There are many reasons a pitcher lacks leg drive off the rubber. One we will be discussing today has to do with hip positioning. The fastest way to get from point A to point B is a straight line. The same rule applies to force and power. We want our body to work in a straight line as much as possible as we drive off the mound with one leg, land on the other, and release the ball. Any detour’s of our body in that direct line prohibit energy that equates to speed on a pitch. The detour we will be looking at today is the hip position at release. The desired goal is for the hip to stay in line with the foot and knee when we land, quite often though, what happens is a pitcher will jut her hip out to the side of the landing foot at release. See below, as the pitcher releases the ball her left hip swings out to the left and her right arm has to wrap around her body to finish the pitch.
In her next lesson with me, we worked on these movements:
Tripod Lunge with Hand Support on a Bench
Her goal was to keep her left hip tucked under her left rib cage as she lunged forward and stood up.
Then, we progressed to a more aggressive version of this exercising using a med ball.
Medicine Ball Step-Through’s
For this drill, the rules were the same, I coached her to keep her hips directly stacked under her foot. As she lunged forward she was to roll through her big toe as much as her little toe, keeping her foot stiff as she pushed forward from her ankle, then knee, and finally hip. When she extended completely she was to launch the medicine ball toward her partner.
As a coach, I held the stick next to her hip as a guideline to not let her hip touch the stick as she accelerated through the lunge to throw the ball. This was a struggle for her so we spent quite a bit of time on it before moving onto pitching. But this was also her homework to do in front of a mirror at home.
Next we translated this to our pitching warm-up.
The cues were the same here as she worked through the extension of her pitch.
Just by fixing her hip drive and alignment, her arm didn’t wrap around her body near like it did before. She complained of NO hip, low back, or elbow pain with these changes, as well. All by focusing on working in a straight line.