Sean McCourt, our Director of Pitching, explains the top three mechanical issues that can improve your velocity and command.
1.Back Leg Disconnection
One of the most common problems that I encounter watching young pitchers throw is an early disconnection of the back leg. After your back leg loses contact with the ground, you have lost the ability to continue to rotate your hips. If you can’t fully rotate your hips, you have no shot at completing rotation of your shoulders further up the chain. You also lose your base and ability to drive the baseball towards your target. I like to say it’s like shooting a cannon out of a row boat. Without a strong base, you won’t have the power or ability to accurately throw the baseball, throwing solely off of your front leg.
2. Uphill Angle for your Hips and Shoulders
Building a solid base with your hips and shoulders set uphill when moving towards the plate is crucial in order to put yourself in the powerful position at foot strike. Setting this angle helps you build momentum towards the plate and helps you keep your top half back so you can utilize your legs, maximize your hip-shoulder separation, and land with the proper shoulder angle. I see many flat shoulder angles on pitchers here in Colorado due to the fact that players aren’t really throwing off mounds until they reach the high school level. Players can get away with flat shoulders throwing off flat ground, although it’s not ideal and will cost them energy and velocity. But if this is not fixed once they get to a mound, it will cause serious command issues in addition to a loss of velocity.
3. Postural Disconnection
Postural disconnections can be caused by numerous disconnections throughout your mechanics and lead to many more down the kinetic chain. Some come from your weight being unbalanced, some from your glove or other body parts rerouting your energy in different directions. They all generally result in an early release of the baseball, not allowing you to generate your full power and making it near impossible to consistently throw strikes. Pitchers that can stay balanced, connected, and directional will have much more success being able to consistently reach a late launch position resulting in much higher velocity and command.
Now, I want to make one thing clear. There are always exceptions to the rule. Are there players out there who have these “flaws” in their mechanics and are still successful? Of course. If you are one of these people and you are happy with your velocity, can throw the ball where you want to, are pain free, and having success, then I am extremely happy for you and hope that you continue to have success in your career. But if you feel you can or need to improve in one of these areas, take a look at your film and see what you can do better. I hope this helps you become a better pitcher. If you would like any more info or if I can help you in any way, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
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Wes McGuire is the leader of our Healthy Heat program which is designed to drastically increase player's velocity no matter their position (which it has!). In our newest blog post, Wes explains training for pitching vs. training for throwing. You may be surprised by his answers....
It’s the start that stops most people. It is hard for people to commit particularly when you have to tell them that it may not happen overnight. There are no quick fixes or gimmicks that will suddenly send you on a path to the big leagues. There are guys who can just go to games, practice when the team gets together, and be the best player; however, they are the exceptions, not the rule.
At Bardo’s we are adamantly against the freak theory. You hear guys talk about it all the time, “That guy just has cannon, I can never throw as hard as he does.” Lies. “He’s just so much better than me, I can never be the player he is”. Who says? If you aren’t lucky enough to be born with supreme athletic ability, a lightning quick arm, and the ability to hit baseballs out of big league stadiums at the age of 12, who cares. That doesn’t mean you have to let that stop you.
For years coaches and evaluators played into this theme which made it much worse. “He’ll grow into it” or “maybe he just doesn’t have it”. I’m not sitting here saying a 12 year old can work hard enough to throw 90 mph by the end of the summer. That’s unrealistic, but sitting around doing the minimum and waiting for him to be 6’4” 225lbs and throwing gas is equally as unrealistic. It takes work and doing it the way it’s always been done isn’t going to get it done.
The way baseball trains throwing has not changed much throughout its history. Kids play catch, making sure to only throw it hard enough that their catch partner can catch it. They back up until they feel loose and shut it down or their coach rushes them to finish so they can start practice. There is not a single play in baseball that doesn’t involve at least one throw yet we treat it like the least important part of the game.
Pitchers have it even worse because we want to teach them how to pitch before they are even good at throwing. How many kids pitch at the youth level truly command the ball on a regular basis? How many catchers in youth baseball even adjust their target from pitch to pitch? Not many. The ones that dominate are the ones that throw hard and throw it in the strike zone. Yet your average pitching lesson spends about four minutes throwing to get loose and then work on pitching.
Kids are told what to do, try to do it and then are told how to correct it. They think, but they don’t feel. They repeat, they don’t compete. They go to practice, they don’t train. Baseball has put the cart before the horse. We want to teach a kid who can barely get the ball to home plate how to command a change up. Commanding the ball matters eventually, mixing speeds matter eventually, but it is crazy to spend a majority of our time focusing them.
Our mission at Bardo’s is to commit to training. We want kids to come in and work hard. We are trying to build athletes and constantly challenge them. We don’t just want kids to come in and try to throw strikes at eighty percent with no pressure. We want kids to push themselves, throw it harder than they did last week. Just flat out work harder than last time. We get loose to throw, not throw to get loose. We provide individualized drills for the athlete to learn new movement patterns focusing on feel not cues. We want to lead the athlete through guided discovery not just spew words at them until something sticks.
We don’t have all the answers yet and anyone that says they do is lying to themselves. We ask the same of ourselves that we do our athletes, keep working and learning. Get better everyday. The problem is it’s hard. You don’t win or get a medal at the end of every day. You are going to have terrible days this summer on the diamond and you are going to be in plenty of slumps. But if it were easy everyone would do it.
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Anthony Gutierrez is one of our top pitching instructors and played nine years with the Houston Astros. His philosophy on pitching is second to none and he's decided to share the mental aspect from a pitcher's perspective in his own words.
Positive Mode: Step on the baseball field with a positive outlook and attitude everyday. Remember, you are here because you love this game so that should be enough to brighten your day. Moods are contagious, so turn the switch and throw away all your problems and let yourself enjoy the next two or three hours of your life.
Be Competitive: Everyone loves to win, but what does it take for you to win the game or an individual challenge? Every pitch comes from within and every movement on the mound is made in a conscience advance to get an edge over your opponent. Approach every outing as if it will be your last and never look upon it with regrets and what ifs. The killer instinct is the difference between failure and success.
Composed: Take control of the game before it controls you. Every situation will call for a reaction and the reaction can be turning point of the game. Command your emotions to stay calm and use the created intensity as a productive energy to push you towards successfully completing the inning. Physically revealed emotions will determine the events to follow, such as walking the next batter or feeding a pitch down the middle and allowing the inning to explode. Hold your emotions within and keep your facial expressions deceptive.
Knowledge: Educate yourself on the game of baseball in general. The more you know about the game the better player you will become. Look at the history of the game and understand the law of averages of the success of hitters against pitchers and typical outcomes. Baseball is as simple as you make it. Understand that the little things can make the biggest difference of a game or career. Learn the game in a manager’s view and think about what pitch you would call in a particular situation or defense put on. The more you can anticipate, the easier the play put on will be to execute.
Pitch Effectively in the Pinch: This will determine your true pitching skills. Making the big pitch in a key situation consistently will open the path towards a successful pitching career. The greatest pitchers of all time are known to make the big pitch in a turning point of a game. The big pitch will fuel the rest of the team to step up and play for you and make the big play in the field. Establishing confidence in your teammates will in turn gain confidences in yourself. The pinch means there is little room for error, therefore your focus needs to narrow in a preview location of a specific pitch in the given situation to a particular hitter.
Respect for the Game, Players and Umpires: Remember your teammate will only play for you if you play for them. The ability to recognize their skills and accomplishments will only increase the respect level and desire for them to play with or for you. They will acknowledge your skills; don't expect a compliment, earn one. Respect the game and the players who played before you. The game has established a level of respect that is required of all players to maintain. The umpires are human and capable of making mistakes just as easy as you are. Stay off of them and keep them from playing a major roll in games by controlling your own destiny. Take responsibility in your actions and understand that the umpires can only control the out come of a game if you allow them to. Respect yourself and others will do the same.
Establish Self-Motivation: Self-motivation is established within the will and desire to perform. Self-motivation is revealed in practice and work away from the field. The work away from the field includes anything learned or mastered before entering the field. The will to be a better pitcher and physically ahead of others lies within the heart. The heart will reveal the love for the game and in turn field the effort to perform at your highest potential. Peak performance is pre determined by peak preparation, feel the moment emotionally before you attempt to accomplish it.
Self Discipline: This is your career and your team, do your part to make it successful. You expect everyone else to do the their job, so don’t cheat your teammates and not do yours. This is a team effort and everyone has a roll to play and the success of the team lies within the discipline to execute their responsibilities. Learn from your mistakes and command yourself to continuously progress. Don't let the same negative results continue, make the adjustments and turn the page. The key to discipline is to know what to change and what works then to create the ability put the work in and establish command of your skills.
Never Give In: No matter the situation in a game, pre-game, practice or any time you feel it is out of reach DO NOT GIVE UP! I don't care if your brother is up to bat, if he is wearing a different uniform we will get him out anyway we can.
Lead Team to Battle & Victory: We control the game and the rest of the team will depend on us to establish the path. Lead your team by example. A successful game play will fire up your teammates.
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