When you go to your first pitching lesson or pitching clinic, no matter the age, one of the first things that will be talked about is the Power Line. The Power Line is the imaginary line that runs from the middle of the pitcher’s mound all the way to the middle of home plate. The purpose of the imaginary line is in the name itself. It’s the line that if used correctly gives pitchers the best chance to generate the POWER (speed) behind the pitch. It’s also the main component when it comes to accuracy and throwing strikes.
Let’s talk about POWER and speed first since that seems to be every pitcher’s goal these days. The correlation between gaining speed and the Power Line is simple. If you stay on the line and keep everything tight to your body, you will generate more power. More power leads to more speed behind the pitch. Let’s compare the Power Line to a tire swing. If you’re on the swing and someone spins you around, if you coil up and bring your body closer together, the swing spins faster. It has the opposite effect if you flail your arms and head back, you slow down. The same thing can be said about pitching and the Power Line. If a pitcher’s arm travels through their arm circle away from the body, and slightly off the line, they will lose speed on their pitch. A very similar outcome if the front pitching foot steps away from the line. Keeping toes, legs, both arms, glove, and ball tightly together on the line will lead to more speed.
Now it’s time for accuracy. It was mentioned above that there is one Power Line that runs directly from the middle of the mound to the middle of home plate, but as we get older, we don’t want to throw the ball down the middle. How many Power Lines are there really? It’s a game of inches, so if we wanted to get technical, there could be 10 or there could be 100. Let’s start with three. There is a line that runs down the middle of the plate, and there are two more. One that runs to the inside corner and one that runs to the outside corner. The trick is getting ourselves onto these new lines and being able to keep everything on them. Let’s break this down into three simple steps when throwing to our corners on new Power Lines.
Step 1: Find the Focal Point: Find a spot that doesn’t move that we can focus on and throw to over and over again. The right or left side of the plate are a great focal point target, or in between the white chalk line and the plate. A lot of people prefer to step towards a catcher’s outside knee or their glove when spotting pitches, but let’s try focusing on something stationary. It will become more consistent and build muscle memory faster.
Step 2: Step towards the Focal Point: The lead toe of the pitcher is crucial during this step. It dictates whether or not we actually get on our new Power Line. Consistency is also a major component when it comes to stepping towards our new focal point. Outdoor pitching on dirt is helpful when learning where to step because the pitcher can look down and see the cleat print in the dirt. Once we get a consistent step towards the focal point, the rest is repetition.
Step 3: Keep everything tight on the Power Line: This step is just as important as the first two and one of the hardest to master. It’s important that after we identify the focal point and step towards it, that we keep everything nice and in line and tight to our body. Think back to the tire swing analogy. If something comes off the line, the outcome of the pitch won’t be where we wanted it and the pitch will be slower.