Coach Bagonzi's Pitching Blog

THE PARADOX OF THE CUTTER  -  There is a subtle insidiousness about a cutter as a viable pitch to the developed pitcher.  For many, the addiction of the cut fastball is a desirable addition to their pitching tool box.  If the cutter is refined and well-developed, it becomes a complement to the tailing fastball.  It is used as an alternative fastball, so in that respect, it has to be thrown hard and on a par with the existing FB in terms of MPH.  However, when it gets used as a breaking pitch, it usually succumbs in efficiency to the slider and curveball.   These breaking pitches will set up the prevailing fastball, be it a four-seamer or the ever becoming popular two-seamer.  When the cutter takes on the majesty of the Mariano Rivera hard cutter, then it has its own value and identity.  Yet, many cutters don't reach that stature and become flat pitches waiting to be hit a long distance.  I see that happening today to some pitchers (not to mention names) that had early modicums of success with their fadeaway friend only to see over a period of time a deteriorating, flat, under-velocity, problematic pitch.  There is a certain enchantment to the cutter in that it represents again an additional adjustment in the pitching sequence.  Warning and red flag here!  If it is not a consistent, biting, high velocity, alternate fastball, then get rid of it.  Work more on the efficacy of the two-seam fastball.  JB 10/30/12

NEW SCHOOL VS. OLD SCHOOL OR ?  -  You hear a lot of times someone expounding about some aspect of baseball, being referred to as "old school".  It's interesting that this person's cohort in the so- called "new school" is not generally  referred to as "new school".  This is as if, those propounding the "new school" philosophy and findings are specially endowed with privileged knowledge that somehow escapes the capacities of the OLD SCHOOLERS, who are so enmeshed with their antiquated views that they can't comprehend these magnificent new learning trends.  Somewhere along the line, there are those who trespass in the old school and actually and realistically possess the wherewithal to scrutinize the new school script and are able to sift through that which is functional, relevant and beneficial.  It seems as though those with a foot in each time zone would surely render the real truth.  There are many old-schoolers who have managed to allow their viewpoints to be supplemented by the productive developments of the new-schoolers, and therefore possess the best of both worlds.   JB  8/8/12

SOME PITCHING POINTERS THAT ARE OPTIONAL  -   The idea of the glove hand pointing to the plate is optional.  I used to do this in college with the idea that it distracted the hitter.  But I prefer the off-arm elbow pointed to the target with the glove on the inside.  This preserves the idea of the front shoulder staying closed longer to allow torque to build up.  Pointing the glove at the target may cause the front shoulder to fly a little prematurely.  Holding back with weight until hips are loaded can be accomplished just as well by leading with the hip - getting the hip ahead of the lead knee.  Pointing the lead knee toward the back shoulder increases the hip load and insures the preparation of the hips in their response to the rotation phase.  HAVE YOUR MECHANICS IN YOUR MIND!  Seeing yourself pitch with ideal mechanics can be done at any time.  Seeing a well-developed arm circuit that compliments and benefits the leverage system and utilizes a smooth whip-like action should be a goal.  You must see yourself pitching in your mind's eye.   JB  7/2/12

THROWING THE EXACT CURVE MECHANICALLY  -   This blog is in response to a question regarding the mechanics of a curveball.  To make a curveball deceptively useful, the mechanical motion the pitcher uses must mirror his fastball motion.  A good or great curve depends on rotation and the fingers getting in front of the ball on release.  So, therefore arm action must be quite the same, until the turnover point passes the ear in the arm circuit.  Everything mechanically should be identical to the existing style, with the exception of the stride length being a little shorter perhaps on the curveball.  This allows for the breaking distance of the curveball to achieve its optimal entry portal.  Curveball rotation is always 6/12 (12/6) varying to 1/7 (7/1), if one is searching for the real serious curve.  This rotation, which cannot be compromised  much, should have nothing to do with alteration of mechanics.  It may involve a slower arm, although for some with the hard biting power curve, this is clearly not noticeable.  The wrist does not "pop" as in a fastball, but rather pulls in and across the body.  The shoulder bury and follow through should be the same.  Let correct rotation precede the process, and then adapt and utilize the identical existing mechanical approach.  A slider is no different other than the fingers are more to the side - a spiral-type spin and arm speed is greater than the curve.  JB  6/5/12

FASTBALLS FOR THE MARGINAL PITCHER  -  There are a lot of variables in this business of velocity.  If a person is physically weak or less physically strong, we are saying he is marginal when it comes to a fastball - we also will  have a better chance of increasing his velocity.  Being blessed with an arm doesn't mean you can throw hard at will.  It means you have the capacity to develop the arm for throwing and consequently to develop velocity.. These are things that evade the casual onlooker.  Throwing lower is faster!  Why ?  Years of empirical data from clocking my pitchers verifies this - other theories suggest that the mechanics of deliveries which create the lower pitch results in holding the ball longer, allowing the pitcher to impart more force to the pitch...... resulting in a lower and faster pitch.  Of course a long stride will also make one hold the ball longer and bring the release plane down.   JB  5/31/12

FASTBALLS ARE GOOD FOR THE ARM !  -   Someone who constantly works on his fastball will likely develop his arm.  Throwing by using the leverage system correctly, which will benefit and direct the arm path in an efficient way, will also likely strengthen one's arm.  Throwing is good for the arm.  When one queries about throwing harder as an objective, my initial comment is to throw a lot.  This idea of conservation of energy by reducing the number of pitches doesn't sit well with the gang that threw 250-275 innings regularly in the past with no problems.  They often won 20+ games - went very deep into the game or finished it.  There was little or no evidence of throwing disorders.  Fastball arm health stems from the constructive nature of the pitch.  It's an arm builder.  At some point in time, our survival depended upon the ability to hurl a rock with enough force to obtain a meal.  Those that did this well probably ate better and more often.  The ability to hurl and propel some missile with gusto, undoubtedly defined man's progress up the evolutionary ladder.  This ability concept is still in vogue.  There is no elixir or formula (at least not legal) for the making of a prime time fastball.  But, to enhance the possibility of developing and adding to its character, one must throw a lot.!   JB  5/9/12

THE AMAZING WORLD OF THE CROOKED PITCH  -   With all the buzz about velocity, and it's quite justified, one should not overlook the idea that it's the off- speed pitches that often get batters out.  The dead-red hitter (todays menacing hitsmith) has a great aptitude and capacity for jerking a 95+ m.p.h. scorcher into the seats or hitting a laser into the outfield.  This serves as a reminder that batters have improved as have pitchers, who now throw 95-99 m.p.h. regularly.  It's mystifying at the same time that batters succumb, almost pathetically, to the lowly change-up (often out of the strike zone), as their talents are geared to combat the majestic fastball.  It confirms the guessing factor as a way of counteracting the ultra-speed FB, and a mistake in this mental game renders the batter powerless to adjust to the difference in m.p.h.  HAIL to the off-speed and crooked pitch, which has challenged us since the beginning of baseball.  We know about the slider, cutter, and splitter as staples of one's pitching repertoire today.  Mix in the sinking OK change along with a variety of uncle charlies and the emerging, ultra-complete pitcher makes his entrance.  The past world of the crooked pitch included the palmball, the screwball, the forkball, the thumball, the spitter, the knuckledrop - don't be surprised if some of these come back.   JB  5/1/12

VELOCITY COMES IN DIFFERENT COLORS!  -  Velocity in pitching varies according to location - lower is faster.  Certain segments of the strike zone will record higher velocities.  Inside quite often is faster.  Knee high can be faster.  This needs to be plotted out.  Velocity with movement is the true "Holy Grail".  Because of the Magnus Effect - this is hard to come by.  Assuming all that can be done mechanically is done - then the final remaining area is the conduct of the arm.  Then whether the arm will be the benefactor of all the mechanical tuning or not may very well depend on the arm circuitry and its behavior.  If it does not capitalize on its inherent leverage system, then the optimal advantage of coordinated kinetics is lost. JB  4/21/12

GIVE UP OR NO! -  How many times have people (aspiring pitchers) given up on trying to produce velocity - that is increasing one's throwing speed and laid this enigma on the doorsteps of genetics?  Before this happens, one should explore and optimize the succession of levers in a powerful whip-like arm circuit.  The arm arc or the arm circuitry is analogous to a leverage system.  When used properly, leverage systems create a mechanical advantage, increasing power.  The system involves these points: 1) the shoulder joint; 2) the elbow joint;  3) the wrist as a gliding joint; and 4) the fingers.  The circuit involves the hand break, medium cock or juncture, hi-cock, forearm layback, turn-over and release.  When refined, a resultant triggering of a very powerful quadrant system is in effect and has already been activated to aid the arm in its travel.  Making the whip-like aspect of this event the centerpiece should be the identifiable characteristic of a finished delivery.  JB  4/10/12

WRIST FLEXIBILITY IN PITCHING  -  Exploring the available force from the wrist in throwing a baseball is an art form.  Some sources give the wrist 10% of the power in pitching. I suspect it could be even more.  Using the wrist properly in itself can increase throwing velocity.  The fingers should always be behind the ball in throwing a FB to insure maximum force.  Wrist flexion should be 90 degrees in pronating (as in a screwball) and 90 degrees in supination (as in curveball) to get extreme movement on these breaking pitches.  At least 70% back flexion should occur on a fastball, but more would be better.  This applies mainly in the release of a FB.  Flexibility will give movement to the ball and allow a pitcher to not only possess curve, slider, and cutter excellence (supination), but also tailer, sinker, screwball proficiency (pronation).  In addition, with proper finger positioning and finger pressure, fastball movement will be enhanced by full utilization of wrist flexibility.  JB  1/31/12

THE ESSENCE OF VELOCITY -  How to increase throwing speed  -  The mystique that has forever surrounded the mysteries of throwing a baseball hard has been something that really has never been penetrated thoroughly, let alone solved.  Many have come up with thoughts in the matter.  Some pitching coaches have outright looked upward and away, as though vagueness could answer this!  There are some of us that have worked with pitchers almost daily and have seen certain connecting traits and procedures that have gotten the MPH up some, when these items are done well.  Today there very well may exist an extreme obsession with regards to velocity, because we see the radar gun belching out 100 MPH regularly, even up to as high as 106 MPH.  It seems as though some physiologic limit should be in order, and yet this barrier is being broken on a regular basis.  Some pitchers are born with arms for throwing -  their arms are stronger for this particular type of skill.  Most young pitchers who go through their developmental and maturational stages while becoming young men, so to speak, often can advance in pitching power by using proper throwing mechanics and ultimately refining their deliveries through constructive training programs.  These programs incorporate progressive throwing techniques, and these pitchers do increase their velocity in a systematic, but quantitative way.   JB  1/3/12

WEIGHTED BASEBALLS - DONE CORRECTLY -  With all the emphasis growing on velocity and how to increase it, one should re-examine some ideas and drills that have been used successfully in the past to increase velocity.  One of those areas is that of weighted baseballs.  Many people have been scared away by the naysayers, and that is too bad, because a viable and productive outcome often occurs with the use of weighted baseballs.  Weighted baseballs used in a systematic and controlled manner bring about a speeding up of the arm and fingers, so absolutely important in increasing throwing effectiveness.  This program can be incorporated into the ever-efficient stride drill and done at about 2/3 the distance of regular pitching distance - this would be about 40 ft - without over-extending the power in throwing.  The program involves starting with 15 (WB - weighted baseball) throws, every other one crisply, followed by 10 RB (regular ball) throws - every other one hard, then 10 WB throws, every other one crisply, and finally 10 RB throws - every other one crisply as a routine.  One should attempt to get increased rotation by pulling fingers through the ball.  This routine should be done every other day.  Expect no magic, but expect some pickup on the life of the ball as you go along.  There should be NO detrimental effects unless one deviates drastically from the program (refer to my article here for more detail).   JB 12/23/ 11

WHEN IS VELOCITY PRODUCED ?  -   Velocity in pitching is initiated before the arm gets into motion - it is the result of forward momentum.   This momentum waits until foot plant occurs and creates the ideal moment (the magic time). Then a powerful flexion of the trunk gives a potent boost to the directional energy which has already been created.   At this time this synergism of energy is transferred to the throwing arm. The arm is now whipping through to its destiny of release. This is why a long stride timed correctly with the controlled speed of the delivery in union with the synchrony of the mechanical movement creates the explosiveness necessary to generate additional arm speed.  Pitching velocity is therefore ultra-dependent on the exact timing of the overall delivery rather than any singular part.  JB 12/4/11

STEROIDS AND TECHNIQUE ?? - Baseball enthusiasts, including many purists, are reviled by the use of steroids in their beloved sport and most recognize the unfair balance of power by those going to performance enhancing drugs. The practical purist recognizes that technique in baseball probably remains the same before and after the use of steroids. Undoubtedly power is magnified, recovery time is enhanced, and size is likely increased.  One can get disturbed over this; however, from a pragmatic standpoint, to remove these players, and in this particular instance pitchers, from the technique model and the template role is to obfuscate and reduce a study in correctness as well as an ideal form to go by.  I find this true in the Roger Clemens situation. Here is a personification of how to throw a baseball, and Clemens was ideal mechanically before the steroid cloud came over him.  He still in my opinion has a very positive mechanical stature to go by.  Whether one wants to implore the negative aspect of steroid use and vilify his worthiness is one's choice and option.  I prefer to singularize the mechanical perfection as the ideal format for aspiring pitchers to utilize.  Good technique does not depend on P.E.D.  Probably most of the steroid users gained power in their skill, but likely did not alter their mechanical style or sequence in attempting to gain an edge.    JB (11/23/11)

IT'S VELOCITY FOR SURE !  How to get it?  -  Recognizing the fact that the genetic ceiling for throwing a fastball varies from one person to another makes for an interesting phenomenon.  It has little to do with size and strength.  This is attested to by Billy Wagner, Tim Lincecum, Pedro Martinez (all around 5'10"- 170 lbs) versus Randy Johnson and C.C. Sabbathia (both over 6'6") who all throw in excess of 95 M.P.H.  There seems to be a trend towards scouting and signing tall pitchers, who may be the wave of the future, and actually this tendency may redefine this position.  Some major league teams will not scout or sign right-handed pitchers who are under 6'2".  Left-handers do not have these size thresholds.  It's arm speed versus arm strength in the all important increasing throwing velocity battle.  Speed of movement of the body appears to be the most critical aspect in velocity increase.  Pitching velocity is quite dependent on the timing of the delivery.  Developing momentum using a long stride and having good mechanics certainly factor into a consistent improvement in throwing velocity.   Strength ,while not a deterrent, is second to speed of arm, timing ,and momentum as a criterion.  One searching for velocity increase, which is the all important determinant for an aspiring pitcher today, can only come from mechanical improvement and concomitant arm speed increase as a by-product. In Chapter 1 in the Inner Sanctum, the fastball and velocity increase are dealt with in great detail as are rotation, arm action, mechanics and subsequent velocity increase/improvement from these areas.  JB (11/17/11)

E-BOOKS OUT AND AVAILABLE ! -  For those of you who have asked about the availability of  "THE INNER SANCTUM", we are pleased to announce and make available "The Inner Sanctum"- Mastering The Act of Pitching as an E-book and to make this readily accessible on this web site.  Just follow the instructions and an easily accessible BOOK II is at hand.  Also available is the popular "ACT OF PITCHING" which is also obtainable in E-form. DVD specials are available as a thank you with either E-book.  I think you'll like what we have done.  JB (11/15/11)

THE PATH TO COLLEGIATE AND PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL -  Becoming comfortable to pitch in a collegiate baseball environment versus being comfortable to pitch in a professional baseball environment is purely a matter of understanding the requirements of each.  It is a matter of choice, depending on one's craving and aptitude for academics, as contrasted to the desire to be successful in baseball now and in the future.  This depends on the ability one possesses.  Almost all good young baseball players and particularly pitchers dream of playing professional baseball. As one person put it, the allure is intoxicating, and one can get the wrong notion as to the reality of bringing this about.  In fact the rarity is the rule; however, for those with the domineering drive to bring their dreams about, there resides this incredible possibility of doing exactly what they want for a substantial period of their life.  Putting and advancing an academic career to the forefront, while playing college baseball and then adding a professional baseball career would be the ultimate combination.  This would be my suggestion, if there is a capacity toward the college scene, then it's likely all bets are covered.  For those who consider themselves ready and are throwing 90+ M.P.H. and are not strongly inclined to advance their academic status- then go for it upon high school graduation.  If there's money involved - the  likely chance of making a career out of baseball is there. One should recognize that many things can go awry in this pursuit.  JB (11/14/11)

THE CASE FOR SUBMARINE PITCHING  -  Lou Pavlovich, editor of Collegiate Baseball magazine, recently alerted me to an interview that he had with Kent Tekulve, one of the last great underhand pitching relievers.  He certainly was at least one of the most successful, as well as most durable. This is attested to by a very long career (18 years).  I watched Tekulve pitch numbers of times and he surely was an effective submariner.  It's an interesting article, and any of the true purist pitching enthusiasts should read it (Collegiate Baseball, 10/2/11).  I've always backed away, in pitching camps, from letting young hurlers throw from the side or underhand.  I've always felt uncomfortable with this position, and tend to resist it now, because there are doubtless pitchers that can only develop with this approach, albeit it is in a very rare percentage of times.  Yet, because of its uniqueness, there is a certain success rate when one does master this technique from down under.  There is a totally different release point and a relatively opposite spin arrangement, particularly on fastballs, and their trajectories obviously are different.  This goes as well for curveballs and their breaking tendencies.  Throwing and keeping the ball low, which seems to be a growing tendency among today's successful pitchers can be accomplished readily by  the submariner.  The unlikely flaw of throwing high is escaped by the underhander, who thrives on placing the ball in the lower part of the strike zone to encourage groundball hitting.  This is because he starts the ball low.  The mechanical construct of the upside-downers is different and stresses may occur (for example - the back) where they don't exist in the northerly style throwers.  On the other hand, there may be less stress on the elbow and perhaps the shoulder.  JB (10/26/11)

THE CASE FOR KEEPING THE BALL LOW  - The recent classical NL playoff decider between the Phillies and the Cardinals pitted two of the best National League pitchers - both Cy Young award winners in Roy Halladay of the Phillies and New Hampshire's Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals.  Both were prime examples of lessons in low ball pitching and the resultant efficiency that goes with this approach.  It was a classic 1-0 game.  I have written in the past, emphasizing that the further one goes in the pitching arena and ultimately tries to develop himself, the more one has to constantly keep the ball low to gain maximum effectiveness.  Lower is faster, although this is subtle - one has to observe this over a period of time.  Low pitches move move, particularly with the sink effect.  Low pitches offer the batter only the top part of the ball as a visual glimpse, contrasted to the middle of the ball on a belt or letter pitch. The steady diet of balls delivered at the knees limits the amount of long balls to be hit and maximizes the number of ground balls to be achieved.  Ground balls do not go for homeruns (if they do - exchange your defense rapidly). There is an impact for throwing the fastball low, particularly if it's inclined to sink.  The curveball also, when kept down and in, becomes something that is hard for opposite side hitters to achieve their power stroke on.  Finally the change-up that sinks and disappears many times out of the strike zone becomes an enigma for even the best of hitters.  There seems to be a tendency for the top notch pitchers to resort to low ball hurling on their FB and to mix  change-ups, curves, and splitters in as low ball off-speeds for maximum results. This is not to suggest that north-south pitching is not viable, but this is particularly indicative of those who can throw upstairs with velocity and can mix a good down curve with the FB.  JB  (10/13/11)

SCREWBALL BACK ?  -  With the advent of hitters who can turn on a 97+ MPH fastball, can "pull a bullet" and become the dreaded "dead red hitters" -  the onset of the splitter was inevitable and the coming of the cutter has become a popular addition.  But it seems that we are heavily into the era of the change-up, and its interesting to see those dead red hitters succumb to the lowly slow spinning OK change-up and lose their stature and qualities as efficient hitters. This particularly happens when the 3-fingered C.U. or circle change is low and sinking.  An often pathetic response is made by the hitter. This is when he is looking for the supreme FB.  It also seems that a sinking FB is becoming more popular and speed changes on this seem to enhance its effectiveness.  This all comes down to off-speed pitches low that sink and vanish many times out of the strike zone.  I reveled at Bruce Sutter's splitter some while back that acted like a screwball.  Many modern day hurlers are throwing an OK that looks like a screwball.  The advantage of the sink is potent as the off- speed, triggered by movement, more than compounds the effectiveness of the pitch.  This leads me to believe that the screwball of old-days, of Valenzuela, Marshall and Mcgraw is on a comeback course.  The screwball is certainly a change-up type pitch like its reverse cousin, the curveball, however it has more biting action than a change- up and has a distinct 2 dimensional quality.  I basically believe as do others that pronating, which is required on the screwball, is easier on the arm, and particularly the elbow, than many of the supinating pitches (curve, slider, slurve, etc.).  In that respect, I see the screwball coming back.  The screwball throwers of the past lasted quite a while and threw a lot of innings.  I've written in Chapter 3, Part 1 and 2, a lot about the mechanics and rotations of the screwball in the new book "The Inner Sanctum" p. 189.   JB  10/6/11

THE INNER SANCTUM-MASTERING THE ACT OF PITCHING IS READY and waiting to GO! -   This is just a brief note to alert those who have been asking " when will the book THE INNER SANCTUM be coming out?  The printers have it now.  It has 452 pages, 523 photos, 133 illustrations and 21 charts -  It's highly visually oriented and for those purists who want to dig into the details of pitching and get a precise version of the pitching process. It has a 112 grip portfolio at the end (glossary) depicting grips - both right (RHP) and left (LHP) using 4 seam and 2 seam alignments, while showing appearances - i.e. front, top, back, side, etc.  There is a strong section on the mental aspect of pitching as well as a chapter devoted to the science and anatomy involved in hurling a baseball.  JB  9/8/11

THE IMMACULATE STRIDE LENGTH To infer that variables exist that alter the release point on a pitch delivery and not thoroughly investigate the phenomenon of stride length is to be quite remiss in understanding the key ingredient in release point control and to miss out on the kinetic sequence. Some persons and even professional coaches of the past have had an almost backward version of the almighty stride length phenomenon. Of course it’s stride length! And when you see guys like Tim Lincecum, of slight build wield a 95 MPH fastball consistently and when queried along with others of the same ilk refer to longer stride length as their weapon, the pitching gurus of the past must have their ears pointed upward on this. One of the best that I’ve ever known who truly was an authentic guru has been Bragg Stockton, formally of Texas Christian University and University of Houston, who came up with the 1 to 7 ratio that I have whole-heartedly endorsed and adopted into my system. That is, that if you lengthen your stride 1 inch, the ball will go lower by 7 inches on the average. Obviously some shorter persons will be different as well as some taller personages.

