In the process of reworking and refining this lesson series in 2010, we were so anxious to introduced what we felt was the absolute physical trigger - the pelvic load - that we skipped over the preliminaries. In 2011, we have reintroduced our discussion on the first decision in any delivery... wind-up or stretch.
This lesson starts with two questions, shown abbreviated in the side column. Everything below is inspired by those concerns.
It's never either-or...
With the exception of a few pros, most pitchers will be expected to pitch from both the wind-up and the stretch at times during a game. Yet way too many pitchers spend most of their time in the bullpen throwing from the wind-up. In reality, 3-up, 3-down innings in the game are rare. That's true even when a pitcher is exceptional or over-matched for the competition he faces.
All it takes is one unintentional walk, or a bobbled grounder, or a misjudged flyball, then the pitcher and catcher will have to deal with a baserunner ...which puts the pitcher in the stretch.
So, like every skill in baseball, there's an inevitable need to practicing what's required in the game. Make sure pitchers spend more time in practices and pre-entry bullpens from the stretch. We recommend 50-50.
Rhythm and Tempo
The biggest mechanical differences are obviously in rhythm and tempo. There is a smooth flow in a wind-up that is lacking in the stretch. There is also a tendency in some pitchers to get anxious with runners on and rush their delivery. Aside from the balk risk (quick pitch) this adds to the rhythm/tempo problems.
So the wind-up step has a mental benefit - to settle the pitcher as he starts into a rhythmic delivery routine ...part of the process of developing consistency.
However, there are definitely mechanical aspects to the wind-up which matter. Some of these are covered in later lessons on body torque, dynamic balance, hand break and stride. But first there's the matter of the two moves that make a wind-up what it is. One is the question of initial step which we'll cover in a moment, but first, let's deal with the most obvious of all differences - the arm action which gives the wind-up its name.
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