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  • February 24, 2009 - in Pitching

    Pitching is nothing more than being able to throw the ball where you want when you want.  To do that, you must first be able to throw it correctly.  I once heard Greg Maddux (who can argue with what he's accomplished in his storied career) tell the story of his early pitching career.  He claimed that he was in the outfield shagging balls during batting practice one day when he realized that all hitters will get themselves out.  If he would stop trying to throw 95 (which he couldn't) and pitch to the hitter's weakness, then he could win a lot of games.  Since he never really picthed outside of 83-86, I'd say he learned a valuable lesson that day.  Greg Maddux is the best I have ever seen at locating pitches.

    A majority of today's hitters fly open.  That is to say that the hips rotate out before the bat gets through the strike zone.  You beat those hitters by pitching away.  Fastballs, change-ups and breaking balls (if you are old enough) on the outer half of the plate.  When they move up on the plate, which they will, pitch them in.  They'll never be able to get the bat head there.  Problem is, most pitcher's can't throw it where they want every single time they throw a pitch because they lack the basic fundamentals associated with throwing a baseball.  Let's stop putting the guy on the mound that throws the hardest but has very little control and start developing his mechanics.  Nolan Ryan is always asked how to improve one's velocity.  His response is always "learn to throw the ball correctly and improve your mechanics."

    Today's young players use little of the lower half of the body.  Why is that?  It is the strongest part of our body.  We want pitchers to have strong legs and then we never use them.  We teach them to lunge off the mound leaving the arm behind them and then get on them for not being able to locate.  Today's college teams open most practices with basic throwing drills like flip, power, blanace, glide to stride and flash.  Why don't we do that with our younger teams?  They are the ones who REALLY need it.  The answer is usually that there is not enough time.  I would argue that if we took the first couple of practices and took our time teaching them the drills, then we would have better games because we would not be throwing the ball all over the field like we do.  We would have better player pitch games because we would have pitcher's who could throw the ball where they wanted to.  Even more importantly, we would have far fewer arm injuries because we would be throwing the ball with better mechanics.  I would also question wether or not we are actually developing today's young players by having them pitch at nine years of age.  We have a player who struggles getting the ball across the plate, hitter's begin to get frustrated because they can't get a pitch to hit and so they start swinging at bad pitches.  Defensively, players begin to get bored because there is less "action."  In the end, it seems that we are sacrificing the development of our young players for the sake of one guy.  That just doesn't make much sense.

    Let's spend more time teaching kids to throw properly.  Let's get them to throw the ball with the feet moving and try and create better athletes.  When we throw mechanically correct, we develop better arm strength, which can lead to better velocity.  We cut down on the number of arm injuries and give our young players the opportunity to develop.  Click on the following link to get some throwing drills which will help your son (or daughter) become a better thrower.  They will also isolate different parts of our pitching mechanics which will allow you to become a better pitcher.  Remember, we can all become successful pitchers if we are willing to practice regardless of how hard we throw.  http://www.contentedits.com/img.asp?t=2&id=26076

    by Todd C. Buczek 
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