In my adoption, I recognize that one must go forward. That is an absolute and in the respect that the head and shoulders must go over the “wall”. The “wall” is an imaginary spot midway between the stride. Once this happens, the ever loving forward momentum inertia factor is actuated, and if one goes out!, over!, down!, and deep! and buries his shoulder while directing this point to the target, then the thrust and the geometric angle necessary to get the ball down is created. This, however, is facilitated by a long stride which lowers the body plane and subsequently drops the release point. To shorten the stride and assume that the ball will go lower is to flaunt not only physics, but geometry as well. The coaches of the past believed in some of this and not mentioning names, they were successful pitchers. There are variables, and it’s possible to violate the foregoing and get results, but I would be more than surprised if this worked. In dealing with 1000’s of pitchers over a 29 year pitching camp career – many pitchers have thrived with the 1 to 7 ratio that has been established as a standard. I’m sorry to see persons wanting to pitch well and wanting to learn about pitching use some truly outdated system. There are no contradictions – lower is better and faster. It is better and it is successful to a point in all pitchers who have mastered their stride length, Of course it’s stride length!! The good guys like Schilling, always are aware of  making this point on foot plant. I discuss this further in the new book, The Inner Sanctum – Chapter 2 – pg. 107 on Mastering Stride Length. The truly great pitchers have their stride length mastered and it’s long.  JB  8/11/11

OVERDONE  WITH THE CUTTER? -  Is the cutter overdone as an extra pitch today?  It's a great pitch, but everyone seems to believe that their repertoire isn't complete unless they have a cutter.  The purpose of this cut-fastball is generally to pitch inside to opposite side hitters.  Bearing in on the hands primarily - but it can be used in other ways.  The cutter is relatively easy on the arm and can be learned rather quickly, although the great cutter may need a lot of Mariano Rivera type of scrutiny to truly determine if it's just a cutter or a great cutter.  It may be difficult to maintain an excellence with the cutter without having the reverse action on the fastball.  Cutters require a lot of backspin as does a fastball, but a cutter maintains a little off balance axis that allows the pitch to fade at the end.  My concern is that those living on their FB and CB (many GOOD PITCHERS do just this) not get overly enamored with the cutter that they put the CB on the shelf.  This may be why these strong pitchers are successful - the ability to produce an opposition in rotation on the FB and CB and an opposition in trajectory.  This phenomenon does not exist on FB and cutter rotations or trajectory-wise either.  The cutter is dealt with at length in Chapter 3, Section 2 in the new book, The Inner Sanctum.   JB  (7/21/11) 

COACHING THROUGH SUGGESTION -  Coaching should not be dictatorial, although it has been, and I am surely guilty of that tendency during a good bit of my coaching career.  When players are somewhat accomplished, coaching through suggestion is a great approach to the concept of teaching.  All persons are individuals, and this ideal should be respected.  Human nature responds to the concept of suggestion, particularly when a serious positive impact is noticed in one's performance.  Concentration on the positive can often turn a marginal performance into a useable experience.  One should believe what he CAN accomplish whether he has done this or not. One must innovate.  Instinctive thinking is essential to effective coaching.  The groundwork for improved performance is leadership which interacts with effective coaching.  An authentic coach can produce extraordinary results.  This should always be allowed to happen.  JB  (7/9/11)

WHITE LINE SYNDROME -  This area is fraught with misunderstanding, and yet I wish more had been known earlier.  The psychic virus is a generalized term that implies a plethora of psychological episodes that plague people, but are particularly noticeable in baseball players and quite often in pitchers.  When one understands that the uniform he is wearing marks him as a member of a team, and that contribution to the adversary is a no-no, then his fear and trepidation of failure needs to be left at the door.  It is quite understandable that all of us have fears, but when these fears contribute to the other team because of an improper positive mental approach, then we need to look seriously at reasons.  One cannot waste his life playing the "would have, could have" game and comforting himself with reasons other than the real and factual ones.  The game is at least 80% mental and few realize this fully and consistently.  It's an omnipresent phenomenon, and one needs to work on this aspect and become a "gamer" by force of will.  Most of us are fortified with the will to do well, and yet we need to prove this when the "red light" goes on.  That's when heads are counted.  So, whatever the malady is (probably lack of confidence), grab the demon by the horns and become all you can be.  Do not waste time in the negative world of "should have, would have" and "could have," but bore through and get at it!  JB  (7/3/11)

WHY DOES A SLIDER BREAK? -  Intriguing question indeed!  This is being posed by one of our curious and yet astute forum members who peruses the intricacies of the "Crooked Pitch" world.  I have for many years had the same concern and can offer my viewpoint which I feel is correct yet still mystifying.  Years ago in my early days of pitching, there was a man by the name of Charles Paulsen from Minden, Nebraska who put out a thin little booklet (1/4") on different baseball pitches.  In his collection was a ball with a spiral spin he called "THE HARD BALL" because it spun like a football spiral and also like a bullet.  I interpreted this as the hardest you could throw a ball.  After all, it would bore into the bat on contact, and it would part the air with its drilling spin.  I incorporated this into my pitching arsenal as the fastest  pitch you could throw.  I didn't recognize right off that this wasn't true.  As close to a perfect spiral was my task - not to make this ball break as that would slow it.  So I have pondered this in today's blog with regard to the slider.  My ultimate conclusion is that the axis which is generally parallel to the ground has a wandering dot, and it veers away from its center quite frequently.  There is an unbalanced air regime (low pressure under and on side of ball (as the dot wanders right (RHP), the unbalance grows and the ball breaks (to glove side).  If the dot wanders much - you get a slurve, and if it waders greatly you have a curve.  However, throwing a true spiral a little off center will create the desired slider- truly a fast pitch that veers late and has been the great devastator of hitters - who may interpret it as a fastball.  There are certainly degrees of sliders - some big and loose, some small and tight.  Staying on top of the ball and giving it a quarter of a turn provides the necessary velocity to make it a sudden pitch.  The slider has been hybridized all the way from a cutter like pitch to a big slurve and to a curve pitch. All of this starts out as a "hard ball" - perfect spiral really designed to be a fast ball.  The wandering dot is covered in depth in Chapter 3 " Expanding the Tool Box" in the The Inner Sanctum - Mastering the Act of Pitching.  JB  (7/3/11)

FOCUS AND ATTITUDE NEED TO START EARLY - We talk a lot about focus these days without ever completely revealing how it's done.  It's a convenient buzzword for coaches and teachers.  It's vague enough to imply a myriad of things.  In analyzing pitching success, we discover that the winners seem to focus well and consistently.  Putting a brain on every pitch may be an art form, and some of my pitching students recently have bought into this. Their records suggest that they have been able to maintain this brain for 100 or more pitches.  This has taken them through a typical game and given them a  mastery and control of their pitching outcomes.  It's beautiful to watch a young pitcher be in complete control of himself and allow for no distraction to break or interfere with this mind meld. To say that pitching is 80% of the game, and then come right back and say that pitching is at least 80% mental is to make the pitching gods squirm uncomfortably with their talent-only oriented equation.  It is necessary to start this phenomenon early and blend it with doses of attitude (that of the positive variety), so that the mental focus and attitude equation gets a head start and gets the marginal guy over the hump right off.  This area is dealt with in large doses in chapter 4 (It's All Mental) in my new book - THE INNER SANCTUM - Mastering the Act of Pitching - soon to be released.  It's a long book, so bring your focus hat and attitude glasses with you.  JB  (6/28/11)

REFINING THE DELIVERY  -  Something that struck my eye while at Spring training particularly with college pitchers was the commonality of an obvious pitching delivery flaw.  This was most noteworthy in Division III pitchers.  In essence, the pitch was truly not finished.  This was almost exclusively accompanied by a inconsistent stride length, obviously this resulted in the pitch wandering high in a majority of cases.  There seemed to be no attempt to correct this malady.  Pitching high seemed to be one of the defective flaws exhibited by many fairly strong-armed throwers.  Throwing high with zest and activity on the ball is one thing, but throwing high with subdued velocity and minimal activity on the fastball is one area that should be dealt with.

Controlling the curve, or other breaking pitches (and/or off-speed pitches), and having a respectfully fast number one pitch (FB) is a style of pitching - the north-south style.  The N/S style depends strongly on the control of the curve, then coming high and tight with the FB (with some life to it) - one can exist and thrive in this mode.  However, if that zest isn't there with the FB, then the pitch has to be placed lower in the strike zone, where it is less visible and may have a movement component to it.  This is accomplished by lengthening the stride.  The longer the stride, the lower the pitch, and as a side effect, often the pitch will be faster.  The release point is surely higher on the curve so that an adjustment between the fastball release and curveball release needs to be made.  This will be covered in detail in the new book, The Inner Sanctum - Mastering the Act of Pitching, to be released in the near future - more on this later.  JB  (3/27/11)

FOR SOME IT'S ALL IN THE "QUADS" -  Roger Clemens said he made  his money thru his "quads", an acronym for quadriceps, which are largely the thigh muscles.  This powerful segment of the upper leg is made up of: 1) Rectus Femoris (main thigh muscle); 2) Vastus Lateralis (on side); 3) Sartorious (inner part of thigh); and  4) Vastus Medialis (in middle).  The back part of the thigh is the "hamstring" group made up of the Biceps Femoris - a famous group in the injury league, which includes the Semitendinosous muscle section along with the Semimembranosous muscle.  These  basically make up the hamstring group.  These together with the quadriceps group make up a potent and powerful muscle arrangement, which can only add to athletic performance by its development and fitness.  These groups play a strong role in pitching and much of the fastball power originates from these prominent muscles.  JB (6/2/10)

THE POWERS THAT BE IN PITCHING  - This brief discussion will involve the powers that originate in pitching a baseball in a synchronous way, so that we will have a marvelous and beautiful physical performance as the ultimate event.  The powers that be involve th : 1) power of the core;  2) power of the torso- upper and lower; 3) power of the legs- especially the "Quads", but also the calf muscles 4) the power of the centrifugal action(rotation of the body); 5) power of the forearm - (flexors and extensors) and the upper arm (biceps and triceps; 6) power of the hand and the fingers (the final benefactors of rotation); 7) power of the whipping motion of the arm; 8) power of the leverage factor of arms and legs; 9) power of the downward plane and the vertical vector; 10) power of the upper back and chest; and 11) power of the hips and buttocks.  Some of these areas overlap some, but it must be identified that each has a contribution to the final product.  If a pitching aspirant can get some degree of power from each of these anatomical sections, it should be recognizable that a cumulative  effect will manifest itself and a refreshed fastball will  likely appear.  All of the above are dealt with in various blogs that have already been written or those that are forthcoming.   JB (6/1/10)

IT'S ALSO IN THE FINGERS ! -  We can talk all we want about the fastball being produced by the lower body, the activity of the hips and the utilization of the four quadrants and the core (and I have have certainly done this). This is rightly so, but the actual character and demeanor of the precise fastball and its activity, resides in the fingertips of the pitching hand, which is also the great benefactor of the aforementioned quadrant system etc. The speed of the fingertips, which is likely accelerated by the centrifugal action of the torso, nonetheless is somewhat a voluntary and willful performance of the individual, who realizes the supreme importance of giving the ultimate "rip" through the middle of the baseball to get the the concomitant "crackle" on the fastball.  This extra tightness of spin gives a rotational velocity which magnifies the Magnus force and gives the great "after life" to a high quality fastball.  This "electric" quality to a fastball is rare, but frequent enough in those long fingered pitchers who endorse the fast fingers concept.  So rare is "after burn" that a searcher of the supreme live fastball should expend much of his experimenting time on developing extreme, yet proper hand action and great last second "flicking" of the fingers.  This is hardly wasted or frivolous time, for degrees of fastball liveliness (hard stuff to come by) can come about.  The live ball factor mentioned on p. 26 in "The Act of Pitching" explains the rationale in grading fastballs.  JB (5/30/10)

DEVELOPING A PITCHING IDENTITY AS TO STYLE, STRATEGY, SEQUENCE AND TEMPO  -  How often have pitchers been two pitch types (fastball and curveball) with a close and strong mastery of each of these pitches, and then ultimately evolved into four-plus type pitchers to gain superiority over hitters (not recommending this until two pitches are mastered)?  It is imperative, in my opinion, that a curve always precedes a slider in development, and that the fastball is always the premier pitch in the schematic and remains so.  To have in the pitching kit a - fastball (FB), curveball (CB), slider (SL), and change-up (CU) will round out a full menu, with the splitter (SP) on the back burner and sinker (SN) looming on the horizon, as the next members.   This gives the pitcher the identity of a full-house hurler, who can give you any one of these pitch types, and vary the response and sequence against certain hitting types (ex. wide and deep stance, closed and crouched,. tall and straight up).  Evolving with these aforementioned pitch types and employing a system of location, speed variation, and sequencing makes the developing pitcher a potent entity for any hitter.  The essential rule should be mastery of  each of these pitches, before they are put on the market.  Fewer may be better, as non-mastery of several is surely wasteful and futile in function.  Having two high quality pitches is undoubtedly more valuable than having five mediocre pitches.  Pitchers need to identify the direction they are heading in terms of pitching style, and fit this with their ability and preference, and select a style that complements their stuff.  JB  (10/26/09)

THE IMPACT OF UNDERSTANDING AND MASTERING STRIDE LINE MECHANICS  -  Having used the previously devised "DOUBLE BAR T" drill for many years, I'm always satisfied with pitching subjects' comprehension of alignment and direction in the throwing of a baseball.  It has, however, been noticeable in those not aware of this drill, that there are many violations of stride length, foot position, and alignment ,which occur during the production of a pitch.  Stride length and velocity are intimately linked, as are accuracy and stride length.  Not retaining optimal closure is another likely error for those not familiar with stride line graphics. Many problems in mechanics can be cured, often quite simply, by subject awareness of the configuration of the "Double Bar T"  drill.  In describing this drill without a chalk board, it is imperative that the reader or listener see in his "mind's eye", the position of the two  "T's".  One T makes the back of the T construction, and the other makes the imaginary  "wall", that is so crucial to drive line mechanics.  The stride line itself is a horizontal designation directly to the target.  This is the absolute guide to where the ball should be going, and in this respect is really the true measuring stick in pitching control.  One should be absolutely sure of his "sweet spot" here, i.e., where it is comfortable, convenient and accurate for pitch delivery.  Highly successful pitchers always recognize their touchdown spots and rarely veer from these critical locations.  Putting down tape on the gym floor or lime on outdoor spaces can bring about a visible guide line for the "Double Bar T".    JB  (10/25/09)

SYNCHRONY IN PITCHING -  To be able to throw well and with power, muscles of the legs, hips, lower back, shoulders and arms must work together in a cooperative and harmonious sequence, which is regarded as SYNCHRONIZATION in pitching.  This is truly a beautiful sight when done well, and an appearance of effortlessness and fluidity rings through.  Muscles cannot be working and going in diverse directions, but rather functioning together in a continuum.  It's the function of all the muscles cooperating during the whole pitching event that surely gives the pitcher the distinct edge in efficiency.  Good pitchers have a repetitive motion, which constantly builds up muscle memory. Of course this is really in the mind, but muscles respond in a productive way, when they are trained continuously in a similar style. Speed can be generated in an easy ,almost effortless manner, when correct repetition succeeds motion that originates from effective instruction and efficient training.  Getting the bottom of the body interacting with the upper quadrants in a collaborative manner is where the science is.  Synchrony in pitching should always be a goal for the seriously motivated pitcher.   JB  (10/24/09)

PITCHING WITHOUT THE ARM  -  When it becomes difficult to understand that it isn't all arm when it comes to pitching power, one should try this next unique drill, which I developed for one of my recent pitching camp seminars.  It was particularly provoking, because my group, which was made up exclusively of high school age juniors and seniors and college freshmen were startled to recognize the complete impact of the torso in pitching.  Long stressing the effect of the legs and the hips along with the core system in producing velocity in pitching, it was revealing how little the arm meant in total power production.  On the other hand. the arm is the supreme benefactor of these other forces, and that's why it ultimately functions strongly.  Sitting in a chair and throwing a ball rather dramatically makes one realize that the lower body, which is being left behind in this event is such a "powerhouse".  Sitting on the ground or floor and trying to throw produces the same conclusion.  To make this event more functional, I designed the stride drill with the pitching hand in the back pocket to progress as a "dry" drill as usual, but with this magnificent quadrant (arm) on sabbatical.  I also intensified this drill by bringing up the lift leg into the "load" position.  There are now three quadrants and the core in operation, and the energy produced here is suddenly recognizable as a power source for the arm.  This is now the "set stride" drill and with a vigorous step to the stride line staying closed until foot plant, now rotating forcibly, it will be very noticeable that the arm tries to fly off (sling shot effect).  This should be done repetitively until some comfort comes about.  Now put the arm into play by removing it from the back pocket and one perceives and appreciates the union of force and the actual collaboration of the quadrants and core to generate this magnificent happening known as a "pitch".  JB  (9/28/09)

News

See recent article North Country legend shares his love of sport and being a coach featured in the Union Leader - - click here to view article !

NFHS High School Hall of Fame boasts dozen exceptional baseball coaches - Coach Bagonzi recognized in recent NFHS Listing - click here to view article !

Coach Bagonzi's New Book, The Inner Sanctum - Mastering the Act of Pitching has been printed and released as of Dec. 2011 - click here for more info! 

The Act of Pitching & The Inner Sanctum - Mastering the Act of Pitching available now in E-book format Click here or the icon for a preview and/or order.

The Inner Sanctum - Mastering the Act of Pitching is a follow-up tutorial to his well-received initial work, The Act of Pitching. The book serves as an expansive adjunct to The Act of Pitching and as a preparatory series of ideas, reminders, suggestions and tips designed to help aspiring pitchers in achieving their next level, and to enlighten those desiring to improve their coaching expanse and particularly their awareness of pitching knowledge.  The manual provides advanced "how to" pitching techniques for the Little League through aspiring professional levels.  The book is extraordinary in its depth on the subjects of the fastball, mechanics, breaking pitches, the mental aspects of the game, developing the pitcher through resistance training, nutrition and drills, along with physics and anatomy of pitching and how to create effective pitches through the science and art of pitching.  In addition, there are 400-plus photos in the book which demonstrate pitching sequences and grips designed to enhance activity on pitches.  A special area of the book includes a glossary of 112 pitch grip photos.

Coach Bagonzi recently participated in an Interview/Q&A session with David Laurila of Baseball Prospectus during Spring Training in Fort Myers, FL  - click here for the article.

Coach Bagonzi is holding a pitching camp in Woodsville, NH. at the Community Field on Saturday April. 24, 2010, 9a.m.-12 - anyone interested please contact Coach Bagonzi at 1-603-747-2576.  See updated 2010 Seminars & Pitching Clinic Schedule here.

Coach Bagonzi discusses unifying directional and rotational forces in Torso Rotation is the Answer - The Body is Designed to Turn, located in the Library/Pitching Articles  Section of the website.

Coach Bagonzi recently participated in a three-part Interview/Q&A session with Jason Parks, a writer for Baseball Time in Arlington, a Texas Rangers blog on the MVN network.  He covers the Texas Rangers minor league system including conducting interviews with players, scouts and coaches - click here for the 3-part article.

 

Dec. 27, 2007 -  During the halftime of Woodsville Area Booster Club Annual Basketball Tournament boys Wilton vs. Woodsville game, The Woodsville Community Building was renamed the Dr. John A. Bagonzi Woodsville Community Building. A banner was raised stating the renaming of the building.

Career Highlights Slideshow & NFHS Induction Ceremony Highlight clip shown at Community Building Renaming Ceremony

 

Coach Bagonzi one of twelve in 2007 Hall of Fame Class inducted into the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) National High School Hall of Fame.  Click here for Press Release - Click here or photo to view NFHS Induction ceremony video and photo highlights

 

 

Review content Information & Preview Coach Bagonzi's popular DVD, The Holy Grail - The Fastball - the first in the 4-module DVD series.  Click here to preview the DVD designed to help one understand, build, and hone this all-important pitch.

 

Expanding the Toolbox - The Breaking & Off-speed Pitches - learn the pitches necessary to expand your arsenal, compliment and magnify your fastball.  Go to the Pitching DVD and Video Clip Library for more info & DVD preview, click the DVD inset to go to detail page and see a preview of the Integrated Curveball Drill Set segment.

Recent Articles/Video Clips posted:

The Demise of “Charlie” VS the  Resurrection of "Lord Charles" - One of the pathetic improbabilities that has existed in the last decades of baseball pitching thinking is the “Quick Fix” phenomenon - sliders, cutters, splitters, sinkers as an answer to all or many pitching problems, and the expediency with which it can be accomplished.  Lost in this transmission is one of the great classy and graceful pitches, that had a stature and regality that was deserved, as its complement to the ever-prominent fastball.

The Angle of Pronation   - Many persons are befuddled by words like pronation and supination and yet these catch-all words solve a myriad of concepts when applied to certain critical events in the pitching process. Pronation is talked about, few have a fix on it, but successful pitchers do it well and those with moving fastballs do it well.

