Pitching Mechanics: How To Pitch From The Full Windup

2017 MLB Tryouts

Youth pitching program
ATTENTION PITCHERS: One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not. To get to the next level, preparation matters. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.

If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my proven programs for pitchers of all ages.

 

In baseball, pitchers throw using a full windup when there are no runners on base or when there are no runners in potential steal situations, such as bases loaded, a runner on third, or a runner on second and third.

And in my opinion, Clayton Kershaw has some of the best full windup pitching mechanics in the game right now.

Check out this gif of Kershaw absolutely man-handling Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals...

Clayton Kershaw full wind-up pitching mechanics
Image source: pitcherlist.com

Dirty stuff, right? It's easy to see why he's been called the world's best pitcher.

Kershaw's a big lefty with a power fastball and multiple breaking balls to go along with a changeup he'll mix in from time to time. 

In this article, I'll share some of my favorite tips and techniques for pitching from the full windup with images of Clayton Kershaw's pitching mechanics from Arturo Pardavila III to help add visual context to the teaching cues I'm describing.

Here are 13 steps that can help any pitcher develop a repeatable, athletic delivery that maximizes power and accuracy using full windup pitching mechanics.

13 steps to the full wind up

1. Starting stance

Clayton Kershaw pitching mechanics - starting stance
  • Right hander is on right side of rubber, left hander on left side.
  • Pitcher stands tall, relaxed and balanced. Body is squared to the plate.
  • Weight evenly distributed on both feet.
  • Hands together in middle of body with ball hidden in glove.
  • Focused on the catcher's mitt.

2. Wind up (Rocker step → Pivot)

Clayton Kershaw pitching mechanics - windup
  • Pitcher takes a short start-step to the side or back.
  • Head has little movement, focused on the catcher's mitt.
  • Hands can stay still or move up to chest high to create rhythm.
  • Body stays balanced over posting leg and under control as he starts to pivot in front of the rubber.

Please note: During the wind-up, many pitchers are too aggressive with their overall body movements and make a mistake and try to generate power at the rubber. Staying under control is the key to getting into good body position. Remember, you don't generate power until landing, so your movements stepping back, pivoting, and moving forward shouldn't be too aggressive; better to be slow and under control.

3. Leg lift (Forward rock → Knee up)

Clayton Kershaw pitching mechanics - leg lift
  • Lifts leg under control, lead ankle stays under knee.
  • Stays tall, posting leg firm but slightly flexed.
  • Head is over ball of posting leg foot.
  • Front shoulder and head lined up with target.
  • Front hip closed off, back pocket facing hitter.
  • Glove stays in the center of the body.

4. Maximum knee height

Clayton Kershaw pitching mechanics - maximum knee height
  • Lift leg thigh parallel to ground or higher.
  • No pause at top of leg lift.
  • Stays tall but post leg starts to flex to keep weight back.

5. Stride

Clayton Kershaw pitching mechanics - stride 1
Clayton Kershaw pitching mechanics - stride 2
Clayton Kershaw pitching mechanics - stride 3
  • Hands break thumbs down in center of body as leg starts down.
  • Lead with hip.
  • Lead leg drops down and drifts out along the ground, slightly in front of the lead hip, with side of shoe.
  • Front foot closed.
  • Back foot pushes down and back against the ground and rubber using full bottom foot.
  • Back knee stays over back foot.
  • Throwing arm flexed, fingers on top of the ball.
  • Head stays level.
  • Hips open as foot turns over to land.
  • Hip opening is the signal to get throwing hand up; both elbows come up to shoulders - glove elbow slightly above shoulders, throwing elbow slightly below shoulders.
  • Trunk still closed.

6. Stride foot contact

Clayton Kershaw pitching mechanics - stride foot contact
  • Lands flat footed.
  • Lands front foot closed 1-2 inches across midline.
  • Landing knee flexes 135 degrees.
  • Stride length about 90% of body height.
  • Trunk is closed.
  • Back foot heel comes up as hip comes forward.
  • Weight transferred to front of posting foot.
  • Head stays level and back behind belt buckle — nose over belly button.

7. Arm cocking

Clayton Kershaw pitching mechanics - arm cocking
  • Hip opening is signal to get the throwing hand up into cocking position.
  • Shoulders lined up between home and second base with lead elbow pointing at target ready to start down — glove getting ready to tuck.
  • Head stays back behind belt buckle.
  • Arm is cocked back and elbow is near shoulder height.
  • Throwing hand is cap high.
  • Ball facing 3B for righty, with ball is closer to 3B than elbow. Ball facing 1B for lefty with ball closer to 1B than elbow.
  • Chest is thrust out which brings elbow behind the line of the trunk.
  • Front knee braces up so trunk can rotate and speed up the arm.
  • Lead arm elbow pulls in to accelerate trunk rotation.
  • Trunk starts to turn before head comes forward.

8. Maximum external rotation

Clayton Kershaw pitching mechanics - maximum external rotation
  • Hip and trunk begin rotation over the frnt hip and braced front leg.
  • Trunk squares to the plate.
  • Forearm lays hand back nearly parallel to ground.
  • Throwing elbow just ahead of trunk.

9. Arm acceleration

  • Pitcher focuses on driving the front shoulder down to initiate trunk flexion, which is the last opportunity before ball releas to create more velocity.
  • Trunk powerfully flexes forward pulling backside through.
  • Back foot heel up, back foot toe still in contact with ground.

10. Release

Clayton Kershaw pitching mechanics - ball release
  • Trunk flexes forward.
  • Throwing arm goes to full extension with fingers behind the ball.
  • Elbow inline with shoulders.
  • Head is level and still inlne toward the target.
  • Trunk flexing forward pulls backside away from rubber.
  • Back heel up facing back.
  • Head and trunk move out over the landing knee.
  • Glove pulled in.

11. Arm deceleration

  • Long arc of deceleration.
  • Transfer of forces onto the major muscle groups of the trunk and legs.
  • Throwing hand finishes outside of lead leg.

12. Maximum internal rotation

Clayton Kershaw pitching mechanics - maximum internal rotation
  • Shows back of throwing shoulder to hitter.
  • As lead leg goes to extension, hip comes up over braced front leg; trunk flexes forward to full hip extension.
  • Head stays level as it tracks ball to target.
  • Glove pulled to side.
  • Head finished just outside lead knee.

13. Follow-through

Clayton Kershaw pitching mechanics - follow through
  • Trunk flexes forward to near flat back position.
  • Full body weight supported by braced lead leg.
  • Head and shoulder finish out and over landing foot.
  • Throwing hand finishes down and outside of lead leg shin.
  • Back of shoulder is facing hitter.
  • Pitcher tracks ball to target and readies to field position.

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Youth pitching program
One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not. To get to the next level, preparation matters. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.

If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my proven programs for pitchers of all ages.

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