There is no better way to increase pitching velocity than with a simple adjustment in your first move. Your first movement begins with your leg lift. There are some major misconceptions about the purpose of your leg lift that need to be addressed before we can make the simple pitching velocity first move adjustments.
Let’s first get some footage of your pitching. Shoot some video of a few pitches of you pitching so we can analyze your first move in increasing pitching velocity. Make sure that this footage is shooting from a side perspective, chest facing the camera like Kershaw here. Once you get your footage onto a computer, you then need to find a video player that will give you the ability to move frame by frame, so we can analyze each frame.
Misconceptions of the Pitchers Leg Lift
Conventional wisdom coaches the pitcher to come to a Balance Point during the leg lift. If you analyze videos of hard throwers you will find that the majority of them never come to a static balanced position at leg lift. They start moving forward during the lifting of the leg which puts their head and front hip inside their drive leg when their leg lift is at its peak.
Another major misconception about the leg lift is that the leg lift is strictly used to lead the delivery. This means the pitcher must have an aggressive leg lift and then must continue to use the leg lift to drive the stride into the front foot strike. This will create a dead drive leg and prevent optimal hip-to-shoulder separation. If you have spent more than ten minutes on this site, you will learn that the key to velocity is in the drive leg using a triple extension (3X). This aggressive leg lift approach will also force the pitcher to open his front hip early in the delivery which is another reason for decreasing hip-to-shoulder separation and power production.
The Importance of the Pitchers First Move
These major misconceptions to the pitcher’s leg lift are so critical to overall velocity because they have a bigger effect on the delivery than any other component. The reason is that this is the first move of the pitching delivery. The reason the first move is so important is that every other move is a reaction to this first move.
The pitching delivery is a sequenced chain of movements that move through the muscular and skeletal system that starts from ground reaction forces and moves up the body into the ball at release. This means the biggest impact on the movement chain comes in the beginning and not at the end. Just like any other chain reaction in the physical world the beginning sets the rest of the movements into motion. For example; think of multiple car accidents like in the picture here. The first car hits the second car which then flies into the next one and so on until you have no cars left to hit or the energy runs out. If the first car did not hit the second car then the chain reaction never would have occurred. Also, the speed of the first car will determine the severity of the entire accident. This is no different from pitching mechanics. This is a simple analogy to illustrate why the first move in the pitching delivery is so critical and can have such a major impact on your overall velocity.
How Adjusting Your First Move Can Increase Pitching Velocity
The most effective way to start building momentum at the beginning of your leg lift is to establish your forward movement before your rotational movements. This is ultimately the 3X approach to pitching velocity. What this means is that if your forward or linear power movements are going to create your rotational movements or torque then you must start your first move with a linear or forward movement.
The best example of this first move is in the video clip here of Kershaw. Notice when he lifts his leg, it moves up and then his front hip starts moving forward which in return pulls his lift leg back towards his drive leg, closing off his hips. The 3X approach teaches us that to enhance power through your entire stride, you must keep your front side closed to the target until just before the front foot strike. The point of this article is that we must close off the hips during the leg lift as a reaction to a forward movement and not first as a rotational movement of the hips.
What this first move adjustment will do is allow the hips to lead and force the lifted leg to drag or follow the hips. If the first movement begins with a basic rotational leg lift to a balanced position then the lifted leg could easily dominate the stride and fly open early, killing momentum and power production.
The best way to discover if your first move is more rotational or linear is to slow down your pitching delivery using your pitching video. If you see your leg lift lifting back towards the drive leg before you start your hips towards the target then this is a rotational leg lift. The adjustment you need to make is like Kershaw here, first lift your leg straight up and before it reaches its peak, start taking your front hip towards the target. This movement should then rotate your lift leg back towards your drive leg and put you in a better position to build a power focused stride.