Check back frequently - we will be posting articles and video clips regularly!  I welcome continued dialog on the issues introduced in the articles in the Forum

THE ART OF PITCHING WITH THE LOWER BODY  -   I suspect what we are talking about when we mention "upper torso." that we are really referring to the shoulders and arms.  Anything below could be considered core and lower torso.  The gist of this treatise is to seriously hone in on the lower body as the power source in pitching.  We need to aptly describe the tremendous involvement of the legs and the subsequent loading sequence in employing these quadrants.  Many people are in tune with their upper body; however, the pending artistry may be coordinating the legs and the lower body to perform the vital task of power production in a pitch.   This is a business unto itself, and as pitching refinement continues with a gesture toward higher level output, we also need an understanding of the intimate details in accomplishing such.  Some ideas involved are: 1) The seriousness of pitching with the legs; 2) Working and developing the CORE; 3) The "Loading" phenomenon; 4) Balance and alignment; 5) Synchronization; and 6) Pitching without the arm (drill).  JB  (9/27/09)

WORKING AND DEVELOPING THE CORE FOR PITCHING POWER - MANY PITCHERS THROW FASTER  THAN PEOPLE DRIVE THEIR CARS!  - Only by using every muscle from the back foot to the very finger tips can a pitcher generate enough directional and rotational force (sling shot) to release the ball at some truly amazing speeds.  It has been estimated that 60% of the power in pitching - that is in the production of a strong fastball, is produced by the core apparatus of the body.  To understand the precision of the core, we have to get a precise definition of the "CORE".  We want to get away from the "ABS" only concept, for that is only a fraction of this vital part which makes up our inner musculature.  While there are NO aspirations to make an anatomical lesson here or in the following, there still needs to be a specific identification of the components of the core system.  Residing within the core proper is the: 1) Rectus abdominus muscle group (ABS); 2) external obliques (abs) 3) intercostals (rib muscles); 4) pectoralis major and minor (chest muscles); 5) lower deltoids (shoulder muscles); 6) erector spinae (lower back muscles); 7) gluteal (buttocks muscles); 8) upper hamstrings; and 9) ileopsoas.  Therefore working on these precise muscle groups (the core musculature) through precise exercises will bring about a strong core structure, which in turn will power the main quadrants.  This is the prime directive.  Selecting exercises using resistance, which will affect the aforementioned muscles, will surely accentuate the strength of the core, and assist in its power transfer to the pitching process.   JB  (9/27/09)

REMOVING THE BATTER'S DECISION TIME  -  Today's batters are surely sophisticated in hitting a serious fastball (95+mph).  They have .25 seconds to delivered the bat to the ball (but they can do it).  In addition, these august hitters are adept at recognizing the type of pitch.  This all takes place in the lapse of micro seconds.  Then, what to do if you are a pitcher and are interested in combating this incredible talent that today's modern batter has?  This is hardly to demean yesteryear's hitters, who without specific training (video apparatus, software designed to help recognize types of pitches), were able to achieve some very remarkable feats and accomplished some lasting records.  Today's batters are taught to recognize types of pitches (no small feat if they are in the high-velocity range), and then to determine where the ball is located, and then whether they should swing  at the pitch or not.  This is a big order, recognizing that there is a time factor on this situation called DECISION TIME.  The breaking  or off-speed pitches perhaps offer a longer look and appear to be easier to cope with, but because there is a trajectory and angular dimension to these pitches, the chore becomes more difficult than it might seem.  Reading the ball and consequently the pitch-type surely is an art, but this is being preached by the more enterprising hitting coaches and instructors. Surely this should cause the related enterprising pitching instructors  to recognize the need to serve up a menu of complex sequences that will offset and re-challenge these reinvigorated good hitters, where the advantages can be turned in the thrower's direction. This battle has been and will be ongoing as long as technicians are performing the extra duty in refining the great game, and the wonderful confrontation of the pitcher-batter phenomenon is intensified.  JB  (9/26/09)Back to Top of Page

ELEMENTS OF A BALANCED LANDING AND ALIGNMENT IN PITCHING  -  All of the wonders of utilizing the 4 quadrants and the core system in the throwing of a ball have no meaning if balance isn't maintained, not only throughout the kinetic sequence, but particularly in the landing event (and foot plant).  Also if precise alignment isn't followed to a "T", it is unlikely that a highly effective pitch can result, even when core and quadrant systems are in order.  Striding to the stride line, with a slightly closed front toe on the ball of the landing foot, is not only critical to alignment, but also for the impending necessity of balance.  Only when the body proper reaches a stability in weight distribution, and an optimal rotational positioning occurs, can a resultant pitch be made that encompasses all the inertial and kinetic energies that have been initiated from the outset.  The balls of the feet are always the advisors to proper balance, and this needs to be addressed with breakdown drills involving touchdown, foot plant and torso rotation.  When the back foot is employed in the rotational effect, it is probable that the action of the hips produces a vitally strong kinesis, because of the pivoting action brought on by the ball of the back foot in conjunction with the pivoting of the front foot upon foot plant.  This is where the artistry resides.  This is where balance, power, and alignment fuse.  This is so absolutely necessary in excellent pitching.  JB  (9/25/09)

THE "LOADING" PHENOMENON IN PITCHING  -  The following parts of the body, when delivering a forceful pitch need to be primed (or set or loaded) prior to their ultimate contractions and release.  The parts that are truly involved are: 1) the back leg; 2) the hips (pelvic girdle); 3) the shoulders )pectoral girdle); 4) the scapulae (shoulder blades); and 5) the arm (on the back circuit).  Lets take these individually -  1) the back leg - the lower leg from the knee down needs to flex (bend slightly - not a drop and drive type) and the back foot needs to be set against the pitching plate, and get the ball of the foot driving against the "rubber".  This is truly where the serious kinesis begins.  2) the HIPS - the pelvic girdle which is such a powerhouse ,and together with the core structure is responsible for most of the power, particularly the rotational energy which in turn causes the velocity expression.  Bringing the front or lift leg up to a level above the belt and leading with the front hip is a way to get the hips set.  Bringing the point of the knee towards the back shoulder effectively loads this powerful quadrant system, replete with all the intricate muscles involved.  This can be felt and needs to be practiced "dry" to get a comfortability in its loading effect.   At this time the 3) front shoulder needs to be pointed to target with the chin residing over this "bead".  This is a form of pectoral girdle load.  The scapulae (shoulder blades) pinched together creates a measure of scapular adduction and finishes the shoulder loading phenomenon.  4) The arm as the hand breaks goes into the juncture of 1st wrist, and this initially loads the arm and prepares the back casting of the arm to reach into high-cock, which is a second loading point (note fingers need to be on top here - actually a form of loading).  The arm circuit will be embellished by the forearm layback position as the hand passes the ear.  If these loading areas are approached accurately through repetitive "dry" mechanics, it is likely that a refreshed fastball will emanate.  JB  (9/24/09)

THE AMAZING 3-FINGERED CHANGE-UP  -  The pitching gods and the general pitching world have embraced and promoted the "OK" or circle grip as its favored change of pace and as an effective pitch over the years.  This is rightly so and has proved to be a very sound change-up approach; however, I have found that experimenting with a 3-fingered variation often produces a better "feel", better control, and a consistent sinking almost  "screwgy" effect, particularly when pronating.  This has been true for many searching for a usable off-speed pitch.  This grip has a comfortabilty for me, and allows me during instruction to demonstrate easily the arm speed and pronating release, which tends to guarantee a "sink"  in the majority of instances when experimenting with this pitch.  Begin with a 2-seam approach either with horseshoe down and middle finger along and between the seams, or with horseshoe up and middle finger across the seams. These seem to be the preferred types for best activity and deception.  The index and third finger are to the extreme sides of the ball, making the middle finger the prime activator, and the thumb resides in the center of the ball at its bottom (this can and should be adjusted experimentally).  The middle finger remaining on the ball longer tends to guarantee the lowness of the pitch.  The index finger quite naturally turns in and causes a pronation of the ball which gives it its sink.  Frequently the pitch takes on a screwball effect, and the pitch is exclusively low ,enhancing the movement and the effectiveness, certainly all worthy of developing.  JB  (8/25/09)

THE TWO EDGED SWORD - VELOCITY AND MOVEMENT  -  In our pursuit of this highly-prized combination, which is both  literally and figuratively the "HOLY GRAIL" of pitching, we come to recognize that the compatibility of the two most prolific and sought after characters, i.e. velocity and movement, is not always present.  When it is, there is a remarkable coalescence of potencies, that causes one to watch and admire the integration of these two critical and distinguishing attributes.  The resultant quality in the pitch is a treasure to behold, as few are able to accomplish this phenomenon.  The Magnus Force, always at work, can negate one from joining the other, so that the harder or more velocity one puts on the ball, frequently the less it moves.   However, when certain levels are considered, and the factors of rotation (amount and direction), trajectory, elevation of the pitch, and many times humidity and leverage - the two can conjoin and become the all powerful "Two Edged Sword".  Searching for proper rotation and amount, and correct release angles and recognizing the necessary "slot" for optimum conjunction, should be an on going project, as the result far out weighs the effort put into it.   JB  (8/9/09)

MELDING TRAJECTORY, ELEVATION, ARM ANGLE, HAND AND FINGER ANGLE, AND ROTATION TO CREATE A PRODUCTIVE PITCHING SLOT -  I've always recognized that some pitchers have a "slot" or groove, where their stuff, particularly fastballs, act and are at their best.  Some have drastically less action when they wander very much out of this slot.  Obviously there are forces at work which have a strict effect on this phenomenon.  They may be natural events such as: a) gravity; b) the Magnus force; c) humidity; and d) air pressure, which the pitcher has little or no control over.  Other areas, which factor in, likely are: a) trajectory (vertical and horizontal); b) elevation; c) velocity; d) quality and amount of rotation on the ball; and e) arm and hand angle.  These factors can be controlled - certainly to some extent at least by the knowledgeable pitcher.  These areas surely are addressed regularly by most pitchers striving for excellence.  All of these aforementioned elements, taken in some kind of unison, tend to compound themselves and bring about a consistent and effective pitch which is at its best in the "late" zone.  Such quality on all pitches is highly desirable and needs to be worked upon and pursued by motivated aspirants.  Working with these individuals, who have accomplished the foregoing, is indeed a pleasure, and it is a task worthy of looking forward to and placing serious attention upon.  The outcome is a highly-prized fastball, etc. with movement consistently, truly a measure of progressive pitching.   JB  (8/8/09)Back to Top of Page

THE MEETING OF MAGIC MOMENTS IN PITCHING (All part of the immaculate kinetic chain)  -  When we speak of delivering a pitch, we are observing and analyzing a series of mechanical events, quite appropriately termed the kinetic chain.  In the flow of motion energy, there are some junctures, where a particular phenomenon exists, which is emphatic in bringing about a dramatically positive occurrence.  I refer to these points as "magic moments," for the sole reason that a very productive happening results.  I suspect that there are a minimum of four or five of these remarkable moments, which could easily be defined as "magical," because they are loaded with potential for great doings.  There may be more or less than this number, but my awareness of the pitching process suggests there are five distinct happenings in which a so-called effective or efficient point in time occurs that is likely to produce an extremely positive event.  These highly magical times are : 1) hi- cock to release point; 2) hip load and lead; 3) directional thrust and stride; 4) complete torso rotation upon foot plant; and 5) back leg release.  They are not necessarily in any kind of rank order, but sequentially they would come about thusly: a) hip load and stride-out; b) hi-cock launch stage; c) torso rotation; and d) back leg release.    JB   (8/2/09)

TRAJECTORY IS EVERYTHING - Enhancing the Vectors !  -  When establishing a pitching slot that favors the type of stuff a pitcher throws, one should consider the tremendous advantage of the downward plane.  This extremely advantageous vertical vector brings the ball contrary to the comfort zone of the batter, who would like the ball coming in on his bat/swing plane, which would be less downward.  When everyone is emphasizing movement, and I surely belong to this genre, it can embrace changing arm angle, which is usually lowering it to get movement and consequently removing the vantage of a vertical vector, which may have been more detrimental to the batters line of vision than movement would produce by itself.  Coming from high to low and commanding the lower part of the strike zone is surely a dilemma even for the outstanding hitter.  The line of vision, which is so all important to the disciplined batter, changes now as the ball comes in on a tilted or slanted plane, and the visual totality of the ball vanishes to only the top half of the ball.  This is particularly bothersome to the astute hitter who thrives on exactness.  When the horizontal vector is also intersected, particularly in the strike or hitting zone, pitches such as sliders and great curves, as well as live fastballs, can all appear to have late break.  These are enhanced when a smooth and efficient downward plane is incorporated into a pitcher's basic style.  Arm angles do not have to progress into strict overhand to accomplish this, but can involve 3/4+ and 3/4 angles.  Hand and finger angle can generally accommodate the movement concept.  Change-ups, sinkers, and splitters can be enhanced out of this downward approach.   JB  (8/1/09)

HIPS GALORE IN PITCHING VELOCITY  -  The pelvic girdle (hips) is the great connector of the upper torso  and together with the core and lower system as well, is the activator for the powerful rotational energy that is created and manifested in the correct delivery of a pitched baseball.  The pelvis supports the weight of the body from the vertebral column.  The girdle's function is to attach the lower limbs to the axial skeleton.  The hips then become the "powerhouse."  They need to be set and loaded correctly and unleashed at the proper moment to furnish the great rotational power necessary to transmit energy ultimately to the fingers and the ball.  However, this rotational effect is something that continues on and finally the shoulders and the pectoral girdle rotate.  The arm becomes the great benefactor of the body's centrifugal force in the delivery of a pitch.  This is where the arm gathers up this turning energy and marries it to the directional force.  The arm, which is essentially a whip  and has its own leverage system, is truly the receiver of the larger body's kinetic energy flow initiated by the cocking and unloading of the powerful core and hip mechanism.  At the moment that the complete torso rotates, there is a synergy that takes place, where a multiplication of force and power join in the wonder of a beautifully executed mechanical event known as a PITCH.   JB  (7/25/09)

THE CATCHER HAS TO MAKE THE PITCHER FEEL COMFORTABLE !  -  A catcher has to make a pitcher feel comfortable, and must want to catch even when it's just practice and not a game.  If he really doesn't like to catch, he should vie for another position.  A catcher should never fight a pitcher, and above all never make the pitcher fret or worry about him.  I've seen pitchers who obviously had poor or even terrible relations with catchers, and the manager came out and removed  the catcher.  I'd be inclined to do the same.  A catcher should realize completely that he is there to help, and get the most he can from the pitcher.  This requires a concern for the pitcher's frame of mind when delivering a pitch.  A pitcher brimming with confidence as he unleashes a potent pitch, because he knows his catcher believes in him and wants him to throw well, is a wonderful sight.  When two are working as one, remarkable things happen.  While one must be observant of a catcher's constant potential contact and colliding possibilities, and sometimes physically demanding positions, it certainly comes with the position, and outstanding catchers are borne out of their capacity to endure and lead at the same time.  A catcher who makes his pitcher feel as though he can beat anyone is worth his weight in gold, and surely must be remembered on his birthday.  Keeping the umpire on your side and framing (shaping) the ball is an art, and one should never upstage the umpire by holding the ball too long.   JB  (7/12/09)

THROWING A SINKING FASTBALL  -  I'm asked about this frequently, so I need to address this concern.  Most of us who are RHP'S have been dissatisfied with our FB'S from time to time.  Either the velocity is short or the action on the ball is dull.  LHP'S don't seem to have this bland quality to their FB'S, hence the option of learning a a sinker is in order particularly for RHP'S.  First of all, a "sinker" is a sinking fastball, and it is thrown with two seams.  As with most two-seamed fastballs, it will veer and often go down, when low or "sink".  It is an extremely effective pitch and doesn't require great amounts of velocity, although a "power" sinker, which is a version of the conventional sinker, does have a lot of velocity to it.  Few can throw  a potent "power" sinker, but many can throw an effective typical sinker with a lot of success.  The ball would generally have a 2/8 rotation (RHP), and pronation upon release is an absolute.  Arm angles can vary some, from 3/4- to 3/4 to 3/4+.  Sometimes, a pure sidearm angle can result in a sinking FB, but this isn't really recommended.  One must command the low strike zone with a sinking fastball.  The batter must be deprived of seeing the entire baseball in its flight, where he thrives on looking right at the center of the ball.  This should be counteracted by having only the top part of the ball readily visible, and the consequence of this ball fading in or out and down.  Pitches effectively thrown in the lower part of the strike zone with corresponding 2/8 (RHP), 10/4 (LHP) rotations invariably wind up as ground balls when contacted.  Ground balls do not usually become extra-base hits.   JB  (07/11/09)Back to Top of Page

COMMANDING THE LOW STRIKE ZONE  -  An art form that is overlooked, which is very characteristic of winning and successful pitchers, is the ability to consistently place the ball in the lower part of the strike zone. This is not to imply that one wouldn't throw the ball high to establish an up and down concept, in order to change eye level.  As one progresses to levels where hitters become better and are more difficult to get out, it remains constantly true that low pitches do less damage offensively when hit, and are more likely to be "out" pitches than their higher cousins.  This is the probable venue, because the batter is looking at the top half of the baseball, while any pitch above the belt gives the batter the full view of the ball.  This type of pitch, when hit, is probably going to be hit up and go long.  Lower pitches are invariably faster, move more, seem to "sneak-up" more and often are hit as ground balls, which generally are limited to one base if they get through.  Lower pitches seem to vanish when on the corners, and when speed is removed, as in a change-up.  Commanding the low strike by a pitcher that has a downward plane, and consistently pitches from a vertical trajectory ,has a definitive, detrimental effect on hitters desiring to see the ball on their own plane of vision.  Removing this plane by having the ball intersect the horizontal plane gives the pitcher the advantage in this battle of illusions.   JB  (6/15/09)

WORKING ON FLAWS AND WEAKNESSES (Making them into strengths by working with the Laws of Nature)  -  Identifying flaws and weaknesses in the pitching system is an art in itself.  However, working on these flaws, and making them into strengths is a greater art and should be high on the developmental menu.  Those who can work on weaknesses and make them into strengths are usually great performers.  It requires a discipline characteristic of high achievers.  It sounds like a great idea, but in actuality, few accomplish this.   Those that do have a consistent regimen of work and are highly motivated with an advanced sense of progression.  These individuals possess strict organizational skills with the accompanying plans for dealing with flaws and ultimately eradicating them.  Being able to work with the Laws of Nature and understanding these laws provides a basis for achievement.  This needs to commence relatively early in one's career, and there needs to be persistence in resolving the phenomenon of constructive correction.  An example of this would be a fastball that is straight, which is definitely a weakness, being identified and worked on until the ball takes on movement, veer, sink, or "late life" - all characteristic of a potent and valuable fastball.  This certainly can be accomplished by recognizing that the original fastball is bland and needs improvement.  Then the correcting process would involve introducing grip changes, finger pressures, hand angle changes all necessary to make the pitch a valuable and effective member of the pitching kit and no longer a deficit.  The same can be done with a weak curve, by determining and improving spin direction, and perhaps utilizing a different grip, accelerated spin implementation and consistent location.  There are certainly many other flaws that can be seriously, first identified, then eliminated and then made into strengths.   JB  (6/11/09)

THE ESSENCE OF MUSCLE MEMORY IN PITCHING  - Motor skills such as those involved in pitching a baseball can be extremely fine tuned by the concept of "muscle memory", which is developed over long periods of time through repetition.  It (the skill) then becomes automatic.  Actions which involve large body parts and big movements, such as pitching, require the neural (nervous) system to learn these muscle skills to the point where one doesn't need to think about them.  Brain activity, when practicing or learning a skill, sorts out comfortable pathways and motions and "embeds" these in the muscles so to speak.  Then the muscles will respond to this action, when invoked again, not only with a consciousness toward their style, but rather as an automatic response.  This grows more familiar with repetition.  This is why it is so important to ingrain correct and potent skill learning at an early age, so that motor memory (muscle memory) is strong and can be dependably called upon without the commotion of relearning.  The neuromuscular chain becomes facilitated, and an increase in certain chemicals (acetylcholine -ex) are involved, and this all becomes a beneficial automatic response.   Therefore, "dry mechanics" which involve repeating correct and useful skill manifestations is so important in the production of efficient pitching mechanics.  Repeating comfortable, effective, rhythmic and consistent kinetic movement in the pitching process produces a muscularity program that can be invoked at will.  It consequently becomes a great dependable skill that can be relied on over and over again.  Muscle or motor memory is as important as mental memory, and should be practiced when one is searching for excellence.   JB  (6/9/09)Back to Top of Page

GOING FROM 6/12 TO 1/7 (RHP) ON CURVE ROTATION  [The equation or fractional representation for a LHP (left-hand pitcher) would be 6/12 to 11/5]  -  This question is asked frequently, and it's surprising to me the difficulty some have in interpreting the rotational direction of a TRUE curve.  Another concern is that some don't gather the importance of going initially to a 6/12 arrangement.  This is an absolute.  Short-cutting this requirement winds up with the expected plethora of poor and incomplete weak curveballs.  One of the seemingly prime concerns is the lack of lateral break when 6/12 is directly invoked.  This is the pure straight drop.  What we truly want is the out-curve, which has both the lateral and down break of the ideal strong curve.  There are some (e.g., Barry Zito) who employ the 6/12 down spin, and by the action of their arm, as well as the angle of release along  with force application are able to get lateral movement also (I was one who could do this).  Often this is a bigger curve, but doesn't necessarily have to be.  It's certainly not a weaker curve.  Tipping the fingers up renders the finger and hand into a 1/7 (RHP) angle, which will pronouncedly produce a curve breaking in two dimensions (planes), and this is surely what we want.  This is the pure curve.  This doesn't come throught wishful thinking, but rather through diligent experimentation - well worth the time and effort.  One needs to be ideally in a 3/4+ arm angle and finger angle up  slightly.  The elbow must be high (at least the level of shoulder), and the elbow must lead as prime requirements.  Increasing hand speed and forearm action can cause the ball to break sharply, which surely is what we are searching for - not the looping, lollipop phase that many pass through in their pursuit of a good breaking pitch.  This is only a stage before the direct hard curve takes place, but one that's very useful in arriving at the great curve.   JB  (6/4/09)

