Windup question


#1

Is there really a difference between stepping back and stepping to the side when you start your windup?
I was told at my pitching lesson that stepping to the side makes causes a loss of balance and makes it harder to locate because you’re laterally moving your head.
But how can that be? Look at Aaron Small (last year), or Houston Street ect…?
Also if it bad to bring your hands over your head? He told me not to because it’s too much wasted movement. But a lot of good pitchers do it.


#2

Most pitching coaches will agree that too much movement at the start or during the delivery is bad as it can lead to posture and balance issues. A side step forces you to shift your weight to the side and then back and then you have to “turn the corner” to shift your weight towards the plate. That’s 3 weight shifts in 3 different directions. Stepping back forces you to shift your weight back and then forward. That’s 2 weight shifts in 2 directions. This should make it obvious why stepping to the side is least desirable.

Regardless of which way you step, make sure your steps are small. Ideally, you want your head to go only towards the target - no sideways movement, no up and down movement, and no movement away from the target.

BTW, you can always point to one or two pros who do something wrong yet are successful. It is possible to get good at doing things in less than optimal ways. But these pros have figured out how to change some other part of their delivery in order to accomodate the bad part. You will increase your chances of improving by striving to do things the optimal way.


#3

Thanks Roger.
You are right though, my side step leads to a wide leg kick and me leaning backwards a bit. But I was wondering if just a little step, not even just like a small lift and rock to get my back foot from the top of the rubber to just in front of the rubber to stride home would be really a big effect if it were to the side or back. I just didn’t really feal comfortable steping back.


#4

Yes, your side step will require you to make a pretty big weight shift to get from that position into your knee lift. There’s a good chance - especially later in a game when you’re getting tired - that you’ll start using momentum and swinging your leg instead of lifting it in a more controlled manner. That will make you lean back and have other issues that affect your consistency. For this concern, the key is your head. You need to have someone watch you and make sure your head doesn’t move side to side or away from the target. It should only more towards the target.

My younger son starts with both heals on the rubber and feet angled at about 45 degrees towards his throwing arm side. His first step is a small step forward as opposed to the side or back. It’s almost more of a pivot than a step. It lets him rotate his body to make it easier to plant the side of his pivot foot against the rubber. There’s very little movement at all. You could try that.


#5

Sounds perfect because I couldn’t find my balance when I was taking a step back. It felt like I always had to rush forward. Thats why I’ve liked the side step.


#6

[quote=“Roger”]Yes, your side step will require you to make a pretty big weight shift to get from that position into your knee lift. There’s a good chance - especially later in a game when you’re getting tired - that you’ll start using momentum and swinging your leg instead of lifting it in a more controlled manner. That will make you lean back and have other issues that affect your consistency. For this concern, the key is your head. You need to have someone watch you and make sure your head doesn’t move side to side or away from the target. It should only more towards the target.

My younger son starts with both heals on the rubber and feet angled at about 45 degrees towards his throwing arm side. His first step is a small step forward as opposed to the side or back. It’s almost more of a pivot than a step. It lets him rotate his body to make it easier to plant the side of his pivot foot against the rubber. There’s very little movement at all. You could try that.[/quote]

That’s what a pitcher on my team does too. It makes it easier to go to your block step.


#7

i dont kno about it being less desireable to side step. i have always side stepped. i dont kno a single person that rocks back( that i personally know). i personally think when you step back and then plant your foot i feel like immediatly falling towards home plate and thats rushing. just my opinion. any one else feel the same way?


#8

[quote=“SnakeManiac72”]Is there really a difference between stepping back and stepping to the side when you start your windup?
I was told at my pitching lesson that stepping to the side makes causes a loss of balance and makes it harder to locate because you’re laterally moving your head.
But how can that be? Look at Aaron Small (last year), or Houston Street ect…?
Also if it bad to bring your hands over your head? He told me not to because it’s too much wasted movement. But a lot of good pitchers do it.[/quote]

Should you do that. I do, I found it’s easier to keep my eye on the target, but that’s me.


#9

I feel exactly the same way. Moving my foot back makes me feel too rushed as I move back forward. I don’t think the side step is at all a bad thing. And i’m not sure what some of you guys are talking about because i’ve seen A LOT of Major Leaguer’s side stepping.


#10

[quote=“SnakeManiac72”]Thanks Roger.
You are right though, my side step leads to a wide leg kick and me leaning backwards a bit. [/quote]Your side step has nothing to do with your swinging the leg wide or leaning back. The leaning back would be a direct result of the wide leg kick. It’s your body’s natural way of maintaining balance. The leg kick is a voluntary thing. You don’t HAVE to kick it up, you can very conciously lift the knee. Try it. You’ll see that you won’t lean back. If you do, you’ll lose balance in that direction.


