There's a few things in pitching that I don't teach. Stride is one of them.
That doesn't mean I don't think it's important, I think stride distance and direction are directly related to a few extremely pivotal pitching mechanics. The reason I don't teach it, is because the pitching stride itself is nothing but a REACTION to those mechanics.
If you stand up right now and start to walk in a direction, what happens first? Does your foot (stride) go out in the direction you want to go first? Or do your hips and center of gravity begin to move in that direction, causing your foot to step out to stabilize your body?
Of course it's the second one, unless you're two years old, in which case I'm blown away that you're navigating my blog. Welcome to you all the same, glad to have the readers!
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Our brain directs our legs to step out in the direction of our movement so we don't fall over, it doesn't direct our movement based on the stepping of our legs.
This same thing happens in pitching. If you're teaching a kid to stride farther, or in a different direction, just by telling him to do it you're teaching it backwards. You're seeing something that you're right to see, and that you should fix, but you've got to go after the cause instead of the effect.
So in the same exercise we did earlier, when we stood up and examined the natural way our body moves and walks, let's look at how FAR we stepped. If you tried it, I bet you moved very slow, and thus your foot stepped out very short. If your center of gravity wasn't moving very fast, it didn't take much distance from your leg to stabilize your body.
If we do it again, except this time we start with the intention of sprinting in a certain direction, the stride will be much farther. The faster our center of gravity moves in a direction, the farther our stride leg must go to stabilize us. It does this naturally, you don't have to teach this reaction.
In fact, if you do teach pitching stride by saying "stride farther", you will disrupt this natural process and actually make it harder for the pitcher to move his hips to the plate. He'll be "stepping" toward the plate, but not moving his center of gravity. This isn't what we want.
So we have to get the hips moving to the plate longer and faster, and this will cause the stride to lengthen. It will also clean up direction, as long as the center of gravity of the body is headed in a straight line to the catcher.
There's a little more too stride direction than I want to get into here, but for now try to move center mass more quickly and for longer, and watch how that cleans up stride issues naturally. This article about loading the hips has a few things in it that will clean up stride direction a little bit as well.
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