OF COURSE IT'S THE STRIDE LENGTH !  -  The beauty of stride length is the velocity it can produce.  The pitch is lower when stride length is increased, stress is off the arm and getting over the front knee, which is a concern of many is a matter of getting the head and shoulders over the "wall" (an imaginary spot midway in stride length) and driving forward.  One must reach out, go over, down and deep.  One should not play games with the stride.  It is the imminent character in the delivery of a pitch - everything else is relative - maybe useful, but relative and interdependent on stride length.  Lowering the body plane lowers the release point, and the ball consequently will go lower and faster.  In my work with pitchers, this is the sole common flaw, but quite correctable with almost immediate results.  One needs to constantly make this (stride length) an integral part of his pitching style.  In arriving at a consistent, suitable, and comfortable stride length, the front foot should be slightly closed.  This allows for rotation to take place as a vital "magic moment" in the pitching delivery.   Seasoned pitchers always have their stride length in hand, and are able to make correct adjustments according to variations in pitching mounds.   JB  (6/01/09)

THE OCCURRENCE OF THE BACK SIDE AS A "MAGIC MOMENT" -  There is a very powerful quadrant expression in the pure pitching event and it requires some very special attention.  It is the release of the back leg, and therefore the back side, which is a huge component of the quadrant system.  There are several magic moments that occur in the delivery of a baseball.  Some are: 1) The precise moment of rotation; 2) Going from hi-cock to release point; and 3) From finish to back leg release.  The last one verifies a powerful delivery and release, and it signifies a continuation of the energy chain while pitching.  And yet it also rather emphasizes a punctuation to a forceful pitch.  It is the earmark of a beautifully completed mechanical event.  It requires a consciousness and refinement to justify and emphasize its existence and importance in an artfully executed pitch.  There is also an expose or revelation of the functionality of the back leg quadrant.  It is the confirmation of pitching with the lower torso - so the release indicates and justifies the actual happening of the back leg involvement and the consequential backside in the successful throwing of a highly effective pitch.  Back leg mechanics need to be refined and emphasized through optimal pitching instruction.   JB  (5/21/09)

THE  WONDER AND BEAUTY OF GREAT ARM ACTION (united with the downward plane and its connection to pitching velocity)  -  The absolutism of the downward plane and the necessity to throw downhill with a long arm should be a top priority in pitching requirements.  When one sees a person throwing with a long arm and undergoing correct geometric angles and achieving leverage positions, it is a treat to witness this beautiful and correct circuitry in pitching arm conduct.  None of this throwing like a catcher, chicken arming or pie throwing that altogether too many aspiring pitchers (and some that are already at higher levels) exhibit.  The ability to throw on a downward plane and achieve and utilize those beneficial leverage points that come from this create optimal pitching mechanics.  The downward plane and long stride enhance great arm action and velocity.  Driving off, manifesting a high-elbow and a lead elbow, keep the levers in order and allow for arm acceleration.  When one unites the downward concept and the junctures of long arm action, the likelihood of velocity and arm health come together.   JB  (5/1/09)

GEOMETRY OF THE FRONT AND BACK LEGS  (During a pitch)  -  When one initiates the beginning of the pitching process, the kinesis necessary begins with the feet, primarily the back foot.  Then there is a series of geometric events, involving angles and leverage points which occur as forward momentum, is commenced.   Loading takes place with a slight but significant bend in the back leg.  The back leg is a huge part of the four quadrant system in pitching, and it needs the precise emphasis on the geometric positioning of it during its active stage.  When the bend occurs as drive-off happens, it forms an obtuse angle (more than 90° but less than 180°) between thigh and calf.  The lead or lift leg forms a 90° angle with the foot turning down somewhat obtusely.  If the lower leg (calf) forms an obtuse angle to the thigh rather than 90° (L-shape), it will be useful if the leg loads properly.  A flair here is often distracting to the hitter, so variation in this area is welcome.  As the lead leg strides out, and the front foot touches down, the shock-absorber event should show a slightly obtuse angle between upper and lower leg, and the chest should be over the knee, with the knee being over the ball of the landing front foot.  As the pitch is released, the back leg should release high if possible, with again a preferred obtuse angle between upper and lower leg.  The height of this angle should be 90° or more to the ground.  While there is a good bit of variability in angles, it seems that ideally, one should search for compatibility in the size of the angles.   JB  (4/18/09)Back to Top of Page

THE VANISHING PITCHES  -  These type of pitches can be fast balls high, which explode at the plate, or off-speed pitches on the opposite side of the plate thrown by opposite side pitchers (example - LHP TO RHB).  Both have the effect of fading or disappearing at the critical time when contact should be made.  I've marveled at Kenny Rogers' left-handed slants to RHB's on the low outside part of the plate, and how this delicate porthole is maintained to get the vanishing effect.  The ball in effect dies out and for a RHB looking to make solid contact, this often gets conflicted by this pitch disappearing out of this contact zone.  This is as an alternative to the hi-riding Josh Beckett fastball (95+ m.p.h.), set up by a disappearing curveball on the outside.  This becomes a frustration in the "late-life" zone which literally makes the brief look so fleeting that the pitch escapes and passes by.  Both of these pitches are serious opposites, but very complementary and compatible to themselves in the reverse rotation approach to pitching, and certainly in the very effective speed changing style characteristic of many outstanding pitchers.  To effectively pitch beyond the hitter's bat speed (very difficult to do with today's hitters), and in another breath, pitch beneath the batters bat speed, surely gives a great dimension to the power approach, set up by the off-speed approach.  This is how truly these techniques create great opportunities for those with a developed sense of pitching and who are capable of employing a cerebral quality to their work.   Tampering with the batter's bat speeds and eye levels can often be a devastating event.    JB  (4/11/09)

FOR THOSE WHO DON'T THROW HARD, FIND & EXPLOIT THE MAGNUS  -  Few pitchers throw in the 95 m.p.h.+ stage and may god bless those who do.  While the vast majority of pitchers throw considerably less than this level, it would bode well for this category of pitchers to understand the Magnus Effect [when a ball spins, it creates an envelope of air around it called the boundary layer. This boundary layer moves with the ball whether it spins forward or backward or sideways. The interaction of this boundary layer with the surrounding air creates an external force (Magnus Force) that influences the path of the baseball].  The Magnus Effect varies with ball rotation, pitch speed, and other factors but studies show its effect is greatest at lower speeds/higher rotation rates.  If the speed exceeds a certain ball velocity, the ball will tend to lose movement.  These speeds are high and a ball traveling at 100 m.p.h. will likely be pretty straight.  Each person throwing less than 90 m.p.h. should investigate at what speed their fastballs tend to veer, sink or cut.  This speed is probably identifiable according to grip, trajectory, finger angle and pressure and is unique to each.  Where the optimum activity takes place should be noted, and the pitcher should work within this range.  The optimal slot is a variable that is different for different style pitchers.  The harder one throws up to a point, the less the Magnus effect is exploited.   The Magnus phenomenon is always there, but some will lose the benefit of it, while others will gain from it.  Working with the laws of nature is best for most.   JB  (3/30/09)

ENHANCING THE WHIP MOTION IN PITCHING  -  One of the treasured aspects of good arm activity in pitching a baseball is being able to get a "bull-whipping" effect for the arm when going through the back arm circuit, and then as the arm goes through its forward path and ultimately proceeds to the release point.  An oppositely pathetic way of throwing the baseball, which exists altogether too much, and that many younger hurlers exhibit today is that of a "pie" throwing motion.  There is no whip-like motion here and short arming occurs.  These throwers go through a very short arm path and are often guilty of "shoving" the ball or literally throwing a "pie".  Many of these aspirants never realize their arm power and never fulfill their potential.  Fly fishermen who are fly casters will always confirm that their back cast in throwing a fly is as important as their forward cast, and I submit that this is also true in pitching a baseball.  While fly casting and bull whipping have certain similarities in the back cast, the front cast remains more delicate in fly casting compared to the snapping effect of the bull whip in its forward movement.  However, the power path in throwing or whipping a baseball requires a more dynamic front cast that results in an acceleration of the hand and fingers which truly resembles a whipping type motion.  To summarize, the prospectful pitcher tries to throw with a long arm and this means reaching back rather than breaking his hands and coming straight to "hi-cock".  In doing this, he will encounter three junctures which are: (1) first wrist;  (2) medium cock;  (3) and hi-cock and will have a productive back cast to his arm.  Furthermore, coming to "forearm layback" (4) with the elbow leading and proceeding to release point (5) finishes off the junctures of the front cast and forward whip action, which is so admired in optimal arm action.   It is my serious opinion that this type of arm conduct will eliminate many of the arm miseries that we see altogether too often today.   JB  (3/23/08)

REVISITING AND RE-EXAMINING "RUSHING" AS A DEFECT IN PITCHING !   -   In response to a forum question, I have elected to elaborate on the phenomenon of "rushing", a tremendously dreaded occurrence in pitching, which in my opinion is easily correctable.  The prime problem of rushing is timing, and there are sure ways of controlling this timing flaw.  What exactly is "rushing"?  Rushing is certainly a defect in pitching and occurs and results from the arm getting behind the body, and therefore a lag in arm action or circuitry occurs mostly because the front side opens early.  In effect the arm "drags".  When the arm gets behind, it becomes stressed, and the arm path becomes faulty and sometimes hyper- flawed and erratic.  A pitcher opening early causes the arm to be low and lagging behind the mechanical effects of delivering a purposeful pitch.  Rushing is always premature movement of the upper body, which results in a lower arm position and obviously a loss of power.  The intrinsic causes are: 1) opening front shoulder;  2) not getting over the front knee;  3) stepping to an oblique or open front toe (sometimes just stepping to a straight toe can result in premature opening);  4) not getting over the  "wall";  5) not using a high elbow in the  power path of the arm.  What are the solutions?  1) lead with the hip when driving forward;  2) step to a partly closed front foot on touch down;  3) have a high-elbow through the power path;  4) keep front shoulder closed when the arm is in high-cocked position;  5) entire torso should be closed when launch position is achieved;  6) when foot plant is reached, body should be closed.  Correcting these issues then facilitates the synergy of directional and rotational energy meeting.  This important happening is severely compromised when one "rushes".  To remember to always lead with the hip should be a password here.  RUSHING must be cured and CAN be cured.   JB  (2/2/09)Back to Top of Page

PITCH WITH A HIGH ELBOW !  -  One of the confirmed absolutes that I have emphasized and promoted when teaching the delivery of a pitched baseball is the presence of a HIGH ELBOW.  This should be when the arm passes through its power stage.  This would involve the phases of: hi-cock, forearm layback, hand passing the ear and finally the release point.  A high elbow prevents the dreaded "rushing" problem, and it will enhance the "bull whipping" arm action, which is so treasured as a desirable technique in arm circuitry.  A high elbow will conjoin with foot plant, forward drive and finally torso rotation to implement the critical combination which produces power in the throwing of a baseball.  To reiterate, a high elbow is needed for: 1) fluidity in throwing;  2)  advantageous trajectory;  3) arm health;  4) arm power;  5) leverage continuity;  6) enhancement of whipping action; and  7) prevention of rushing.  Pitching with a high elbow increases the radius of the arm (circle), and this in turn increases hand speed.  A high elbow also reduces stress on the elbow - realistically a low elbow is responsible for much arm stress and is a main source of elbow injuries.  A low elbow also reduces speed.  The almighty downward plane, one of the big advantages a pitcher can have over a hitter is surely enhanced by a high elbow.  A sharper downward curve is produced by having the elbow at least even with the shoulder.  It makes it easier to pitch LOW (from high to low).  A low elbow can cause the hand to get under the ball and lose rotation.  Many low elbow guys are short armers (ugh!).  Practice the high-elbow (elbow even with or higher than shoulder) with dry mechanics until it becomes second nature.  This will surely benefit healthy and correct throwing.  JB  (1/22/09)

THE FAMOUS ROTATOR CUFF  -  Anyone around baseball for any length of time, hears of the so-called ROTATOR CUFF injury and many players, mostly pitchers, often have rotator cuff surgery to maintain and continue their careers.  The rotator cuff is comprised of four muscles and their tendon attachments that form the dense protective shield around the shoulder joint.  Due to the cuff, the shoulder can turn through a wider range of motion than any other joint of the body. This allows for some amazing feats performed by swimmers, javelin throwers, hammer throwers, and of course pitchers.  This thick cuff stabilizes the shoulder joint and allows rotation and elevation.  The tendons are at risk of getting frayed because of their location in the bony joint.  The four muscles that make-up the rotator cuff are the: 1) supraspinatus; 2) infraspinatus;  3) teres minor; and  4) subscapularis.  When the muscles and tendons become frayed due to repetitive motions (pitchers being the most prone) then arthroscopic surgery is necessary.  Muscles after this repair can atrophy and weaken, so that physical therapy becomes an absolute must.  Keeping the shoulder and its muscles in good order is necessary for all baseball players, and therefore correct and enduring mechanical procedure is mandatory.   JB  (1/20/09)

THE MAGNUS EFFECT REVISITED  -   In the exploration of the physics of baseball pitching, one particular force or effect continually presents itself when the flight of a ball is discussed.  For those students looking to intensify their understanding of why a a ball curves or why a ball goes straight, they might do well to ponder and investigate the mysteries of the Magnus Force/effect.  The Magnus force is generated by rotating bodies moving through the air including a baseball, and it may be the most difficult maxim of those involved in the flight of a ball to explain.  Facts such as drag, air density, humidity and velocity all factor into the movement of a baseball, but the Magnus phenomenon is probably the overpowering force responsible for the ball curving.  It is a force the builds up perpendicular to the axis of the spinning ball, and  creates an air pressure imbalance which causes the sphere to veer.  When the velocity is increased, the Magnus force has less chance to manifest itself, and that is why the harder a ball is thrown, the straighter it becomes.  Aspiring pitchers should recognize which speed their pitches cause the best deflection and operate out of that mode.   JB  (1/17/09)

A RERUN AND REVIEW OF THE "YIPS"  -  I recently read a great article by Bob Bennett, retired coach of Fresno State, on one of the great "demons" in the baseball world - throwing the ball away - even at close distances.  This is often referred to as the "YIPS" or psychic virus and is an area I have written on in the past.  A few (many?) of us have experienced this negative character.  Bennett, a great coach and favorite of mine, author of the book "Pitching From The Ground Up," has described and given a monster quality to this insidious malady, which has infected major league pitchers such as Steve Blass, Marc Wohlers, Rick Ankiel and infielders Steve Sax and Chuck Knoblach, resulting in balls thrown anywhere but where they were supposed to go.  I had this problem at one time, had no idea how it happened and was concerned about stopping it.  According to Dr. Richard Crowley, it has to be stopped by the hemisphere of the brain that started it - THE RIGHT!  It starts with the imagination.  Most of the solutions proposed involve the left hemisphere, which will not solve the problem.  I recommend anyone wanting to know something of this peculiar disorder read the Jan. 2, 2009 issue of Collegiate Baseball entitled "The Monster" by Bob Bennett with comments by Dr. Richard Crowley.  It has been an unsolved mystery all the way from Little League to the Major Leagues.  It's well worth the time.    JB  (1/10/09)

ARM ACTION  -  Teachable or Genetic ?  My value concept on arm action in pitching is that this is an immense factor in becoming an outstanding pitcher.  Not tampering with arm activity early on, in my opinion, is a serious mistake, particularly when flaws are observed.  I've seen altogether too many aspiring pitchers fall by the wayside because they became short-armers, or pie throwers and never realized their arm strength.  While the  point here is not to "clone", it is clear that there are some absolutes in developing an arm path or circuit.   Sometimes you see a potential pitcher with so-called "natural" arm action and this is good, but rare.  There needs to be a "comfort" zone and slot where throwing becomes easy, fluid, and powerful. Sometimes that never happens without some suggestions  and corrections, and it's always quite obvious if these suggestions and corrections are working well.  Using the clock as a visual reference, such as the 1, 2, or 3 o'clock position, are useful in giving a young pitcher a guide to getting a workable and comfortable arm angle and slot and also creates efficiency.  Not everyone will throw from the same slot; however, the position of 3/4 + or between 1 and 2 o'clock seems to be most efficient and comfortable to many, and establishes an advantageous downward plane.  I always visualize three junctures in ideal arm circuitry (back part and release) and tend to teach this approach in instructional sessions with continued success.  These junctures are: 1) first wrist;  2) medium cock;  3) hi-cock;  4) forearm layback; and 5) release with pronation.  Power is built up here and arm health is promoted.  The natural leverage system of the arm, wrist and hand is invoked and enhanced.   JB   (1/3/09)

THE POWER OF THE HIPS IN THROWING A BALL  -  The tremendous activity of the pelvis, pelvic girdle, hips (all the same) in the throwing of a baseball should never be minimized.  The pelvic girdle is a key indicator of trunk stability.  It functions to unite the lower extremity with the upper trunk, and it transmits the load of the trunk to the lower extremity.  It absorbs shock from the ground.  It is responsible for tilt , rotation and torsion.  The powerful ligaments and muscles articulating within the pelvic girdle cause the function of the pelvis, with its flexion and extension to be a big key in throwing velocity.  The muscles of the hip,17 of them, more or less break into 4 groups which are: 1) gluteal group - gluteus maximus and minimus;  2) lateral rotation group;  3) adductor group; and  4) iliopsoas group - hip flexors.  When the hips are loaded (post position) during pitching, a great deal of energy is presented, and when released with its resultant power surge of rotation - a union of upper and lower torsos performs the all-driving and coiling necessary within the pitching system to hurl a baseball at startling speeds.  The core system which is an integral part of the union apparatus - along with the hips are united in the tying together of the upper and lower pitching quadrants.  It is important that strengthening the muscles of the core, as well as the hip musculature, be done and maintained to insure power in a consistent pitching delivery.   JB  (1/9/09)

CONSISTENT REPETITION A MAJOR KEY IN EFFECTIVE PITCHING  -  In the physics of pitching, doing the right movement exactly requires the body to build  up a muscle memory system and a nerve memory bank.   This correct movement info needs to be imbedded in the legs, arm, and back muscles in order to pitch a ball well.  There needs to be an imprint on the tissues, and this is done by practicing over and over again - and hopefully this is always the correct technique, and not some mindless repetition of a useless action, which has no value or future to it.  Unfortunately, many people learn and reinforce wrong things, and sometimes this cannot be overcome with revised and remodeled instruction.  Using the body like a coiled spring and the arm as a whip is where velocity occurs.  Most of this velocity originates from the lower part of the body - the legs - the powerful quadriceps and associated thigh muscles along with the hips. This group generates up to 50% or so of the velocity on any pitch.  The big back muscles suggest  up to 20% - the arm 20%, the off arm 5% and the fingers on release flick about 5 - 10% ( this surely can be more-perhaps 10+%).  Unless all the parts of the pitching body are in harmony, how can anyone hope to throw a ball 95m.p.h.+.  All of the body is actually not enough, because  the phenomenon of coordination and balance play into this act, and when that is right - which everyone striving to be a serious pitcher should strive to attain - we can possibly hope to hit the magic strings and obtain the power lurking within.  It's a project worthy of one's best effort.   JB  (1/6/09)Back to Top of Page

THE FIFTH QUADRANT - The Core System  -   It is somewhat disingenuous and contradictory to refer to a fifth part of something as a quadrant, when the prefix quad implies four, but I'm going to take the liberty to invoke a concept of a fifth part, which acts in coordination with four quadrants to perform a total physiological act in pitching a baseball.  The core system is often obscured by attention given to other obvious parts.  The core is actually the power root to implementing a continuous flow of energy when delivering a pitch.  The core is often misidentified as the "abs" only - while the "abs" form a significant part of the core - the actual core constituency is quite encompassing.  There is no intention to make an anatomical lesson here, however, with attention being placed upon core involvement lately, these following terms are being used rather commonly  - the core is made  up of: 1) rectus abdominus (the "abs");  2) internal and external oblique;  3) transverse abdominis;  4) multifidus and erector spinae; 5)  hip flexors and abductors; 6) butt muscles which include the gluteus maximus and minimus, upper hamstrings and piniformis.  Strengthening the core enhances athletic performance.  The core is the base of the body, and it's important to work and develop these muscles.    JB  (1/2/09)

THE FREQUENCY OF PITCHING FROM THE SET (Do it more often)  -  Runners are on base 75% of the time - averaged out.  Sure there are games when no one is on or very few, but there are games when runners are on the sacks all the time.  Therefore, to be adept at handling the stretch or set position, required or highly suggested when runners are on: 1st, 1st + 2nd, 2nd, 2nd +3rd (opt.), 3rd (optional), bases loaded (optional), one needs to practice at least 65% of his rehearsal time (bull-pen), as the reality is that runners will be on base often.  Many pitchers forfeit 3 - 4 m.p.h. or more on their fastball when runners are on base because they don't use their bodies fully, and this is when pitchers get hit, lose control and get into trouble.  The ability to load and activate the hips depends on leg lift height, and when runners on 1st suggest a steal of 2B - a pitcher will use a lesser leg lift for quickness to the plate (even a leg slide which is almost passé today) and lose an appreciable amount of velocity.  Relievers who practice the set all the time, even when runners are NOT on base, are able to throw with full power, because of their familiarity with the stretch position.  Starting pitchers would do well to increase the time they spend on pitching from the stretch.  For sure it will be necessary to pitch from this position quite frequently.   JB  (1/1/09)

