When I think of the Latin culture, I think of their food and their life style. When I say “Salsa,” I am not talking about food, I am talking about dance. I have had maybe two “Salsa” lessons in my life and it was my wife’s idea. When I think about it, I am so glad I had the experience because it has helped me as a pitcher.
A mixture of up tempo Latin styles of music. The salsa is not an actual style of Latin music; it is a style of dance. One that has become increasingly popular over time. Up beat Latin patterns and beats played together create a salsa style groove.
When you take a lesson or watch it on the hit show “Dancing with the Stars,” you will see that “Salsa” is all about the hips moving the body. Observe the video.
So how can this help you as a pitcher? Well, pitching velocity we know comes from momentum and the proper use of the hips. Up to this point in my articles, I have not talked much about the hips, except for the purpose of “Separation.” Which is the most important component. This is separation in the back hip and the back shoulder. The reason for this is to develop majority torque in the core. Read my article on “How to Develop Top Velocity?” to learn more about “Separation.”
The other purpose of the hips is what Tim Lincecum’s father calls, “Tightening the rubber band.” This means to build maximum torque in the hips, we must tighten them up just before the shoulders fire. This is where “Salsa” comes in. In “Salsa” the dancer kicks his feet with a kind of scissor step. It is like a gymnast on a balance beam. The feet are extended out, but if they were together, the feet would be touching each other. This makes it easier for the dancers body to swivel the hips back and forth; giving the dancer that groovy style of “Salsa.” So apply this to pitching. When your front foot lands make sure it is landing on the balance beam or a little across the body. This way it will allow the hips to close completely and tighten. If the leg lands open and off the balance beam, then it will be harder for the hips to close and it will decrease the hips range of motion.
I recommend that you stand up from the computer now, try out what I am telling you and see for yourself. When your landing foot is NOT landing on the balance beam and it is in an open stance, your hips do not have a lot of freedom or range of motion. Get in this position and try to swivel your hips. Now, if the front leg lands closed perfectly on the balance beam, then this will give your hips all of their potential range of motion and the ability to completely close off. Try this as well and feel how your hips have more range of motion to swivel and it is easier to close them off. In return, this is increasing our velocity because we are building more torque in the core when we can completely tighten our hips closed, after “Separation.”
So this is my theory. Maybe these Latin Pitchers have better hip action because of their Latin culture. Look at these hard throwing Latin Pitcher’s hips and you will see that they have a lot of “Salsa” in their delivery.
This is a video of Felix Hernandez pitching. You will see in his first pitch how closed his landing leg lands and how tight his hips get. Could this be his secret to his 100 MPH fastball? I will leave that up to you to answer.