Stride--straight versus sweep

I was reading one of the other threads (baseballthinktank’s post) and thought this should be its own topic.

My son sweeps his front leg when he pitches. He’s been told by some that he should stride straight toward the plate and others, including, Ron Wolforth at the Tx Baseball Ranch, that the leg sweep is absolutely fine (and is somewhat encouraged with his motion). He feels like it helps him lead with his hips (or is the result of strongly leading with his hips), get hip/shoulder seperation and stay closed, and be more explosive.
Example of his stride: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6CG2IulrOI

Here are other (mostly hard throwing) pitchers who “sweep” their leg:
Bauer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8s1KbK1eaI

Lincecum: http://www.chrisoleary.com/projects/Baseball/Pitching/Videos/V_P_HD_BB_Public_TimLincecum_OH_CH_001_20FPS_SF.gif

Tim Collins:

King Felix:

Papelbon:

But, I keep hearing from some folks that you should go straight to the plate and that a leg sweep is a “fault.” Which is it?

Good question, and good videos.

For me, sweeping the leg is only a problem if it causes you to stride too far across your body, hurting balance and stability at foot plant and leading to excessive lateral lean/tilt.

This is a tendency that’s definitely more common with a sweeping leg, and a big reason I think some are very against it.

But if you can keep the center moving towards home plate and get things on track by ball release, it’s a non-issue.

As far as your son’s video, at first glance it looks outstanding, and he doesn’t seem to have any issue with striding across his body.

It’s timing, in younger guys it can have an affect on accuracy and endurance (Repeating the motion of sweeping the leg is difficult over the course of an entire game, takes effort/strength where just picking it up dropping and letting it move out takes less energy). Repeat-ability is a huge watch point, so some coaches want more linear than sweeping (Thinking it less taxing and easier to get accuracy)…likely the same group that would rather a young guy go only from the stretch.
I don’t think it necessarily a “fault”…unless the kid is wild or tires easily…

As with all mo based pitching…I’d surely recommend the very best level of conditioning accompany that technique (Something Mills leaves out but Ron Woolforth recommends). All the vids Mc has shown with this technique are also known to be very strong.

Exactly. Without seeing the results of the pitches, the simple act of a sweeping leg need not be changed. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I raise my hand as one of those who taught my son the stretch before the wind-up and taught the wind-up as a simple step leading to the lift.

Well Paul, I note you did teach a wind-up, simple but wind-up it is.
Not that I demean “other” methods though…getting a kid safely through to college is the goal. I’ve seen both work.

I believe you could add Nolan Ryan to that list of pitchers who sweep. There is nothing automatically wrong with it and anyone who says otherwise has a mental image of what pitchers should look like that is too restrictive.

And I agree 100% with JD about the sweep being intimately related to timing. Make the pitcher stride straight to the plate and watch his timing go in the dumper.

I agree that what is done in the bottom half effects the timing of the top. Often in youth pitchers who sweep the front leg their throwing arm is up before foot strike. This often results in the body delaying further arm motion, slowing down the arm to let the bottom catch up. Also, often in leg sweepers, I see strides that land either short of or across the target line which results in throwing across the body or opening the front hip early respectively. That’s the reason I look closely at any pitcher who sweeps. If these other symptoms exist, it’s usually the sweep that is the underlying trouble maker. Of course, if none of those issues exist and they sweep, there would be no need to change the sweep except to get a modest gain in mph relative to the severity of the sweep. If the pitcher is throwing strikes, then let it be.

mCLOVEN,

Here is a different perspective. I do not believe that your son or these other pitchers “sweep” their legs. It may appear that way visually, but I disagree with it. What your son is doing is holding his front leg back while he pushes his front hip forward He is loading weight on his back leg and driving down the mound with it while he “rides” on the front hip/leg. This is precisely what he should be doing, to stay closed and get good HS separation. Your son has excellent mechanics. I wouldn’t let anyone mess with it.

The front leg should mimic the path out of the glove. The arm path out of the glove dictates the glove side path and hence, the front leg path. This is what we call as matching the hands with the feet.

[qt]http://baseballthinktank.com/clayton-kershaw-and-jonathan-papelbon-comparison/[/qt]

Having a hard time with the GIF. I can’t see it, maybe you can. If not, here’s the clip:

Kershaw’s leg action is so funky -

mcloven,
IYour son’s mechanics look good. He does sweep his leg, but I don’t see that as a porblem. To me he looks in control and very solid.

I also agree with Coach Paul, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.