GETTING GOOD FAST ?  -  There are many ways to get good at pitching - some are quicker than others.  The following items done well may accelerate the process. Here they are:  1) master stride length - know this like the back of your hand;  2) maximize rotation on the ball - "rip" thru the center of the ball on release;  3) stabilize release point - learn how stride length affects this;  4) consistent good alignment - chin, shoulder, elbow, hip, and knee always pointing toward the target;  5) pitch from the stretch consistently - put in 65% of time;  6) keep the ball down - keep middle of the ball away from hitters eyes;  7) pitch within chosen style (north - south, east - west, etc.), and master this - add in change of speed;  8) command the fastball primarily - but off-speed pitches also and command the strike zone (umpire's strike zone !);  9) throw first pitch strikes;  10) adjust to umpire's strike zone - learn to get curve in zone and get umpire to recognize mastery of this pitch; and 11) function in the clutch.  Many of these things appear simpler than they are, but as with anything, mastering them early with purpose and fast, gives the pitcher a chance to get his career going quite quickly.   JB  (12/15/08)

WINTER PITCHING WORK - GOOD MECHANICS, TIGHT ROTATION, FAST FINGERS, LONG TOSS, WEIGHTED BASEBALLS = VELOCITY INCREASE  -    My intention on my winter pitching sessions is to improve velocity by  5 m.p.h. (3 m.p.h. will be base acceptance).  This is going to be accomplished I feel by combining the following factors: 1) excellent mechanics - utilizing the 4 quadrants and the core system in a well coordinated effect; 2) fast fingers and good hand action with superior rotation;  3) substantial throwing buffeted with long toss;  4) the use of weighted baseballs; and 5) a large dose of serious motivational intent to be a strong pitcher.  Realistic goals are being set and will be set progressively.  I've already had a session with issues arising from time management and concerns over distances; however, things progressed smoothly and innings were accomplished.  Winter baseball pitching practice is a great time to address pitching flaw issues, and to truly smooth out mechanics and have this translate to mastery of the fastball, off-speed pitches and command of the strike zone.   JB  (12/09/08)

WEIGHTED BASEBALL ROUTINE TO SUPPLEMENT LONG TOSS FOR PITCHING POWER AND VELOCITY IMPROVEMENT  -  To invigorate a winter throwing program - the options of throwing long toss and the use of weighted baseballs should be entertained as a viably strong adjunct to a comprehensive throwing program.  While controversy exists over the use of weighted baseballs, I find this (controversy) usually emanates from some flawed approach to the system and a misunderstanding of the distances and sequences that the weighted ball routine prescribes (p.269 and p.290 in book "The Act of Pitching" also on this site under articles-weighted balls - also on p.270 in book - info on long toss).  Having done a comprehensive long range study on the use of weighted balls, I obviously am a proponent of this overload concept, but I don't force it on anyone.  I've had strong results from it, without any of the supposed maladies that some suggest, some of which are purely imagined.  I will be using this program in my winter pitching work this winter.  As with any scientific endeavor that attempts to indicate a positive outcome, when one overloads his pitching apparatus and does so with a solid scientific control system, a usually verifiable result justifies the testing elements with consequentially strong conclusions.  Long toss stands by itself as a beneficial arm strengthener and has been used for years successfully.  This is a must in a winter throwing programs even with restricted distances.  Long toss melded with weighted ball activity should accomplish an improvement in arm development and velocity increase.  [p.269 +290 - +p.270]   JB  (12/3/08)

THE MANY ALIASES AND VARIATIONS OF THE SLIDER  -  When the axis of rotation on a breaking pitch wanders, either by intent or accident, a variety of hybrid pitches evolve out of the original context.  I see this happening with the so-called slider matrix.  What is a slider to one coach becomes a slurve to another.  What one calls a hard or "power" curve, another calls a slider.  Cutters that break big are likely in the slider category.   The prime origination of the slider is quite likely a spiral type of concoction.  Allowing the axis point to wander to the side brings on the hybridization of this original into a more down breaking type of pitch, which surely enhances its effectiveness.  A migrating axis that works its way down to the 6'oclock mark brings about a flatness that I would call a frisbee or flat curve.  An axis point that wanders upward would shorten the break, but perhaps increase the velocity of the pitch.  All of these wandering axes points will not only affect the velocity of the pitch, but the amount of break, the sharpness of the break, the tilt, and finally the down breaking quality of the pitch.  Arm angle differentiation will affect pitch variation, but likely will give away its identity.  Hand and finger angle and pressure are necessary for refinement of rotation, amount of rotation, and speed of rotation and this will obviously increase the quality of the break.  For the pitcher searching for a highly effective breaking pitch that matches fastball velocity, the hard or "power" slider that has good potential for entering the strike zone without distorting the umpire's judgment (as does the curveball) is the prime menu item here.  To attempt to compound its effectiveness by giving it hybrid alterations may be of some use, but the quality of the aliases will still be the underlying determinant.  There will always be a pure type that excels, and one needs to refine and polish this one.  Those of us who have pitched for extended periods of time have encountered the variations in pitches through experimentation, and have generally retained the ones that are effective.   JB  (11/30/08)Back to Top of Page

THE PRECISION OF ALIGNMENT AND BALANCE IN PITCHING  -  We need to understand that in aligning the pitching body correctly when delivering a pitch, we enhance accuracy, velocity and mechanical efficiency.   We also bring about the desired principle of balance.  This happens when the shoulder, the elbow, the hip, the outside of the knee and lastly the chin are all directed towards our assumed target (catcher's mitt).  This should be approached as though each point were like an imaginary eye that focuses directly on the intended target.   Then, if one can actively visualize an imaginary string going from the chest (sternum) directly to the catcher's mitt, this release point line becomes one more sighting device.  Working with these reference points on a consistent basis will firm a mechanical approach which is the same all the time.  It will also create a delivery method which is dependable and repeatable and efficient.  Working frequently to smooth out one's mechanical approach creates a confidence which will improve only when the right items are practiced in a compatible system.  Balance naturally follows these alignment concepts, and the pitcher gains continuity and rhythm in his pitching style.  JB  (11/25/08)

THE HIDDEN FASTBALL ! -  When one recognizes that there are four anatomical quadrants that are interacted in the pitching process, along with the integration of the core system, then it becomes clear that in the loading of these systems, a potentially lingering propulsion phenomenon may exist.  This event can activate the "sling shot" effect, the complementation of the forward (directional) force and the energy of rotation. This in effect creates the so-called centrifugal effect (sling shot) that we treasure as pitching technicians.  This is when total body forces are correlated and synergized.  Then "viola," an undiscovered fastball appears.  This hidden and perhaps new happening now gets liberated.  This occurs when shoulder loading (scapular adduction?), arm loading, pelvic loading, and back leg loading all get into a harmonious concurrence (synergy).  Working constantly to employ and refine quadrant interaction and smoothness of kinetic flow should be a strong objective for the serious pitcher.  It is my experience that almost all have a "hiding" fastball that can be evoked with proper priming.  The "sling shot" concept is where it's at.  Pitching velocity is a multi-functional phenomenon, which requires stride effectiveness, melded with total body involvement.  The arm alone is only one of the quadrants.     JB  (11/22/08)

PRESCRIPTION FOR PITCHING POWER - THROW A LOT (Particularly in the winter) !  -  Throwing a baseball should be something other than for getting loose.  It is a very precise skill and should be refined and improved every chance one gets.  It's difficult to play the game of baseball, let alone be a pitcher without having a good arm and being able to throw well.  Not tending to this vital aspect of the game and surely the supreme critical part - i.e., pitching, there will be severe limitations on performance.  These limitations will be placed on the developmental range of the player (pitcher) and the level  to which he accedes.  There has been an increase in throwing programs recently, particularly winter programs, as coaches are aware that one's arm in this game is everything.  Throwing long toss where possible in winter programs is desirable - even if space limitations prohibit going beyond 100'. The 100' distance done well and with duration can be as effective as going beyond the 100 foot marker.  As winter approaches and gyms get crowded, it is mandatory that efficient use of gymnasia is accomplished.  I recommend Sundays as the convenient day (main pitching day) and one weekday (light throwing) -  Sunday for the long toss and the pitching (throwing) programs.  I advocate where possible to pitch recorded innings with a catcher and with a recorder using a chart depicting location of pitches as indicated through pitching frame sheets.  The catchers can umpire as well.  One should shoot for a minimum seven inning accomplishment at the end of the winter program, which ideally would go seven weeks with two sessions a week.  Grow an inning a week.  Weighted baseballs are an option.  Constructive, supervised throwing will result in velocity increases as well as command of the strike zone.  Goals must be clear and attention to consistent correct procedure must be maintained.   JB  (11/16/08)

DEVELOP YOUR CRAFT !  -  HAND AND FINGER ANGLE IS EVERYTHING ON FASTBALL MOVEMENT -  There is a contingency of pitching enthusiasts who believe that movement on a FB can only be created by changing arm angle.  While this is somewhat true - it isn't the only way.  The flaw is that the arm angle and its changes give away the pitch and its recognition, and consequently the deception which is so critical to the process, is lost.  A 3/4+ arm angle favored by most hard throwers, and it's surely my recommendation, is ideally suited for velocity, trajectory, and arm health.  It is also readily adaptable to not only different fastball types, but also different breaking pitches as well.  The positioning of the hand can take on angular variations out of this arm angle for a tailing fastball, a sinking fastball, and the ever questionable rising fastball.  The identifying clock numerals that would guide the arm angles are 1, 2 and 3 'o clock.  Twelve (12) would be near impossible to achieve, but gradations between 12 and 1 would be possible.  Descriptions such as OH (overhand), OH-(overhand minus), 3/4+ (three-quarter plus - this is essentially the same as OH-), 3/4 (three quarter), 3/4- (three quarter minus), and finally SA (sidearm).  OH is at 1 o'clock; OH- is between 1  and 2'oclock as is 3/4 +;  3/4 is at 2 o'clock and 3/4- is between 2 and 3 o'clock; SA is at 3 o'clock.  NOW TO HAND ANGLES -  taking the ideal arm slot of 3/4 + (OH-) the hand and finger slot or angle of 1 o'clock will likely cause a tailing fastball (1/7spin).  Putting the hand slot to 2 o'clock likely creates a sinking FB (2/8spin).  A straight or hopping FB can be arrived at by putting fingers up into the 12 o'clock position (6/12 spin).  Note: An OH arm angle here would be more conducive to the "hop" (but nonetheless can be accomplished thru the 3/4+ angle).  Pronation should be accomplished on all of these fastball pitches at release (perhaps earlier with sinking FB).  Experimentation with slight alterations and finger tip pressure should be done to intensify or embellish movement.  Movement should not be so obsessive as to forget velocity as a prime character here.  Finishing the pitch also is an issue not to be overlooked.  It is not only the arm that throws the ball, but it's the hand and its angles that need to be consistent to gain desired efficiency.   JB  (11/3/08)Back to Top of Page

LOOKING FOR THE SUPERIOR FASTBALL (The supreme importance of movement and action on the fastball - separating movement from "after burn")  -  Much has been written on this site about the value of a high-quality fastball, but I want to re-emphasize here the vital part of working toward this end.  The fact that some are endowed with natural tendencies to throw hard should not prevent those less endowed from striving to do all they can to to give the fastball some serious character.  A few are gifted, but many exist who can invoke the dimension of learning how to improve the fastball by understanding and implementing the following: 1) quality and amount of rotation;  2) wrist and hand power and direction;  3) forearm action; and  4) fingertip activity.   Movement and action on no.1 is such a treasured and precious event that the pursuit of this quality should always be at the forefront.  Movement can be described as: 1) veer or tail;  2) rise or lift;  3) sink; and  4) cut  - This best takes place in the hitting zone.  This activity is contrasted by, but can be complimented by: 1) late-life;  2)  after life;  3) after burn;  4)  thrust; and  5) giddy-up - overdrive-pop - all essentially the same phenomenon, which is that of the pitch coming on at the end - a sort of passing gear.  This can exist with a perfectly straight  FB or it can be accompanied by vertical or horizontal movement.  This is more likely connected to the illusory "riser".  This can be independent of angular movement and still have an "after burn " to it.  In essence, the ball is still coming on, it's a rush, it's as though it is into overdrive.  Now much of this is illusory, and yet many batters recognize this as the prime ingredient in the best FB'S that exist.  It's as if the baseball is "burning" through a barrier.  Few pitchers have this, and those that do, don't have it all the time.  The MAGNUS EFFECT is obviously involved here.  Great rotation and finger and hand speed are required.  A hand equipped with long fingers helps with this desirable effect on a fastball.  The ball "crackles" due to intense rotation.  The thrower is thinking "throw through the mitt".  Sometimes, an apparent but deceptive "slow" arm delivers an exploding fastball due to extra good arm action involving junctures and leverage.  This is such a cherished event - the batter gets lulled into the smooth, rhythmic delivery of the arm and doesn't recognize the extreme fast forwarding of the forearm, wrist, hand and fingers at the end imparting explosive energy to the ball.  This severely challenges the batter' decision time.  The statement that the ball is faster than it looks applies here and is certainly a compliment to a well-timed and liberated fastball - something we all prize.  Those great "dead red"  hitters who can consistently foul off 100+m.p.h. fastballs find "afterburn" the ultimate challenge.   JB  (10/21/08)

WHERE AND WHEN ARE THE MAGIC MOMENTS (In the delivery of a pitch) ?  -  The magic moments for me in the pitching process are: 1)  Hi-cock;  2)  rotational moment;  3)  back leg release -  Getting to hi-cock and being loaded is one of those magnificent moments in the delivery of a pitch where excellence needs to occur.   This is a prime spot where power meets mechanics along with the action of the arm to the release of the ball.   This event includes the 2nd magic moment which is that of torso rotation.  This is initiated by the back leg drive creating forward momentum, and this is fortified by the lift leg with its setting and loading of the hips.  The serious true magic time is the joining of the directional force (forward momentum) and the rotational force, which includes the accelerating arm and its incorporated leverage force to the release point.  After this is completed, the validation and accentuation of the pitch is brought about by a distinct and finished back leg release.  This I feel is another magic moment, as there is a signification of back side efficiency into the pitch - a reminder of this quadrant and its importance in pitching a baseball with dexterity and power.   JB  (10/16/08)

THE CASE FOR SCAPULAR LOADING  -  Scapula Loading, Scapula Adduction, and/or Scapular Loading is/are more or less one and the same and is/are the brain child of Paul Nyman, who I'm quite familiar with.  Paul and I have bantered over pitching concepts numerous times, and I surely know that Paul verifies his beliefs with scientific import.  My feeling is scapular loading takes place with numerous pitchers.  It happens whether one is conscious of it or not.  The fact that I recognize that it takes place tends to document my awareness of this phenomenon.  Pitchers such as Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, and Nolan Ryan of the past have exhibited strong tendencies to scapula adduction and loading.  Not all pitchers do this to this extent.  In activating the upper torso, the utilization of the pectoral (shoulder) girdle in loading that part of the quadrant system (arm and off arm), causes the scapular apparatus to get adducted.  At this point the elbows are lower than the shoulders.   While I'm well aware of this event, I do not emphasize it in my teachings or pitching camps, opting to see if aspirants do this naturally anyway.  The impact of scapula loading is likely not a critical teaching mechanism as utilization and activation of the four pitching quadrants and the core system practically guarantee its happening.   JB  (10/13/08) 

THE EFFECT OF PRONATING ON ARM HEALTH  -  The event of throwing supinating pitches, such as the slider, curve, slurve, and perhaps the cutter, slams things around in the elbow and sometimes the shoulder.  Over a prolonged period of time, this results in some damage, which often times is only reparable through surgery.  Accidental supination on a fastball probably causes some stress, so that pronation relieves this stress and gives a healthy action to the arm, particularly on fastballs.  Pronation involves the palm of the hand turning outward and the thumb movement away from the glove side.  This tends to insure a stress-free release when high-velocity fastballs are thrown.  The idea that extreme pronation, such as that involved in throwing a scewball,  is a panacea is probably not a viable option, although there are some that throw varieties of screwballs without deteriorating their arm efficiency.  Using good sense in the frequency of hard supination, particularly in the power slider can likely save some of the arm damage that all too often results in surgical reparation.   JB  (10/10/08)Back to Top of Page

BEING A ROBUST THINKER IN PITCHING - Letting yourself get good !  -  We all have our serious agendas about many things, but some are persistent, enthused and in effect, robust about perfecting their lot in their chosen areas.  They have agreed to let themselves get good!  They have found how to let all the information come to them and not resist or fight it.  The art is in synthesizing it (info) !, analyzing it !,  filtering it !, dissecting it !, evaluating it and eventually digesting it and not backing away from it.  This makes for the great opportune time - perhaps doing this, heretofore, was the missing part.  Allowing oneself to be knowledgeable in a functional way, and with this functionality realize stagnation can be wiped out.  It's a mental condition.  Letting oneself get good surely can be developed.  We all owe it to ourselves and our protégés to refine this functionality.  We need to understand decisive moments present themselves when the "thinking cap" is on, and to capitalize on these glorious moments which are often altogether too rare.  In the finality, it is also the doing of something rather than just the knowing of how to do it !  The mind must be exercised to grow and develop the wherewithal it has accumulated, and it has to be used.  This is all part of the "can do" formula.   JB  (10/9/08)

THE SERIOUSNESS OF PITCHING WITH THE LEGS  -  I have indicated many times in my writings that there are other forces besides the ARM which cooperate and many times overcede the value of arm power.   One should try to throw a baseball sitting in a chair, and recognize the dirth of power generated by the arm alone.  It is readily noticeable that the shoulder muscles, the off arm and the back muscles must go into play, even to get a modicum of power on a pitch.  Better yet, sit on the ground and see if you can get any zest on the pitch.  The legs, possessing some of the largest muscles of the body activated in a cooperative lower torso (both legs) performance, create a great power surge when the upper torso (shoulder girdle, shoulder muscles and upper back musculature), unite by way of the core system (abs & lower back muscles).  This results in the powerful integration of anatomical quadrants for a potent delivery.  Probably half of the velocity generated here (in terms of mph) comes from the lower torso.   JB  (9/22/08)

THE FOUR-PRONGED FASTBALL FOR THE TOOL KIT  -  It's amazing what finger tip pressure, thumb location and wrist and arm angle can do to the quality and character of the fastball.  When one can throw a reasonable (velocity wise) fastball and has achieved some stature with it, there comes a time where it is necessary to give it some further distinction and definition.  A variation in dimension and activity can be in order.  The standard 4-seamer for pure velocity can be the foundation pitch.  It tends to be straight, but some insist it can rise (put it this way, upward pressure from spin may counter gravitational effects, resulting a rising effect).  Call it a "riser".  Then a 2-seamer which will veer, run, or tail (1/7 type of rotation - RHP) is a great back-up to the "riser".  Call it a "runner".  And then there is the sinking fastball, a 2/8 (RHP) type of rotation and a turning over of the ball.  Call it a "sinker".  Lastly, a cut fastball which requires a lot of back spin like the riser, but employs middle finger pressure to make the ball break away from the pitching arm side - Call it a "cutter".  The pitcher now has 4 types of fastballs - the tool kit bulges some, as these variations give old no.1 (FB) a lot precision, sharpness, and unmistakable flair.  This enables the pitcher to explore the nuances of pitching, mainly with a fastball, but surely with different looks.  So we have:  1) a riser; 2) a runner;  3) a sinker; and 4) a cutter - all thrown out of the same delivery, the same mechanical motion, the same arm angle and yet we have 4 (four) different pitches.  This should not be the uppermost item on one's pitching requirement menu, but rather as some sophistication in pitching style which takes place.  Then a re-characterization in fastball employment can be attempted.   JB  (9/16/08)

TURNING OVER THE CHANGE-UP -   Whenever you can get a second dimension on any pitch, it creates another angle or trajectory that the batter has to deal with.  Put this element as an adjunct to an off-speed pitch and you have an interaction of events that can cause the batter difficulty.  A sinking change-up fading out of the strike zone is quite often devastating to the "DEAD RED" fastball hitters.  A change-up off speed in itself is a conundrum for many a good hitter, but adding a sink to gain an angular (for the hitter) problem is to magnify the all-mighty impact of differential speeds.  To accentuate the sinking quality of the change-up as in the accomplishment of the regular sinker - a 2/8 (RHP) type of rotation should be strived for.  Using the popular OK grip (circle change), the index finger which assists the thumb in the construction of the "O" in OK should turn outward (pronate) in order to turn over the ball.  The fact that it is spinning slowly, with loose rotation, tends to guarantee its sinking and/or "screwgy-type" of action.  Combine the tendency of the OK change to go low, because of its grip, and add the sink effect to it and you have a likely "out" pitch.  Obviously, it is needless to say these pitches must be low in the strike zone or even out of the strike zone.  One gaining confidence in this pitch insures the advancement in pitching success.  Getting today's hitters out requires diligent work on a change-up -preferably one that sinks.   JB   (9/11/08)Back to Top of Page

OUT, OVER, DOWN & DEEP - WITH NO WASTE  -  There should be no waste, and all kinetic energy should be directed toward the plate (target) on delivering a pitch.  Therefore, the concept of driving forward, going out, going over the front knee, burying the front shoulder, and finishing deep with the pitching arm should be a consistent ritual for ALL mechanically sound pitchers.  Not only does this insure reduction of stress, but guarantees release point recurrence, and promotes steady arm circuitry, and surely enhances a firmness in alignment, as well as a complementation and integration of body parts (quadrants) in this coordinated event.   Looking at the sequence we find: 1)  Back leg initiation of forward drive - this is the OUT!;  2)  Head and shoulders pitching forward over an imaginary "wall" (a spot intermediate to the stride length), this the OVER!; 3)  Burying the shoulder - with throwing shoulder point aligning to target - this is the DOWN!;  4)  Going deep - pitching hand passes opposite knee 7 - 8 inches and enters imaginary "bucket" - this is the DEEP!;  5)  Head and eyes remain fixed on target;  6)  Number on back can be easily read by anyone within reasonable proximity.  As an adjunct and a punctuation mark, the back leg release is underway at this moment and creates a finality to a well-delivered pitch.  This whole system can be practiced through "DRY" mechanics (stride drill) on a daily basis to smooth out and refine the fluidity of the sequence.  Well worth it !   JB  (9/9/08)

