Coaching the High School Pitcher
on October 11, 2011
This production had the appearance of a one afternoon rush job. Grab some players and shoot it
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in a few hours. The most important aspect of using student demonstrators is to make sure that they execute
the skill correctly.The players, after coach Woods had explained a drill, spoiled the demonstration with poor execution to the extent that
some throws went out of the reach of their partners, even though the distance was approx. 45 ft.. Also, coach Woods was not clear with some of his explanations referring to one part of the body while pointing to a different part. eg.speaking about the lead/back shoulder while indicating the other shoulder.
My main point is that the material being taught is easily 10 - 15 yrs. out of date. The idea that the pitcher should "gather" himself when his leg lift is at it's highest point to insure balance only serves to destroy the momentum that he is trying to achieve. Even if the balance point is maintained for a fraction of a second, it would be impossible for the body to recapture lost momentum during the remainder of the delivery. Balance is not static. It is maintained throughout the delivery by keeping the head in the middle of the body until hip rotation. The term is "dynamic balance," which means that, throughout the delivery, the body could, theoretically, be divided into 2 equal parts. If the head stays over the bellybutton, balance is maintained. Unfortunately, all the "balance drills" presented by coach Woods are counterproductive to achieving a sound delivery
and only serve to emphasize an out of date technique.
Momentum is achieved & maintained by firing the front hip at the target as the stride leg is about to reach its highest point. This was called
"rushing" back in the day but the current methodology teaches that this is how momentum is maintained. The argument for staying back was that the arm would drag if the pitcher went foward before "gathering" himself. The arm drags when the pitcher's front side flys open prematurely. When the stride leg lands, the back hip explodes towards the target creating torque which is the source of power.
Next, teaching that the throwing elbow should be above shoulder level is incorrect. The throwing arm elbow should never be taken
above shoulder level. Consistently doing so would increase the likelihood of an impingement. There should be a 90 angle between the upper throwing arm and the throwing arm side. The pitcher on the video's cover provides an excellent example.
The importance of the front elbow is never emphasized. The "give me five" drill actually is counterproductive since the front elbow is positioned by the player's belt. The longer that the front elbow can remain on the target, the greater the potential for a good pitch. Prematurely dropping the front elbow will result in the front side shoulder flying open causing the arm to drag through release resulting in the pitch to be up & in to the arm side or low & away to the glove side. This is evident with Skyler, the tall righthander. His front elbow drops resulting in inaccurate throws even from a short distance. Unfortunately coach Woods does not address this even though Skyler repeats the fault.
Pulling the glove side elbow towards the body so the back shoulder can come through and increase power is outdated also. Power is created by the torque of the hips which pulls the throwing arm through. The front side will get out of the way all by itself. It's unnecessary to teach kids to "increase their arm speed" by pulling the glove arm into the body since young players may have a tendency to pull the glove with greater force which can lead to the front side opening prematurely. Only by increasing torque or maintaining the follow through longer, "staying on the pitch," can produce an increase in velocity.
There's more but I'm going to close with this. The part re: controlling the running came was, in my opinion, superfluous. It appeared rushed, almost as if some filler was needed since the presentation was too short.
I'm happy that coach Woods has achieved a high degree of success, but the DVD wasn't that good.
The teaching techniques demonstrated were out of date and the whole production had a catch as catch can feel to it. You're capable of better