The importance of control early

I’ve always known the importance of the beginning of the delivery. Rhythm and momentum building is something I’ve always taught. But, I started having a difficult time developing pelvic loading, complete hip rotation, glove arm action, maintaining posture and complete deceleration with my 14 year old brother. I didn’t realize how important, and more importantly, how much what is done into the leg lift affects later movements in the delivery. I wish I would’ve known this 4 years ago, but stressing the importance of control and stability (balance) in the drive leg, hips and head into the leg lift, as well as controlling how the lift leg falls (direction), completely changes how effective the rest of the delivery can be. I’m over here trying to straighten up my brother’s posture, and trying to get him to keep his knee inside his foot through his stride, ignoring the fact that sways into his leg lift, which changes his stride direction as well as overcompensating later pulling his glove hard to make up for his poor direction; placing his arm in a stressful place and making deceleration difficult.

Moral of the story: Balance, control and stability of the entire body into and out of the leg lift will be the end result you get when you land and throw the ball. Be effective early and good things will happen later.

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What you state is true and is why most instruction should be focused on the early part of the delivery. It’s also easier for pitchers to change things earlier in the delivery.

But I’d add that there’s some important stuff happening even before the pitcher starts to move. An inappropriate starting posture and/or poor foot positioning can set up a pitcher to have unwanted head movement the instant he starts to move. And starting position on the rubber can have negative consequences for posture late in the delivery.

With your advice, I’ve moved my brother to the left side of the rubber for better direction. What in your opinion, is the best starting posture and the best way to maintain that posture?

Watch his very first movement coming out of the set position. Many pitchers start by standing straight up and down and then their first movement is to bend the posting leg and hunch forward at the waist as they start their stride. Their body is basically organizing itself into a more athletic position - one in which it has the strength to perform what it’s being asked to perform. It’s no different than a batter getting into his batting stance or a basketball player getting into his free throw shooting stance. Unfortunately, this creates unwanted head movement. This head movement represents weight shifts that must be managed. Bending the knees causes the head to drop resulting in energy being directed into the ground. Hunching forward causes the head to move forward (ie. towards 3B for a RHP) resulting in energy being directed left/right of the target.

So, to your question, try to find a starting posture (i.e. a pre-set bend in the knees and waist) that minimizes head movement in any direction other than towards home plate.

Balance, control and stability of the entire body. That’s what “The Secret” is all about (think Brazil or macadamia, two of the hardest nuts known), and if more pitchers were to latch on to this essential aspect of good mechanics there would be a lot fewer injuries. I learned about “The Secret” many moons ago when I used to go to the original Yankee Stadium and I saw how the Big Three did it. They all drove off the lower half of the body, using the legs, the hips and the torso in one continuous—and seamless—motion, and I made a note of it and started working on it on my own—with fantastic results. I discovered that I was doing exactly what Messrs. Raschi, Lopat and Reynolds were doing, and so what if I didn’t have the requisite speed—I had the control and command of my snake jazz! More pitchers should be aware that the lower half is the real key to a pitcher’s power—I’ve mentioned this several times before. You throw with your entire body, not just your arm.