ESCAPING MARGINALISM - THE FAMOUS MARGINAL ATHLETE (PERSON) -  Whether we like it or not, most people wind up being considered average and or with some being called marginal in their line of work.   Some break through this limit and go into the upper percentiles (the tail end of the curve), but the vast majority remain within the curve -  it's the famous marginal identity - it's the "grey" zone.  I've dealt with some outstanding athletes in my time and still do - but the vast majority fit the bell-shaped curve or the so-called normal distribution. The best ones were on the strong side of the bell and would be termed upper marginal.  An appreciable number of them removed themselves from the marginal category by being very robust and dedicated in their efforts to excel beyond the obvious limits.  Whether we like it or not, most people lie in the parameters of marginalism.   Some are just waiting for some incidental glorious opportunity to break through this line.  Some won't wait ,and some don't wait!  Rarely is there a physical limitation, and there are not many overwhelming mental limits.  Here are some offerings - call them the "Magnificent Seven:"  1) Purism as an MO - passion as a password;  2)   Round-up time - round up all loose ends and bring them to the OK corral - expertise required here;  3)  Exacting one's potential - develop this into an art form - generally getting out of the "grey zone" is a notch away;  4)   Shedding the cloak of averageness requires catching and plugging all leaks - the phenomenon of whining is OUT!;  5)  Get outside the box - be a robust and enduring thinker - this results in confidence;  6)  Become a "gamer" - this is mostly mental;  7)  Marginalism is a great opportunity!  Great careers and happenings are acquired by design.  The persistent always survive.  Your life will have attractions by whatever you give attention to!  Emotional management can be learned and success always breeds success.  JB  (9/1/08)

PROGRAM THE MENTAL TAPES !  -  Batters, whether they like to admit it or not, guess on pitches - some are good at guessing right, and these are usually the high average hitters.  They play the tape of the pitch that they are looking for in their "minds eye," and when they get that pitch, there is an increased likelihood that they will hit it well.  It behooves the pitcher to create other  "tapes," that have to be played with the possibility of the batter playing the wrong tape.  Therefore, an exquisitely mastered breaking pitch, that the pitcher has developed to an equality with the fastball, allows the potential of that tape being played, whether sporadically or even often, to the detriment of the batter.  This provides for wrong guesses and ultimately putting pitches by the hitter, even if he guesses right.  The doubt of the pitch occurrences is enough to induce a split second slowing of the bat and therefore perform an out-swing.  The mental game between pitcher and hitter, an age-old phenomenon, has advanced to the point where batters ability to hit high-velocity pitches (100 mph) has been refined to an extreme degree.  However, I don't notice the great curve or great change-up being equally mastered by today's outstanding hitters - some do, but a large number do not !  If one can get in the hitters' minds that there are other pitches that are on a par with the fastball, and can be invoked at any time, regardless of the count - one can skew the guessing game.  The minute one guesses off-speed - the bat will sub-consciously slow, and it may not possibly catch up with the fastball if it's a wrong guess.   JB  (8/31//08)

THE ILLUSORY (ELUSORY/ELUSIVE) CURVEBALL !  -   It seems that I need to re-explain salient points on throwing the great curve.  Receiving penetrating, but thoughtful questions on the mechanics of throwing the outstanding curve, suggests to me that I need to make a crystal-clear analysis of how to throw a great curve correctly.  Is it possible that everyone will get one of these?  Probably not!  But the enterprising, self-motivated students of detail and skill analyses, more than likely will get a strong handle on this, and if one masters this magnificent concoction, it will be part of one's toolkit for a long time, probably throughout one's pitching lifetime.   It may need tuning occasionally, as all strong effective pitches do.  These are some absolutes: 1) Four seam grip - horseshoe right (RHP);  2) Pressure middle finger tip and thumb;  3) Middle finger tip and thumb line up;  4) Supination with a narrow or "skinny" wrist;  5) 12/6 rotation at outset to get down spin with the down activity emphasized - later one can go to1/7 (RHP),11/5 (LHP) and then 2/8 (RHP) and 10/4 (LHP);  6) Elbow must be up;  7) Elbow must lead;  8) Think fastball, fastball until the hand passes the ear, and then supinate with a narrow wrist;  9) Cut through the release point - "hit the gun"! - the hand is in position as though a pistol would be shot towards the 1st base line - the fingers are pointing towards first base area; 10) Bring the arm across the body - finish the follow through - with fingers pointing up across to the left hip (RHP); 11) Adjust the stride length as release point is higher than on the fastball - use the "Oxbow Bender" (see below) and or a Sain Spinner to help with rotation - ;  12) Try to have crisp arm speed - there is NO reason this pitch should be slow - there is no magic!  Work at it and it will be a proud pitch if you succeed and harness it.    JB  (8/17/08)

THE " OXBOW BENDER," A REAL GOOD RIG!  -  Through the generosity of John Kelly, an old New Hampshireite, I have come across the beautifully crafted "Oxbow Bender."  It's a great version of the Sain spinner that I have used extensively in my pitching camps, and have periodically had to replenish mine by treks to the workshop where my tools (drill press, etc.) gave me amateurish replicas.  I've been asked many, many times by inquiring students and coaches where to get these.  My answer has generally been to "go to the workshop."  Now thanks to John, I have discovered the beautiful "OXBOW BENDER," a truly professional version of the spinner.  They are wonderfully arranged, and I would strongly recommend addition of these great assistant devices to anyone's pitching tool kit.  The bender can be found at oxbowbender.com, or contact at curve@oxbowbender.com or OXBOW BENDER, 2717 Clermont Place, Oklahoma City, OK 73116, tel. (405) 227-7455.  I really like this device!   JB  (8/12/08)

TRYING VS. DOING !!  -  A lot of people feel if you try hard, that this is an answer - many have been made to feel this way right up through their development.  I won't take that proposition away, as it is surely a better way than not trying, and it is a viable approach in athletics.  However, there is a time (probably in high school), when one has to go beyond this concept.  This is because it's the execution, the doing, and the accomplishment that is the goal and the reward.  Trying can come up short.  There has to be another dimension and another level.  Don't just try to do something, do it well, and better yet do it RIGHT!  This is a maxim that applies not only in athletics, but in life as well.  There are no awards for trying that are seriously visible (mostly intrinsic), so that success which is so much a public phenomenon made clear by awareness and acceptance, that winning is the undeniable extrinsic goal of athletic competition, as the complexity and development of the game goes up a notch.  JB  (8/11/08)

"FAT" WRIST VS. "SKINNY" WRIST !  -  An observation that hitters make in studying the delivery of a pitcher is something that should be relayed descriptively to the pitcher.  That is the recognition of a fastball having a "fat" wrist, and then that the curve or slider has a "skinny" wrist.  The pitcher needs to emulate what the batter's version of what he sees, and what the pitcher's hands show, including wrist  and hand positions, and then duplicate this with his own hands, so that when throwing a fastball he'll see what a "fat" wrist means.  Then he needs to simulate the curve, and see what "skinny" wrist means.  "Fat" wrist will include: 1) fastball; 2) splitter; 3) change-up; 4) cutter - "skinny" wrist will include: 1) curve; 2) slider; 3) slurve; and 4) screwball.  "Fat" in this instance means the palm of the hand more or less is facing the hitter, and therefore the wrist appears wide or "fat".   "Skinny" means the palm is turned in (supinated) on the curve, slider, or slurve and the wrist appears vertical or slim ("skinny").  Even on a screwball where  the palm is outward, the wrist will appear thin.  This allows the batter to read a fastball from a breaking pitch.  WHAT TO DO?  The case for the pitcher would be late supination or pronation to help disguise the wrist, but the quality and the setting up of the pitch will still be the overriding issue here.   JB  (8/8/08)Back to Top of Page

ACTIVATE, INTEGRATE, AND COORDINATE THE FOUR QUADRANTS AS WELL AS THE CORE SYSTEM IN PITCHING  -  The essence of great and beautiful mechanics in pitching is when activation, integration, and coordination of the four quadrants along with the complementation of the core system muscles (1. abs. i.e., rectus abdominus, transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, and intercostals - ribs and 2. back muscles - erector spinae and iliopsoas) is brought about.  The core is the bridge between the upper torso and the legs.  All powerful movements originate from the center of the body out.  The more stable the core, the more powerful the extremities work.  When this is done in a vigorous smooth kinetic flow, science becomes art, and the beauty of it is revealed.  This has been witnessed by some outstanding pitchers over a period of time, such as yesteryear's Warren Spahn, Steve Carleton, Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and today's Greg Maddox, whose impeccable mechanics were always repeatable and classic.  Surely one could emulate them not only for longevity, but also for efficiency and success.  It is a testimony to the purity of their art.  The four quadrants obviously are :1) The pitching arm; 2) The off or directional arm; 3) The back leg; and 4) The lift leg.  One could actually invoke a "5th" quadrant, which would be appropriately the core system:1) front (abs); and 2) back (spinae and psoas group).  The fifth quadrant has a tremendous impact on this analysis, because this is the home of the power source.  The extremities get their cue and movement from the core.   When dealing with activation, integration, and coordination of the pitching system, one should be sensitive and aware of the initial aspect of the core apparatus.   JB  (8/5/08)

"GOOD" PITCHER IN THE MAKING VS. "GREAT" PITCHER IN THE MAKING!  - The time spent on attempting to be a "good" pitcher is probably the same in amount, as the time spent trying to be a "great" pitcher.  However, the quality of the time, the precision of events, and the exactness of execution are critical determinants.  The commitment from the student and the instruction from a perceptive coach are very much controllable variables.  The amount of latitude in these above areas all have different parameters in their scope.  Suffice to say, that high motivation at the outset must be a prime requisite.  It's been my experience that becoming outstanding in one's chosen area requires the same time expenditure that it takes to be average or good.  The character of the time is the discriminator, as well as the correctness of detail, and the rapt attention to technical factors.  If one is practicing and rehearsing correct skill development on a consistent basis, and has the sincerity and commitment to be excellent, then the likelihood of achieving greatness increases.  There is a hidden barrier here that marginal players fail often times to recognize, and that is the dedication to precision.   Here are some factors; WHERE DOES THE LINE BEGIN?  WHERE ARE THE MARKING POINTS? Can good pitchers become great pitchers?  How?  Here's how:  1) No time wasting - work of art every pitch - put a brain on each pitch; 2) Operate outside the box - be in command and see yourself bigger than you are (realistically); 3) The secret of success is  FOCUS - it is an act of will - this faculty rules everything!; 4) Make the eyes work - see the game vicariously; 5) Use mental mechanics; 6) Solve pressure by being more than good; 7) Work on weaknesses until they become strengths - develop mental discipline; 8) Be always prepared!; 9) Train your brain for excellence; and 10) Make things happen!     JB   (8/4/08) (7/28/08)

COULD HAVE, SHOULD HAVE, WOULD HAVE ! (Logo of the Runner-up)  -  We have an interesting phenomenon when one doesn't quite make the grade.  It's the worn-out, hackneyed, clichéd adage of " if we only would have", "we could have done this" and maybe "we should have done so" - used together might get a stale cup of coffee or yesterday's newspaper.  It's comforting to know that you could have, even though you didn't.  In reality, the winner did do that, and somehow realized that he (she) had one time to to prove that.  For those who entertain the "could have", "would have", "should have" philosophy, always will remain perennial prospects.  As long as they stay wild and remain dependent on this defeat oriented thinking, they will comfort themselves with a fantasy that never fulfills.  This needs to be eradicated early on, before it is ingrained in the master schematic.   The ability to take from what should have been and correct this deficiency, and bring about a permanent response to adapting and adjusting to situations, that require on the spot determinations, is the prime goal here. This clearly has to be adopted early in one's competitive outlook, if one desires to come out on top.    JB

FOR THE MOST PART, PURE CRITICISM HAS NO VALUE!  -  Having had the experience of teaching and coaching for many years and having been (still) instructor and director of the Championship Pitching Camp venture - I have found criticism too often to be a concept in the evaluation of a participating person's performance.  As I reflect upon these mechanisms, as perhaps viable approaches to learning, I find for the most part that the criticism (by itself) method has no value.  I find NO value in criticizing someone or someone's ideas for the distinction of it.  Young viewpoints which are concluded, particularly those that have not been tempered by variety and disaster, among the many approaches that occur, are certainly fraught with failure.  Those who have not seen, at least over some prolonged period of time, the passing or even failure of trends, and yet feel compelled to expound, excites me none.  Rather I have a disappointment and a general disdain and disregard for these observations, made with little or no real substantive background - certainly with insufficient information. One should not be an interpreter here!  A continual perusal and pursual of the grandiose complexities of the pitching process, and the satisfaction of finding salient solutions to problems encountered along the way  is a study in the beauty of persistent pure knowledge.  Self appointed "wannabes" do a disservice to their followers by disreputing the conclusions of others.  Frequently it's a lack of background and wherewithal that contaminates conclusions.  What can be more pathetic than an amateurish declaration about something that requires professional scrutiny?  I see this too often.  Malcontentedness follows this path.  Constructive criticism on the other hand is a beautiful fine art, that has an intrinsic value and needs to be utilized and worked upon daily.   JB  (7/27/08)Back to Top of Page

"GAME FACE" VS "PRACTICE FACE" -  There is a big difference between game day and practice sessions.  There's a big difference between playing on the "B" team, as contrasted to playing on the "A" team.   There is a big difference between a minor leaguer and a major leaguer.  It's the degree of PRESSURE and amount of EXPECTATION.  There is a tremendous relativity among players according to physicality and innate ability - but some are "GAMERS", and some are not.  Some don't handle the pressure.  It  may not be that they CAN'T, it's that they DON'T!  What and who is a GAMER?  This is a very special athlete, who brings his impeccable mind with him in a game or contest.  We should separate cockiness from confidence here.  A lot of players are marginal - they need instruction and guidance - they need confidence in what they do!  Mound personality is different than bull-pen personality.  Believing is far bigger than most allow for.  Constructive criticism from a good coach can be a powerful adjunct to one's coping skills.  This done in a thoughtful way during a game can have a lasting effect on one's confidence.  For those that can turn on their "GAME" face and rev-up a notch, without upsetting the balance needed for performing well, we admire the possession of this wonderful trait, and  suggest that this should be respected and emulated wherever possible.  JB  (7/23/08)

ADJUSTING TO A "TIGHT" STRIKE ZONE ! -  Breaking pitches entering the strike zone (or the "hitting zone" if you prefer) at an angle encounter a "portal of entry" which is smaller and tighter and more vague often times.  This can be illusory and wandering, particularly on breaking pitches, compared to  fastballs whose vectors are somewhat discernible  from the "get go".  A breaking pitch has a tremendous variation in its scope, and its point of entry is often violated by the catcher's backhand, which in turn affects the umpires call.  This frequently causes an imbalance between fastball ratios and breaking pitch ratios as far as strikes are called.   When the batter realizes that the pitcher has command of his curve (it is strongly recommended here that pitchers and catchers work together on "shaping" the pitch), the equality between fastball-called strikes and curve ball-called strikes makes for a severe adjustment to the batter who is frequently dependent on the umpire to call a breaking pitch a "ball", so he can sit on the FB.  Major league hitters or any good hitters in general are geared to hit fastballs in the 95 m.p.h.+ range, and this is truly an amazing skill.  To hit an off-speed pitch, when one is guessing FB (which is many times the case), often has a pathetic response by the batter who collapses with his form and discipline, and chases a pitch down in the dirt or out of the strike zone.  This boils down to the pitcher recognizing where strikes exist in the umpires "call" zone.  This is part of the adjustment process that all athletes must go through.  Rather than complaining and dwelling on an unfavorable tight call, the hard core pitcher needs to make his claim to mastery of his pitches and show that he can handle any strike zone.  This is much harder than it sounds, but it is an absolute necessity, if one is to be successful as a pitcher.  Presenting a mastery and command of the strike zone (any) should always be a top order for a strongly motivated, ambitious pitcher who is bent on making a career in this sport.  JB  (7/23/08)

NEED TO MASTER STRIDE LENGTH (For those pursuing excellence)  -  Getting in complete command of one's stride in pitching should be priority one.  One should also refine the position of the landing foot, so that consistency rules the event.  Successful pitchers have a consistent stride length, that is as much a part of their system as wearing a glove.  It's been stated before, that a long stride produces a faster pitch and also a lower pitch.  Commanding the low fastball is a way to becoming a winning pitcher in most every level.  To throw high and not make corrections is to contradict the physics and efficacy of pitching.  The double-bar tee drill, which uses a drive or stride line with a pitcher's plate line and includes a "wall" line, can help one solidify stride length and foot alignment (pg. 286-290 in the book The Act of Pitching).  Stepping to a slightly closed front toe should be in the dry-run rehearsal of establishing one's optimal stride length.  There is a tremendous advantage in throwing the ball LOW, and while pitching up and in, and up and out is necessary in pitch location, success follows the low ball thrower, as he goes up the ladder in his development.  This is always accomplished by lengthening the stride.  One should get adept at fine tuning this arrangement.   JB  (7/22/08)Back to Top of Page

PROPER USE OF THE PITCHER'S PLATE (Pitching rubber)  -  The pitcher's rubber can be a concoction of 6"x6"x24" (imbedded) or 6"x24" (3 spikes) for high school, college, and pro and the 4"x18" (3-spikes) - youth size.  These are all representations of the rubber rectangle that all pitchers must have one foot on when delivering a pitch.  There can be multiple ways the pitching foot is aligned in regard to the configuration of the rubber.  It can be a tremendous advantage when this object is used for pure directional force, and or when it is used to establish an advantageous vector.  In this discussion, RHP = right-handed pitcher, LHP = left-handed pitcher, RHB = right-handed batter and finally LHB = left-handed batter.  I prefer strongly for a RHP to zone in from the right side (strong side) when attacking a RHB, and often times even a LHB.  This creates a horizontal vector, which when intersecting with a vertical vector or trajectory (that comes from throwing 3/4, 3/4+, oh) creates a multidimensional event at the home plate hitting zone.  This effect is stronger coming from RHP to RHB, but the vectors still present an adjustment for the LHB from a RHP.  For LHPs, the opposite is obviously in effect.  A LHP should be on the left-hand side of the rubber.  The intensification of the breaking pitches, i.e. curves, sliders, slurves, and even cutters all get a boost and are fortified when the horizontal vector is established because the batter is often getting an obscured view, and in my opinion the aerodynamics of the breaking  or curving phenomena are increased.  In the matter of a sinking  or tailing FB - the middle or even opposite (left or weak side) of the pitcher's rubber for a RHP seems to be advantageous and enhances the movement on these pitches.  Of course the opposite is true for a LHP.  A note of caution here - in establishing a convenient vector for a sinking  and running FB, there is a concomitant difficulty in getting an advantageous angle for the breaking pitch, as it becomes more visible for a RHB.  The hard sharpness is not accentuated by a horizontal angle which is negated by pitching from the weak side.  The visibility of breaking pitches (those resulting from supination) is greater when  using the weakside (opposite) of the rubber.  One should experiment to see if pitch intensity is increased by taking different positions on the pitching plate.  JB  (7/20/08)

THE ESSENCE OF "TENNIS ELBOW" -  Pitchers elbow or "tennis elbow" is always a frightening event for a baseball pitcher or any athlete involved with the propulsion of a racket, a javelin, a football, or a baseball particularly during the critical  time of their careers.  It seems as though certain events increase the occurrence of tennis elbow.  In baseball throwing sliders, hard curves, and now some are insisting the splitter, can bring this malady about (this is as far as pitching is concerned).  My strong feeling is incorrect mechanics in the throwing of a baseball, perhaps propelling a tennis racket, hurling a javelin, or throwing a football are the main culprits, as well as overdoing the activity, in bringing this disorder about.  The term, epicondylitis, often conjoined with tendonitis, implies an inflammation from micro-tears or fraying of the tendon connecting to the humerus (upper arm).  Often one can exist with this problem as the aggravation is not such as to inhibit some effective throwing or propulsion.  I know this, as I existed with this condition an appreciable amount of my pitching days, particularly in college in the cold New England springs in spite of the fact these were some of my most productive games.  Relieving this problem always involves ceasing the throwing routine for days, perhaps weeks.  It's amazing how the body repairs, and one who is in good physical health can overcome and revive the "back to normal" condition in a reasonably short period of time.  Eliminating the hard slider in my opinion can do wonders.  I've prescribed this method to some of my aspirants who visit me with this condition, and what to do.  Pronating correctly takes stress off this problem area and often relieves pain occurring from rapid supination from throwing sliders.  You have one throwing arm!   JB (7/18/08)

NEW WEB LINK - ThePichingAcedemy.net  -  We at PitchingProfessor.com are happy to announce our connection to DAN GAZAWAY and ThePitching Academy.net web site.  Dan Gazaway has the passion that we all require to instruct young pitching aspirants and help them accomplish their Pitching ambitions.  Dan's site is full of great stuff on many aspects of the pitching process and we highly recommend that those searching for pitching excellence explore the site.  Soon the site will also provide access to "The Act of Pitching " and The Best of Championship Pitching Camps DVD Modules.   Coach John Bagonzi (7/2/08)

PUT A "BRAIN" ON EACH PITCH !  -  You know when you tell someone to actively visualize and see oneself throwing a pitch, we find that some are not readily prone to do this or do not know how.  They are missing out on a serious productive practice.  I feel that if one makes a commitment to serious pitching, that he should have this (pitching a ball) on his mind a certain amount of functional time.  He should see himself pitching a baseball well and frequently, in his minds eye, even when he is not on a baseball field.  This should develop a realistic version of his technique.  To ingrain this craft within the psyche is to produce it when on the "firing line".  It's astounding how often well laid plans come true.  It is for the serious of spirit to incorporate and refine this talent of the imagination.  If one can pitch a game vicariously, as a rehearsal type of activity, the advantage is obviously in the preparation.  If one has ever prepared to pitch a game the day before and projected himself into the details of the game - by being realistic, the actual happenings often come about.  The game needs to be played with the eyes.  "See the mitt" - "hit the mitt" - "throw thru the mitt!".  See the batters' swing style.  There should always be a reason.  Creating 110 pitches with a brain on every pitch is the mission.  For some this too much - for others it's a definite challenge.  JB  (6/26/08)Back to Top of Page

