Pitching: Getting a proper follow-through
So yesterday I started with two new pitchers — teammates with little pitching experience. Both had attended a few sessions of a pitching “clinic” in a large group put on by some local instructor or another.
As I always do I asked to see how they pitched before we launched into the lesson. One of the things I saw right away was something called the “hello elbow.”
The “hello elbow” is a form of forced follow-through at the end of the pitch. After you release the pitch, you bend your elbow and bring your hand up to your throwing hand shoulder. You’re supposed to then point your elbow at your catcher.
It may be well-intended, but it actually works against the mechanics that make up a good pitch. A finish should be long, loose and natural.
If you keep your arm loose and focus on whipping the lower arm past the elbow at release, the last thing you’re going to be able to do is touch your throwing-hand shoulder. You would have to stop the arm and change directions to do that.
As I was working with each of the girls, we focused on learning to be long, loose and natural at the finish. They both struggled at first, but I used a drill called the “low five” to help them get the feel. With an empty hand, I had them start with their pitching arms at the 12:00 position, then bring the upper arm down, then bring the hand through and give me a low five with their hands to my hand.
As they focused on slapping my hand, they started to find a new finish. Both wound up with their pitching hand by their glove-side shoulder. Luckily, from there it was an easy transition to throwing the ball that way too.
They weren’t perfect with it — the “hello elbow” showed up from time to time. But they were definitely better. At the end of the lesson I had them throw to their fathers, and the ball was straighter and faster than it had been when they walked in.
Follow-through is important, but you have to be careful not to trade one issue for another. Keep the follow-through long, loose and natural and your pitchers will find their own way.