The drill that is discussed below incorporates the majority of the concepts that are described in the different sections of this You Can Throw Harder web site. The drill on the surface is pretty simple and we will go in detail as to how each part is executed to achieve the desired result.
The goal of the drill is to create an effortless whip of the arm by engaging the hips and core and finishing with the shoulders. If proper early layoff is achieved in the shoulder and the weight of the baseball is felt in the pitchers hand on each throw, then a powerful transfer of energy can be created safely. This drill should be executed at a moderate pace to gain the feel of all the moving parts in sequence, so the athlete can form muscle memory which will allow him to have repeatability on the mound.
Start of the Drill
As you can see in this picture, the pitcher starts facing the target with hips and shoulders level, with the feet outside the shoulders and the glove about chin high. Weight is equally balanced on the balls of both feet with knees slightly bent to achieve an athletic position.
The pitcher begins the drill by separating the hands and turning the shoulders and hips backward as he loads weight onto the right foot (RHP). This teaches early separation of the hands to emphasize getting the reverse arm swing going quickly. It also teaches a short reverse arm swing to help get the ball above the head early. The reverse arm swing is relaxed and the ball doesn’t go below the waist. The front hip and front shoulder are tilted upward.
Weight Loading and Tilt
The shoulders and hips continue to rotate backward with a goal of getting both the lead shoulder and the lead hip pointed above the target with a good torso tilt. We are trying to get the majority of the pitcher’s weight on the right leg (RHP) and specifically the feel of “energy” just above the inside of the right knee (again RHP). At the point where the lead shoulder and the lead hip are pointed above the target, the throwing elbow should be even or above the shoulder line and the baseball should be above the head. The lead elbow should point above the target.
Early Layoff and “Spring” Loading
The actual throwing action starts by pulling the lead hip backward (opening), but the shoulders do not rotate as the lead hip opens. As the lead hip rotates against the closed upper body, the throwing arm begins to externally rotate (lay off) in the shoulder socket. This is the beginning of the loading of the shoulder spring. At the same time, as the lead hip rotates the shoulders are tilted but remain aimed above the target, the pitcher builds torque in the torso (stretches the shirt).
Early Full External Rotation as Shoulders Open
The hips rotate open against the closed shoulders and a point is reached where the lead shoulder starts to open due to the torque in the torso. As the shoulders begin to open we want the pitcher to be active with the lead elbow to begin to pull the shoulders out of the tilted position. Ideally we want to be in full external rotation of the arm in the shoulder socket before the shoulders have rotated very far forward.
Matching Arm Speed with Shoulder Speed
The shoulders rotate rapidly and the spine is tilted toward the left hand batter’s box (RHP again). This spine angle tilt creates the ideal 3/4 slot we want for maximum velocity and control. The lead elbow pulling backward and down helps speed the shoulders open and helps pull the spine into the tilted position that is desired. At the point where the shoulders are square to the target and rotating at the maximum speed, the arm achieves full extension and the ball is released. The combination of maximum shoulder speed and maximum arm speed achieve maximum ball speed.
As stated at the start, this is a simple drill on the surface, but if done correctly the drill incorporates many of the keys to throwing hard.
- Early separation of the hands and a short, loose reverse arm swing.
- Full rotation of the hips and shoulders with torso tilt and ball above the head when the weight is back.
- Early beginning to external rotation when the lead hip begins to open against closed shoulders.
- Full external rotation when the shoulders are just beginning to open.
- The torso spring unwinds, pulling the lead shoulder open and the shoulder spring unwinds aided by pulling the lead elbow back and down.
- With ideal timing, the arm is at full 3/4 extension and the ball is released when the shoulders are square. Maximum velocity occurs when the arm is at full speed and shoulders are at full speed.