DIRECTIONAL FORCE IS HARD TO COME BY WITHOUT PUSHING OFF !  -  One of the areas that gains importance in the hurling of a baseball is the energy momentum of the forward drive (directional force).  The length of the stride is an all important issue on the velocity of a pitch, and it is of a concomitant relationship to directional force.  This force, in my opinion, can only  be implemented and enhanced by the serious activity of the back leg, and the push or drive that comes from this quadrant.  Is it possible to get directional energy or power without the push-off phenomenon?  PERHAPS, but unlikely, and less likely without a usable kinesis that is initiated here.  When directional force then meets rotational force, a remarkably beautiful synergistic event in the flow of power takes place.  This has been stated many times.  There is an artistic quality to the power of the back leg, as it joins the early kinesis and fulfills the power potential of this quadrant.  Refining this effect is the measure.  JB  (6/22//08)

THE CASE FOR THE ALMIGHTY FASTBALL !  -  There has been something like 40 new pitches devised since the beginning of the game of baseball.  The inventors and creators of specialty pitches have had their "day".  Some of these concoctions are more than interesting and have revamped the process of pitching over the years.  But the one consistent equalizer, which always becomes the GOLD STANDARD for pitching is THE ALMIGHTY FASTBALL! - one might seriously ask WHY?  It has persisted as the mark for excellence - an almost religious overtone - I even call it "The Holy Grail " in my book and my dvds and certainly refer to it that way in my pitching camps.  Let's look at the reasoning for the no.1 pitch of the pack, and the one that always hovers as the "equalizer".  1) It's a constructive pitch - an arm builder.  One's arm will get stronger, even bigger and developed by throwing fastballs.  Sliders etc. can be destructive pitches on the other hand.  2)  It's the "Equalizer" and "Intimidator".  Decision time gets challenged and the "high cheese" close by can cause one to think.  3)  The "Precursor" -  It's the originator of everything.  All pitches must have some kind of fastball arm action.  There is a requirement for arm power of some sort on all pitches - curve, slider, cutter, splitter, and even change-up.  4) Arm Health Maintainer - There is less stress with the FB -  together with great mechanics enhances longevity.  5) The "Relator" - All pitches must ultimately compare and relate to the FB in terms of trajectory, speed, positioning and therein lies its mystique.  6)  The "Commander" - The FB is always best for control, and it's the umpires'  and catchers' favorites.  7)  The best for "After Life" - The fastball with late potency is a powerful entity in itself.  We could go on with these advantages, but suffice to say no. 1 may always be the most important.   JB  (6/20/08)

COMMANDING ONE'S SELF, THE FASTBALL, AND THE STRIKE ZONE  - The title implies a trilogy of events, and may sound a little ominous, and yet many accomplished pitchers do just exactly that.  Having control of the fastball with bite and yet invoking the "overlord" to validate this process with precision, is the prime directive here.  Having the audacity to take charge - be bold and capture the supreme purpose of the mound, when initiating a pitch, has such a strong overlordship quality to it, that in effect, batters recognize immediately, who plans on being in command.  The domineering, potent, take-charge guy will connote respect, and if his demeanor sustains, it's likely he will remain in command.  Command is what it's all about, and all pitchers should work on this aspect unrelentingly.  Early control bodes well!  Because good control in pitching is largely a mental outgrowth, (although there are physical and mechanical issues that necessitate a correctness in delivering a pitch), it bodes well when an aspiring pitcher demonstrates the ability to consistently throw pitches in the strike zone, particularly early in the game.  If this tendency continues in one's early career (that is exhibiting a control of the mental part), it becomes a harbinger of pitching proficiency, which can only grow better as one matures.  Being consistent and confident translates into dominance.  Composure transcends the boundary between good and VERY good.  When one is robust in his thinking about perfecting his lot, then we have a serious agenda. Don't back from this!  It may be the missing part.   JB  (6/19/08)

SCIENCE AS A MODUS OPERANDI IN PITCHING ? HOW MUCH ? (The Scientific Method?)  -  Those of us that are scientists or oriented toward science, or have taught science and are sensitive to the laws that govern the universe are always ready to integrate these principles in the pitching of a baseball.  The Scientific Method (hypothesis, theory, law) hasn't been embraced in baseball yet, even though semi-dedicated aficionados have proclaimed that if it isn't proved by science, then it's not worthy.  It seems as though this idea draws short, as few things in baseball are positively proved by science.  I wish they were; however, there are always laws at work.  I'm a scientist of sorts, so that I would wish this, but I don't have the evidence to justify and validate this maxim.  I wish it was there, because I would relish versions that I've harbored over the years to be not only proven, but justified in the realm of pitching where variance is the main disciple.  We are constantly gathering up  loose ends and trying to make them fit into the total picture.  This is good because occasionally we "hit the nail," but to squirm around trying to believe that all that is important in this arena has to be proven or is proven by science is likely a study in futility of philosophy.  But let's never quit the venture.  JB  (6/10/08)

THE IMMACULATE KINETIC CHAIN -  In the creation of the perfect pitch, that has the perfect beginning, an ideal middle, and the resultant perfect ending, replete with no leaks or decay along the way, we have quite a demanding order.  Having a continuous flow and a continuity of correct junctures emanating with precision and power is certainly a bold assignment (bolder yet the accomplishment!).  CAN THIS BE ACQUIRED ?  - ABSOLUTELY !  -  but only with the assistance of the productive mindset, which is attentive to the "power" focusing necessary to enhance a realistic "active visualization" system!  SEE IT !  DO IT !  This is the prescribed state of the new "mental mechanics" -  the powerful potential that is lingering here requires an attention to detail, but also the precise understanding of the kinesis involved in pitching a ball.  Once it is clear in one's mind, then those with purposeful motivation, seek out the steps.  When the energy of motion is scrutinized and established, the sincere student of pitching can take his craft to another level.  This should always be the goal.   JB  (6/9/08)

RELEASE POINT -   Imagine a string or a cord attached to the middle of your chest (sternum or breast plate) going right to the catchers mitt  -  this is your "thought line" and your release point reference point.  It should be out on this line in front of you.  While your actual release point will likely be higher and back further  -  the idea of "snipping" through the line with your fingers will give you a consistency in the all important release area.  This string or cord should be part of the active visualization process, which should be preliminary to any serious pitch.  In my pitching camps, I get this point across immediately and demonstrate repeatedly and continuously throughout the camp, and find that the resultant consistency in delivery is accomplished early.  "Seeing" the line is a big accessory in establishing a "pitch slot" and groove for throwing the ball.  Once this is established, the stride length can be adjusted, so that location can be fine-tuned and a pitcher can self-monitor his adaptive responses to variations in pitches.   JB  (6/5/08)Back to Top of Page

THE USEFULNESS OF THE CONTRARIANS (3 Spots where knowledge exists) -  There are always three types of persons regarding knowledge.  There are those who: 1) don't know what they don't know; 2) those that know what they don't know; and 3) those that know.  There are those who linger within these categories that might be aptly termed CONTRARIANS.  They irritate me no end.  For criticism for its sake is their specialty.  However, they seem to serve a useful purpose.  They unknowingly (many times) invigorate the process.  The jury of experts grants them a hearing.  However, the jury is largely saturated with non-contrarians, so that it's a hard sell.  The jury has roots in the idea that "that which works needs to be retained," and that reinventions need to be scrutinized and validated and not accepted simply because they are "new,"  The gap between the "new" and the "old" sometimes contains the "truth" and those "old schoolers" who have availed themselves of new age technologies and have alerted themselves to the "cutting edge" have obtained the ideal stature and balance to sit on the jury.  These omniscient students have retained the successful knowledge of the past and ideally complemented it with the energy and refreshment of the new.  However, there is a great pitfall here when category 1) proclaims a viewpoint without the support of the no. 3) clan.  The jury needs to review change for itself as a phenomenon, which quite necessarily might be "good" (maybe) or "bad" (often).  Still we need a new ideal, and perhaps the contrarians contain this thought if their assumptions are carefully tested.   JB  (5/27/08)

THE FOREVER MECHANICS -  Forever mechanics is something you can live with during your entire pitching career.  I feel blessed that in my early days I emulated Warren Spahn and Bob Feller - both outstanding pitchers with optimal mechanical deliveries - both devoid of arm problems, with Spahn pitching into his middle forties, while Feller, interrupted by armed service time, accomplished staggering totals, but would have amassed more records with a continuous career.  I still have my unchanged mechanics, which are somewhat like Fellers' and am quite capable of throwing a baseball well with gusto, agility, and flexibility long after that would be likely.  We as pitching instructors and coaches want the beginning entry mechanics to last the length of one's career, and perhaps with fine tuning periodically, along with alterations when flaws occur, but nothing drastic which might involve blueprint changing.  "Mechanics you can live by" is the logo.  Dependable deliveries, time after time after time, stress-free with command and self sustaining power, accuracy and effectiveness is the logo theme.  This is a tall order, but a deliverable one, that has the thoroughness of design built into its beginning.  This is the good pitcher vs. the great pitcher design.  The line begins early.    JB  (5/26/08)

THE FINAL 5-7 FEET OF THE PITCH (The "After Burn") -  When one has zest on his fastball, it often is a result of activity in the final 5-7 feet of the pitch, and this is where the ball is "alive".  This can be the "biting" zone, the "giddy-up" stage, the" late-life" or the "pop" on the ball.  This is where the effect of "pulling the trigger" on the fastball is manifested.  The actual pulling of the trigger is in the release of the ball, where the fingers are fast-forwarding.  The "flick" that is imparted thru the ball here with its concomitant high spin impartment is where the "after -burn" is initiated.  Coming thru the ball with the finger tips acting strongly, and the wrist powerfully flexing is the incredibly important part of this mechanical phase where acceleration thru the release point accurately creates the optimal energy for a fastball with "overdrive" quality to it.   JB  (5/23/08)

THE IMPECCABLE MIND   - Dwelling on this guy is worth every second. He (she) is a magnificent, wonderful entity that can transform a life. He is a treasure that we all have to some degree. He can be depended on,  he can handle disasters, and he protects the error-prone from falling too far off-course.  He can be a partner in the great quest for high level achievement.  He basically wants no part of mediocrity.  He has a consciousness that can think only positively.  He resides in great accomplished personages.  His is a valor under fire in any venue. He refutes under accomplishment.  His residence is the inner mind.  Being aware of him often invokes his presence.  There are no enigmas.  There are no negative time warps.  His demands are only that his true ethic be recognized and be employed.  His strong point is solving problems, and he can be good at this!  He requires some assistance, but doesn't always depend on this.  He can operate on the strength of his will ,which is powerful.  He walks on hallowed ground and should be supremely respected for he works for the individual, and has his total interest at heart.  Get this guy on your side and get to know him well.  JB  (5/22/08)

BEST THING ONE CAN HAVE IN PITCHING IS A STRONG MENTALITY -  A mind devoid of negative images and defeat-laden thoughts is that of such a beautiful mentality, that it can only flourish and survive, when hard times or disastrous scenarios present themselves in the pitching arena.  Some call it an "impeccable" mind, and surely it is.  It is incapable of doing wrong.  This is the great partner in the search for success.  Isn't it refreshing to know that one can rely on this "guy", because he will not screw-up?  This mindset will not allow for things to get out of hand.  One needs a high confidence level to consistently benefit from dealing with an unerring mind.  When mind and body are on the same wave-length, it can only be an asset, and be an impact on outstanding pitching performances.  Emotions have to be extracted, and  a conviction on every pitch has to be maintained.  Before the ball is thrown, there has to be a belief that it will be successful.  This active visualization needs to be refined and utilized consistently.  JB  (5/6/08)

EXTENDING AND REFINING THE "DRIVE LINES" -  It is important that we as pitchers and coaches recognize that in the pitching of a baseball, there are two distinct "drive lines":  (1) one that is established by the front striding leg or "stride line" and its relationship to power, location, deceleration and balance; and then there is the (2) drive line of the pitching arm, which is essentially the arm circuit, and this needs to conform to patterns of consistency relating to arm junctures, loading spots, arm slot, wrist slot, release point and ultimately full extension with follow through.  The action of consistency and continual correct repetition is imperative with these drive lines.  It is needless to emphasize this when it comes to implementing and understanding the absolutism of consistency in making good pitches.  This is an underlying element of pitching excellence.  These drive lines are intimately related and necessary to one another and should be understood precisely, as one should recognize the synergistic effect relative to the uniting of the directional force to the rotational force, and this ultimate resultant effect on the kinesis of the torso and the pitching arm.  We then have the beauty and power of a well delivered pitch.   JB  (5/5/08)

BE ALWAYS PREPARED !  -  Being always prepared in no way interferes with having fun or a good time playing the game of baseball, and in particular, the act of pitching part of the game.  Before taking the mound, one should have a game plan.  This should be one that is visualized during dress rehearsal (bullpen warm-up).  One should have an idea what he is up against, and see this in his mind's eye.  There should be no chance occurrences here, but rather (self-speak) " I've got an act and a plan and I'm going to do it! " - " It wont be just physical ability ".  It will be mental and emotional as well.  " I'm not going to default on my potential, and I will not let that fail".  " There really is no excuse for a breakdown, surely because I didn't prepare myself".  " I realize my mental power, and I can reach my potential by understanding this power".  " My brain is the OVERLORD for excellence".  " I realize there is no crying in baseball, and baseball will not feel sorry for failure".  If one becomes superior in his vision, then great things happen.  On game day, mechanically there has to be a consistent release point.  It's the ability of the pitcher to read the hitter and understand the strike zone and evaluate what the umpire "sees".  In joining the level of excellent pitchers, one cannot let the game play him, but rather he has to play the game.  The better players decide how they are going to play.  One cannot let curable things (i.e., yips) ruin him.  One can always turn things around.  There is a purism here for those searching excellence, and its worth every bit of the devotion to it.  Believing is far bigger than most allow for - some discredit this as you either have it or you don't.  BALONEY!  You can conjure up this strength if you have a mind for it.   JB  (4/2/08)Back to Top of Page

THE KEY TO ALL GREAT FASTBALLS !  - The key to a great fastball is the gear to which it is launched in, and the gear that it is in, when it reaches the plate.  The extra stage action is the true mystique of a high quality FB.  Few have it!  It is often a condition of the mind, but always a condition of ROTATION and speed of fingers.  The effect of the fingers pulling thru the ball with a "clawing" effect and the hand and forearm with a "whipping" quality gives the ball an overdrive.  This "after-burn" is hard to come by, but great fastballs possess this stage.  The late-life or booster that we all treasure is the real discriminator when it comes to destroying or affecting the batter's decision time.  To throw beyond the batter's hitting speed is very difficult to do today, as the modern hitter is truly timed into hitting baseballs traveling at 95 m.p.h.  But, if the ball has "giddy-up" when it reaches the plate, often decision time is severely challenged.  The tremendous importance of releasing the ball correctly with smooth but powerful hand and arm action, which is supported by the drive and rotation of the other three quadrants of the body, gives the fastball its best chance of having a booster stage.  In my recent DVD - The Holy Grail - The Fastball, much of the details of rotation are covered.  JB  (4/1/08)

UTILIZING THE FOUR QUADRANTS  - In pitching a baseball correctly, one should involve four main parts of the human anatomy.  They are: 1)  the throwing arm;  2)  the glove or directional arm;  3)  the back leg; and  4)  the lift or lead leg (stride leg).  These quadrants should be united in a particular way.  The throwing and directional arms form the pectoral girdle (shoulder girdle) and act together as the upper torso.  The back leg and lift leg together with the pelvic or hip girdle basically act in unison as the lower torso.  All of these parts act as a synergism in the hurling of a baseball.  When these quadrants and girdles are loaded and activated kinetically, there is a combined and correlated effect which compounds the force of the pitch.  Done well, there is a capture of directional thrust or force with rotational (sling-shot) energy, and this combination can create a surge, and an acceleration of arm, forearm, hand and fingers and consequently the speed of the thrown ball.  When this is done consistently and well, it can add to the velocity of the baseball and create a complete anatomical delivery of a pitch in which most of the body contributes to the artistry of pitching.  One should be constantly striving for this.   JB  (1/23/08)

THE BEAUTY AND NECESSITY OF THE BACK LEG RELEASE (getting the back side through) -  In pitching, getting the back side through and into the pitch, is an area that seems to get overlooked quite often, and it demeans the whole pitching effect, because it should be a serious "punctuation" mark on the delivery of an effective pitch.  The activation of that quadrant, and its incorporation into the sequence of completing a strong throw to the mitt, signifies a coordination of drive-off, rotation, and release in a powerful kinetic thrust, which in turn gives a signature to a purposeful delivery.  Those with a strong back side involvement, generally have a high back leg release, and this is often characteristic of power pitchers who have quality fastballs.  Is it the swirling of the hips from rotation, or is it the drive-off, which gives the character to the back leg release?  This is often  a highly visible, dramatic and impactful event, as the leg comes high.  I would be quite sure the potent back leg releases are a combination of powerful forward thrusts and similarly powerful rotational effects, which strongly get the back side through and powerfully punctuate the signatures of the various pitches.  There are numerous ways to get an impact high back leg, but the most useful  and effective is to have a partner or a coach hold the leg up, as one goes through "dry" mechanics and buries the shoulder and comes to the end of the pitch.  This is indicated by the follow-through with the hand passing by the opposite knee (approx. 7-8 inches).  Posing there for a moment while the operator adjusts the back leg to height comfortability, often times can get a lazy back leg into a functional position.  This should be worked on until it feels and becomes natural.   JB  (1/7/08)

INVEST IN YOUR OWN IMAGINATION! -  When the smoke has cleared, and we stand there bereft of our worldly goods, we have but our inner spirit and our remarkable imagination left, as our guide to adequate functioning.  Disasters highlight our lives periodically, and how we deal with these events eternally etches our character.  Withdrawing to our internal strengths, we come up with the force of will and the power to reorganize, revitalize and recoup our losses, and perhaps ideally emerge stronger, more resilient, and more precise in our outlooks.  There should be no limits on us, as our imaginations are a vast reservoir of many times, untouched talents, which are lingering and waiting to be summoned and destined.  Dealing with disasters develops mental discipline, and enables one to work on weaknesses until they become strengths.  This is a measure of our wonderful imagination and its capacity for self-actualization.  Self confidence surely is an outgrowth of the self-realization phenomenon.  Many times a baseball game can develop a disaster, and particularly pitchers are vulnerable and also, often times succumb to this happening.  Resorting to the inner being, and knowing that this entity will measure up strongly, confirms that self confidence can result from excursions in the disaster world.   Refining this tendency to "measure-up" certainly enhances the strength of the imagination and its will power.  We should refine this energy to the fullest.  JB  (1/3/08)

IN APPRECIATION -  I would wish you to understand this perfectly.  I deeply and humbly appreciate all those involved in honoring me with the renaming of the Woodsville Community  Building.  My wife Dreamer and I, as well as my family, are thrilled and supremely grateful for this gesture.  While I'm progressing along my life's path, I can only appreciate that I am here to witness this event.  To the School Board, to Jim Walker, Dave Robinson, Brian Gould, and Mike Ackerman, you have my utmost gratitude for your involvement in this event.  To all the players who were present, and surely to all who played for me and WHS during my coaching career, you have my undying respect for your loyalty and performance, and will forever remain as great gems in my memory bank.  We need to support our schools, our community and our town always, as this is what makes us.  With fondest regards - John and Dreamer Bagonzi and Family.  JB  (1/1/08)

THE DROP AND DRIVE !!!??? -  I'm sometimes identified with the "drop and drive" style of pitching (this couldn't be more wrong).  While I surely advocate the "drive" off the back foot, I don't encourage the dramatic "drop" part.  Although Tom Seaver and Sandy Koufax, great artists with this style, were great favorites of mine, and I certainly admired them.  I feel somehow they could pitch without the downward plane and with their fastballs did not need the advantage of the vertical trajectory.  However, most pitchers gain from the downward plane in order to intersect vectors which are seriously advantageous to most thrown pitches and enhance not only their fastballs, but their breaking pitches flourish also (although Koufax had a great curve, even with the drop and drive technique).  Batters allowed to get comfortable on their own plane (horizontal swing plane) absolutely need to be confronted with some anomaly here.  That would be the downward or vertical plane.  I had a sort of gentle argument with a Hall of Fame pitcher a while back, when I suggested his curve was enhanced by the downward plane; although he felt he didn't really have the downward plane.  Needless to say, this discussion had a futile future to it.  The verticality of the downward vector intersected by the horizontal vector creates an advantageous angular (& multi-dimensional) condition for most pitchers, and one should take all the advantages where they exist.  JB  (12/12/07)Back to Top of Page

THE MECHANICS OF VELOCITY (BOTH PHYSICAL AND MENTAL) - Some essential factors in bringing about pitching velocity can be: 1) create a long stride - a longer stride causes the ball to go lower - lower is faster.  One holds onto the ball longer, thereby imparting more energy, and the sheer fact is a lower pitch is faster aerodynamically; 2) Integration of 4 quadrants - a) the pitching arm, b) the off or directional arm, c) the back side - mainly the back leg. and  d) the lift or front leg; 3) Strong loading of these 4 quadrants - give them their due.  Be aware of their synergistic relationship;  4) Fast fingers - accelerate thru the release point; 5) Strong backside - at the outset and on back side release;  6) Directional force - going forward - drive off back foot;  7) Rotational force - torso (shoulders and hips) rotating;  8) Integration of 6 and 7 - melding of directional and rotational forces; 9) The purity of INTENT - "see the mitt - throw thru the mitt".  In regards to no.9, intent can be an option, but it is a highly treasured mental option and should never be relegated to the so-called talent dept. and laid aside.  This is something we all can turn on and need.  Pitching is such a mental exercise, that if someone doesn't possess intent, he probably should consider another position or another sport.  The option of considering success should never be accompanied by some forlorn statement or quasi-developed mental hesitation, that conditions one's choices.  If success is a goal, then the option is narrow and positive.  This is rightly so, but I see and hear a lot of vacillating viewpoints.  This is truly a sorry situation, for time is a continuing and progressive phenomenon, and time frames shrink and dwindle rather quickly.  Consider intent at the forefront always!  Develop a strong mental force to your pitching program, that complements the physical program.  Never overlook "mental mechanics."   JB (12/8/07)

