This drill addresses a common pitcher’s challenge: Striding “open” with the lead foot. For a right-handed pitcher, this means landing well towards the first-base side of a mid-line. The desired alignment is straight to target, and this simple adjustment works wonders for resetting and reestablishing a stride directly to the target.
Coach’s Note: It is common place to use cones or another physical barrier to guide the landing foot. However, experience working with athletes has shown that once the physical barrier is removed, the issue presents itself once again. To translate: It doesn’t work! Instead, use the Exaggerated Opposite technique.
EXECUTION – Using a mound, draw a midline from the middle of the pitcher’s rubber to home plate. This gives a visual to the goal of striding straight to target and introduces the first challenge to coaching pitchers: Get the athlete to recognize and take ownership of the front foot’s landing position. Once understood, move on to fixing this issue by using an Exaggerated Opposite:
- Exaggerated Opposite – Instruct the athlete to land on the opposite side of the midline. The goal is to land clearly on the other side, so far that the foot does not touch the midline at all. This process will take several repetitions, as their first effort will result in a straight stride. It will “feel weird” to step straight to target. And so we need it to feel “crazy weird.” Keep working, keep going, until the front foot lands completely across the body.
Conceptually, once a coach has helped the athlete to move the landing foot position in the opposite direction, it needs to stay there for many repetitions… before landing is slowly moved back to middle. This essentially hits the ‘reset’ button for the pitcher, who is now more in tune with where he is landing. This pitcher FEELS when the body pulls open and lands on the third base side. The same is true for a pitcher who errs on the closed-side of the midline (3rd base side).
- Recognize – Accountability 101. This athlete needs help to FEEL the errors of his ways. It’s always felt normal to stride incorrectly.
- Reset Button – Share the concept of a reset button. “As we work to correct the alignment of your body-car, we first need to reset the body’s compass. So that now, you feel when you stride open… and you feel when you land closed.”
- Homework – Land the wrong way! Always fun to tell a pitcher that :). Instruct the pitcher to execute daily homework with 20-25 repetitions involving a freeze at finish. Having drawn a midline, spend most or all of the time between sessions landing in on the exaggerated opposite side to where the existing error is.
- USE A MIDLINE
- EXAGGERATE TO OPPOSITE SIDE
- BRING BACK TO MIDDLE
- RESET / EXAGGERATE OPPO
- ASSIGN HOMEWORK
- Baseball Buckets1