Teaching pitching

Starting out with experienced high school pitchers what drills do you perform. I would like to hear someones drill progression. If its on hear somewhere you could direct me . thanks

I think the first thing you should do is check out each pitcher, see what his/her natural arm slot is, what kind of stuff s/he throws, what his/her capabilities might be, and what areas need to be worked on. No two pitchers are alike, and it would be a mistake to adopt the “cookie cutter” approach to things. Now, there are some drills and exercises the whole staff could do, but also there are some that need to be individualized.
Many moons ago I had an incredible pitching coach—an active major league pitcher—who firmly believed that each pitcher has a natural motion, and so what he would do was work with that pitcher to show him or her how to make the most of it. I was a natural sidearmer with a couple of good breaking pitches (I wasn’t much on speed), and so he started at that point with me. Now, some of your pitchers might be rip-roarin’ fireballers, and some might be finesse pitchers, so you need to deal with each one individually and not insist that everyone throw the same way. It just doesn’t work.

You can teach how to throw properly and get the most out of a pitcher’s body. But you can’t teach them how to pitch. Release point, strategy, the mental game needs to be figured out by the pitcher themselves. You can talk a little strategy with them. JMO

What areas are you looking to improve apon in terms of drills because there could be a ton of them?

Throwing progressions, flat ground, uphill, short screen, locations, mechanics, upper half isolated, slots (and not arm slots), long toss drills, defensive drills/responsibilities, arm care, core work…?

Lets start with a progression of throwing drills for experienced high school pitchers. This is what I have done imo. One knee drill-ball to third,finish on thigh.- talk and drill cover the box. Balance drill- stride drill without ball. Power position and throw. Power postion back leg over the chair. Reach in the bucket for follow thru.Pitching from the stretch at targets and progressing from 30 to 60 feet. This is a collection of drills I have learned. Feel free to help me out.

Jaxz…just some suggestions and I will break these down but don’t take offense for me sounding as though I think you may not know what you are doing/insulting you with basic explanations…obviously far harder to explain in type then in actual words.

Two Knee Drill: Start at relatively close distances say 30’ or so. Face partner on two knees directionally straight towards the target. Ball in glove at chest, turn shoulders as much as possible to get front side shoulder directional towards target…upper half throwing motion. Head/“chin” chest/upper half straight towards the target as we throw the ball. “Get out front.” End with head/chest out past knees…“full extension” and obviously follow through. If they have to fall over forward and stop themseleves from hitting the ground out front like an outfielder that is perfectly fine…if they can stop themselves from faling out front that wold work on core a bit any way…however if they are not falling forward make sure they are getting out front enough because if they are not you would be better served to actually have them fall forward in a contolled manner then not getting out front enough.

Helps to learn better upper half direction and getting out front with upper half as well as release. Stretch out the distance as far as kids can manage getting the ball there on no less then one hop without getting out of control and without having too much air under the ball.

Short screen work…taking the anxiety away by removing a specific target kids can focus their attention to mechanics without specific spot up locations.

Short work in general…any time you are having them work short on any throwing drills they can focus more on mechanics and pitching/releasing down hill more.

Slot drills for release point locations…set up targets on sock any where you want from no less then 30’ away on up to 60.6…start upper right then go lower left, then upper left followed by lower right…as you know release points in temrs of locations are critical and it is up to the pitcher to learn varying release points and the small differences between each one for varying spot locations/pitches.

Rather then do “balance drills” per say…I suggest what I refer to as “load drills.” Balance is key and there are varying ways of looking at it but I am a firm believer in nothing stops. Getting to or maintaining balance does not always neccisarily mean a pitcher comes to a perfect balance point with pivot knee over pivot foot and head over pivot foot as well…think continual motion…we go back to go forward…have pitchers come to set position, controlled leg lift with lead foot loose/hanging preferably toes down…get to balance point without stopping…meaning leg lift to area of balance, torquing up hips/core as much as they are capable of and getting to balance but working right through it and come to a modified stride point for the sake of the drill…repeat…“lift/load/stride.”…repeat.

Back knee drill…lead leg out front and to a flexed position that enables the pitcher to get his chest out over the front knee on release…again getting out front with upper half and release. Any time we take the feet away we can focus completely on the upper half.

I am a big glove up guy as dropping it can lead to many negative things. Therefore by isolating upper half they have less to think about and one of those things could be to keep the glove up or out then in…however you teach it.

Uphill Drills…any type we are pitching up hill getting out front becomes harder…we need more torque and things need to be working more true together. Use the back of the mound to throw up hill…again we are working on getting out front and pitching down hill which are far harder to do up hill then flat or down hill.

Have pitcher start with feet as spread out as possible that they are personally comfortable with. Ball in glove at chest or waist or somewhere in between depending on the kid. Go through entire throwing motion pulling back side with front side to get out front…chest over knee head/chin out front a bit more…about to lead toes. If they can’t get up and out over their lead knee with chest or simply can’t pull themselves up then shorten the starting stance or move them further down from the top of the hill…the less they are throwing up hill the easier it will be and the closer their feet are together at the start the easier it will be.

Lastly you can do a variation of the on two knee drill by having them do the same thing on their feet but feet not moving at all…starting with toes straight towards the target instead of knees when they are on their knees. This drill will help strengthen core…just focus on them bringing the chest straight towards the target with no glove side fade at the upper half.

No offense taken. Nice reply. Short screen is just throwing into a screen from what 20 feet, to work on technique. What did you mean by sock? Using socks as targets?Appreciate the help I will be back when I have time to take in all you said. thanks

Short work whether screen or something else would be any thing less then full distance…I normally vary my distances with the premise of the less distance to target the more they can focus on fundamentals/techniques/progressions…meaning the closer one is to whatever target the easier it is to hit the target so more focus can go to other things/mechanics/progressions.

Younger kids get more anxiety with targets or trying to hit them so I take that aspect away sometimes so they can focus on every thing but targets/location.

Sock was referring to a sock net.

Glad I could help. I simply like tossing this stuff back and fourth because it helps me to continue learning.

Hopefully it all made sense…spoken words/showing versus typed words leave gray areas.

What do you teach for the wrist on release? I keep seeing pronate,which would mean right hander palm to third base??

Actually, the only time you need to be concerned about wrist action on the release of a pitch is when teaching someone how to throw the slider, and all that’s involved is to go easier on it. When I learned that pitch, my pitching coach, an active major-league pitcher, told me “Throw it like a curve, but roll your wrist, don’t snap it.” I would throw my curve with a sharp karate-chop wrist snap, and so for the slider I would need to go easier on it—just turn it over, in the manner of a chef flipping a pancake or a crepe. With most pitches the wrist action pretty much takes care of itself—you throw them like a fast ball. Pronation—supination—stick it in the microwave for a minute—it really doesn’t make much difference. What matters is the grip znd the release point.
WITH ONE EXCEPTION: this is a pitch I strongly advise against, and that is the screwball. Remember what happened to Carl Hubbell? He threw that pitch so much and so often that eventually, when he would stand with his arms at his sides, the palm of his left hand faced out. the same thing happened to Fernando Valenzuela, who threw his arm out after all those years of throwing a screwball. Don’t go there. There are other pitches that have an action resembling it but which put no added strain on the elbow and the shoulder, because you throw them like the fast ball or a regular curve. 8)

I concure with Zita and would like to add the following as a bit of elaboration…in regard to my opinion.

Any habits can be changed but doing so at lower levels (below professiona) is really hard to do…especially when it comes to arm slots and your question relating to pronation of the wrist.

At professional levels far more time can be spent in a professional atmosphere to change, say wrist action, mechanics, changing an arm slot perhaps or other things. Transversely in a High School atmoshere how much time can actually be dedicated in tyring to change what a kids wrist does? Doing so would require thousands and thousands of reps doing it
another way separate of how that HS kid has been doing it for however many years…it is just not going to happen.

Therefore I think all coaches and trainers alike walk a real fine line trying to change these types of things once a kid is around 12-13 and firmly believe that unless a TREMENDOUS amount of time can be spent in doing so it just is not going to happen. Even then it still may not happen because some things simply are what they are…arm slots and wrist slots/action would be a couple of these in many cases.

Simply stated everyone is born to basically their arm slot or in this case wrist action and to a very large extent if not 100% extent these habits start when a kid actually effectively throws his first ball at a very young age. Then they progress all the way through little league and babe ruth with no one really having the knowledge to change say an arm slot.

Then they get to HS and the muscle memory is etched in concrete; consequently very hard if not nearly impossible to change.

I am a firm beleiver in the idea that some things such as but not limited to what we are discussing just need to be left alone.

You would have loved Ed Lopat. He was a key member of the Yankees’ Big Three pitching rotation of the late 40s to mid-50s, and for several years he was my pitching coach. He firmly believed that every pitcher has a natural motion, and so what he would do is work with that pitcher and show him or her how to make the most of it—to take full advantage of it. The day I asked him a question about the slider he knew immediately that I was serious, that I really wanted to know and was willing to work at it, and so he took me in hand, worked with me and helped me become a better pitcher than I had been before.
I will never forget the day we were talking about repertoire, and he commented “You know, you haven’t said one word about a fast ball.” I was flabbergasted, and I exclaimed “WHAT fast ball?” He laughed—he had a warm, easy laugh—and then he said to me “Don’t worry about that. We’ll work with what you’ve got.” My estimation of him jumped some 600 per cent as I realized what he was telling me—that he would work with me and help me all he could. And he did; what I learned from him was nothing short of priceless. :slight_smile: 8)

The wrist will be straight at release regardless of which pitch is thrown. It is a non-teach.

Regarding pronation, the hand/forearm will pronate on its own after ball release. This is also a non-teach. Some pitches (e.g. sinker, change-up), however, require varying degrees of pronation prior to ball release.