The arm circle is the most important factor a young pitcher needs to develop within her mechanics, simply because the arm is what delivers the ball. If a pitcher’s arm circle is inconsistent, the location of the pitch will also be inconsistent. When the arm circle does not have proper mechanics, we often see the arm getting behind the pitcher’s body just before release. What typically happens is the hips close too early, forcing the arm circle off of the power line. We want the arm circle to stay on the power line in order to create efficiency, i.e. the fastest way from point A to point B is a straight line. Not only will closing the hips too early not allow a pitcher to throw her maximum speed and be inconsistent with her locations, it also increases the likelihood of injury. Forearm and elbow injuries are common with softball pitchers because of this common mistake many young pitchers develop in their mechanics.
Keeping the pitching arm on the power line is just one important piece of the arm circle. Another important teaching point involving the arm circle is to emphasize the importance of the whip, or sequencing a pitcher is able to incorporate into her arm circle. Whip refers to a chain of events that should occur in a pitcher’s arm circle starting from her shoulder and finishing out through her fingers. Because the arm is what delivers the ball, the arm is what dictates the speed at which the ball will be thrown. Furthermore, the ball will only go as fast as the arm allows it. For example, locking out your arm and spinning it around as fast as you can will only allow the ball to be released at the speed of which your arm is going. Therefore, in order to deliver the ball faster than the speed your arm is traveling at, the pitching arm must incorporate whip; starting at the upper arm, followed by the elbow, wrist, and finally out through the fingers. Thus, a pitcher will not be able to execute sequencing with any tension in her arm. On that same token, a pitcher’s maximum speed will be compromised if the pitcher does not have proper sequencing and/or has any tension in her arm.
A pitcher’s weight shift is another fundamental and necessary piece in learning how to pitch. The weight shift is what helps you gain momentum in the initial part of your pitch, and also plays an important role in finishing the pitch. Because a pitcher must be explosive off of the pitching rubber to help with velocity, in order to increase this explosiveness, it is paramount for a pitcher to optimize her initial weight shift to gain momentum. In order to optimize the weight shift, all of the pitcher’s weight must be into the leg on the front of the pitching rubber (right leg for right-handed pitchers). Then, as the pitcher begins her pitch, she must shift this weight into the leg on the back of the rubber (left leg for right-handed pitchers). Finally, as the pitcher begins the windup with her arm, her weight explosively shifts back into the front leg in order to push off of that leg into her pitch. In the middle of the pitch, i.e. as the pitcher is landing onto her plant foot (with arms parallel to the ground), at this point her weight should be evenly distributed onto both legs. As her arm circle finishes through her pitch, the pitcher must focus on pinching her knees together, and finishing her pitch with her weight evenly distributed into both legs. Depending on the pitch she is throwing, she may have more weight into her landing leg at finish (for a drop ball). If the pitcher is throwing a rise ball, however, her weight may be more into her back leg at release.
In relation to the arm circle, remaining on the “power line” is what ultimately needs to happen for a pitcher’s arm circle to stay “on line”. The power line is a straight line that runs from the tip of home plate, all the way to the middle of the pitching rubber. When starting a pitch, the pitcher’s feet must split the power line. However, once a pitcher begins her momentum forward and her stride leg is airborne, once her hips start to rotate, she must land and remain on the power line as she finishes her pitch. Remaining on the powerline ensures the pitcher is not losing velocity, and is also the strongest indicator for a consistent release. If a pitcher steps off the power line in either direction, where the pitch is going becomes less predictable. When we see pitchers land improperly, it forces her arm circle off-line and thus she will have to throw around her body, making her location inconsistent.
Breaking down the mechanics of a pitch
Back side importance