by Jonathan de Marte – January 2nd, 2018
A mechanical predicament I have come to in the last year is whether or not a pitcher’s back foot should be connected with the ground at the point where the ball releases the hand. After analyzing teammates mechanics and comparing with big leaguers, I noticed that almost every pitcher with plus velocity has some sort of back-foot connectivity with the ground at release point. When I compared with major leaguers, I noticed the same positioning at release. Almost all were connected, or an inch or two from the ground. This is so important for me because I noticed that when I release the ball, my back foot is roughly 6-8 inches from the ground. I believe this leads to a decrease in velocity because my backside power has already released from the ground, causing me to fall towards first base too early in the motion. I think for pitchers whose foot is slightly off the ground at release, the back knee should be driven in the direction of home plate. I would rather see a pitcher’s back leg explode forward after release, not begin to swing around the body too soon. When I say “swing around,” I am referring to the back hip beginning to lift up and pull the back-foot from the ground, spinning the momentum and deceleration of the body towards first base rather than in a straight line towards home plate. Therefore, I want my backside (right hip and leg) to accelerate towards home plate, generating more force in the direction the ball is going. I believe this connected force releasing the ground after the ball is out of the hand will allow a pitcher to release the ball closer to home plate, generate more backspin, and throw with more conviction in a straight line towards the catcher rather than spinning off too early.
Below I have attached videos of medicine ball throws and plyometric ball throws that can be done to improve back-foot connectivity. I have also attached photos of MLB pitchers who not only have back foot connectivity, but there back knee is driven in the direction of home plate:
Med ball throw with leg lift lefty:
Med ball toss:
Med ball toss lefty:
Rockers Back foot planted:
Rockers back foot release:
Pitchers should also focus on ankle, groin, hip and hip flexor mobility to fix this problem.
I hope the above content can be used to help pitchers fine tune their mechanics and delivery. Whether or not you believe this content was useful, we would really appreciate feedback so we know what additions to make and what to leave out in the future. Please let me know if there is anything else you would like to see written about to improve your game!