A How-To Guide: Proper Pitching Mechanics

Having proper pitching mechanics not only helps you succeed on the mound but also prevents you from seriously hurting your arm, elbow or shoulder. Proper, deliverable, repeatable, and consistent mechanics keep pitchers healthy and provide you and your team results.

There are too many complicated articles about 20-step, intricately detailed treatises on the perfect pitching mechanics, but the three basic components of every pitch come down to three things: the windup, the stride, and the release.

Windup

The windup starts with how you stands on the mound, with your feet either lined up with one another or one slightly behind the other. Right-handers should start from the right side of the pitching rubber and vice versa. The ball should be in the glove with hands at chest or belt level, and the throwing hand and wrist hiding the grip from the opposition.

Then make what’s called a back step or a rocker step, lifting the front leg and briefly shifting weight toward the pitching arm while maintaining balance and keeping the front leg parallel to the pitching rubber. While that’s going on, either bring your arm over your head or stay at chest level.

The final windup step is the kick, where the front knee is lifting toward the chest, while maintaining balance on the back leg and keeping the hips closed. At the tail end of the kick, the back, planting leg should bend slightly in preparation for the stride.

Stride

Maintaining proper posture to reduce wear on the arm, you should be facing toward first or third base with your side facing the catcher to generate more velocity. 

As the front leg lowers, you should lead with the hips and back leg as the throwing arm rears back and is ready to move forward. Then try to move forward away from the pitching rubber with a long, smooth stride of nearly your entire height, though that can depend on what provides you the best rhythm.

As the front foot is moving forward toward the landing spot in the stride, the hands should separate between the chest and belt as the throwing arm moves from being down parallel to the ground, then back up toward about a 45-degree angle as it’s ready to release the ball. With open hips, the front leg should land on the ground at full extension facing the catcher while the glove stays at shoulder length and the back foot stays as close to the ground as possible.

Release

As the front foot hits the ground, your arm should be at the highest point in the throwing motion. Then the hips, body and shoulders rotate, generating most of the pitch’s power. As the hips and lower body are facing the hitter, the elbow should reach above the non-throwing shoulder with the forearm almost parallel to the ground.

Once the shoulder has made its full turn, the elbow leads the forearm and hand forward. The ball is released once the arm reaches body level with a flick of the wrist that comes across the body. The fingers should stay on top of the ball upon release and a full, extended deceleration after the motion should be seen throughout to prevent injury.

There could have been War & Peace written about pitching mechanics, but this was just a short, nuts-and-bolts summary.