How to Improve Back Leg Drive and Pitch 2-3 Mph Faster

Every pitcher must understand that the back leg drive is one of the most essential components of great pitching mechanics and for producing above average velocity.

In many low velocity pitchers, there is usually inadequate back leg drive. There are many factors that are responsible for pitching velocity, and by simply corrected your drive leg motion, you can add at least 2-3 mph on your pitches.

I’m going to explain step-by-step how to improve your back leg drive, and to start seeing greater velocity starting today.

1. It all begins with the “balance point”

I have discussed the many problems with the traditional balance point countless times, and Brent Pourciau from 3X Pitching Velocity agrees.

The traditional balance point is a velocity killer, and it can actually inhibit your ability to achieve proper back leg drive.

The traditional balance point puts a pitcher in a perpendicular position, which leads to ineffective weight shift, and subsequently weak back leg drive.

In order to achieve your desired back leg drive, you must first correct your balance point position. At the peak of your leg lift, your weight should already be shifted towards home, and your drive knee should be inside the drive hip. This position will lead to optimal rear leg drive and stride speed.

2. You need to correct any leg lift faults

Some people don’t take the leg lift into account, but it can really affect your ability to generate rear leg drive and stride speed. The most common mechanical fault with the leg lift is bringing the leg out and around into the stride.

This tendency can lead to early hip rotation, and will force you to lose power from the drive leg.

You must focus on dropping the lift leg and foot directly down towards the ground and out into your stride. This will increase the fluidity of your motion, and is very important for achieving proper drive off the back leg.

3. Avoid over-collapsing the drive knee

This is the most important step to seeing velocity increases from your back leg drive. The most common mechanical fault is when a pitcher collapses the drive knee past the drive foot.

I’m sure you have heard many pitching instructors toss out this line: you must “drop and drive”… And they are right, pitchers should drop and drive, but not to the extent that most do.

The key to the “drop and drive” is to DRIVE TOWARDS HOME.

When a pitcher over-collapses the drive knee, they are significantly decreasing their power towards home. This tendency leads to an inability to achieve triple extension, and thus will decrease your velocity.

If you achieve proper back leg drive you will increase your stride speed and length, and will stay closed for a longer duration of time. This will lead to an explosive transition into your hip to shoulder separation, which is responsible for about 80 percent of potential pitching velocity.

Focus on shifting your power and weight towards home, instead of leaving it behind at the rubber!

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2 thoughts on “How to Improve Back Leg Drive and Pitch 2-3 Mph Faster

  1. I would say to use an incline board like Coach Wolforth does in his Hookem drills which teaches a good power throwing angle and good hip drive towards the plate. Some would say it’s falling (which I would agree with to a point) but on the plus side I think it’s better than guys that still teach balance point or shifting weight up and backwards toward the rubber and collapsing the drive leg rather than moving momentum forward. The Hookem drills allow only a slight bend in the drive leg as opposed to collapsing.

    I would slightly disagree with the statement that the lift leg has to go up and directly back down to achive fluidity and proper sequencing/time in the stride though. Not that Ron is right on everything he teaches, but in his drills (as well as the deliveries of many successful pitchers out there today) still allows for some slight leg swing in the stride towards home. I would say that a kid like Trevor Bauer (Wolforth protege) does not have a down and out stride. Nor does Greg Maddux (who had a a little bit of a leg swing). A guy like Steven Strasburg appears more up down and out and has had elbow issues.

    Regardless, there is physical proof on both sides that either stride can be successful in terms of high velocity throwers but I think the book is still out on whether the up down and out approach keeps pitchers’ arms healthy. I would venture to say more times than not, those guys tend to come up lame with arm injuries. I’m starting to steer my kids away from the up down and out model.

    • Thank you for the comment, and you have made some very good points Coach Ryan! Yes, Trevor Bauer does slightly swing the leg, but in most instances this will be a problem. Dropping the lift leg down and out is the safest and most balanced approach. Unless you have excellent mechanics like Bauer, it is very likely that bringing the lift leg out and around, will force the hips to open up prematurely and thus decreasing your ability to achieve proper hip to shoulder separation. I’m not saying a pitcher can’t be achieve velocity without performing this step, just that the tendency can lead to velocity and even control issues in many pitchers.

      And just to clarify, I am not a fan of the traditional balance point or the “up and down” model. I think most pitchers need to be moving towards home sooner.

      Thank you for the thought-provoking response coach.

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