The phrase “point your toe towards your target” is very common in youth baseball. Coaches and parents are advising their pitchers that in order to throw the ball where you want, your toe must be pointed in that direction. While it sounds like a good adjustment to make it could actually be working against those pitchers.
The first thing to understand is that pitching and hitting are very similar. If you’re ever in doubt or have a question about pitching, just think how it would translate into hitting. This includes “pushing off”. You don’t push off when you hit, you don’t push off when you pitch. If a pitchers mechanics are working correctly, it gives the illusion of a push off. What’s really going on is a natural shift of weight and energy, see the link below for more information.
When a hitter strides his front foot, it is in the direction of the pitcher but his toe is not pointed at the pitcher. This hitting movement gets his lower half ready to apply the rest of his swing. When his front foot starts to stride, his hips remain closed, belly facing home plate. Its not until that foot settles in that his hips start to slightly open and the swing is initiated. Back to pitching, when a pitcher lifts and strides, he needs to stride in the direction of his target but not necessarily with his toe pointed towards his target. The key to all of this is the position of his hips. When the stride foot lands, his hips should still be closed. As his foot settles in, there will be a shift in weight and energy from back leg to front leg. Once the shift happens then the pitchers hips will start to rotate open.
The reason the toe pointing could hinder a pitcher is if they are focused on landing with their toe pointed, it could cause their hips to rotate and open up early. The early hip rotation will prevent the shift in weight and energy from happening. Instead of being able to shift laterally they will be losing power by folding and bending at the waist prematurely. As pitchers focus more on hip position, their foot will start to actually point on its own without causing the hips to open up. Check out the picture at the top, hips are closed and his foot is pointed – Excellent!
Weight and Energy Shift Article HERE
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