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Throw Faster by Using a Good "Body Lean" 
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by Gerald Warner, Softball Pitching Instructor
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As a pitching instructor, I always encourage a pitcher to implement every weapon in her arsenal to (1) throw the ball at maximum speed, (2) throw it with accurate placement, and (3) make breaking pitches move better than ever before.  Modifying the start-up movements in the early part of the pitching routine can substantially increase the speed at which a fastball is thrown.


At the start of the pitching sequence when throwing a fastball, a typical "leap-and-drag" pitcher starts a transfer of her weight from her rear leg to her front "push-off" leg to give a strong push against the pitching rubber with her pitching-side foot.   Although often not emphasized by pitching coaches, this forward lean to create a transfer of weight is the start of a series of events…all of which happen in less than half-of-a-second…that determine the ultimate speed and placement of the pitch.

1. The rapidity and completeness of the weight transfer from back leg to front leg directly affects...
2. The speed of the stride leg going forward, which affects...
3. The length of the stride, which affects...
4. The extent of "opening" of the trunk, which affects...
5. The "closing" of the trunk, which affects...
6. The "closing" of the shoulders, which affects...
7. The speed of the final downswing of the arm (the "arm whip"), which affects...
8. The ability to add a strong wrist snap, which ultimately affects...
9. The SPEED and the CONTROL of the pitch!

Therefore, a primary goal in the mechanics of throwing a fastball should be to maximize the weight transfer, which creates the power for the push-off from the pitching rubber.


We always encourage leaping-style pitchers to use their body weight to help with the push-off.   As the weight transfer from back leg to front leg is taking place, let the upper torso begin a "fall" forward…no bending at the waist is necessary…just a forward fall of the erect body to get an "explosive" drive off the pitching rubber. 

Veteran U.S.Olympian Lisa Fernandez aggressively leans
into her push-off to get maximum power from her drive leg.

This feeling of "leaning" with the entire body (again, NOT at the waist) can substantially increase the subconscious need to push harder with the push-off foot and create a greater speed of the stride leg to avoid the consequences of "falling" forward.  The result is a faster and longer stride, correct landing of the stride foot, and a "strong front wall" set up by the stride leg, all of  which result in a harder-thrown fastball.

This "body lean" is always just a slight lean…the best pitchers lean
(without counting a waist bend)
to the 1:30 or 2:00 position.  A good body lean
can help substantially increase the speed of your fastball.


DRILL:  To practice this "body lean" concept, stand in your normal position on the pitching rubber.  Without winding up, keeping your body erect, start a slow "fall" forward.  Don't let your non-pitching leg take the stride until the last possible instant.  Did you feel the need to quickly push-off the rubber so your stride leg could save you from falling?

DRILL:  Stand on the pitching rubber as if you are going to pitch, directly facing your (strong) parent or coach.  With his/her hands on your shoulders, and without bending your body at the waist, gradually start falling forward…don't worry, your partner's hands will stop you from falling.  As you continue to slowly fall, start raising your stride foot until you feel all of your weight pushing against your pitching rubber foot.  This is the pressure you need to push off with in order to have a fast and long stride.  Now, have your partner (that you have been trusting to not drop you on your face) push you back into the upright position



The article above can be downloaded and printed from Microsoft Word

If you have questions or need more information
E-mail us,
  or call Pitching Instructor Gerald Warner in Colorado at (720) 200-4575




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