One of the most important aspects of baseball pitching mechanics is the lead foot or the foot strike. The lead foot can also be characterized as the foot strike. At this stage in the pitching delivery, a pitcher is transferring kinetic energy through the foot, then through the leg, through the upper body, and into the arm.
This transfer of energy is how pitchers generate arm speed, resulting in pitching velocity.
Several aspects of the lead foot will determine the velocity potential of a baseball pitcher. At foot strike, it is best that the pitcher lands with a slightly closed off foot. By doing so, it will allow the hips to stay closed for longer. It is important to note that you do not want the foot to be extremely closed.
If your lead foot lands closed off and directed towards third base if you are a right-handed pitcher, then it will make it difficult for you to obtain proper hip to shoulder separation. The hips must already be aimed and exploding towards home before your upper body begins to turn. With an excessively closed lead foot, you are not giving your hips the opportunity to open up.
Some professional baseball pitchers display a very closed lead foot in their baseball pitching mechanics, but this does not necessarily imply that it is the best practice. Angels pitcher Jered Weaver is well known for landing very closed at foot strike.
Weaver is a great baseball pitcher, but it would be interesting to see how much velocity he would gain by having his momentum and lead foot directed at home upon release. At 6’7″, it is pretty crazy to see him barely breaking the 90 mph mark on most nights. Velocity doesn’t determine a great pitcher, but it certainly helps!
There’s no question that the lead foot is an important part of baseball pitching mechanics. A pitcher must have the foot directed towards home at the point of foot strike, in order to create proper hip to shoulder separation. It is essential for generating pitching velocity.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, landing with your lead foot open in your pitching mechanics can be even more detrimental. This mechanical flaw forces a pitcher to have little, or not hip to shoulder separation. Upon landing, the hips will shift too early forcing the upper body to simultaneously shift with it.
In addition to reduced velocity, this pitching mechanics flaw will also inhibit a pitcher’s ability to effectively throw strikes. Typically, pitchers who land with an open lead foot will typically throw the majority of their pitches to the outside corner. An opened lead foot is the first stage to flying open completely.
To conclude, the best practice is to have your lead foot slightly closed off, or directly aimed at the target. Avoid closing too far, and especially avoid opening up!
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