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Beware of Bad Pitching Mechanics in Prominent Places!

This post is somewhat in keeping with my post from last week, which explained how to be smarter about what you take from watching NCAA softball games on TV. The example I’m about to give, however, is much more specific. Actually, it’s been a pet peeve of mine for quite some time, and I’ve been looking forward to writing about it for months. There is an iconic image of a pitcher that many of you may have seen. Many of you may even see it regularly. And frankly… well, it’s awful.

This is a car magnet that I’ve seen on a whole bunch of cars at a number of different softball tournaments I’ve attended:

Windmill pitcher car magnet

Yes, I know this is just a simple silhouette and not a “real pitcher” (although honestly, whoever made the magnet probably traced or copied a photo of a real pitcher to get this image), but it’s an image that so many young pitchers see all the time. Given that fact, the terrible mechanics offend me as a pitching coach.

It just so happens that even though this is just a crude silhouette, I can still analyze the heck out of it. Let’s take a closer look:

This car magnet shows bad windmill pitching mechanics

Ok. For starters, check out that back foot. This girl (let’s call her Maggie) is pitching illegally. This is a great illustration of something called “crow hopping,” which I briefly mentioned in my last post. A crow hop happens when the foot that was pushing off the rubber breaks contact with the ground and re-plants at a later point. Not only is crow hopping against the rules, it’s also terrible for your power and command as a pitcher.  Typically, when a crow hop exists in a pitch, there is a moment when both of the pitcher’s feet are off the ground. Even if it’s only a split second, the pitcher has very little control of her body while she’s essentially floating in the air, and that tiny moment of no control is enough to break down the remainder of the pitch once the feet land.

Back to Maggie’s back foot. Notice how it’s pointing away from the catcher, completely opposite where she’s trying to throw the ball. As a result, she won’t be able to perform a drive through. Try standing with your feet wide apart and your foot pointed like Maggie’s, and see how fast you can drive through with your heel leading the whole time. Now try it with your knee and toes pointed forward instead, and drive your knee forward as fast as you can. Which way is faster? Which is easier and more comfortable? If you’re doing it correctly, the second way should win hands down. If we saw the end of Maggie’s pitch, I’m guessing that back leg would make it about halfway to the front (maybe less) just from the momentum of her body before trailing off toward the first base line (again, not where she’s trying to throw the ball!).

Maggie’s front knee is also pointed away from the catcher. In fact, her whole upper body is turned slightly in that direction. This is a simple physical principle that should make logical sense to you if you think about it for a second: if you’re trying to throw a ball as hard as you can to a specific target, all of your energy and every movement you make should be pointed at that target.

Moving up, it looks to me like Maggie is slightly bent at the waist and leaning toward the viewer, with her butt stuck out toward first base. Try standing like that, with your upper body bent forward and your butt sticking out, but your knees straight. Would you throw overhand like that? Would you stand in the batter’s box like that? No, because you wouldn’t get any power or accuracy. The same applies to pitching.

Finally, the arms. Maggie’s pitching arm is a little too bent. An arm like that won’t make a complete circle. Her glove arm is much too low. Your glove plays a much more critical role in your pitch than most people think. Coach Phil likes to say your glove is the rudder that steers your ship, meaning the rest of your body will kind of follow what your glove hand does. You should reach your glove high and far, point it right at your target, and let it fall right as you release your pitch.

Now, take a look at THIS silhouette compared to Maggie:

Comparison of two windmill pitcher silhouettes

The black silhouette on the left is one that I made from a video of one of our pitching students mid-pitch. I actually did it several years ago for a logo, not even for this blog post (you can see it on our banner in the background of Coach Phil’s recent video). Just look at the two silhouettes, without even thinking of all the technical details I just mentioned. Which pitcher looks more powerful?

Maybe someday we’ll make our own car magnet.

If you’d like me to do to you what I did to Maggie (only in much more detail), read about our video analysis service and sign up for our newsletter to be notified immediately when slots open up.

About the author

Carly

Carly is a windmill pitching specialist and co-founder of Fastpitch Power. She has coached teams at every level from 10U to NCAA. She also designed and built fastpitchpower.com. Please feel free to leave questions and site feedback in the comments or via our contact page!

3 comments

  1. Eddie

    Hi Carly,

    I just found your site and I am very impressed. I have a young daughter who has been successful with a total closed hip style. i would like to change to open before she gets a little older and it is harder. Would you recommend changing now or sticking with the total closed? We live in the Hudson Valley area as well.

    Tks

    1. Carly

      Hi Eddie,

      Glad you like the site! How old is your daughter exactly? Unless she’s already in high school, I’d definitely make the switch. It will be challenging and will likely involve taking a step back before she can improve and continue to move forward, so her input is important too. If she’s just playing softball for fun and for the social aspect of it, she may be perfectly happy with where she is. If she loves it, loves pitching, and wants to play at a higher level, it’s worth switching now.

      If you’re nearby we’d be more than happy to work with your daughter. Shoot me an email at carly@fastpitchpower.com if you want more info!

  2. Coach A

    crow hopping happens when a pitcher pushes from a second point. Maggie is leaping which is a totally different illegal pitch.
    Replanting can also occur without leaping after dragging. Umps cant see it so they don’t address it. Its a fight I gave up on many years ago.
    Keep up the good work…

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