Throwing fast pitches requires good control, strong arm and shoulder muscles, as well as the ability snap the wrist. It also requires good drive and momentum. Without drive, pitches lack the power they could otherwise have, making them easier to hit for the opposing team. Building drive and momentum actually isn’t all that difficult, particularly if you incorporate this three-step walkthrough drill into practices. While the instructions below are for right-handers, left-handers can use them as well. Just reverse the arm/leg instructions.
This drill focuses on building forward momentum while pitching. It’s an ideal solution for pitchers who are having difficulty throwing strikes, and who have already tried long distance speed pitching drills. It’s really a very simple drill, and can be done multiple times a week to build momentum and drive.
Have the pitcher start three steps behind the pitcher’s mound. She should walk forward using natural strides – she shouldn’t take overly long strides, or too many short strides. The pitcher should start with her right foot, then left, then finish back on her right. The second stride marks the beginning of the backward motion of the windmill, and the third stride places the pitcher squarely on the mound.
At the completion of the third stride, the pitcher should push off the mound (using her right foot) and actually lunge forward with her left. The right foot should drag behind during the finish of the windmill motion, and the pitcher should release the ball at her hip.
Once the ball has been released, the pitcher should continue toward the catcher for three more steps following the same sequence (right, left, right, which would be reversed for left-handed pitchers). These final three steps are taken to ensure that the pitcher drives all her power toward the plate, and closes her back hip.
The Need for Drive
At a casual glance, the power of a pitch seems to come from the pitcher’s arm. While some does, the majority of the power in any pitch actually comes from the hips. So, if a pitcher merely steps forward from the mound, she’s not putting nearly enough power behind the ball. She has to drive off the mound to really make that ball fly. A lunge is the way to do just that (as illustrated in the three-step drill above).
If players are having difficulty lunging off the plate, a simple drill can be incorporated into practice sessions and combined with the one listed above. Have each pitcher walk six steps forward from the mound, beginning with her heel against the mound and then walking toe to heel. At the instep of the sixth step, she should draw a parallel line in the dirt (parallel to both the pitching mound and home plate). This is called a lunge line – the pitcher should strive to get across this line after lunging off the mound during a pitch in order to deliver maximum power to the ball from the hips.
The three-step drill we covered previously can be cut down to just one for pitchers who need to focus on using only the lunge to give power to the ball. Have the pitcher start about a foot behind the mound with feet together and arms apart, then bring her hands together for about two seconds. When her hands meet, she should bend at the waist and knees. As her hands pass her legs, she should step forward with her right foot, then push off the mound and drive forward into her lunge.