The perspective of throw baseball vs pull baseball came from hitting. The legendary hitter Ted Williams once said he never swung the bat and MLB MVP Josh Donaldson says he doesn’t think with his hands which he calls an emergency swing. This changes the game when it comes to the pitching and hitting mechanics of baseball.
Definition of throwing: the act of throwing; propelling something with a rapid movement of the arm and wrist; “the catcher made a good throw to second base”
Definition of pulling: the act of pulling; applying force to move something toward or with you; “the pull up the hill had him breathing harder”
In this article, I will help prove to you that pitching like hitting is more a pull than a throw.
Do you Throw Baseball or Pull the Baseball?
Yes, it is correct to state that the definition of throw baseball is the more conventional answer but as someone who played professional baseball, when I was pitching my hardest, it felt more like a pull. The definition of pulling uses the word force and the illustration of breathing harder. This is my experience of power pitching. These two definitions best describe the difference between average velocity and top velocity. Look at one of my favorite pitchers Felix Hernandez and you will see it looks more like he is pulling than throwing as the definition states as throwing with the arm and wrist.
The key point of the “Pull Perspective” is the amount of weight you are pulling. The more the better. If you are pulling a lot of weight you will not be doing this with just the arm. Your body will need to recruit the core and legs to handle the bulk of the work load. Therefore your hips will need to drive towards the plate first, while holding the throwing arm back with the shoulder, until your core and legs have given you all they got. Then the back shoulder will fire through and release the ball. This picture of Greg Maddux illustrates holding the shoulder back while the hips drive to the target. This component is called “Separation.”
The best way to implement this “Pull Perspective” into your own delivery is by visualizing that you are not holding onto the ball but instead a towel or resistance tubing. You could actually do this. I have a few drills in the 3X Pitching Velocity Program that perform this action. The towel or tubing is connected to a sled or a person standing towards second base. You can also visualize a harness around your hips with tubing secured towards second base. Now, perform your delivery following each of the 3X Mechanics.
In the picture of Felix Hernandez above and Tim Lincecum below, this is where you want to finish the drill. This position is the point of the drill. By visualizing the pull you should find this position more naturally than if you where just throwing the ball like usual. If you notice his arm is way behind his head, back arched and hips under his belly with landing leg supporting all the weight. The upper body is flexed and ready to release the energy or power into the ball.
Why You Must Learn to Pull and Not Throw Baseball
The reason for implementing the “Pull Perspective” is to prevent the arm from leading the body. If you find that your arm is drifting in front of your chest before your shoulders have committed to the plate then you are not recruiting your core and legs to handle the work load and generate top velocity. This is common in young pitchers. This is what most coaches call throwing with all your arm.
The “Pull Perspective” is actually what it states, it is only a perspective. A way of looking at the act of pitching differently. It is important that you look at pitching differently because conventional thinking continues to fail us as pitchers. This is why a microscopic amount of pitchers make it to Major League Baseball. So this perspective is my little gift to you.