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Monday, September 14, 2009

Pitching Mechanics - Maintain Proper Throwing Mechanics With Your Pick Off Moves

By Dan Gazaway

Learning different pick-off moves to all of the bases is important to your success as a pitcher. It boosts your confidence at a young age, so you can focus more on the batter as opposed to worrying about what you don't know as a pitcher. Knowledge about your pick off moves will give you that confidence. However, this isn't an article about how to pick anybody off, how to catch a runner stealing or even getting out of a pickle. It is information about maintaining proper throwing technique while you keep the runner close to the bag.

I will share a few pitching mechanic tips before I talk about proper throwing technique to the bases.

Here are some basic pointers you need to know when you throw the baseball. First and foremost, when you throw the ball it is imperative that all of your energy is going toward your target. If you are on the mound and you want to throw to the catcher, all of your momentum better be going toward the catcher or you run the risk of not only making a bad throw; but putting undue stress on your throwing arm. So, maintaining your balance ensuring that your head is going in the direction of the throw is the first step.
Staying closed is another important aspect of throwing the baseball. You want to ensure that your feet, hips and shoulders remain in a closed posture all the way to foot strike.

Another mechanical adjustment many pitchers need to make is keeping "equal and opposite" arms. Equal and Opposite was a term coined, I believe by Tom House. It means that your glove arm is a mirror image of what your throwing arm is doing. It is a form of maintaining balance and posture throughout your delivery. You can have a difficult time throwing strikes or hitting your target if you don't learn this strategy.

Now, moving on to proper throwing mechanics to the bases:

While your intent is to hold the runner on the base, it is imperative when making your throw to any base that you have good throwing mechanics. If not, you risk an overthrow which is giving the runner a free base or two.

Many right handed pitchers have the tendency to open up when they throw to first. Left handed pitchers tend to open up when they throw the ball to third base during a pick off. Staying closed while keeping a runner close to the bag is something that takes a lot of practice. Most pitchers have a difficult time maintaining their throwing mechanics when they throw to second base because most mounds, particularly at the little league level, don't have much of a slope. When you make the throw to second, it's like taking a step down a steep stair; you can lose your balance very easily.

Learn correct pitching mechanics first and then use them when you do your practice drills for your pick offs.

Dan Gazaway is the author of two books on pitching mechanics and pitching workouts. Coach Gazaway has also written many articles on proper pitching grips, technique, nutrition and many other aspects of throwing the baseball. He is owner and founder of The Pitching Academy in Utah.

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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