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.


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 10, 2011, in Pitching. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. As a mom of two pitchers, I was very surprised at this week’s post. My girls pitching coach has always employed the “finish” technique (Hello elbow). In fact, they don’t know anything different. I would be very interested to learn more about your technique. In fact, is there a way for you to post a small video showing it? I would show my girls to see what they think and maybe catch a new idea. My husband and I were just thinking that maybe a new coach might be in order..


  2. Hi Melissa,Sorry, I thought I’d get a video up sooner. I do have one, and will try to post it this weekend. It will illustrate what I’m talking about pretty well. Ken


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