A good left handed pick off move to first is essential for holding runners on, and for getting an easy out. It is much easier for lefties to pick over to first base than it is for right-handed pitchers. There are several left handed moves that be used to pick runners off.
Some of the best lefty pick off moves can be seen by professional pitchers like Andy Pettitte, Madison Bumgarner, Barry Zito, and Cole Hamels.
There are some rules that every left handed pitcher know regarding their pick off. If you decide to use the traditional leg lift pick, then you need to know that the lift leg can never land past 45 degree. The 45 degree angle begins at the left corner of the pitching rubber.
Also, if your lift leg foot cross your drive leg, then you have to delivery the pitch. Aside from these two things, the only other way to be called for a balk is if you decide to pick too late, and end up twitching your body or hands in some way.
2 types of left handed pick off moves to first
There are two techniques that left handed pitchers can use to pick off.
- Quick step or jab step pick
- Leg lift pick
The first is what I have personally labeled as the quick step or jab step pick. With this move you will come set, then quickly jab your left foot behind the rubber and throw to first. You don't have to throw to first on this move. Lefties should utilize this move sparingly because it can put a significant amount of stress on the arm.
The most traditional and practiced left handed pick off move to first is the leg lift pick. A LHP will come set, look over at the runner, lift and drop the leg, but instead of going home, the pitcher will step at a 45 degree angle towards first base. Pitchers who have perfected this move like Andy Pettitte, know how to increase the angle of their step without being called for a balk.
One of the best techniques for tricking the umpires is to walk off the mound immediately following the foot strike of your pick off. Check out this video of Cole Hamels to see what an excellent left handed pick off move looks like.
Your pick off move might not be as good as Hamels, but with practice you can develop one that will make runners take an extra step back to first, and may even get some easy outs. The leg lift pick takes a considerate amount of practice, but once you perfect it, you will have increased your pitching game tenfold.
Keep working hard. No off days. No excuses.
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