#11

[quote=“Roger”]You need to have someone watch you and make sure your head doesn’t move side to side or away from the target. It should only move towards the target.[/quote]Roger. I can agree with this for early in the stride but, at the end, when the arm is going to come through, keeping the head on line will result in a lower arm slot. Not that it’s a bad thing by itself, but a higher arm slot would necessitate some lean away from “on line” to the target. Now, I will agree that an “excessive” lean, especially early in the delivery, isn’t desireable.

I’m just not getting this absolute that keeps getting thrown around re: “It should only move towards the target”. As I’ve said before, absolutes aren’t.


#12

It’s not impossible to step to the side and still maintain proper posture and balance - it’s just less likely. If you’re able to do it successfully, go for it. As a pitching coach, however, I won’t encourage anyone to do it that way. And I’d recommend to you that you at least minimize the step to minimize the extra movement. (Maybe you already do this?)

BTW, Nolan Ryan stepped back. :smiley:


#13

[quote=“dm59”][quote=“Roger”]You need to have someone watch you and make sure your head doesn’t move side to side or away from the target. It should only move towards the target.[/quote]Roger. I can agree with this for early in the stride but, at the end, when the arm is going to come through, keeping the head on line will result in a lower arm slot. Not that it’s a bad thing by itself, but a higher arm slot would necessitate some lean away from “on line” to the target. Now, I will agree that an “excessive” lean, especially early in the delivery, isn’t desireable.

I’m just not getting this absolute that keeps getting thrown around re: “It should only move towards the target”. As I’ve said before, absolutes aren’t.[/quote]
DM, I think you’re mostly correct. It’s more important early in the delivery because that’s where it seems to cause people the most problems. Towards the end of the delivery, slight movement of the head may be tolerable and even necessary. Still, I believe one should try to minimize it. I’ve seen pitchers who snap their head down and to the side right before the arm snaps forwards and that does mess with their release point.

As for the arm slot, I don’t worry about it so I never teach pitchers to tilt the shoulders to get a higher slot.


#14

[quote=“Roger”]Towards the end of the delivery, slight movement of the head may be tolerable and even necessary.[/quote]For sure.

[quote=“Roger”]As for the arm slot, I don’t worry about it so I never teach pitchers to tilt the shoulders to get a higher slot.[/quote]I don’t teach it either but I’m also not going to get too hung up about the head going off line a bit if a higher slot is the preferred one for a pitcher and there aren’t any problems as a result. I think using such absolute rules as “…make sure your head doesn’t move side to side or away from the target. It should only move towards the target” to be so strict that it’s confining and limiting. Generally, in the early part of the stride, sure, I’d agree that keeping the head on line is a good thing BUT I think we need to be a LITTLE more forgiving as the arm comes through and the trunk tracks forward, rotates and flexes.

[quote=“Roger”]You can always point to one or two pros who do something wrong yet are successful.[/quote]There are just too many examples of successful pitchers who lean for us to say that. It’s not “one or two”. I’d actually say that you’d have a much smaller list of pros who don’t and who keep the head on line. Also, your statement says that this is “something wrong”, which is not really a proven fact, given the numbers who lean. This would be theory, not science. Tom House may be very methodical and somewhat scientific in what he does but I’d have to see some real facts before being convinced that this is simply “wrong”. He’s diving into theory with this one.


#15

I highlighted in bold key parts of your statement above. I think they indicate that these issues are all shades of gray - there’s no black or white. I’m sure you already know that. When I coach kids, I try to push them towards perfect mechanics. Whose perfect mechanics? For me, it’s mostly Tom House’s mechanics. But it’s also my own mechanics based on what I learn elsewhere including what I learn here in this website. :smiley: So, although I tend to speak in terms of these ideal, I probably agree with you more than it seems.

That’s certainly a possibility. On the other hand, it is common that in order to get a pitcher to make a change, I have to make them over-exagerate it. In this case, it is very likely that making a pitcher keep his head on line with the target 100% will cause him to make a good improvement and, at the same time, he may learn that 100% is really not optimal for him but say 90% is. Ok, he just learned something valuable.

I think you slightly misinterpretted my point. My point wasn’t that there are only one or two pitchers who tilt the head. In fact, my point was really the same as your’s - that there are pitchers who have gotten good at doing things in a less than optimal manner.

When I coach kids, however, I never tell them that something they’re doing sub-optimally is ok because they’ll figure out how to adapt. Instead, I steer them towards the most optimal way of doing things (IMHO, of course) until such time that I conclude that what I thought was ideal isn’t ideal for them. I think this approach increases their chances for success and health.

Poor choice of words on my part. It’s not about right or wrong but what’s more or less effective.


#16

Roger. Well put. I’m with you on it all.