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"Plane-speaking" on the pitching delivery.

During the summer months, I operate my own youth pitching school based on my way of teaching the mechanics of the delivery to youth pitchers--primarily the eight-to-ten-year-old group. If deemed necessary, however, we are always ready to adjust our agenda to the age factor.

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Our focus is on the three major components of the pitch: balance, direction, and timing. I equate the pitching delivery with landing an airplane. Mentally, the pitcher is the pilot. Physically, he's the plane, and the pitcher's mound is the landing strip.

Following is the breakdown of the delivery in relation to the landing of the plane.

PRE-PITCH:

After communication with the Air-Traffic Control Tower, the pilot receives the sign from the catcher. He makes sure his breathing is under control and his focus is on the job to be done--hitting his target, possibly using his visualizing skills.

WIND-UP:

The plane circles, getting into the proper position for its approach to the landing strip. (Proper footwork and timing of the wind-up.)

BALANCE POINT:

The pilot has his plane totally under control, ready to approach the landing strip. (Good balance.)

STRIDE:

The pilot starts toward the landing strip with good direction (keeping front side closed and on target) making sure that proper timing will put the wings (pitcher's arms) in the proper position at touch down. (Foot plant.)

RELEASE:

The pilot makes sure his landing gear (front foot) gets down first, and then lands the plane out over his landing gear (front leg) with good extension toward his target area ahead. (Catchers' mitt.)

FOLLOW THROUGH:

The pilot uses the long landing strip to give his plane ample time to gradually slow down and eventually stop. (Deceleration of the arm in follow through.)

Although this teaching technique might seem very elementary, I've used it with older athletes struggling to get the feel of the proper pitching mechanics. It provides the opportunity for a youngster to earn his wings as a pitcher.

By Bob Mitcheltree, Wilmington Area High School, New Wilmington, PA and Randy Nichols, Slippery Rock University (PA)
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Title Annotation:BASEBALL
Author:Mitcheltree, Bob; Nichols, Randy
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Date:Dec 1, 2007
Words:342
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