By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
The surest way to achieve your baseball pitching goals is to learn using proper pitching techniques.
The first step in this process is acquiring a thorough understanding of baseball pitching techniques and the pitching delivery.
If becoming a major league pitcher is your goal, you must not develop what we call "minor league habits." In other words, don't take shortcuts to developing your pitches; take the time to learn to throw with proper pitching techniques and use your pitches effectively.
On the other hand, don't overdo it and become to caught up in your baseball pitching techniques.
This type of pitcher makes himself think of too many things at once, becomes confused, and can damage his performance.
A basic understanding of pitching technics is all that is necessary to put you on the road to solving your own problems and coaching yourself to become a better, more technical pitcher or pitching coach.
It's also important to remember that an ideal pitching technique enables a pitcher to throw strikes consistently while using a fluid motion that distributes the stress of throwing throughout the body, thus reducing strain on the pitching arm.
To help you build a good, basic technique that will afford you longevity and success as a pitcher, we have focused on 12 steps to guide you through proper baseball pitching technique.
Pitching techniques #1: Foot position on pitching rubber
- Right handed pitchers should be on the right side of the rubber.
- Left handed pitchers should be on the left side of the rubber.
- Heels of your feet should be on top of the rubber and about 6-8 inches apart.
- Balls of your feet should be in front of the rubber.
Pitching techniques #2: Signal receiving position
- The ball should be placed in a preset position in your glove
- Knees should be slightly bent and in a comfortable position.
- Feet should be about 6-8 inches apart.
- Fingers on the ball should be pointed straight out from the belly button.
Pitching techniques #3: First movement of the windup
- Take a short 6 inch rocker step back and slightly to the side of the rubber.
- Weight should be on the ball of your rocker step foot. Do not let your heel touch the ground. This causes improper weight transfer.
- Head should remain over the pivot foot.
- Your hands should move up to your chin or slightly above your eyes.
Pitching techniques #4: Shoulder turn - pivot foot placement
- Turn your front shoulder to your target as you place your pivot foot in front of the rubber.
- The knee should be slightly bent over your pivot foot.
- Your back leg should be bent slightly from start to finish.
Pitching techniques #5: Balance point
- Lift your knee, not your foot, up and back to the mid-point of your body.
- The leg should be belt high and parallel to the ground.
- The lower part of the leg should be relaxed.
- Your toe should be slightly lower than the heel of the foot.
- Your elbows should be pointed down to the ground (45 degree angle).
Pitching techniques #6: Front shoulder
- Shoulder should be pointed to your target.
- The chin should be over or slightly in front of the shoulder.
Pitching techniques #7: Hand separation - ball out of the glove
- Hands should separate between the belt and chest.
- Movement of the ball out of the glove should be the first movement. Nothing goes forward until the hands separate.
- Take the ball back and up with your hand, not your elbow, to the top of the throwing circle.
Pitching techniques #8: Arm extension
- Start arm action back with your throwing hand, concentrating on the thumb pointing down and the fingers pointing back towards second base.
- The elbow should work with the throwing hand.
- Throwing hand should be in a position above your back shoulder with the fingers pointing up to the sky in centerfield. You can think of your index and long fingers of your throwing hand like fangs of a snake. You want the fangs pointed away from you so you don't get bit!
Pitching techniques #9: Front side actions
- The front arm should be strong and firm throughout the delivery.
- The lead elbow is slightly bent and points toward home plate.
- The front arm determines the speed for the pitch.
- The glove should be in a semi-tucked position at the point of release.
Pitching techniques #10: Hips
- Your hips are your power
- The pivot will drive the back hip, the back hip will drive the front hip to the plate, and the hips will turn the landing foot.
- The pivot foot is the key to when you open your hips.
Pitching techniques #11: Landing foot
- You should land with a slightly bent front knee.
- The foot should land flat on the ground, toe and heel should touch together.
- The stride should be approx. 5 shoe lengths from the front edge of the rubber.
- Keep your weight back as long as possible when you land on your stride foot.
Pitching techniques #12: Throwing arm extension
- You must have a relaxed grip and wrist; allow your throwing arm, hand, and wrist to go completely through the delivery.
- The hand must extend to the target, then the head follows the hand down, then the back side creates the follow through.
- Be "long" in front. Be a rifle, not a pistol.
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