Saturday, January 7, 2012

5 Effective Drills for Great Baseball Pitchers

Practice makes perfect. This old adage applies to many, and baseball pitchers are no exception. To fine-tune their craft, pitchers must practice daily through exercise, observation, and of course, pitching drills. There are many benefits that come with pitching drills, including developing your mechanics, increasing your velocity, reducing injury risk, and improving accuracy and control.
One-Knee Drill
Used by pitchers at all levels, the one-knee drill focuses on developing proper arm action. Working with a partner, the Complete Pitcher website suggests you position yourselves so that you are 45 to 55 feet apart. Get down on one knee, with the knee of your throwing side touching the ground. Face your partner straight on, as you will be throwing the baseball back and forth. Rotate your shoulder toward your throwing partner, bringing your arm back with your hand on top of the ball. Using good circular motion, throw the ball, making sure your elbow bends, and crosses your opposite knee.
Pause and Balance Drill
The pause and balance drill teaches both patience and proper mechanics by pausing and maintaining a balance point before throwing your pitch. This drill helps those who rush their delivery or are imbalanced at the balance point. Stand on top of the mound, and begin your wind-up with your partner or coach standing behind you, holding the ball. When you are at your "balance point," Baseball Skill Aids recommends pausing three to five seconds, then turning back toward your partner, and taking the ball about waist high. Complete your motion, and deliver the pitch.
Stride Drill
"The stride drill is designed to train a pitcher's body to get into the proper throwing position," the Complete Pitcher notes, "enabling him to maximize velocity while minimizing the risk of injury during game situations." At the end of your delivery, your stride is measured from the heel of your back foot to the ball of your front, or "stride," foot. According to Baseball Skill Aids, the stride toward home plate should be approximately 80% of a pitcher's height. On the ground, mark the distance your stride should be, and see where your stride foot lands upon delivery. If you are not reaching the desired mark, practice until you do.
Bucket Drill
Great pitches have great follow-through. An excellent way to perfect your follow-through is via the bucket drill, which teaches how to brace up over your front leg after you release the ball. Kneel on your throwing-side knee, with the top of that foot propped up behind you on a 10-gallon bucket. As during the one-knee drill, throw the ball to your partner in front of you. Then, the Complete Pitcher instructs, bring your arm back, with your hand on top of the baseball. Throw the ball, then pop up and over your bent stride leg, making sure you bend your elbow and cross your opposite knee.
Towel Drill
The towel drill helps pitchers with balance and proper release point, and will teach you how to keep your head still during your delivery. Working off the mound, position your partner five to six feet in front of you. Have your partner sit on one leg holding a glove at eye level. Hold a towel between the thumb and middle finger of your throwing hand, with about 12 inches extending from your hand, Baseball Skills Aids urges, Upon delivery, your towel should snap across your partner's glove. If this does not happen, it indicates that your head is too busy during your delivery. The trick is to keep your eyes firmly set on your target, ensuring proper balance.

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