Alec is a young college pitcher and excellent student that we have worked with for several years. He is big, strong and athletic with a lot of potential. Alec has worked extremely hard on his mechanics for as long as we have known him. This set of pictures was taken at a high school game he pitched at the USA Baseball Complex.
View from the Front
Alec has a nice solid leg lift with an athletic bend in the pivot leg. In the third and fourth pictures he is starting to build tilt into the hips and upper body to aid in keeping the weight back as long as possible. In the fourth picture he is well balanced with eyes on the target.
In the first two of these pictures the tilt of the hips and shoulders is obvious. Alec begins with the stride foot over-closed to where you can see his uniform number. The first two pictures also show the nice clean reverse arm swing, but the hand is somewhat on the side of the ball rather than directly on top. Alec gets on top of the ball in the third picture, but has a little bit of a hand/wrist “cock” in the fourth picture. These are little things, but the better the reverse swing and the ideal hand positions are achieved, the easier it is to repeat the movements over and over.
The fourth picture is an excellent example of the desired hip to shoulder separation at stride foot landing. Alec’s lead hip has opened to cause the landing foot to come down but his shoulders are still very closed to the target. The third and fourth pictures show that the throwing elbow is even with the shoulder line, but the elbow is more behind the shoulder line than we would recommend. This is an issue that Alec has worked on improving for a long time but has found it very difficult to eliminate. This is different than the reverse swing going behind the back as discussed earlier in the Throwing Problems segment because Alec has achieved the elbow up and ball above the head position. For Alec, the elbow behind the shoulder line just creates a little different timing issue to deal with.
The first of these pictures shows the upper body has rotated most of the way to the square position where the chest is facing the target. At this point in the upper body rotation the elbow is even with the shoulder line and the arm is in full external rotation.
In the second picture the shoulders are square and the arm is just about at release. In order for Alec to maximize his release velocity he should be at release in the second picture while his upper body is still rotating quickly. He’s very close to the ideal timing, but just a little late getting to full extension.
The third picture shows a nice three-quarter arm slot with the arm in line with the tilted shoulders. From this front view it’s difficult to see exactly how the stride knee is working. We can see the bend in the first two pictures, but can’t really tell if the knee is straightened in the fourth picture. This is the reason you need at least two camera angles to totally analyze a pitcher’s mechanics.
View from the Side
We don’t learn very much new looking from the side at the early part of the windup. However, from the side, in the fourth picture, we can see that the hands break when the stride knee has dropped below horizontal. The hand break could be a little sooner. These pictures give a clearer view of the solid tilt of the hips and upper body as the stride foot moves forward.
From this first picture the hand appears to be only slightly on the side of the ball. The second picture shows how Alec is keeping his weight back as the stride foot moves forward. This view also shows how long the stride is.
These two pictures show that the tilt is maintained all the way to foot strike and the second picture clearly shows the elbow even with the shoulder line and the ball above the head when the stride foot lands.
The first picture shows the desired hip to shoulder separation. In the second picture we can see the arm start into external rotation with the upper body just starting to rotate. At this point the knee of the stride foot is well flexed.
These two pictures show a couple different issues that Alec needs to improve. The first picture shows the arm still in external rotation when the chest is square to the target. He doesn’t get to release in the second picture until after the upper body has stopped rotating. He adds some velocity by bending his upper body forward at release, but as we’ve stated earlier, this isn’t as powerful a technique as rotation.
The other thing to note in the second of these two side view pictures is that the knee straightens at release. The knee bend should continue until after release and after deceleration of the arm so the arm can take a long path to slow down.
These two pictures show the arm decelerates quicker than desired.
So, in summary, these two different camera angles show different aspects of the mechanics that are very important to convey to the pitcher. Once Alec was aware of what these pictures illustrate, he worked to further improve his mechanics.
It’s important to understand that Alec was totally dominant in this high school game that he pitched. But, every level of baseball that you move up the competition gets bigger, faster and more skillful. You need to continue to make improvements every day to stay ahead.