Coach Rich discusses and demonstrates how the hips are involved in the kinetic chain creating bat speed and power. Coach also discusses how the hips themselves do not create bat speed and power, but are a part of the whole that creates bat speed and power.
Being able to improve your pitching velocity and command your
fastball are two very important elements if you expect to get hitters
out consistently. You can’t get by for long throwing junk or at below
average velocity. However, if you do have below average velocity you
must have pin-point control.
Many pitchers spend far too much time on control and thus sacrifice
pitching velocity. But you don’t need to sacrifice velocity in order to
A pitcher should never slow down his delivery in order to gain ball
control. Yet, many coaches recommend that pitchers do that and that is
one of the biggest causes of a lack of pitching velocity.
To gain more pitching velocity pitchers must train themselves to
throw at a higher intensity more often. That is the only way the body
will learn who to create more intensity and thus more velocity.
Using Fastball Command To Achieve Success
Fastball command is one of the biggest keys to pitching success.
That means you want to be able to throw “pitcher’s strikes” rather than
A pitcher’s strike is a well located fastball where you stay away
from the middle of the plate and away from about belt high. And
sometimes it is a ball that is located just off the plate but looks like
a strike to the hitter.
As Pedro Martinez used to say: “Get ahead with strikes and get ’em out with balls.”
For Little League or youth pitchers, I suggest splitting the plate in
half and throwing to the outer half. Once that is consistent, move on
to pitching to the inner half.
A fastball thrown down and away is the most difficult pitch for a
hitter. Ted Williams and Barry Bonds, two of the games greatest
hitters, only hit about .230 when pitches were located there.
But you must be able to locate the ball for a strike on the inner
half as well. That inside fastball looks much faster than the ball
throw down and away. So to be successful as a pitcher you must be able
to locate the ball away from the middle of the plate while keeping the
ball down. For a youth pitcher practice should be initially about
keeping the ball down. Belt high pitchers are easy for even youth
hitters to hit. Once you can keep the ball down then work on the outer
half of the plate.
Two things determine whether a pitcher has good control or not. The
first is mechanics. If your mechanics are poor or inconsistent then good
control will be tough to learn.
The second factor is practice. We of course recommend “blocked
over-practice bullpens” where you focus on throwing the same pitch to
the same location over and over using several blocked sets of 5-8
pitches. This method helps train both the brain and the body how to
locate to those specific locations because there is a goal for each
Not throwing enough pitches at game intensity is why so many pitchers never gain command of their fastball or the strike zone.
CAUTION: Do not work on control and sacrifice velocity. Velocity
must be worked on at the same time you are working on ball control.
Remember this – the faster you move the less chance of mechanical error.
Don’t Slow Down Your Delivery To Improve Ball Control
This is where most youth and high school pitchers go wrong. They
slow down their level of intensity to just “throw a strike”. Big, big
mistake. Doing that simply teaches the body to move slower and thus you
are teaching the body to throw slower. When you want to locate your
best fastball, it will be difficult because your brain has taught your
body to move slower to locate your best fastball.
The brain learns only what you teach it. Movement speed is a learned
skill. If you want to locate your best fastball you must teach your
body to move at a high level of intensity moving all your forces toward
If youth pitchers focus on one location initially, keeping the ball
down, and then on the outer half and then eventually the inner half, and
do that during each practice bullpen, they will have success.
Watch and see which pitches get hit the most. Those down the middle and belt high.
Once you can locate inner and outer half and keep the ball down, then
practice throwing the ball just above the hands. This skill is
valuable when you are ahead in the count 0-2 or 1-2. Or even 2-2.
This is called “changing eye level.” You throw a pitch down and then
the next one a bit higher. When you move the ball you also move the
hitter’s eye from low to high. This is a tough adjustment for a hitter
and makes it difficult for the hitter to lay off of that pitch.
But that above the hands fastball or the letter high fastball must be
practiced regularly and be part of every bullpen… if you expect to use
it in a game.
Have you noticed how many MLB pitchers are not able to throw a letter
high fastball? Normally they throw it much too high and the hitter of
course takes it for a ball.
This is because most MLB pitchers are not throwing enough high
fastballs during their bullpens. They might throw 2 or 3, but not
blocked sets of letter high fastballs. Thus the pitcher never learns to
command their fastball letter high.
So if you want better command of all your pitches you must first
improve your mechanics. Once you can land with good lower body stability
while directing all your forces toward the target you can then teach
yourself how to command your fastball. Once you do that and learn how
to change speeds you will make most hitters very uncomfortable and
become a very successful pitcher.
Every practice session is an opportunity to improve some aspect of
your pitching skills. You will only learn what you practice. Make sure
that before every bullpen or practice throwing session that you warm-up
your arm properly in order to aid performance and reduce the risk of