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Can Your Stride Be Too Aggressive?

We’ve talked a lot about how the force with which you push off the pitching rubber largely determines the velocity of your pitch as a windmill pitcher. It follows that the harder you push off the rubber, the longer your stride has the potential to get.

So the harder you push and the longer you stride the better, right?

Not necessarily. Though pushing hard off the pitching rubber does give you speed, that speed can be easily lost if you can’t maintain your posture because your stride is uncomfortably long. Certain posture problems can rob you of much more speed than aggressive leg work can add.

Here is an example:

awesome pitcher art

Please excuse the crude stick figure, but I don’t have a photo example at the moment. This is a common posture that young pitchers assume upon landing when their strides are too aggressive for their own good. The lunge position, the low glove, and the anchored back foot all negatively affect speed and command.

In order to stride aggressively—roughly the distance of your own height or better—you must be able to do this:
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

This is Coach Jill, one of our instructors, pitching. Notice how her drive foot drags along the ground BEFORE she lands. This ensures that by the time her stride lands, her feet are a comfortable distance apart even though her stride was huge. This can be rather difficult, and many pitchers don’t get a good amount of pre-landing drag until high school. Some high school pitchers even struggle with it.

If you do not have the strength necessary in your whole body to support this motion, what happens when you stride this far is your foot gets left back by the pitching rubber and when you land your feet are way too far apart to allow you to deliver the ball and drive through quickly. That results in the posture illustrated above.

How long should my stride be?

Your stride should be as long as possible without compromising your posture. Regardless of how far your stride went or how far your back foot was able to drag off the rubber before landing, you should look like Coach Jill in the above animation when you land: tall posture toward your back leg, arms balanced, feet roughly that close together. If you need to bring your stride in temporarily to achieve this, bring it in.

Then gradually work on increasing your stride length not by stretching your stride leg farther, but relaxing that leg and focusing on the strength of your push off the rubber. Begin to push harder and try to lengthen the distance you can drag your drive foot on the ground before landing. Your stride will increase naturally as that ability progresses.

 

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!

10 comments

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  1. jordan

    carly,

    hi. i’ve been working with my 12 year old on her push off foot’s drag. in practice she’s doing pretty good,
    At the 12 o’clock position, her back foot is already dragging on the toes.

    however when it comes to scrimmages or even to their team’s practice, her foot seems to forget what to do and get’s left behind and drags badly.

    i think this is more psychological than mechanics. any tips?

    thanks.
    jordan

    1. Carly

      It’s a combination of mental and physical. What happens is she can drag correctly when she focuses on it, but in a game situation there are many other things to focus on. If even a little bit of focus gets taken away from the drag, she will revert back to her muscle memory (which is still the wrong way).

      Eventually she will develop new muscle memory, but it takes time. Just keep practicing, and try to make practice sessions as much like games as possible. Start off normally, but to finish the practice do a simulated inning where you keep count, pretend to pitch to real batters, and even have someone stand in the batters box if possible (set up an object if a person isn’t available).

  2. jordan

    carly,

    I didn’t realize that a little focus drift and get her to revert back to bad habits.
    yes, she does get tense at times and no amount of telling her to relax would help. Sometimes i tell her to imagine a pizza instead of the catcher’s glove. works sometimes. :)

    i’ll keep her practicing. btw, nice video on the explanation on forearm fire.

    thanks.
    jordan

  3. Wayne

    Carly,

    I have a similar problem. My DD (13) does everything pretty good when we are practicing with drills. When it comes time time to throw from the rubber, her push off foot seems to anchor and barely leaves the rubber if any. Does this fall into the same category with loss of focus? Anything in particular that i can use to correct this? When indoors, sometimes I put a sheet of paper under her foot to force it to slide just to get the feel of it. Besides that, Im at a loss.

    Thanks,
    Wayne

    1. Carly

      If the problem appears between drills and actual pitching, it’s not focus, it’s leg strength. Check out these two posts: http://www.fastpitchpower.com/you-wont-improve-your-leg-drive-without-this/ and http://www.fastpitchpower.com/perfecting-your-drive-through-mechanics/

  4. Whitney

    I have a 10 year old who for 1 isn’t leading high enough and when she plants her foot her drag foot is still touching the pitching rubber. Any suggestions? Great post by the way!

    1. Carly

      Good question. It’s recommended for the sake of ease to start pitchers who are learning in the middle of the rubber. However, advanced pitchers often make various tweaks to suit their purposes, especially if they rely on a secondary pitch more than a fastball. They’re not strictly necessary; it’s more a matter of preference.

    2. Carly

      Since it’s a matter of core and leg strength some girls don’t get good distance off the rubber till high school. Have her try first without the ball and slowly try to incorporate it into her real pitches. Also look at Joe’s posts for strength training ideas.

  5. DON

    CAN A GIRL STRIDE TO FAR IN PITCHING

    1. Carly

      Yes, please see this article for a complete explanation: http://www.fastpitchpower.com/can-your-stride-be-too-aggressive/

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