Baseball Pitching Drills

Great baseball pitching is your team's first defense. So it's important your pitcher be their best. But while you may think good pitching involves natural talent, think again! There's no question that a laser lob calls for lots of balance, strength, agility, speed, and accuracy. With the right drills, any pitcher can accomplish that. Effective pitching is a learned art. Understanding the mechanics of pitching from the ground up, and choosing drills that fine-tune both the lower and upper parts of the body are sure to take your pitcher from average to ace!

Lower body baseball pitching drills

It's been said that players pitch with their legs. There are a great deal of lower body mechanics that go into delivering a powerful pitch. According to Dr. John Bagonzi, former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, and author of The Act of Pitching, good mechanics begin with transferring energy from the lower body to the arm, and to the fingers. Here are a few tips to tap your pitching potential.

Balance

The pause and balance drill

Launching a great pitch requires good timing, and lots of control during the leg kick. New pitchers tend to fall forward too soon on follow-through, rather than staying on top of the baseball. This balance drill gets pitchers to practice holding their leg kick before full delivery. It keeps the pitcher in a position to maintain control, rather than rushing the follow-through. Slowing down the leg kick will ultimately help a pitcher to deliver straighter, faster balls, with more power and poise.

How it's done:

With a coach, the pitcher moves through full windup without the baseball. When the pitcher reaches their balance point, they hold the leg position and wait for the coach to check their position. The coach then hands them the ball, and the pitcher continues into follow-through.

Strength and agility

Explosive pitches require leg workouts that build endurance, power, and quick reflexes.

Tips:

  • Drills that combine lifting, jumping, and stretching
  • Leg squats, lunges, curls, extensions, and hip exercises strength, balance and control
  • Plyometric and agility drills
  • Train with medicine balls to further improve balance and build strength

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Upper body baseball pitching drills:

After full wind-up, pulling off a pitch with punch is all up to the arms - from shoulder, to fingertips.

Speed

What pitcher doesn't want to throw a powerful, record-breaking fastball? According to Dr. Bagonzi, a great pitch isn't just about genetic talent; it can be taught. By now we know that velocity begins in windup, followed through with a powerful throw. Good upper body baseball pitching drills improve velocity by increasing arm strength and speed. For that, the legendary pitcher recommends the following:

  • Train with weighted baseballs
  • Practice throwing long-distance
  • Develop a plan for consistent throwing
  • Emphasize the mechanics of proper pitching
  • Practice correct hip rotation

Accuracy

The towel drill

A good strong fast pitch calls for quick hands, a snap of the wrist, and delivering the ball straight out in front of the body. The 'towel drill' covers those bases, while it lengthens the arm for one powerful, spot-on, follow-through.

How it's done:

  • Fold an old towel or rag long ways
  • Weave the towel underneath the pinky and index fingers of the pitching hand so the towel is over the middle and ring fingers
  • Set an empty bucket five to six feet away from the pitcher; the taller the pitcher, the farther away
  • Extend the pitching arm towards the bucket, far enough so only the towel hits the bucket

One knee drill

The goal is to isolate the arm movements involved in delivering a pitch

How it's done:

  • Facing the target, go down on your pitch-side knee
  • Bring pitching and gloved hands up to the center of your body in a 'closed' position
  • Bring your arms up to a T position, gloved hand in front
  • Follow through, bringing pitching shoulder all the way to the knee

The chair drill

A great exercise for developing accuracy by isolating the upper body.

How it's done:

  • Extend the pitching-side leg behind the pitcher, resting the sole of the foot flat on a chair
  • The extended leg should remain strong and stable, both knees flexed
  • Facing the target, the pitcher follows the pitching moves, repeating several times
  • Vary the difficulty of the pitch by moving the target between pitches

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A final word...loosen up before you pitch!

You may already know about the risk of sustaining an overuse injury to the pitching arm, from repeated movements. For that reason, upper body drills shouldn't place excess stress on the shoulders. This is a very simple exercise that gently stretches the rotator cuff, and doesn't require any special equipment. This a great exercise for loosening up the shoulders before practices and games!

The YTWL drill

  • Stand in a comfortable, feet forward position
  • Roll shoulder blades backwards and down, bring arms to a Y position; repeat five times
  • Roll shoulder blades backwards and down, bring arms to a T position; repeat five times
  • Repeat the procedure bringing arms to W, and L positions
  • Don't overextend the arms

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Conclusion

By now, you know that your pitcher is your team's first defense. He or she can achieve their personal best by understanding both the upper and lower body mechanics of pitching, and by doing drills that develop and reinforce balance, strength, agility, speed, and accuracy. Now get out, play ball, and have a safe and successful baseball season!

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