Hip to shoulder separation is one of the most important movements in pitching mechanics. This split second of upper and lower body separation is responsible for a large percentage of pitching velocity.
In fact, some research has actually shown that this movement is responsible for around 80 percent of potential velocity. Unfortunately, many baseball pitchers do not properly achieve good hip to shoulder separation, and are probably suffering from a lack of velocity.
How to achieve good hip to shoulder separation
First, the best way to practice pitching mechanics is not through drills, but rather through actually throwing on a mound.
If you’re trying to be a better in games, then you should practice how you actually play. Don’t spend more time performing drills than actually pitching on a mound.
One excellent idea for achieving better hip to shoulder separation is by opening the hips earlier. You want your hips and upper body closed during the stride, but at foot strike, your hips should forcefully open up towards home plate.
The optimal landing position would have your hips completely open, your arm in the cocked position, and your upper body closed.
Proper hip to shoulder separation will create greater torque, and as a result, increased velocity.
Another important element to achieving better separation is to make sure that you are in a direct line towards home. If your landing foot is too closed off, then it may be difficult to get your hips completely open.
And if your landing foot too open, it will most likely force your lower and upper half to move simultaneously. This is exactly what we want to avoid.
MLB pitchers with good hip to shoulder separation
I’m going to show a series of professional pitchers who achieve an incredible amount of hip to shoulder separation. And to no surprise, these same pitchers are among the fastest throwing in the entire league.
Aroldis Chapman is literally the master of hip to shoulder separation. I don’t think there is anyone in the league that has the amount of separation that Chapman does.
This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why he is the fastest pitcher in MLB history.
If you were ever thinking about emulating a professional pitchers mechanics, then I would recommend that you study Aroldis Chapman.
Justin Verlander is another pitcher who gets excellent separation, and is one of the reasons why he able to generate 100 mph velocity in the ninth inning of games.
Verlander actually has a pretty short stride, as you can see in the photo, but he makes up for this by having great hip to shoulder separation.
Garrett Richards has incredible velocity. As a starter, Richards is consistently between 95-98 mph.
Richards actually has similar pitching mechanics to Verlander because they both have pretty short strides. However, Richards has very good hip to shoulder separation.
Another thing you will notice in the GIF above is that Richards is in a direct line towards home. His lead foot is partially closed off, but not too far. This allows him to get his hips completely open at foot strike.
I hope this post gave you better understanding of hip to shoulder separation. This is an incredibly important piece to developing proper pitching mechanics, and should be a focus among youth and developing pitchers.
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One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It’s not. To get to the next level, preparation is everything — but you need a plan. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.
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