Let pitchers be unique
Richard Todd From city sandlots to early non-player involvement with an MLB franchise, Richard has pursued a life-long love of baseball. An active volunteer coach for 25 years now, and a continuing student of the game, he founded WebBall in 1996 to give his own team an internet resource for tips and drills. The growth and recognition since continues to astound him. What began as a hobby was turned, of necessity, into a business in 1999 to cover the costs, and incorporated in 2002 to manage the enterprise. Despite business responsibilities, and sometime duties in league administration and coaching conferences, Richard is still happiest when working on field with players and in conversation with fellow coaches. Send an 'Ask the Coach' email to WebBall and it's most likely Richard who will answer. (Click to close.)
I watched a ballgame on TV just before the 2007 all-star break which makes the case I have tried to make for years to separate style from substances when it comes to discussions on mechanics. And to be very careful in thinking that you, or I, should ever try to mold all players into the same mechanics.
The two starting pitchers in this game were about as opposite in wind-up as you could imagine. Josh Towers pitching for the Blue Jays is from the L.A. area right through college ball (Oxnard). Paul Byrd pitching for the Indians is from Louisville KY, going to pro ball by way of LSU. Somewhere along the way each of them developed a very distinctive rhythm for their pitching.
is very much a control pitcher - not only in his command of pitches and his ability to hit the catcher's target, but in his very methodical delivery. His body remains very still and his leg lift is slow and quiet. You see very little apparent loading up, no dynamic leg-lift, no torque-back, very much an upper body and arm type pitcher. You might wonder what velocity he could get to if he engaged more of his lower body in power development and building momentum, but that's not his approach. It's not that his mechanics are off - just incredibly lacking in kinetic energy transfer. And yet with his command comes success.
, on the other hand, is so old school that he reminds you of the pre WWI era. As he starts his rock back, his arms reach back low behind him - not over the shoulders but at hip height. The arms swing forward and then up and over, and then back down as he turns his front hip way inward, bringing the leg high and tight, the body almost collapsing in, hunched over. A rare and huge amount of pre-throw action in both arms and body. He, too, has success with his approach. And his pitches even have an old school charm - the big breaking overhand "uncle charlie" curveball vs Towers harder breaking pitches.
Now it's more than style for both of them
And what they each do has substance - helps them apply the muscles as they want, gives them physical consistency, no doubt is part of their focus and mental process, too.
And both approaches work. In this game, both pitchers went 8 innings of shutout baseball before the only run of the game got on base. While one pitcher took the loss, the other did not earn the win. (That's why W/L is the least meaningful pitching statistic to me.)
If you look at the individual box scores, you'll also notice that neither gave up a walk or homer, and the hits really had to be earned. That, my friend, is pitching.
So, before you correct anything in any player, make sure why you want to do it. Always keep the difference between style and substance in mind. Imagine if these two pitchers had run into the same coach at some point in their youth, a coach who wanted to control Byrd's excessive wind-up action, or add more dynamics to Towers leg lift. Would I have still been watching them on TV on Sunday?
Am I saying change nothing?
Of course not.
But understand the outcome of any change. Understand that if you add something, you might be taking away something.
Baseball is a
After all, at the end of any season, baseball is a zero sum game: some teams win more games and others have to lose them. Likewise with players: if all your pitchers have low ERAs, then the other team's have to be higher or you still don't win. And with mechanics: if all your pitchers throw exactly the same way, then you gain less when you change pitchers - a new arm might be fresher but it won't be anymore deceptive. You need all kinds and styles to win.
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Jul 22, 2007 at 7:14 PM
My question is do you gain velocity from working out or from your pitching mechanics???
My response would be from both working out AND improving your pitching mechanics. If the timing of the different movements involved in the act of pitching are off, then a higher percentage of increase in velocity would come from improving ones mechanics. The number one flaw I see in young pitchers is one of 2 things or a combination of both: Their hand comes up too early in the delivery and second they don't work their arms together very well and those 2 things together could cost you as much as 6 MPH if not more on your fastball. If your delivery system is pretty sound, then you will need to work on getting stronger through the core and and all the other muscles involved in pitching which is basically all of your muscles. I am a big advocate of weightlifting with free weights and doing cable work.