Note to self: don't discuss "pushing" off

You’d be amazed how many e-mails I get each week. Couple of hundred. I enjoy reading them quite a bit, but find myself mostly directing traffic to this forum. This way, of course, we can all respond and share our thoughts on the questions I get.

Today, however, I recieved three e-mails about my blog post ( from March 20, 2006. In each, the writer was not pleased with Dr. Glen Fleisig’s response – or my own, for that matter – for not better addressing the “pushing” off the rubber thing.

Then it hit me: I think we’re all talking about different parts of the delivery here.

When you think of “pushing” off the rubber, which letter – A, B, or C – best describes the specific phase of the delivery you think people are talking about when talking “pushing” off.

A) The first movement out of the balance position.
B) During the stride out phase after the lead leg’s been lowered from the balance position.
C) After the front foot’s strided out and landed.

For me, it’s “A,” that first movement out of the balance position. That’s the part of the delivery where I’ve interpreted this whole “push” off the rubber talk.

But, I think people are thinking about different phases of the delivery here. As such, my descriptions on “pushing” wouldn’t make much sense.

So in case this has been confusing. Let me clarify:

When I say on my blog and website that when it comes to pushing vs. not pushing, I teach a “push mentality” but encourage pitchers to apply some pressure to the back foot and fall toward home, I’m talking about doing this during “A” – that first movement out of the balance position, when the hands seperate around the belt and the body begins to move forward.

I’m NOT talking about pushing or applying pressure during “B” or “C” when it’s all but impossible to push off because the back leg should be “driving” forward and inward, providing power.

Has this caused confusion to you? Were we talking about the same part of the pitching motion? What do you teach? Why? Some of the e-mails I got about that March 20 blog expressed frustration that ASMI didn’t provide a clearer response to “pushing” off the rubber. One e-mailer said it was “copout” for me to post ASMI’s response. Nice.

IMO The stride legs positioning helps keep the pelvis closed as in leading with the pocket or the outstep of the stride leg foot [internal rotation]. As the foot is coming down nearing the ground it begins to open [external rotation], which releases the pelvis, at the exact same moment the post leg foot turns against the rubber and simataniously pushes the pitcher into landing [internal rotation] . This is a critical time as it ensures the pitcher will get on top of the pitch as well as generate torque through rotation. I believe some people often confuse the lack of propulsion into landing as to long of stride because without the push the pitcher may not be able to get on top. Instead of addressing what is really the problem which is the lack of propulsion or drive into footplant or perhaps the bodies posture the coach will have the pitcher shorten his stride.

Steven, you’re right when you speak about terminology. It’s a huge source of frustration and argument for everyone when the definitions are different. It’s also pointless.

On the push discussion, I believe this is very similar to the “keep the weight back” cue. These are all attempts by coaches and players to create a mental picture that will elicit the desired result(s). My premise on many posts here has been that we are often “barking up the wrong tree” or using non-productive cues. Cues can be dangerous. “Drop 'n drive”, “tall 'n fall”, “push hard off the rubber”. I believe that cues which isolate one component of such a complex movement are all potentially damaginig. My contention has always been that we need to think holistically about this motion we’re all struggling to understand.

That having been said, cues are not always bad either, as long as they’re productive and fit into the overall context of the entire body attempting to put a series of “components” together into a well coordinated whole. As many will no doubt be aware, I believe a productive cue to replace the push off the rubber one is to focus on driving the centre of gravity, sideways at the target. One can think of the front hip, if it helps with the mental imagery. When doing this though, you MUST include what the intent is when we approach footplant. When you look at major league pitchers, you’ll notice that the back foot has pretty much turned over to a point where it can no longer add any “push” component. Therefore, they can’t push after landing. There’s somthing else going on here, a different “operative mechanism”.

So, basically, one must drive the centre of gravity sideways at the target, then rotate the hips into landing. HOW you do this is where all of the argument happens. I’m no biomechanist and therefore I won’t say that I have the specific answers to this one. What I find “productive” is to give some suggestions as to what will assist this process, such as spinning the back foot/knee/leg while, simultaneously, rotating at the core. Sometimes I’ll suggest to a kid to simply rotate the heck out of everyting from the belly button on down just before and into landing. Some respond, some don’t. So, I’ll try a different approach. Some respond to the back foot/knee/leg spinning on the leg’s axis cue.

The point here is that the body can often find it’s own way to achieve a desired result and that’s the important thing, the result, which is to have significant linear momentum (during the stride) suddenly stopped by the front leg, and effectively and efficiently transferred to the trunk. Cues are potentially damaging and having different definitions for the same term is even worse.

How about this for a cue.

“Aggressively drive the front hip sideways for as long as possible before you have to land and then rotate everything from the core on down into landing.”

Do we need to use the term “push” here? Will this cue work?

I do think one wants to use the term ‘push’. The idea is to have the ankle flex like a runners does when he takes off out of the blocks as opposed to be pulled by the front side, if there is no push like this than rotation can in part be inhibited as well as getting on top. The push is the final propulsion that is imo very important for the most powerful rotation into landing, in my opinion only.

[quote=“Steven Ellis”]When you think of “pushing” off the rubber, which letter – A, B, or C – best describes the specific phase of the delivery you think people are talking about when talking “pushing” off.

A) The first movement out of the balance position.
B) During the stride out phase after the lead leg’s been lowered from the balance position.
C) After the front foot’s strided out and landed.

When I think of pushing off, I think of ©. I think of it less as a push than letting the pitching arm side foot come off the rubber if it wants to. That helps the hips to keep turning.

I don’t really see the point of pushing at point (A). Doesn’t that mean pushing up?

I would think that pushing at point (B) could cause problems like rushing in which the arm gets ahead of the body.

What about my point that, in major leaguers, at footplant, the back foot is not in a position to push at all? It just isn’t happening by the pros. Any push must be prior to landing, not after.

I think DM59 has nailed it on the head.

Any pushing is done to initiate movement - not to speed it up or increase its distance. Therefore, it is done during A) above. To get the hips going, one must push against the ground with the pivot foot. That’s basic physics. Once momentum is created, the body begins to fall and the stride leg needs to play catch up so it swings out toward the target. The force to swing the leg out is applied against the moving mass of the body and possibly also against the ground though this is probably not noticeable to the pitcher.

The only “pushing” I ever talk to pitchers about is pushing the hips out toward the target. If a pitcher should have a longer stride, then that is accomplished by acombination of pusing out the hips more and lifting the knee higher.