Front foot strike is the single most important moment in the pitching delivery because this is the moment that stride power is converted into hip and shoulder separation and is guided to its pitching location. Therefore perfect placement at front foot strike is necessary to not only support pitch location but to also support high velocity.
The problem with over coaching front foot strike is that all of the power production that must occur before front foot strike is forgotten. This will develop an accurate pitcher but if the pitcher struggles with power issues then he will be a low velocity accurate pitcher with a higher chance of having arm problems. Unfortunately, this is not going to get him to the next level.
The key to coaching front foot strike is to first coach the power stride before you move into front foot strike. If the pitcher has done his job and conquered his power issues and has developed an explosive stride then front foot strike becomes critical in converting this power into torque.
How to Convert Stride Power to Torque at Front Foot Strike?
This understanding of stride power converting to core torque through front foot strike was developed here at TopVelocity.net first. This is the foundation of 3X Pitching. Before 3X Pitching was developed here, no other source had defined why harder throwers use longer faster strides to throw harder. The only source to come close to this discovery was the National Pitching Association in their 2005-2006 Velocity Study where they proved that more hip to shoulder separation creates more throwing velocity. The study acknowledges the importance of the stride power but does not define the conversion of this power into hip to shoulder separation and then into the velocity of the ball.
The Holy Grail to Power Pitching
This description of how power from the stride converts to hip to shoulder separation is the Holy Grail of the power pitcher. The better you are at converting stride power to core torque at front foot strike, the better your velocity and precision, therefore the more dominate you are as a pitcher.
This conversion occurs more efficiently and effectively when triple extension (3X) is achieved before front foot strike. This means the ankle, knee and hip flexor are all fully extended, in an explosive manner, before front foot strike occurs. This not only builds stride power but it also opens the hips to the target before the front foot lands. When the front foot lands it stabilizes and converts the 3X power, using ground reaction forces, back up the landing leg into the front hip. 3X power and stabilization of the front leg at front foot strike creates explosive trunk rotation. If the shoulders stay in-line with the target during the stride then this explosive trunk rotation will move the hips away from the shoulders before the shoulders have time to react and launch. This separation of the hips to shoulders creates torque in the core which multiples the force and launches the shoulders in the same direction towards the target. This process continues to activate and multiple force up the upper kinetic chain, until the ball is released.
How Placement of the Front Foot can Effect Velocity and Precission?
Notice the picture here of Tim Lincecum. He is not landing on a straight line towards the target (see original foot position). This is because for his front leg to stabilize and promote optimal hip rotation at front foot strike, his front foot must land on his center of gravity. If his foot had landed in a straight line towards his target then he would not have established good balance at front foot strike which good balance leads to good stabilization. He would also not have allowed his hips the opportunity to open completely towards the target. The front foot landing on line with his center of gravity is both critical for power conversion and complete hip rotation.
Tim Lincecum is not the only pitcher to do this in his delivery. Notice the other examples on this page of power pitchers landing with their center of gravity not always on a straight line.
* Important Notice *
Just because you land inside the straight line towards the target with your landing leg foot doesn’t mean that you are landing with your center of gravity. The only way to check this is using video analysis and filming the front side of your delivery.
You should only make these adjustments with your front foot strike once you have developed good stride power and distance using the 3X Pitching Velocity program and you have determined your center of gravity at front foot strike. Making these adjustments before developing good stride power and distance and achieving optimal hip to shoulder separation at front foot strike will be putting the cart before the horse and the result may only be accuracy without velocity.