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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Coaching Baseball Pitchers - The Use of Visual Anchor Points For Curve-Ball Accuracy

Coaching Baseball Pitchers - The Use of Visual Anchor Points For Curve-Ball Accuracy
By Nick Dixon

A normal bullpen for our pitchers is 25 to 45 pitches depending on the time of year, weather conditions, and arm conditioning. We always make sure that our pitchers are in good condition and their arms are well conditioned before we start bullpenning our pitchers. Their arms must be strong before we start working or practicing throwing the curve ball.

I am assuming that everyone knows the 4 basic elements of safely and effectively throwing a curve ball.

1) Proper grip.
2) Proper wrist action.
3) Same arm speed is used as all other pitches.
4) A proper downward shade-pulling arm action that pulls the arm downward giving the ball the desired spin and achieving the proper arm finish.

NOTE: Curve balls are thrown with with the use of a proper grip and wrist action. Young players that have not been shown the proper mechanics will try to use elbow action to throw the curve ball. This is the basis of all arguments against youth-curve-ball-use. Failure to learn the proper and safe techniques for throwing the curve ball pitch can and will result in serious injury to a players arm.

With that being said, I would like to cover how we use 4 different visual anchor points to change the look of our curve balls. Anchor points are simply spots or visual reference points that our pitchers concentrate on and throw to the curve ball break to the desired plane. The ability of a pitcher to throw to 4 different visual anchor points or targets gives the pitcher 4 different break planes for his curve ball.

The anchor points we use are:

1) Batters Hip - This pitcher should break to the middle of the strike zone and is used to get a called strike. Good first pitch. This pitch must have a good downward bite.

2) Umpires Mask - This pitch should break to the outside corner of the plate. This pitch should be thrown as a strike. This pitch must have a good downward bite.

3) Catcher Mask - Depending on where the catcher is set-up, this pitch can finish on or off the plate. We are trying to throw a pitch that breaks off the outside part of the plate. This pitch should be a difficult pitch to hit even if the batter is expecting a curve ball.

4) Catchers Shoulder Away From the Batter - This is a great out pitch. It must be an impossible pitch to hit. The pitch must break at least a foot off the plate.

COACHING POINT: There may be a time when you need to throw or waste a pitch in the dirt. You throw this pitch in hopes that the batter will chase a bad pitch. The anchor point we use for this pitch is the mitt. Another important point is that practice throwing to these points out of the stretch and windup deliveries. When a pitcher is using an anchor point, the pitcher should focus and concentrate on that anchor point through the whole delivery just as if it was the mitt. This system may not work for everybody. I hope that you find this information useful. Good luck until next time. Nick Dixon

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick