Pushing off the rubber....?!

Ok…i know in baseball everybody has an opinion and all that but how about pushing off?
How does pushing off compares to falling off?
My guess is pushing off rules but in videos it seems everybody is falling off?!?

In short…how important is pushing off and how much to push off?
Like in…one cant push off enough or any push off will do…or fall off will do…or whatever the pitcher preferres.

i need opinions tnx!

If you start with your weight distributed between your feet and then lift the front foot, gravity will make you fall. But, IMHO, gravity alone doesn’t get you moving forward aggressively enough. So, I feel it is important to help gravity out by pushing sideways with the back foot against the ground/rubber. Thus, there is a push at the beginning of the delivery to initiate forward movement.

Sidenote: I don’t like my pitchers thinking about what’s going on behind them so I put the focus on pushing the front hip forwards. Pushing the front hip forward requires a rearward push-off but it also ensures the center of gravity gets moving. Thinking about pushing for front hip forward is what I refer to as “forward thinking”. Use the Hershiser Drill to practice this.

I totally agree. There’s a ton of debate on this topic, and I never really understood why. To me it always seemed to make sense that to get your center of gravity moving powerfully towards home plate requires some amount of pushing off with your back leg, even if that’s not the focus. Even a pitcher like Nolan Ryan, considered to be tall and fall guy, pushed off with his back leg in his stride or he wouldn’t have had such a long stride. Gravity alone just can’t do that.

I think people look at hard throwers in slow-mo and see that the back foot has already pulled off the rubber at pitch release and think, “see, how could he be pushing off if his foot isn’t even on the rubber anymore.” But that way of looking at it misses the point. The pushing against the ground/rubber happens In the stride as the pitcher moves down the mound riding a strong back leg, not at the actual moment of pitch release. If you looks at the hardest throwers, most of them actually drive out so powerfully that their back foot isn’t even on the rubber anymore by front foot plant, but that’s partly because they were pushing off in their stride, not the other way around.

I agree though, teaching guys to consciously “push off” isn’t always the most effective way to get them moving the right way. So I think Roger gives some sound advice. Along the same lines, I like to teach getting the weight inside the back foot in the leg lift to help build momentum towards home plate to begin moving aggressively down the mound.

Personal note: I was always taught the tall and fall approach growing up. As a result, I had a relatively short stride and ended up being pretty upper-half dominant. I did okay with this because I was a big strong kid with long limbs and good arm action. Once I got to college and they got me working out (lifting, sprinting, med ball work & plyo’s) I saw a big jump from 84-87 mph to a consistent 89-91 topping at 94. Gaining strength and learning to move more explosively with my legs directly translated to more velocity on the mound.

This is an interesting topic to me as I was just explaining something very similar to a friend this morning. If gravity does the work, how do you explain a MLB pitchers toe on delivery being anywhere from a foot to a foot and a half away from the rubber on release. My opinion is that there is no doubt about it, you must push back on the rubber like your trying to drive it toward second base with all your energy.

I like to see pitchers push off to maximize stride and increase momentum in the proper direction. The push can provide 3-5 mph in real velocity on the pitch from the increased momentum. The stride distance can add the appearance of 2-3 additional mph virtual velocity from the hitter’s perspective. Being closer to the plate on release gives the hitter less reaction time.

A one foot increase in stride seems like 2-3 mph more to the hitter.

Yep…this is what ive been concluding as well.
So…how do we train the little guy to push off?

One way is a wall drill. From the stretch have outside edge of pivot foot against a wall and have them drive away from the wall so they can still get full rearward arm extension during the stride without hitting the wall with their hands. You can also use netting as a wall substitute if it’s too challenging at first.

Thats actually pretty neat!
I will report how it went…

The other thing I like about the drill is it is physically impossible for the pitcher to pause at the top of the lift-- making him faster to the plate and maintaining forward momentum for a little velocity boost.

agree this can be a good drill to help kids get things moving to home plate. Here’s a video I did for my guys to demonstrate:

Just to throw some food for thought out there, is the “push” the same for a pitcher in the windup as in the set? Looking at lots of photos of ML mounds, even in the late innings they don’t often appear to have the same kind of “hole” in front of the rubber as is common in all levels of amateur ball. That would seem to indicate a different kind of “push”.

Interesting point. In my experience this has more to do with the quality of the mound and how well they manicure and care for pitching mounds at the pro level. Kids tend to scratch and dig with their spikes to get good footing prior to the pitch more than they need to, resulting in a big whole as the game goes on, especially if the mound is too dry. Don’t personally see this as a direct result of difference in how they drive with their back leg.

The quality of the mound certainly does have a lot to do with it, and for sure the quality of the maintenance does too. But nonetheless, ML pitchers wear spikes too, and the games go 9 innings not 6 or 7, and yet its unusual to see one with either a “hole” in front of the rubber or the landing area. Groundskeepers don’t sneak out between innings, yet the mounds stay in pretty darn good nick.

Those deep “holes” in front of the rubber have always made me wonder if they weren’t a major contributor to mechanical problems when pitchers have to make the adjustment of trying to get the foot in the hole “correctly”. Early in games when the holes are little more than “scratches” in the dirt, only the very bottom of the shoe can be used to “push”. But later on when the holes get deeper, higher on the side of the foot can be used, and that change will be reflected to some degree through the mechanics.

As far as “drop and drive” vs “tall and fall” goes, I believe every pitcher’s style is just enough different that they might use either one and be successful. IOW, there’s more than 1 way to skin a cat. :wink: