Learn to Throw Strikes The Old Fashioned Way
I've never been a good dancer, but I think it's cool to watch somebody that is. There's one element in particular that pitching coaches can, and should, borrow from the graceful world of dancing; rhythm. If a pitcher is having trouble throwing strikes, this becomes even more important.
I see a couple dozen pitchers a week, and I'm struck by how many of them are completely void of rhythm. They look stiff, jerky, mechanical.
What's interesting is that a lot of this stiffness has been taught to them, in order to make them MORE accurate. I wrote another article about video analysis that talks about this issue too. You can click on that link, it will open in another tab so you can read this one first.
I won't double back on what I've already covered, but I will say this: a pitcher with no rhythm will find it very hard to consistently throw strikes.
Unless You're Working on Cars, Stop Being So Mechanical
Slow windup, balance points, slow delivery, stop and go...these things may get the pitcher a little more accurate in the short term. However, they will eliminate the pitcher's natural rhythm, confidence, comfort, velocity, deception, and it will make consistent accuracy very tough.
Think about a shortstop. For those of you that follow us here at Baseball Brains, you've heard us say this a lot. When a good shortstop is fielding a ball and throwing it to first is he stiff and choppy or fluid and aggressive?
What about a left fielder trying to throw somebody out at home? Stiff, slow, mechanical, balance points? His goal is to throw the ball as HARD as he can to a target, and his natural method of doing so is to get his body moving hard toward the target, hop and fire that thing.
He doesn't come up, balance over his back leg, move to a low balance, arms up like a goal post. He wasn't thinking about there being 7 steps to the throw, he just gathered himself and let it fly.
That same kid will then go work with a pitching coach who will pretend that throwing is totally different when your back foot is touching a pitching rubber.
If you take one thing from reading this, let it be that you want your pitchers to be just like that shortstop and left fielder. Fluid, rhythm, momentum, body active and moving toward the target. Throw the ball HARD!
Young pitchers will learn how to throw strikes if you let them do it athletically and naturally. Some patience is sometimes required, these things don't happen overnight. A short term approach leads to a short term career.
If you or a pitcher you're working with are having trouble throwing strikes, the worst thing you can do (most the time) is to slow them down. Instead, do the opposite.
Speed up a little bit, let them crow hop down the mound, get their body involved. They need to feel what it's like to build momentum and then use it to explode into a throw. They need to feel like they have rhythm. Kind of like a dancer. See how I did that, mentioned dancing at the beginning and then brought it back at the end!
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