Staying Back or Lift & Thrust?

In hitting drills, Staying Back might be the biggest conventional wisdom we hear today. I know through my career I’ve been told this at every level. Come to find out that the best of the best are not staying back, but are actually moving their center of gravity towards home plate. This is what we call the Lift and Thrust phase.

The greatest pitchers of all time Sandy Kofax, Bob Gibson, Walter Johnson, and Lefty Grove all initiate their first movement towards home plate.

The best pitchers in the last ten years Randy Johnson, Roy Oswalt, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, and Johan Santana all initiate forward movement towards home plate. So it’s safe to say that your first movement should be going to home plate. It gets them further and closer to home plate. They are also using momentum to their advantage (not staying back).

1ST Randy Johnson Staying Back

The old saying “stay back” really doesn’t explain what is really happening in a pitchers delivery. Research from the 3-D motion analysis shows you are keeping your head and spine behind your rear end. It’s getting your lower half going towards home plate.

Most coaches teach you to shift your weight backwards towards second base and then restart at what they call “stop at the top”. This conventional wisdom is also flawed. Think of it this way… If you were to run down hill, would you shift your weight backwards and restart on one leg? Or would you keep your momentum going down the hill? It’s a no brainer!!

Another great example is when we walk, do we pick our feet up first, or do we get our center of gravity moving then pick our feet up? To walk or run, you have to initiate your center of gravity first, and then your feet move.

Lift and Thrust, not staying back…

So remember, get your center of gravity moving toward home plate while your lifting your leg. While your doing your leg kick, you’re thrusting your front hip towards home plate while keeping your head and spine behind your rear end. This will speed up your delivery and in turn, fewer things will go wrong.

By speeding up your delivery it will help keep your body in the proper sequence putting less stress on your arm and making your delivery more efficient. This will then make your delivery more repeatable. So use gravity and the slope of the mound to your advantage. This will enable you to be closer to home plate.

Inform, Instruct & Inspire

Kevin Beirne, Pitching Coach
NPA Certified

©Kevin Beirne 5/2011

*During your pitching lessons, we promise to inform you of what is best for pitchers… So, Lift and Thrust – not staying back!