Do you have a pitcher who can’t help but leap every time she pitches the ball?
If so, discover two great anti-leaping drills!
Leaping in pitching is nothing new. It’s not that pitchers suddenly started doing it, as they’ve been doing it for quite some time. It’s that umpires have just started cracking down on it so it’s time for pitchers to change. But, while that sounds easy, your pitcher can’t just suddenly change a motion she’s worked on and practiced for up to 10 years to perfect. Especially not when the problem lies in the middle of an extremely fast-moving skill and the pitcher is expected to fix it on the very next pitch! Seriously!
So before we look at how we can fix the Leap let’s first look at the cause because to properly fix something we must understand what’s causing the problem. It’s not the windup or even the delivery that causes the pitcher to leap but instead, it’s the direction of her motion. Instead of striding, releasing and following through forward, too many pitchers stride more UP, release more Up and follow through more UP – so of course their motion is going to go UP, which means it takes them away from the ground (not to mention the strike zone and target).
Correcting the Leap – the first thing a pitcher needs to do is re-direct her power forward, instead of up. Her stride needs to go forward, just like when she throws overhand. Instead of the pitcher lifting her stride knee up which starts her entire direction to go upward, she needs to take her stride forward and out toward the catcher, the strike zone and the plate.
Her release also needs to stay forward instead of the pitcher starting to pull up as she releases so she can finish up near her face. The follow through is not the focus of a pitch – the ball is – and since we want the ball to go out toward the target we need our release to go out. It’s just like throwing overhand where our hand ends up way down by our legs in the follow through but we don’t hurry up and let go so we can end up down there, do we? Of course not since that would hurt the accuracy and speed of our throw – same is true for pitching. Forward is where everything that matters to the pitcher is: the catcher, the strike zone, homeplate, the batter and the umpire, so forward is the main direction the pitcher needs to have during her motion.
Practicing – so how can we help our pitchers change their motion slightly so they will pitch legally and not leap? I suggest the following 2 drills that will really help your pitcher change the direction of her explosion and motion:
- Pitch Down a Baseball Mound – while this sounds nuts she really will be able to pitch underhand from a baseball mound and the action of going downhill will force her movement to go forward instead of up which will really eliminate her leaping. After a few pitches on the mound then have her alternate one mound pitch then one flat ground pitch…
- String – Cut a string about a foot long and have your pitcher place it on the ground, parallel with the pitching rubber, about 6 inches in front of the rubber. Leave the string on the ground and then have your pitcher pitch a ball – hard, just like she would normally pitch. If she’s not leaping then she’ll drag the string forward, but if she leaps, she’ll jump over the string. This will help her see for herself what she does and help her focus on staying forward more.
Remember coaches (and pitchers), it will take some time to change a motion you’ve possibly worked years to perfect, but the change has to be made at some point so now’s as good a point as any!
For more information and help with your pitchers check out the following: