Learning, mastering, and maintaining pitching speed is never easy. Pitchers come in many different shapes and sizes and no pitcher is like another. It’s important that pitchers focus on themselves and their development, rather than comparing themselves to others. Every pitcher is on her pitching journey, and all of the roads along the way will be different.
One thing many pitchers have in common is they want and need to increase their pitching speed. It’s important to learn and understand where pitching speed comes from because there are many factors. Pitching speed comes from the arm, how fast it can travel around the circle, how quick the pitcher’s whip is at the end of the circle, and of course the power behind the snap. A pitcher’s arm can only move so fast and relying on the arm is not enough.
Pitchers have been told their whole career that speed comes from their legs. There is so much more to using the legs than just bending and pushing off the mound. The stride is a significant factor when it comes to pitching speed because the closer the pitcher can get to the batter in the box, the less time the batter will have to react to the pitch. Pitchers who can utilize the drive position, right before they push off, will get into their legs and have a chance at a longer stride. Once the pitch is released, pitchers who drag hard to their front side will complete the pitch with more power and force than those who neglect the use of the back leg completely.
Below are three drills that can be incorporated into practice that will get pitchers into their legs.
Stride Drill:Have a pitcher lay down on the ground on her back with her heels in contact with the mound and her head towards home plate. Then take an extra ball or a cone and place it where the pitchers head is on the ground. Once the pitcher’s stride is measured, she will have a stride goal. A pitcher’s stride goal should always be to stride their height and beyond. Having a visual of the stride length and goal will challenge the pitcher to reach that length every pitch. For the more advanced pitchers, if you have cones or tees set up, attach a string or tape between the two and challenge the pitcher to stride over them. The tape or string should be two to four inches off the ground and can be raised higher as the pitcher gets comfortable.
Resistance Training:There are pitching harnesses for this drill available online, but if you don’t want to spend the money, a band will do. This is a two-person drill. Have the pitcher step into the harness or band and attach it to her waist. The helper for this drill is going to hold onto the harness or the band while the pitcher goes through her pitch. The harness or band is going to create tension and almost pull the pitcher backward when her landing foot makes contact with the ground. It is up to the pitcher to drive out into her pitch, maintain a strong landing leg, and use her back drag leg aggressively to resist the pull back from the resistance band or harness. Once the harness or band are removed, the pitcher will drive out and finish much harder.
Pitch from Bucket:This drill is a great one to help pitchers start and stay in their drive position during their pitch. Place a bucket behind the pitching mound, close enough for the pitcher to line her feet up in the normal spot that she starts her pitch. Then have the pitcher sit on the bucket and proceed to pitch from the seated position. The pitcher will feel the bend and push from her legs because she is starting low to the ground. It will also be easier for her to use and maintain her starting drive position while on the bucket. Once the bucket is removed, challenge the pitcher to continue bending her legs into the drive position and pushing off the mound. She won’t get as low during her regular pitch as she was on the bucket, but bending an inch deeper is going to help with the push and increase the stride a little further.