Let’s begin by reviewing the mechanics of throwing a fastball. The goal of the pitcher is to eject the ball from the hand with the maximum velocity. To do so, he employs the longest, straightest launching system, running from the shoulder, through the arm, elbow, wrist and palm, all the way to the tips of the fingers. In the figure below, shown from the batter’s point of view, a right-hander is about to release a fastball:
Asking if a kid can see that slider spin is occurring is a common question I will bring up in lessons. Having a thought process and feeling with what they are doing is something that he or she can control and fix from throw to throw but it is not often taught. We like to have kids visualize and react to what is being said and into what is being felt. When trying to recognize the slider spin, the catcher should be able to see where the thrower is missing with his fastball. Seeing the ball out of the thrower’s hand and knowing that a slider has clockwise spin on the baseball you will be able to clearly tell that they released the ball wrong.
It's been said that players pitch with their legs. There are a great deal of lower body mechanics that go into delivering a powerful pitch. According to Dr. John Bagonzi, former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, and author of The Act of Pitching, good mechanics begin with transferring energy from the lower body to the arm, and to the fingers. Here are a few tips to tap your pitching potential.
To throw a curveball, start by holding the ball between your thumb and middle finger. Then, as you wind up and throw the ball, snap it on the release by rotating your thumb and middle finger down, almost like you're trying to snap with them. Try to release the ball as close to your body as possible, which will make it spin and curve more. Don't worry if the ball doesn't curve at first. Keep practicing the snapping motion when you release the ball and over time you'll get better!
To perform tuck jumps athletes will jump as high as they can in the air, while airborne athletes will tuck their knees into their chest. These jumps should be performed consecutively jumping, landing and immediately jumping back into the air and tucking the knees. Athletes cannot allow the resistance to alter their body positioning and need to maintain good spacing between the knees so the knees, hips, and ankles are all aligned. Athletes will perform 8-12 resisted tuck jumps for 3-4 sets before removing the Kbands and performing 2-3 unresisted sets of 8-12 repetitions.
Simply place your fingers the same way you would a curve using your index and middle fingers putting them close together. Thumb and middle finger split the baseball in half as you should do with most pitches.. Keep your ring finger and your pinkie off to the side as they shouldn’t make any real contact with the ball. Place a little more pressure with your thumb and middle finger as your index finger puts little to no pressure on the baseball.
A slider is the third fastest pitch in baseball. (The No. 1 fastest is a four-seam fastball and No. 2 is a two-seam fastball.) It's important for pitchers, parents and coaches to learn a proper slider grip and to learn correct throwing technique of a slider to ensure and promote arm-health. A slider is gripped like a two-seam fastball, but held slightly off-center.
For this pitching drill you don’t necessarily need a net. You can use a wall or another person. But the idea is to have something behind the pitcher that will let the pitcher know if he has broken his hands too early or is not gaining enough ground going forward. This is a great pitching drill if done correctly and will promote torque as well as linear momentum. Check the vid for more of an explanation!