Archive for the Pitching Mechanics Category

Countdown #1: Five Days to go…

Posted in Personal/Family, Pitching Mechanics, Training/Workouts on April 24, 2010 by tccsp

In five days, I will attend a tryout with the St. Paul Saints. On Thursday, April 29th, I will arrive at Midway Stadium to register around 8am–with the tryout beginning at 9am. I have little idea what to expect. I will bring my glove, my cleats, and will wear a pair of old baseball pants. I won’t bring a bat, since I can’t hit and the Saints’ league uses the DH rule (phew). My friend Grant Dawson has agreed to come, and will capture some of the 32-year old action on video.
Contrary to what I expected, the last week in Birmingham has been a real boon to my baseball playing. Not only did my family and I take a inspiring pilgrimmage to Rickwood Field in Birmingham (the oldest field in the country), but I exercised quite a bit and had two promising bullpen sessions with a 14-year old Birmingham catcher.
In the two sessions, I had decent command of my pitches (I throw a fastball, a curve, and forkball, and am working on a slider), but what was most encouraging was my velocity. We had no gun, but things just felt fast. And the catcher–who has caught for 3-4 minor league pitchers over the last 8 months–told me I throw as hard as a couple of them. He also said my fastball tails “like a righty’s cutter”, and my curve and fork are “pretty nasty”. We both agreed that my command has something to be desired, but my fastball location is improving. While I may be putting too much stock in the evaluation of a 14-year old, I do feel more confident going into the home stretch.
A few of you may have noticed that I changed text on the right [see “The Challenge”] from “The Major League Scouting Bureau’s tryout in June” to “the St. Paul Saints open tryout on April 29, 2010”.
This is not a complete copout–only a mild dose of reality.
I will keep working out for the June tryout if one of three things happen at the Saints tryout: 1) I make the team or 2) they tell me I’m good enough to make the team, but a) need a little work or b) they aren’t looking for another lefty pitcher (which is a possibility if you look at their published roster) or 3) I feel I still could have a shot at the June tryouts, even if the Saints tryout doesn’t go well.
If none of these three things happen, I will return to my softball team, coaching youth baseball, and maybe, just maybe, will try and pitch a few games for a men’s team, just to make some good use out of having my arm back in shape again.
By the way–in the next few days, I hope to post some funny video of my son Charlie. He seems to naturally throw righthanded, but he has watched his southpaw daddy throw so much that he is doggedly committed to throwing with lefthanded mechanics. He’s certainly mechanically confused!

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Mechanics Posted by Monday–Spread the Word

Posted in Pitching Mechanics on January 28, 2010 by tccsp

This baseball experiment of mine is premised on the belief that velocity is mostly tied to excellent throwing mechanics, which I never really worked on when I was a baseball player.

As I mentioned in my last post, this Saturday I will be having my mechanics videotaped (thanks to Grant) and my velocity checked( thanks to a Jugs radar gun I’m borrowing…and again, to Grant). On the velocity side, I’m hoping to at least top 80 MPH at this point, and am hopeful that I might get back up to 84.

No matter the outcome of the velocity check, though, I know that my mechanics are a work in progress. So when I post video of my mechanics–I’ll be looking for feedback. I already have a few baseball minds planning on taking a look at the video and analyzing my mechanics in the comments section, but I would certainly invite any and all feedback.

If you know a retired professional pitcher or any baseball coaches, please forward the link of the video on to them. The only type of feedback I’d prefer not getting is of the naysayer variety, comments like “you throw like a girl”, and “you throw like someone who hasn’t pitched in eleven years” and “go back to playing softball.” I know these will be on the tips of all of your tongues. But please do restrain yourselves… for my sake.

Nolan Ryan’s pitching tips

Posted in Pitching Mechanics on December 28, 2009 by tccsp

Recently, I read a section from “Nolan Ryan’s Pitching Bible” (published in 1991), and he had the following 8 mechanical tips. I think No. 6 is a good one to keep in mind even as I seek to keep my weight back and generate more power. He encourages a “tall and fall” approach as opposed to a “dip and drive” approach, which can result in arm injuries.

These are helpful guidelines for pitching mechanics. They are the mechanics that I try to focus on in my training.

1-keep head over pivot foot throughout entire delivery

2-Don’t start forward momentum toward home plate until your lift leg reaches its apex

3-Lift-don’t kick-your leg up to its maximum height

4-Hold your hands at the center of gravity—from belly button to upper chest level

5-Maintain the same upper-body posture you achieve in the balance phase of the delivery

6-Always adhere to the “tall and fall” (taking a controlled fall toward home plate in the tall posture you achieved at balance) instead of “dip and drive” (pushing off the rubber as you reach your balance, dipping down, and then releasing the baseball).

7-As you begin to move toward home plate, make sure your entire front side—foot, hip, elbow, knee, and glove—is aligned with home plate. This is what is known as a closed, compact delivery. Hips must stay directional (toward home plate) until the landing leg hits; all hip rotation happens after this point.

8-Land with your front side directional but your landing foot “closed off”—a left-hander’s left big toe should point slightly toward the third-base side of home plate; a left-hander’s right big toe should point slightly toward the first-base side of home plate—blocking off your forward movement. This transfers your forward momentum up through the body and into the arm at your release point, and ultimately ensures a less stressful deceleration of the arm.

Mr. October – a paltry first showing

Posted in Pitching Mechanics, Training/Workouts on December 28, 2009 by tccsp

In October, I pitched in two games for a men’s league. My command was terrible at worst, and erratic at best. I was falling behind batters left and right–relying on my fastball exclusively, since I couldn’t get ahead of anybody.

The first game, I pitched two innings. In the first inning, I struck out two guys, walked one, beaned one, and gave up two runs. Nerves, I thought. The second inning, I was even more wild and four or five more runs scored.

The second game wasn’t much better. I pitched five innings and felt good at times–but I was still very wild. Here is a breakdown of what I recall my pitching lines looking like.

…………….Inn….H…..R….ER….BB…..K….HB
Game 1……2…..2…..6…..4…….4…..5…..1
Game 2……5…..5…..9…..6…..10…..9…..0

I have to admit that after the second game, I was ready to throw in the towel. Most of these guys were just playing for fun, and I fit right in–a regular old joe just throwing meatballs. The only thing that was encouraging was the strikeouts (14 in 7 innings), and my teammates telling me that I had “the best stuff” of all the pitchers, and that “you throw harder than anyone in this league”. There was still a small kernal of talent, apparently. It was just hidden underneath years of disuse.

I have a long way to go, and lots of work to do. We’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping to be able to improve command through regular throwing–possibly in my basement, though I only have about 25 feet to work with.