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Teaching Front Foot Strike
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propitchinginstitute

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August 22, 2011 – 10:00 pm
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Brent,

 

What do you do to keep your pitching Student athletically stacked during their single leg phase?

 

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Brent Pourciau USAW Certified
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August 22, 2011 – 10:26 pm
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Can you explain what you mean by “athletically stacked during their single leg phase?”

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propitchinginstitute

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August 25, 2011 – 7:46 pm
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Brent,

 

All effective athletic events build upon an athletic position where the athlete keeps their weight centered within their Body.  Their even weight distribution allows them to move more efficiently and with less effort.  I call this position an “athletic stack”.

 

By staying athletically stacked during their single leg phase (when standing on one leg), Pitchers have a much better chance of landing an athletically stacked at Foot Plant.  An athletically stacked posture at Foot Plant gives the Pitcher a much better chance for their Throwing Hand to become an extension of their Hips.

 

Do you teach Pitchers to remain athletically stacked during their single leg phase? 

 

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Brent Pourciau USAW Certified
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August 26, 2011 – 12:13 am
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I coach the single leg phase or the leg lift similar to the start position for a sprinter. Like you say this is an athletic position but I focus on making sure that the pitcher is in a good position to start building speed or momentum. If the stride phase is the pitchers opportunity to build power then in the leg lift the pitcher must be in position to effectively build that power. This means that the pitcher must rotate the hips and shoulders closed to the target by tucking the knee back towards the drive leg while the front hip push out towards the target. This will rotate the hips closed and at the same time it will start the movement towards the target. The reason the pitcher must close the hips and shoulders towards the target is because when the hips or shoulders open during the delivery then power is no longer being generated effectively. This is why it is important that the pitcher lead with the front hip for as long as possible during the stride phase to prevent the front leg and hip from opening towards the target early in the stride. The shoulders must remain closed even after front foot strike to allow the transfer of power through the upper kinetic chain.

I also believe that inches in mechanical adjustments during the leg lift amount to feet at the end. This means you can have a bigger impact on your mechanics earlier in the delivery than at the end.

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propitchinginstitute

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August 27, 2011 – 11:20 am
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Brent,

Velocity is easy to measure.  You put a gun out and tell the Pitcher his speed.  No doubt, velocity gets you noticed, but true pitching success comes from a combination to consistent Throwing Arm speed and command. 

I ask my Pitchers to measure my ability to get them to throw through their target without their target moving more often than they ever had in the past.  When I fail to do this for them, I ask my Pitcher to fire me and request a full money back guarantee.  As a by-product of my program, Institute Pitchers dramatically enhance their velocity, but I refuse their velocity increase to come at the expense of their command.

Allow me to make a simple analogy …

Today's Professional Golfers begin with an athletically stack posture (with their Head vertically aligned with their Bellybutton) and synchronize their Arm movement to automatically store energy in their Lower Body.  They complete their swing by instantly moving this energy from their Hips up their vertical Trunk and into their club head.  Their club head becomes an extension of their Hips and comes through their hitting zone at a consistent angle and with maximum speed.

The difference between a Golfer and a Pitcher finds a Pitcher challenged with how they manage their athletic stack during their single leg phase.  At Foot Plant, however, a Pitcher's Body works remarkably similar to a Golfer. 
– Today's World-class Pitcher begins in an athletically stack posture, synchronizes their Arm/Leg movements to automatically store energy in their Lower Body and, in the process, maintains their athletic stack throughout their single leg phase.  They complete their motion by landing in an athletically stacked position which allows them to instantly move this energy from their Hips up their vertical Trunk and into their Throwing Hand.  Their Throwing Hand becomes an extension of their hips and comes through a remarkably consistently tiny release point with maximum Throwing Arm speed.

A forward momentum approach in Pitching reminds me of Adam Sandler hitting a golf ball in “Happy Gilmore”.  “Happy Gilmore” builds lots of forward momentum, he thinks he creates more energy in his club head by running forward and then he hits the hell out of the ball.  A real life “Happy Gilmore”, unlike in the movie, would struggle to create a consistent club head angle and wouldn't know where the ball is going. 

When any Pitcher comes into my program with a “Happy Gilmore” motion, I instantly eliminate their forward momentum to immediately shrink their release window.  The result turns out to be both better velocity and much improved command with less effort.  Here are the biomechanical conflicts “Happy Gilmore” Pitchers need to overcome …

A “Happy Gilmore” will land their Front Foot closed to their target. 
– Their Front Foot position physically blocks their Hips from a full rotation and prevents all their Lower Body energy from moving into their Throwing Hand.  The moment when their Hips stop driving their Throwing Hand becomes the instant their Throwing Hand begins to work independently and their release window expands.  Their target area expands to 7 times the size of their release window. 

