Getting the feel of the legs working together

There’s a of talk in the pitching world about the need to get good leg drive in order to get good speed. But I’ve always found the books and videos to be a little lacking on the “how” end of things. They will offer drills and such, which work if the pitcher naturally uses her legs correctly in those drills. But what if she doesn’t?

By that I mean what if she doesn’t use both legs together? Some will push hard off the back side, but won’t necessarily use the front leg efficiently. Others will drive out hard with the front leg, but will allow the back side to lag.

Tonight I was facing the latter with a girl named Justine. Her mom is a reader of this blog so I’m sure she won’t mind her being named, at least by first name. Justine was using her front leg to pull, but the back leg was late, and she was not only not throwing as hard as she should, she was also ending up in a forward leaning position. We tried a couple of different things to give her the feel of her legs working together, but it was still a struggle. Then I came upon an idea.

She is right handed, so I had her stand on her right leg, with her left leg slightly up — in what is often called the “stork” position. I then had her move her front knee forward slowly, to see how far she could get it before she lost her balance and wouldn’t be able to push off the back leg. She was surprised to see that she couldn’t get it all that far out. We did it a few times, and I had her push off before she hit the point of no return. Then we went back to pitching full out, with a noticeable jump in speed.

The key to this is the two legs have to work together. If the front leg gets too far away from the back leg it is impossible to get a good drive off the back leg. You need to push off the back foot as the front knee is going forward, not after it’s already as far as it can extend. Doing that moves the whole body together as a unit, which is more powerful than going one piece at a time.

So thanks to Justine I have yet another new drill to bring to my students. I love new stuff!

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on October 18, 2008, in Pitching. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. during the late 90’s a study of the pitching motion was done. It was done at the university of alabama I believe, they analized pitchers and found the most effective motion which prevented injury and increased consistency and speed. that was used by the pitching coach for the us olympic team, Cherie Kempf the operator of worth clubK in tennesse. take a look at her book and videos “the softball pitching edge” great drills and how to do them properly. great for players and coaches. as in all athletic endeavors it begins with the foundation (legs) you don’t build a house from the roof down. you can’t make a good picther with just a fast arm the legs determine the speed.

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  2. Thanks, John. I have read that book and watched the video more than once, along with Cheri’s earlier video. I’ve also read Cindy Bristow’s pitching book multiple times, which has a lot of great information and photos in it. But they still don’t cover all situations. A few years ago I was talking with Cindy and I brought up a drill or a statement of hers from a past publication, and her reaction was “Oh yeah, I remember that.” She then went on to say that she comes up with new stuff every day as a result of the needs of various students/players — a different way of conveying the same core information.That’s what I am talking about here. The concept of using the legs certainly isn’t new, and has been talked about before. But the particular exercise isn’t one I remember seeing. The concept is you can’t let the feet get too far apart or you lose strength. But for a student who can’t feel it in full motion, what I described above seems to help. I’ve noticed improvement in the timing of several students who have done it. For those who already have the timing, it’s unnecessary. Everybody learns differently. If what you’re saying isn’t working, you have to find another way to say it. Even if what you’re saying came from a guru. It’s like the Albert Einstein definition of insanity — doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.

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