Getting a strong push-off is essential to maximizing speed for fastpitch pitchers. You need to develop a lot of forward momentum so that when your front foot comes down the stop is very sudden, which helps accelerate or sling the lower arm through the release zone.
Unfortunately, young pitchers often have trouble getting the timing down to create an early push. Instead, they will kick the stride leg forward while just sitting on the drive leg, and then try to push at the end, which is too late.
I’ve had pitchers skip before, because that mimics the sequence, i.e., push off first then reach with the leg. It works for some but not others. So if you or someone you know is still having trouble getting the feel, here’s something to try.
Place an obstacle out in front of her, very low to the ground like the swim noodle Alyssa’s father Tony is holding here. Then have the pitcher jump over it, using a normal forward jumping motion rather than thinking about pitching.
When she does it, ask her what she feels. If she isn’t sure, have her do it again. What she should feel is the drive leg pushing first, then the stride leg reaching out. If she does it correctly you’ll see it, as shown in the photos here.
Yes, this motion would be illegal for a pitch – big time illegal – but that’s not what you’re going for right now. Because if she could get the push legally you wouldn’t be doing this drill.
You just want her to feel the push first. After she does it a few times, have her go back and now try to copy that feeling with an actual pitching motion. If she’s gained the feel, and is driving her body forward first, the back foot should pretty much take care of itself.
So far, every pitcher I’ve tried this with has made an immediate improvement in her drive mechanics. I’m not quite ready to pronounce it foolproof yet, but it’s looking good.
If you’re facing this issue give it a try, and let me know in the comments how it works out. And if you’ve done this before, share your experience and whether it worked for you too.