A “Happy Gilmore” will lose their athletic stack … especially during their single leg phase. 
– Their Trunk tilts back.  At Foot Plant, the Pitcher uses their Hips to adjust their Trunk into a vertical position and then delivers the pitch.  Their Hip adjustment redirects energy away from the Pitcher's Throwing Hand.  Again, the Throwing Hand working by itself enlarges the Pitcher's release window and compromises their command.

Consistent with your thoughts … an athletically stack Starting Position becomes the first thing I teach a new Institute Pitcher.  Once a Pitcher masters their stacked Starting Position, a Pitcher needs only 2 other movements to complete their motion. 

Sounds too simple, but your “eyeball test” will clearly show the Pitcher leading with their Front Hip (perhaps you can quantify exactly what this means?) until an instant prior to the their Foot Plant, their Shoulders remaining closed until after their Foot Plant and their ideal “Foot Strike Sequence” that maximizes velocity and command.

Do you have any other measurements in your program besides velocity?

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Brent Pourciau USAW Certified
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August 27, 2011 – 4:02 pm
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Yes, I measure hip to shoulder separation at front foot strike. I agree with the NPA that 80% of velocity comes from the pitchers ability to separate their hips from shoulders at front foot strike. I also believe that harder throwers are able to develop more separation at front foot strike. Another measurement I use is a pitchers ratio of stride length to stride speed. This will determine the amount of power or energy the pitcher potentially can store and transfer into torque during hip to shoulder separation at front foot strike.

I would not refer to my approach as anything like “Happy Gilmore.” To be fair, a “Happy Gilmore” delivery is more like a Cricket Bowler or a Javelin thrower or an outfielder using a crow hop, which is very different from the pitching delivery. My approach believes that power or energy must be developed in the delivery before it can be stored in the body and transferred into the ball. I believe this energy is developed, using ground reaction forces, through the drive leg, during the stride phase.

I believe we have very similar approaches at front foot strike but I am confused on your understanding of where the pitchers energy comes from. You talk about energy and the storing of that energy here in your quote below when defining the world-class pitcher, but where do you believe that energy is coming from in the pitching delivery?

Today’s World-class Pitcher begins in an athletically stack posture, synchronizes their Arm/Leg movements to automatically store energy in their Lower Body and, in the process, maintains their athletic stack throughout their single leg phase.  They complete their motion by landing in an athletically stacked position which allows them to instantly move this energy from their Hips up their vertical Trunk and into their Throwing Hand.  Their Throwing Hand becomes an extension of their hips and comes through a remarkably consistently tiny release point with maximum Throwing Arm speed.

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August 28, 2011 – 12:08 pm
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Brent,

Pitchers get their energy from what you call their “separation”.  I teach your “separation” to my Students as a “sequence”.  In fact, I put my Student's Body in such a position that the only way back to a relaxed posture becomes Throwing the baseball through a tiny release window.

I've worked with a lot of Professional Pitchers who possess tremendous velocity, but, until they found the Institute, their careers were stuck in the Minors.  Why?  … because they had velocity, but did not have the command needed to dominate Hitters at the highest levels.

Before I complete my comment and so I don't misrepresent your program, is it a fact you teach a Foot Strike sequence in this order?

A Hip Pivot then a Collar pivot and then a Shoulder pivot.

and … Do you teach a Scapula Load as an action or a reaction?

Thanks, in advance, for getting me this information.

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August 28, 2011 – 1:29 pm
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I understand how teaching a professional pitcher, who already has the ability to produce power that converts to 90+ velocity, a more efficient sequencing of the rotational pivots at front foot strike, to help the pitcher increase precision and consistencies in velocity but what can you do for the majority of pitchers who have poor power production and velocity issues?

In my book, “separation” is not where energy is created. It is where energy is converted. Energy ultimately comes from the athletes muscular system interacting with the ground. Just like in a car engine, the power comes from the combustion of the fuel and not the torque from the drive shaft. In pitching, “Separation” and “Scap Loading” are all reactions to this force production. This means before these reactions can occur in the delivery, force production is necessary to generate the energy.

There are two ways to produce force into front foot strike where the conversion takes place. One is either falling from leg lift into front foot strike, using only your bodies weight and gravity or driving, launching, jumping into front foot strike which enhances that force or energy through using your speed and strength or muscular power production. Which type of force production do you teach?

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