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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Youth Baseball Digest - Good Pitcher Sometimes Can Not Throw a Strike - 10 Things to Check First

By Nick Dixon

If you have a young baseball pitcher that at times looks like a Josh Beckett or Randy Smith and other times he struggles to throw two strikes in a row, what can cause of his control problems? There are 10 key elements of his delivery that should always be checked first. Those key elements are outlined in this article.

There are 10 key elements of his delivery that should always be checked first. Those key elements are outlined below.

The 10 most common causes of control problem in Little League Pitchers are:

1. Pitcher is Not Concentrating on The Target. The pitcher does not keep his eyes locked in on the target from the start to the finish of his delivery. Many young pitchers when get half through their delivery they look away. They take their eyes off the mitt. They must keep their eyes focused on the target at all times during the delivery.
2. Bad Stride Foot Angle - The pitcher is not steeping in the direction of the target. The stride foot landing must be close to an imaginary straight line from the middle of the pitching rubber to the middle of home plate. If the pitcher steps too far to either side of this imaginary line, there will be control problems. The stride foot should land no more than an inch or two off that line to either side. It is best for some part of the stride foot to land directly on that line.
3. Bad Stride Foot Landing - The stride foot should land flat. Many times young pitchers will land on their heel. This can and will cause control problems.
4. Stride Leg Does Not Flex or Bend - Many young pitchers lock the stride leg. This locking action makes the body "pole vault" upward upon the landing of the front foot. The stride leg must bend slightly to allow the pitcher to drive and snap the hips.
5. Dragging the Back toe - The back side toe should be lifted up and out of an imaginary bucket. If a pitcher sometimes drags the back too when throwing the fastball, his control will be inconsistent. Sometimes a pitcher will intentionally drag the back toe when throwing off-speed pitches. That is acceptable so long as the pitcher is conscientious of the action.
6. Inconsistent Release Point - The pitcher is not consistent with his throwing arm extension toward the plate or his release point. To have consistent control, the pitcher must release every fastball in the same release spot. He must release very breaking ball at the same release point. It requires a lot of pitching practice to master the muscle memory that allows these release points to be consistent.
7. Not Finishing Low Enough - The pitcher does not bend at the waist. The pitcher must bend, get low, and drive through the pitch delivery. Trying to pitch while standing more upright is going to cause problems and a lack of control.
8. The Finish and Following Through are Poor - Pitch quality suffers when a pitcher does not finish properly or execute a smooth proper follow through. The pitcher's throwing arm should finish with the elbow below his off side knee. The pitcher's chin must finish down and the head should be in front of the stride toe. The head should finish lower than the waist with the back leg foot lifting above the pitcher's entire body.
9. The Trunk rotates too early - Many young pitchers open the front shoulder prematurely or rotate the truck of the body too early. The shoulder should stay closed until the weight is shifted onto the stride foot. The torso rotation should be delayed until at least 60 to 70% of the pitcher's stride is completed.
10. The grip is inconsistent - The pitcher must practice pitching enough to get a consistent feel for each pitch grip. The pitcher should keep the fastball gripped as far out in the fingers as possible. Pitchers that sometimes grip the ball wrong or change their grip without knowing it will definitely have problems throwing pitches consistently and hitting their sports.

I know that some of these keys were elementary, but sometimes it is the simplest thing that throws the most advanced pitcher we have off his game. I would always check these 10 keys to see if I could diagnose the problem and correct it as soon as possible.

I hope that you found this article to be informative and interesting. wish your team good luck in the coming season. Have a great day, Nick.

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Nick Dixon is the President and founder of Nedco Sports, a sports training company established in 1999. Dixon is also an active and full time high school baseball coach with over 25 years experience. Coach Dixon is better known as the inventor of the BatAction Hitting Machine, the SKLZ Derek Jeter Hurricane Hitting Machine, the SKLZ Target Trainer, the SKLZ Derek Jeter ZipnHit Pro, and the SKLZ Strikeback Trainer. Dixon is also a contributing writer for BaseballCoachingDigest, the Youth Baseball Digest, the Baseball Parent Guide, the Baseball 2Day Coaches Journal, and Blog4Coaches.

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