Introduction: How to Pitch With Proper Mechanics
What is Pitching?
Pitching is the motion of throwing a ball repetitively to the catcher while standing on a mound (a sloped surface made of clay or dirt). It sounds like an easy task, but you must use the right mechanics so that you don’t overload your arm and risk elbow damage. If you are a beginner, don’t worry! I will go over the needed materials and offer detailed explanations for each step of the correct pitching motion. Read on to become the best pitcher you can be!
- baseball glove
- baseball shoes
- pitching mound (OPTIONAL)
- baseball cap
- pitching net (or pitch with actual catcher)
The pitching mound is optional if you are pitching for fun. Delivering the ball on a flat surface will be sufficient. If you are an aspiring pitcher preparing for league games, using a pitcher's mound is beneficial because you are replicating game day conditions.
Step 1: Start Position
You can either stand in the direction of the catcher or face sideways. Hide the ball in your glove and keep both hands near your upper body.
Pitching Hand - dominant hand that holds the ball and delivers it
Glove Hand - non-dominant hand that is covered with a glove
Step 2: Windup
The wind-up generates momentum by bringing the knee of your glove side up to waist level. WARNING: Don’t bring it up too much because you might lose balance. Keep the ball in the glove.
Step 3: Stride
Start moving your front leg down the slope of the mound while bending your back knee. Make sure that your stride is long and your upper body is upright as you dive. Move your pitching hand away from your waist at the same time. Keep your body facing sideways and your glove hand tucked into your chest during this phase.
Step 4: Early Cocking / Foot Plant
Rotate your pitching arm upwards. While you are doing this, you will be completing the stride and planting the foot on the ground. At foot plant, make sure that your arm is cocked upright (forming an L shape), while your body still faces sideways.
Step 5: Arm Acceleration / Late Cocking
NOTE: The image is blurry because it's a screen capture in a video. Keeping your arm cocked back for more than a few seconds is difficult, so this in-motion shot illustrates how fast this phase occurs.
Start rotating your body towards the direction of the catcher while bringing your pitching arm forward. It's similar to a catapult motion, since you are trying to bring your elbow in front of your forearm and hand. The rest of the arm will lag behind and follow in suit. As a result, you are generating tons of momentum before you release the ball.
Step 6: Release
NOTE: The image is blurry because it's a screen capture in a video. This in-motion shot illustrates how fast the release phase occurs.
At this point, your body has finished rotating forward. Release the ball at a comfortable position (either overhand or sidearm) while keeping your glove hand tucked to maintain balance.
Step 7: Deceleration / Follow-Through
Bring your pitching arm down slowly so it doesn’t come crashing against your body. Lean your body in and kick your back leg outwards or upwards to complete the follow-through. This helps maintain balance so you don’t fall towards one direction.
Step 8: Putting It All Together
The video above demonstrates the complete process of pitching from starting position to follow-through. The individual steps above will help you get the details down, but the video combines these steps in one motion to give you the full picture.
Practicing these steps will help you improve your pitching skills, but make sure to rest your arm every 3-5 days to avoid strains and injuries. Young pitchers’ ligaments are not ready to withstand this load for long periods of time, so be cautious about pitching too often. Go out there and have fun pitching!
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