Pre-pitch stance

New to pitching and have a question about a pitchers pre-pitch stance.

I notice that when a pitcher (clemens for example) has no runners on he stands on the rubber facing forward and does a rocker step as he begins to pitch.

Although when there are runners on - he stands sideways with his right foot on the rubber.

Why the two diffent pre-pitch stances?

Some pitchers never use the rocker step and some do - regardless of runners on. Is this just a matter of personal preference?


When there are no runners on base, pitchers pitch from what is called the “full windup.” When there is a runner on base, pitchers (for the most part) pitch from what is called the “stretch”. The second enables the pitcher to make throws to the bases and to keep the baserunner from getting walking leads.

Most pitchers at the lower levels of the game pitch with both motions. However, more and more at the higher levels of the game (college and professional baseball), relievers are opting to pitch from the stretch even without runners on base – which is what I did later in my professional career as I was turned from a starting pitcher to a closer. I found it helped me keep my stretch motion quick and consistent. Most Major League closers only pitch from the stretch, even if they start an inning with no one on base.

Thanks for your quick & detailed response.

My son is 8 and just getting into pitching - should I simply work with him on starting from the “stretch” position? And work with him on mastering that?

Thanks again.

i’ll offer my two cents, but steve has been paid to pitch and i haven’t

but i’ve always been taught and have always taught the kids i help to pitch from the full windup when starting out and I don’t even worry about kids pitching from the stretch until they reach the bigger field at 13 years old UNLESS they really really struggle with the full windup

we’ve always joked that you never wanna pitch from the stretch because that means somebody is on base…don’t want that

I would work on both the full and the stretch – especially with a pitcher as young as your son. At this point in his youth career, it’s not necessary – or wise – to become so specific with a position on the ball field that your son isn’t able to explore all aspects of the game… playing infield, playing outfield, playing first base, hitting, etc.

My point is this: keep it fun and allow your son to naturally develop into the position he most enjoys. Then, a little later in his youth career, like around 11, 12, 13 years old, it’s OK to specialize a little more. But even there, all ball players can really benefit from playing a lot of different positions. As most pitchers – even in high school ball – play other positions when they’re not pitching.

thanks again. to both of you.


I think Taylor’s right on. It’s tough for me to think about 8 year old pitchers being that I don’t coach or work with that age group regularly – and because I don’t have kids of my own just yet. But in thinking back to my youth, I did just pitch from the “full windup” until 13-or-so (which was when I moved to the 60-foot-6 pitching distance). The next year, I started working with Bill Thurston at Amherst College, and was certainly well on my way to learning the stretch at that point.

Thanks, Taylor.

when i was younger my control improved greatly when i just went to the stretch and then at about 13 i went to the windup again and i think i gained some velocity from the windup, but most good pitchers will tell you in you windup you still should get to the same postition you are in the stretch. i would focus on the stretch first because i think the windup causes bad habits especially for younger pitchers, so personally i think its better to master the stretch 1st then go to the windup because you can always pitch from the stretch but you cant always pitch from the windup

i personally dont like our 8 year olds playing in a competitive league but i seem to be alone in that feeling so we do it.
we have our 7 and 8 year olds throw from stretch only. we have found its easier to teach basic balance points and basic mechanics

My vote is start with the stretch. We’ve watched the same youth pitchers for about eight years now and a lot of bad habits can develop that started out because of lack of core strength and using full windup at 46’. Later on they can be very hard to correct. In fact several of the youth picher’s didn’t make it as pitcher’s in high school because of inability to hit locations consistently at 60’6". My son added the wind up in Pony during Fall Ball, it took about 2 weeks to feel comfortable and never looked back.

Stretch vs. windup? It’s a tradeoff between accuracy and basics, vs. rhythm and speed. My objection to the stretch is that it forces the pitcher to go straight back, STOP, and then rock forward. No rhythm. I don’t think it’s an insoluble dilemma though. How about a minimalist windup?

Many major league pitchers and our best (12 year old) pitchers start with their right foot on the rubber and left foot on a line toward first, but only about a foot back. The ball hand is in the glove at mid-chest level. Taking almost no back rocker step, the pitcher turns his foot parallel with the rubber and glides forward, and then brings his landing knee straight up to just above his belt while keeping his hands together near his belt. Having gathered his momentum and coil, he proceeds with the pitch – from here on the motion should not differ between the stretch and the windup. This is more fluid than a stretch motion and helps keep the hips from opening too soon because the pitcher is more likely to stop at the leg lift position.

I’m a former pitching coach , and have moved up to coaching the pitchers on my sons LL Team . Since they were 9 , I insisted that they throw only from the stretch . I found it to be a very good way to develop sound mechanics with consistant balance points . My struggle is they are now moving up , and some now want to move to the full windup (including my kid ) . Trying to understand if there’s been any studies to suggest a gain of velocity from the windup … my thinking is as long as you load up / balance on your back leg properly , it doesn’t matter how you get there…pitching is all balance , rythym and timing . Not to mention , these kids wont have the normal concerns with runners on base , because all they know is the stretch.

Appreciate any comments !!

I can see how pitching from the stretch can help with their rhythm. When I have worked with little guys on pitching I noticed that a lot of them go from the windup strictly. I think I threw out of the windup until I was about 12 or 13 as well and then when kids were allowed to steal and leadoff I started working on the stretch.

I think that you really need to pay close attention to pitchers in the windup because there are a lot of ways they can develop bad mechanics and it will be hard later on to change it.

First off, I’m 43. Throw 60 mph, and stopped playing 30 years ago. Then I started coaching my nephew six years ago and my life has never been the same.

I taught him to pitch from the stretch. I still have yet to hear a clear explanation why the windup adds velocity. No matter how a pitcher starts — windup or stretch — he has to get to the balance position. Until that point, I don’t believe the body is prepared to exert its potential energy to the plate.

I’m sure someone with more know-how could set me straight, but until then, I view the windup as merely an artistic expression to distract batters until the work of delivering the ball begins

Dontrelle is distracting isn’t he? :smiley:

I would suggest working with both the windup and stretch. I dont think you should ignore the stretch because when he is forced to pitch from the stretch at higher levels it wont be as comfortable. I didn’t throw from the stretch at all untill i was about 14 and it wasn’t easy. I could still throw, but I wasn’t as comfortable. It is important to work on both the windup and stretch.

with our 6 - 8 year olds we throw strictly from stretch - just teaching balance points etc. starting with 9’s we throw out of both. our kids start leading off and stealing at 9.

Also when throwing from the stretch have them count or do UCLA’s!

Disrupt that runners timing! Why throw from the windup the majority of the time when kids throw from the stretch the majority of games!!! :smiley:

HAHA I play for Indiana State and sometimes I catch myself doing U C L A :lol:

I need some tips on working with the stretch windup and throw. I love pitching my full wind up becuase i like to take my time and step out and throw. I dont have any problem at all throwing from the full windup but when a runner gets on base im in a bit of trouble. Ive been used mostly as a reliever for some games weve been playing and I could really use some tips on getting better at the stretch.

Just remember to be quick to the plate, you want to be as quick as you can and get as much MPH as you can as well.

Dont use a full leg kick, try a knee to knee approach that way you get a little load and you stay back and are able to deliver the ball with a little force.