real benefit has been the ability to more precisely locate with near top velocity but seemingly lower effort levels. My experience tells me that young fellows feel strongest across their shoulders and that instructions for max intent will lead to a sort of top down effort. By focusing more on a firm but relaxed (with drive coming from the center) approach we have been able to get a more appropriately sequenced ground up delivery. Less tendency to “fly open”.
I feel this kind of rotation is best taught when the posting foot is set up first. The pitcher will have his feet set a comfortable distance apart. Usually close to shoulder width apart. The posting knee is rotated inward, just enough to force the weight to be felt along the insole of the posting foot and centered directly in the inner arch or slightly heelward. The resting internal rotation of the front knee depends on the slope of the mound. A steeply sloped mound may force the front leg to be nearly straight. Once the stride leg is lifted and internally rotated, the pitcher should also feel that the posting hip joint has been internally rotated also, as if there was a stretch along the back side of the pelvis just above the buttocks. The initial drive should feel as if it is coming from the inside of the posting hip socket. It is being initiated by the glute/ham of the upper leg and not the quad. When the drive starts this way, the head will naturally remain in back of the center line of the torso. It should not come from the pitcher rocking his upper body back but from its own inertia. It is not entirely unlike the lay back of the forearm from the inertia of the ball.
One issue with the Hershiser drill is that it can be done by the player just tilting his shoulders back and popping the hips forward. In my opinion, It should be taught with the inward rotation of the hips and drive as described above.
These ideas are not meant to imply that these cues are necessary or even correct. They seem to have worked for some guys.
edited to add: The mounds around here usually get dug out in front of the pitcher’s plate. I try to have my guys position their posting foot so that the toe of the foot is level or slightly above the heel. This helps to reduce any tendency to drift towards the pitching arm side and allows the drive to come from the glute and not from the quad.
Good info guys, thanks…
Ted, I have sort of had the same experience with the Hersheiser drill. Guys do it as a drill but have a hard time translating it to the mound. Perhaps you are correct in how they are doing the drill.