The Best Baseball Player – A Guide to Peak Performance

To be the best baseball player he can be, here’s a step-by-step explanation of how the wind-up for a pitch is done by a right hander:

Shift the weight forward to the right foot and bend the body forward slightly, at the same time extend the hands backward. Straighten the trunk, swing the hands forward and bring them together in front of the chest. Shift the weight to the back foot and at the same time carry the hands up until they are just above the peak of the cap. At this point arch the back as much as possible.

Twist the pitching foot to the right, but keep contact with the plate. Pivot the body right, swing the left leg forward, start the hands down. As the hands reach a point just below the right shoulder, separate them, drawing the throwing arm back, moving the glove hand forward. As the hands part, start the big stride toward the plate, “kicking” away from the pitching rubber. When the front foot strikes the ground, throw. Sweep the right hand down and across the body. Bring the right foot up so it’s even with the left.

To drill several pitchers, the manager can line them up side by side facing an imaginary catcher. Each move can then be taught simultaneously.

Once the pitcher has mastered the windup, he can start thinking about pointers like these which will enable him to become the very best baseball player he can be:

1. As the hands come together in front of the chest, the palm of the throwing hand should face the batter. The full back of the glove hand should face the batter. This way, the ball cannot be seen. If the back of the glove faces 1st and the back of the throwing hand 3rd, enough of the ball and throwing hand can be seen to tell the batter whether a fast ball or curve is coming.

2. Fix the grip as the hands reach the top of their upward swing.

3. Imagine there is a line from the toe of the pitching foot to the plate. If the pitcher is a right hander, his left foot should come down to the left of that line; to the right if he’s left-handed. If he doesn’t do this, the pitcher will be throwing across the body, or against the natural movement of the body.

4. Always pitch from the same spot on the rubber if control is good. If the ball is going to batter at right height, but off the plate, move the pitching foot to a different spot on the rubber. All movements, by the way, should be natural and rhythmic.

The Stretch Move

The so-called “stretch” move is used with runners on base. It enables the pitcher to hold runners close to the base before the pitch and also gives him a chance to pick off runners who take too long a lead.

A right-hander should stand with his left foot in front of the rubber, his right foot on it and his life side facing the plate. (Opposite for left-handers.) The feet should be about shoulder-width apart with the weight distributed evenly and comfortably. The toe of the left foot is usually in line with the heel of the right foot.

At the start of the move, the hands are lifted above the head, brought together as they start downward to a spot in front of the chest. The arms are kept away from the body and not brought to rest against it. Just before the pitch, the hands must be brought to a complete stop, (usually at chest level) otherwise the pitcher can be charged with a balk.

To throw to the plate, the pitcher momentarily shifts his weight to the rear foot, quickly lifts the front foot and strides toward the plate. The right foot is brought up even with the left after the ball is released.

The pitcher should be well-versed in both moves, the wind-up and the stretch, to become the best baseball player possible.