Based on thousands of hours of video analysis there is many common patterns of high velocity pitchers that low velocity pitchers do not have. One of the most overlooked component in the delivery is the synchronization of both feet into front foot strike. Low velocity pitchers tend to open the front foot way before the drive leg foot has extended. This doesn’t mean that synchronizing the opening of the front foot with the drive of the back foot will increase pitching velocity but it will definitely support it!
High Pitching Velocity and Foot Sync
The reason synchronizing the feet before front foot strike is important is because it helps trigger hip rotation. The opening of the front foot will start the rotation of the hips during the stride. If the front foot opens early during the stride then the drive leg will lose stability and the trunk rotation will start early. This will actually limit power production by slowing trunk rotation after front foot strike.
This is why it is important to trigger hip rotation just before front foot strike. Opening the hips just before front foot strike will promote more explosive trunk rotation because the hip to shoulder separation will build core torque accelerating forces up the kinetic chain. It is also critical to understand that the front foot triggers the hip rotation but the back foot is what is driving the power of the hip to trunk rotation. This is why the feet must work together to create early hip rotation just before front foot strike.
Notice the animated clips here of Trevor Bauer and Aroldis Chapman. It is a close up of their feet moving together during the pitching delivery. What you see is the drive leg foot kicking the ankle through to complete triple extension just as the front foot is opening for landing. This synchronization of the feet is critical for power production, a good stride length and ultimately explosive trunk rotation.
How to Synchronize the Feet During the Pitching Delivery?
The key to synchronizing the feet during the stride is in the “Load” position. This is the position where the pitcher is set up for launch, the clip here of Trevor Bauer starts in this position. The force vector (ankle to knee) is in a linear position and the lift leg is following the lead of the front hip. Most pitchers who open up the front foot early or who do not have a good drive leg ankle kick have a poor “Load.” The poor “Load” is mainly the result of a late linear force vector. The earlier the pitcher can line up the force vector into a linear position, the faster the pitcher is moving through the stride and the more distance the pitcher is covering in the stride. All that is left to do at this point is to throw open the front foot as you also fire the drive leg foot to extend just before front foot strike. Here is an animated clip of Trevor Bauer moving from this “Load” position into front foot strike perfectly. Notice how his feet movements come before his hip rotation at front foot strike. There is several drills in the 3X pre and in-season program to train the motor coordination around these components.
It is important to note that if Trevor Bauer would have not aligned his force vector so linear early in his stride or lead so effectively with his front hip then he would have opened his front foot early and reduced his power production and explosive trunk rotation. This would seriously reduce his pitching velocity while also putting more work and stress on his arm.