The most helpful pitching tip that I ever received happened at a showcase when I was 13 years old. I had already been pitching for four years at the time and was still struggling to master my fastball. I had my velocity down, it helped that I was bigger and stronger than most of the 13-year-old pitcher’s my age. I struggled with hitting my outside corner and everything seemed to always tail back towards the inside. My inside corner was a piece of cake, my natural side, but I couldn’t find a consistent outside corner for the life of me.
The coach at the showcase, who was the pitching coach at Iowa at the time, watched me throw a few pitches and noticed the mechanical flaw right away. “Your glove”, he smiled as he said it because he knew he was going to make my whole day and season better. Up until that moment, I had a tendency to let my glove fly out away from my body. This occurred because when I pushed forward out of my pre-motion, both of my thumbs pointed straight up in the air. While my pitching arm went through its circle, my glove arm was flying away from my body without me even realizing it.
The pitching coach instructed me to work on pointing my thumbs down when my arms pushed forward, exiting my pre-motion and moving through my pitch. He also told me to finish my pitch with my glove on my leg and my thumb resting on my thigh. Light bulb! Before I received the thumb to thigh pointer, my glove would end up resting on my leg with the back of my hand on my thigh and the thumb pointing up. No wonder why I lacked control of my outside pitch! Bringing my glove down with my thumb pointed up and the back of my hand on my thigh, caused my glove to really fly away from the powerline and my body during my pitch. When this happens, the upper body rotates and the throwing arm gets pulled in that direction as well making it tough to hit spots.
By changing my finish to thumb to thigh I noticed right away what a difference it made for my pitching, specifically my accuracy to both corners. Thumb to thigh helped me keep both arms tighter to my body throughout my pitch which also helped increase my speed. I have learned over the years that controlling the glove is the key to throwing to spots. It helps keep the body lined up on the new powerlines and also helps pitchers stay open. Bringing the glove down thumb to thigh may take some time and practice for pitchers who already come down with their thumb up. Practice thumb to thigh in drill form first, it’s the easiest way to make it a habit and to translate the motion into the full-pitch.