On Sunday, March 16, 2014, Barrington Little League held a clinic for budding pitchers in the AA division at Harrington Field. Tom Tanous, Director of Scouting for the New York Mets, broke down the pitching process into 5 basic steps for the 30+ players and dozen or more coaches in attendance.
Tom had the coaches supervise their players as they built up from Step 1, through Step 5 in his pitching recipe. Before beginning these steps, pitchers should stand with both feet on the rubber, with the ball in their glove at chest height and the throwing hand on top of the ball, and looking at the catcher's glove. The following summarizes the pitching sequence (assuming a right handed pitcher and amazingly everyone at the clinic was right-handed):
- Step 1: Take a small step backward with the left foot, called a rocker step, such that the toe of the left foot doesn't go back further than the heel of the right foot.
- Step 2: Turn the right foot so that it lies in front of the rubber, and parallel to it.
- Step 3: Pivot the body so that the shoulders and hips face 3rd base, and raise the left leg. The left foot should be in front of (closer to 3rd base) the right knee and ideally pointing down. This is called the balance point where the weight is over the back leg. During an actual pitch, pitchers should not come to a stop at this point, but it's useful during drills to have them learn to easily balance in this position.
- Step 4: Break the hands apart by dropping the the thumbs down and around while striding toward home. The throwing arm should end up in equal and opposite positions. The throwing arm should be in an L-position with the fingers on top of the ball and facing away from home (between SS and 2B). The glove hand should end up with the palm facing home plate. At the same time, the pitcher should stride toward home, landing on their toe, while still being in a closed position (ie, shoulders and hips facing 3rd base).
Note: the throwing hand should end up above the head before the stride foot lands.
- Step 5: Pivot the right foot and hips toward home plate while extending the arm toward the catchers, and release the ball when the hand is between the brim of the hat and the chin. Only after releasing the ball, the right foot should follow the pitch by stepping up and over to land in front of the left foot.
Coaches should especially pay attention to their players during throwing warm-ups at the beginning of practice. That period of time is when coaches can have the biggest positive impact on developing their players. So coaches should not be playing catch themselves, but rather walking up and down their line of players and correcting flaws in their mechanics.
These basic pitching mechanics are treated similarly by many other sources on the web. Here are a couple of links for those wanting more information: