[quote=“Steven Ellis”]I’m not a fan of the slide step when pitching from the stretch. I teach my pitchers to have one quick modified leg kick out of the stretch… load and go in 1.3 seconds or less.
I only mention it because I’m seeing A LOT of high school pitchers in our league slide stepping. (And when they don’t, we’re stealing like crazy on them!)
What do you do? Recommend? Teach? What’s helped you speed up your delivery from the set position with runners on base to help prevent the running game?[/quote]
As a coach, is it your job to teach only teach the things you think are important, or is it to expose the players to the widest variety of options possible, to allow them to pick what works best for them and their particular style of pitching?
If one looks at all the MLB pitchers, obviously the slide step works for some pitchers very well, and not so well for others. I hate to say it, but when you refuse to teach your players something you know in your heart does work, you’re molding yourself into a “cookie-cutter”, one size fits all coach. Look at it this way. If what you teach was the “best” way, don’t you think every pitcher in pro ball would be doing it, exclusive of all other approaches?
As a general rule in high school, college and pro ball, in order to be competitive with runners on base, pitchers must be 1.3 seconds or less to the plate when pitching from the stretch. It’s certainly not an option to be slower in our league, as other teams will exploit this like we do when we’re on offense. This 1.3-second goal gives our catchers the opportunity to throw runners out. Otherwise, every runner that reaches 1B would be standing on 3B within two pitches, which makes it no doubt tough to win games.
Well, I think you’re exaggerating just a bit about how many runners would be reaching 3rd on just 2 pitches. But I do agree that pitchers who are generally slow to the plate will have runners be much more aggressive, and that puts pressure on defenses.
But assuming that to be true, isn’t the real goal not to just deliver the ball in 1.3 seconds, but to deliver a “quality” pitch as well? My point is, there’s just no way for me to believe that every single pitcher who does it your way is doing it in a way that’s best fits him. After all, what good is it to deliver the ball in 1.1 if its in the dirt half the time, or seldom in the strike zone so the pitcher gets behind.
Questions like this are precisely why over the years I’ve tracked things like this to see how much truth and how much hyperbole there is to it. FI, I can tell you the end result of every at bat that started 0-2 for 6.5 HS seasons, and can do it for both our hitters and our pitchers. I can also break it out by at bats that started 0-2 and finished on the 3rd pitch, and I can do it for our opponent’s pitchers as well, and can break any of those things out by whether or not there were runners on.
And having looked at things like that for so many years, I can tell you that its not just as simple as delivering the ball in 1.3 to stop the running game. That definitely helps, but there will always be runners who get great reads or are just flat out fast, and will have a lot of success stealing bases no matter who’s on the mound.
In the end, we’re agreeing on the general principal of delivering the ball faster will help keep the running game in check, but we’re differing on how to make it happen. I say expose the players to as many different options as possible, and let them make the decision based on a combination of their success and what they’re comfortable with. You’re saying my way or the highway because you don’t personally like the slide step.
I’m not saying you’re inflexible because I don’t know you, but how would you react to a kid like my son who used the SS almost exclusively with tremendous success, but also used both a “jab kick” and full leg lift in the stretch. Assume you were the new pitching coach of a team he was on. Would you force him to change because you don’t like the SS?
As my old friend likes to say, there’s always more than 1 way to skin a cat.
My son keeps the runners close with lots of different moves to 1st base, then he uses a normal post to home and a slide step, he uses the slide step maybe 30 or 40 % of the time, even his normal post his time to home is probably 1.5 or 1.6, slide step in 1.2 to 1.4. He really doesn’t get stolen on a lot as long as he doesn’t fall into a habbit.
What you seem to be saying is, there are many ways to get the job done, which is what I’m saying. Suppose right now your son’s coach told him he had to quit using the SS? What do you suppose would take place?
I used a modified slide step all the time, baserunners or no. I found early on that it gave me extra speed delivering to the plate, and so I stayed with it. As the guy’s friend used to say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat (and, by the way, that expression comes from gymnastics and refers to a maneuver on the parallel bars which can be performed correctly in several different ways). Not that I’d want to skin a cat—I like cats. But seriously, you use whatever pitching delivery is comfortable for you and enables you to get the ball to the plate fast! 8)