CREATING INTENT THROUGH POWER FOCUSING -  Is intent limited by genetics?  This business of intent as are many dimensions in athletics, and particularly baseball pitching, is dependent on one's " frame of mind".  It is so easy to say that everything is mental, but after the "trip around the barn", I know, as do many others, that for sure it's all MENTAL !!  Make no mistake about it!  If one throws 83+ M.P.H., and has decided that he has plateaued, then it might become so.  If one says he has another level and another gear that he must achieve and he seriously aspires to doing this, then this gear can happen.  One must allow himself the opportunity to move in this direction, by searching all possible avenues for advancing.  The physical part of pitching likely involves: 1st the FITNESS factor - In the pursuit of the completely developed equation for pitching power, fitness will always reign at the top and must be plugged in first.  In reaching one's genetic endowment in pitching velocity, one must examine his hand and finger speed.  This is an area everyone can increase in.  One should check the thoroughness of the loading technique in the four quadrants and particularly the hips.   Sometimes bringing the lift leg higher and setting the knee toward the back shoulder will result in a longer step and stride.  This can result in increased speed.  Most pitchers are under-achievers when it comes to velocity.   Many times pitchers put their own limits and this beats them.  Self-doubt is a killer.  It could be genetic, but doesn't have to be.  Self-doubt is controllable.  Pitching is such a positive event, that one can contribute to the enemy (other team), by having self-doubt.  In essence one is playing  for them, when he self-doubts.  Doing all the correct things mechanically can create the potential to throw hard, but the super- strong mental will has to come in here, if one wants to power the ball.  "See the mitt - throw thru the mitt", not just "hit the mitt".  Most pitchers with good mechanics will not hurt themselves by attempting to throw as hard as they can.  Reaching these barriers can often create an almost sub-conscious will to throw hard often - obviously on the fastball.  This not only develops the arm, but the mental power control we all need.  Hard core thinkers, who are often great pitchers, possess these highly positive thought waves, which are saturated with intent-laden motives and they have no space for self-doubt.  One should be mentally superior to his obstacles.  Most people control their will.  It can be strong or weak - one decides that.  Be dialed into the power of your own will.  If you continue to think positive and control your focus and will, imagine how far you can go!   JB  (12/5/07)

EVERY PITCH SHOULD BE A WORK OF ART !  -  The classic pitching motion should always be a model.   Very stylized pitching motions, with a meticulous easy effort, and free flowing deliveries such as Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, Josh Beckett and yesteryear's Sandy Koufax, Warren Spahn, and Jim Palmer should exist as model templates for idealized pitching motions.  These persons repeated their pitching approaches over and over again with a distinctiveness.  No two people pitch exactly alike, nor should they, but the individuals who refined their pitching styles did the same thing over and over again, so that feet landed in the same designated spot every time.  The arm slot was the same every time.  The leg lift was the same, unless working from the stretch.  The stride length was the same, except to make corrections.  Each pitch should be considered beforehand.  Active visualization should preface every pitch.  Each pitch is an entity unto itself; a masterpiece in the offing - a work of art.  It may not be possible to create a masterpiece every time, but that should be on the menu and be the primary goal.   JB  (11/29/07)Back to Top of Page

WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW (As pitchers, pitching coaches and/or pitching enthusiasts)!  - We all need to know something about the MAGNUS EFFECT.  We all need to know something about Anatomy and Physiology.  We need to know something about Vectors and Trajectories, and we need to know something about the Aerodynamics of Pitching.  We need to know about all of these things, if we are going to pursue this area with the vigor and purpose that it deserves.  Much of our schematic may depend on so-called "feelings"  and past experiences - constituting a "belief" about some area we favor.  Some ideas will be based on what science tells us.  We would do well to integrate this wealth and meld the disciplines from all interacting phenomena, without demeaning any one area, because we come up with a prejudice.  To be looking for the purity in pitching, one needs to be rid  of the baggage of egotism in order to incorporate the mechanisms that work.  This does not involve the rediscovery of the "WHEEL", but does involve the understanding of it.  We all need to know how to TEACH, for some it is inborn and natural.  Some need to develop and refine this important skill.   JB  (11/20/7)

UNION OF STYLE AND FUNCTION -  I am always deeply enamored of stylists; however, the person who only looks good, but doesn't function purely is actually masquerading.  The union of style and function is truly a delight.  The natural beauty that athletics and particularly baseball pitching display is a study in kinesthetic effectiveness, aesthetic quality, and athletic artistry.  When this is all blended smoothly, you have a spectacular event worthy of anybody's attention.  The beauty of great mechanics continuously equipped with scientific import can stop a technician in his tracks when he spots this harmony.  Josh Beckett of the Red Sox comes close to this ideal imagery, as the stylist and the functional worker have come together in a display of kinetic efficiency and anatomical artistry.  This is truly the beauty of great mechanics.  There are some who possess fluid mechanics, and yet don't throw hard.  This is not because fluidity hampers power, it's because the intent to throw hard is missing.  Pure kinetically proficient mechanics are always going to yield positive results, but they must be married to the disciplined mental aspect of throwing a ball hard.  Searching for this union should always be a part of the grand pitching plan.   JB  (11/14/07)

LOADING THE BACK LEG -  For those who believe in the power of the back leg, we need to analyze how it loads.  The back foot placed horizontally against or parallel to the pitching plate (rubber) with foot angling up somewhat initiates the loading event - The knee flexes and a slight drop occurs - for some this is dramatic (drop and drive) [note here - I'm not a "drop and driver", although some have suggested that is my approach - be sure this is not true].  Then as forward movement is initiated, the foot rotates so the ball of the foot acts as the pivoting point (fulcrum), and now a strong drive commences forward with a thrust from the rotating foot.  This is central to the integration of the directional and rotational forces, and maximizing the synergistic effect of these combined forces.  As the other loading areas in effect (shoulder girdle, pelvic girdle, and accelerating arm) come into play, a union creates a crisp and forceful delivery and likely a fastball worthy of this effect.  For those who minimize the effect of the back leg or negate it completely, I express disdain for absenting the function and power of this magnificent quadrant.  I see and recognize the vitality of this side of the body in the initial surge as well as value the back side coming through as a finishing event in a classic strong release (back leg release).  JB (11/4/07)

READING THE BALL (Mandatory for all catchers and pitchers) -  When the flight of a thrown baseball, and the great variations that this flight can encounter, are serious issues in the determination of a baseball pitcher's success, then this certainly can become paramount in the pursuit of this trade.  It seems that the all-important factors, surely, are what can cause these variations in flight.  Knowing spin directions and alignments are positive criteria for a sound analysis of necessary movement on a pitch for its success factor.  Being proficient at one's craft necessitates being extremely perceptive of the vital aspects involved in the throwing of  a baseball.  Being plugged into the nuances of a tailing , sinking, or cutting fastball, as well as the aerodynamic anomalies of a curveball, slider, splitter, screwball and/or cutter should be in every pitcher's domain of inside knowledge.  This can hardly be achieved without some understanding of geometric configurations, as well as insights into physical dimensions and laws governing rotating bodies.  This is not brain surgery or beyond the comprehension of the average pitching aspirant.  Using the clock as a standard template, certain pitches fall into a  pattern of spin directions.  Suggesting 12/6, 6/12, 1/7, 7/1, 2/8, 8/2, or 3/9, 9/3 can quickly be ascertained by looking at a clock's numerals.  To suggest that axes  can be 9/3, 3/9, 11/5, 10/4 etc. is not a form of torture, unless one wants pablum as a steady diet.  Obviously, finger pressure, grips, positioning of the thumb, etc. are salient, but supplementary, to understanding spin directions.  The true pitching purist will take the time to master spin directions as a blueprint for doctoring the ball and establishing movement as a critical  factor in the effectiveness and efficiency of a thrown ball.  Take the time.   JB  (10/31/07)

THE "GREY" AREA  BETWEEN A CUTTER AND A SLIDER  - In response to some thoughtful and perceptive forum questions recently, I have elected to propound some observations and develop some thoughts regarding two popular pitches, which are sometimes in conflict.  One is the slider - in essence a breaking pitch and the other is a cutter or cut fastball - which in my opinion is a fastball more than a breaking pitch, in spite of the fact that there is movement.  The cutter is a high velocity pitch making it a version of the fastball.  It resides between a slider and a true fastball, whereas the slider resides in the niche between a curve ball and a fastball.  Call them both hybrids, as they have graded into one another over the years, and variations are often referred to as slurves, hard or short curves, power sliders, or moving fastballs.  In its purity, the slider has a spiral spin, and can be gripped like a a curve, and is thrown with a chopping motion of the hand, with index finger prominence that the true curve doesn't have (a curve can have this, but the middle finger is the prime mover).  The ball builds up some low pressure under itself, and this gives it a lateral break.  If this pitch is placed correctly in the hitting zone, it can go down also, as part of the aerodynamic effect.  This is very much the mark of a good slider.  It is thrown hard and is within 5-6 m.p.h. of the fastball.  It's hard to pick up and breaks later than a curve.  There has to be a supination of the hand to accentuate the spin, which is primarily spiral or football like.  This spiral spin can vary with the axis moving small amounts, which then truly gives the slider its versatility.  The cutter on the other hand is a subtle pitch, almost stealthy, as it breaks at the very end, is very fast, doesn't go down, is deceptive, has a lot of off center backspin to it, is relatively easy on the arm (as compared to the slider) - easier to control (because of its short break) and good to mix in with an in-and-out (east-west) style of pitching.  The middle finger is the pressure finger with the hand supinating slightly.  However, the key is sufficient backspin, to give the fastball quality, and to let the axis wander only slightly, but distinctly.  Can you have them both (slider and cutter)?  Probably, but very easily one could become the other.  Is a big cutter a slider? Likely!  Is a short slider a cutter? Likely.  A cutter will always be faster than a slider.  Some pitchers with a power slider bridge this gap frequently.  The anatomy of the slider as well as the cutter is dealt with in the upcoming DVD  "Expanding The Tool Box" coming out  shortly.  These are examined with grips and rotations.  In the article section on this site there is an article "The Advent of the Cutter" that can be enlightening for those seeking further info.  JB  (10/24/07)

TALK ABOUT "AFTER BURN" -  The quality of a fastball that has the absolute character of "coming on" at the end, as  it approaches the mitt is an elusive phenomenon for most, but a priceless quality when achieved.  Call it "late-life", "giddy up", 2nd or booster stage, "pop", or as my dear friend and former teammate, Bill Monboquette (Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame pitcher) calls it "after burn".  We had a beautiful discussion of this at the old Boston Braves reunion dinner in Boston Sunday, Oct 7, 2007, and I'm just extra pleased that we are in so much accord with our theories on what makes for a high-quality fastball.  Bill and I completely agree that it's in the fingers, and that the speed of the hand and the digits give the ball that extra propulsion necessary to give the ball its "crackle" and subsequently its great stage at the plate.  It's interesting also, that we both attest to listening to the whirr or sound of a ball rotating fast, and that is the character of a late-life or after-burning fastball.  While we have not been in a convenient communicating time frame, it's amazing how our thoughts coincide and mesh almost to a "t".  Monbo was always a cerebral-type pitcher as well as having great stuff.  His long-term stature as a pitcher, as well as having a long tenure as a pitching coach, also confirms his strong positive influence on young pitchers.  He and I both exist in the same two time zones -"old school" and interestingly the "new school".   Perhaps our suspicions on the "reinvention of the wheel" are the result of careful analysis of emerging ideas, which are tempered by the awareness of successful and durable concepts of the past.  Our conclusions are anything but casual.   JB  (10/11/07)

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DON'T PULL THE PLUG ON YOURSELF!  -  Whenever you have a systematically developed program, directed by a true professional, who cares about what he is teaching, and at the same time you combine this with a prospect who is attentive and inspired - the sky's the limit.  This often occurs in Japan, where the coach is revered and age and experience are great treasures, and homage is paid to the grand masters.  It's no wonder that new pitches (gyroball, shuuto) emanate and great prospects, who are technically sound are emerging on a regular basis out of Japan.  We really need to examine and restore this ethic to our own system, so that aspirants who are currently going to tryout camps gain the insights and wisdom, as well as skills, to go on and up, rather than succumb to the disappointments of being cut or falling short of their own expectations.  All too often, physical talent, albeit a subjective quality, seems to be omnipresent, and there is a concomitant flaw of accepting this without trial and duress.  The product that results from a concerted, directed, sequential, productive program is trained in areas that ride through the disasters that all athletes encounter.  Quite often it is beyond talent.  The formula for long range success, while involved and perhaps complex (to the casual observer) really emanates from a simplistic approach that one must honor early on and not lose sight of this resolution at any time.  Take disaster and use it as an energy source - as an intellectual challenge and as an insult to the lack of preparation.  Retaliate with vigor and intelligence and preparedness.  Most athletes are endowed with the competitive demon; however, only the elite put this demon to the task of critical and constructive work.  Where does correctness apply ? - when consistent good effect flows out, and longevity becomes a vital criterion. Philosophies at variance cause stifling of development often, because one gets enmeshed in contradictions of techniques, and that which could be mastered is vacated at the suggestion that it may be wrong.  Persons get good at being wrong, and an omniscient technician can readily pick out flaws which often can be appropriately remedied.  The impact of correct procedure can never be under-played, and this should be the destiny of all dedicated pitchers.  We need to be precise when skill is the main ingredient in a diverse menu.  When the dust has settled, it's CHOICES!  The Choice to be great or to be good or just punch the clock.  If one opts to be great - a lot of structure and commotion and involvement has to take place, and a refreshed level of awareness has to be maintained.  There has to be a daily sensitivity to items that are salient to the prime project.  The system favors dedication, and that should be highlighted to all newcomers who possess the dream and are aware of little else.  Without a strong belief in oneself - its already over.   JB  (10/1/07)

MY EXTRA-STRONG FEELINGS ABOUT THE "DOWN CURVE" -  It's more than quite readily noticeable that I favor the 6/12-1/7 out curve as an off-speed pitch (really!). This magnificent pitch in my opinion is the quickest approach to becoming an outstanding pitcher.  Matched with a fastball that has some "spunk" and "kick"  to it, this combo allows for a style of pitching that challenges the best of hitters.  In my up-coming DVD, Expanding the Toolbox, much devotion and instruction is given to the concept of up and down control of the strike zone.  The mastery of the 6/12 curveball is the all-critical learning phase of the instruction, and we approach that idea in depth.  It amazes me how few truly ever master this situation, and yet it all falls in the category of a very viable and learnable event.  It requires attention and tenacity at the outset, in the details, all of which most aspirants are capable of achieving.  Incidentally, these are traits necessary for becoming a good pitcher in any sense and excelling in one's chosen craft.  I've seen and had many 78-83 M.P.H. pitchers who have parlayed this sub-par fastball with a great 6/12 -1/7 curve and because of their refinement of these pitches (and by refinement here, I mean consistently throwing strikes with these pitches) have become championship pitchers and won a lot of games at the high school, college, and even professional levels.  Much of the intricacies of throwing the beautiful curve, along with adjustments in stride length and release point are covered in the DVD.  For those of you who never had a good curveball, if you are are motivated and attentive, the DVD will reveal the techniques and training regime which I'm quite certain will help you develop a strong curve that you can be proud of.  However, don't think this is a quick fix, like a slider or cutter.  One will have to pay the price, which is time, attention to detail, and the continual pursuit of perfection.  Allow yourself to to get a great curve, you don't need to settle for an average one.  The difference is in the understanding and the execution of the correct techniques.  A great curve will transform you as a pitcher, and combined with a refined FB, will allow you to control a game.   JB  (9/25/07)

THE PURISTIC EFFECT -  I think about pitching every single day, and yet I consider myself an academic - and a sort of half-way intellectual - so the cosmos interests me - the melting of the arctic ice concerns me, the" Valley of the Kings" intrigues me, the anatomy of the heart is provoking, the inner workings of the stock market fascinates me, foreign languages stimulate my grammatical comprehension, and yet I think about pitching every day and in depth.  Now I use as a theory, if one is to pursue the area of pitching - he had better devote a consistent focused attention to the nuances of this dominant part of the game of baseball.  I see pitching in my mind frequently and have for a long time, because I always loved to pitch.  All of those other interests play into this passion for pitching and actually in effect intensify this passion.  There are many aficionados in baseball and may god bless them.  There are many part-time students of the game and there are many devotees to a part of the game (i.e., hitting, fielding, catching, pitching) and all the power to them.  And then there are those who are absolute purist baseball people, and you don't have to be - but if you are, you're likely intrigued and fascinated by so-called new happenings or events.  The order of events is generally "The Magnificent Seven":1) love of the game; 2) passion for the game; 3) understanding of the game; 4) in depth perusal of fine points; 5) quest for technical info; 6) "Inner Sanctum" membership; and 7) PURISM as an effect and result.   Mind you there is no urgency to be a purist and no.1 - love of the game may be the all-consuming and important factor for those who consider themselves "baseball people."    JB  (9/24/07)

THE MANY ALIASES, STYLES AND COLORS OF THE SPLIT- FINGERED FASTBALL (splitter) -  In the old days, the wet spitter was an exotic pitch, even though it was illegal.  I played in a Canadian pro-league where one older pitcher was authorized to throw a spitter, and much to our chagrin he DID!  This prompted some of us to fool around with the pitch.  I played around with it myself using slippery elm lozenges, occasionally slippery elm bark (kept in the back pocket) and had a decent wet spitter.  The pitch tumbled down - was somewhat like a knuckler and even a forkball.  It broke erratically.  Some used saliva, some Vaseline, some sweat and some of course slippery elm.  It looked like a fastball, but always had some kind of different movement.  It was mostly down.  Generally it was a tumbling type of action.   With the advent of the so-called DRY spitter, which is primarily an alias for the split-fingered fastball or splitter, we had a similar, but legal pitch.  It not only came in as a viable extra pitch, but rejuvenated careers and created outstanding seasons for pitchers who reinvented themselves and their pitching schematics. The progenitor and originator of the SPLITTER, Roger Craig and I in a thorough discussion of its anatomy and aerodynamics, allowed for the fact that ideally the ball would have a tumbling motion, ala spitter and forkball.  However many cannot master this tumbling character because of finger length.  Jose Contreras of the White Sox has managed a tumbling spin on his splitter, which really is more of a fork ball.  I have achieved tumbling spins with 18-19 yr. old long fingered pitchers in my pitching camps and seen some great starts on splitters there.  Bruce Sutter had a splitter which was like a screwball or enhanced sinker and his was exquisite.  Most will truly throw a 2-seam fastball with fingers spread that spins slower and goes slower than the regular 2-seam fastball. This lack of serious tight spin causes the ball to give into gravity and consequently go down, particularly if thrown low.  The beautiful part is that the ball gets "READ" by the hitter as a fastball, because of the angle of the fingers which are more or less up on the ball.  Interpreting it as a fastball and then having the ball fade down makes for a very deceptive pitch.  To miss up with this pitch is a serious mistake, and many splitters that stay up do not act, and get hit a long way.  One should start out by throwing a 2- seam fastball and then gradually split the fingers until the ball goes down.  Somewhere in the splitting process is a point where one can decide whether this is a useful pitch or not.  Often it's a hit or miss affair.  You either get it or you don't.   JB (9/18/07)

CLAY BUCHHOLZ - A BEAUTIFUL EXAMPLE OF THE NORTH - SOUTH STYLE OF PITCHING!    The idea of reversing rotations that I've harped on in my writings and in my up-coming DVD (Expanding the Toolbox) was so beautifully personified by Clay Buchholz RHP, Boston Red Sox, in his no-hitter against Baltimore in the Sept.1st, 2007 masterpiece.  It was guided by catcher Jason Variteks immaculate calling of the strong 6/12 curve and the overhand fastball, mixed with a few change-ups and the occasional slider.  The main diet was the "meat and potatoes" approach, consisting of fastball up and full sharp curve down and away or just down.  I could sense early on that this might be a classic, because of the dynamic equality of the two main pitches (i.e., FB and CB).  When one (batter) recognizes that there is such a "critter" as a sharp overhand curve (Lord Charles) and this is on his mind, then the 91-92-93 m.p.h. FB will get by and also appear much faster.  Buchholz was in command almost exclusively - walked 3 and struck out 9 - had 2 line drives hit that were tracked down in CF and one hard ground ball hit over the middle that 2b Dustin Pedroia made a great play on.  But for the most part, the configuration of full curveballs and and fastballs was the essential diet.  Perplexing as it was, it  simply emphasizes the devastating approach to pitching which involves up and down trajectories, late action, and speed differential.  It truly reinforces the idea that great curveballs don't get hit, and they often freeze a hitter into  a non-swing or a checked swing.  One needs to always consider the down breaking 6/12 or 12/6 curve as the main player in this drama.  Much is spoken of this schematic in my book, in writings on this site, and in our up-coming DVD - Expanding the Toolbox.  It is both refreshing and satisfying to see this style played out on the BIG LEAGUE stage.   JB (9/9/07)

LOADING THE SHOULDERS - The shoulder girdle is made up of right and left collar bones (clavicles).   Together with both deltoid processes (shoulders), a connection is made with the throwing arm  and the directional or off-arm.  This conjuncture is appropriately referred to as the PECTORAL GIRDLE.  In the pitching of a baseball, this apparatus needs to be primed (loaded), and then seriously activated in the hurling of a baseball.  This can be done by placing the chin over the front shoulder - directly above the imaginary point (eye) in the front shoulder which lines up with the target.  If the off-arm elbow is also lined  up with the target and closed (inside), this will enhance and heighten the loading effect.  The arms should be in conjunction with one another and complement the rotational happening.  As one (pitching arm) goes forward, the other (off-arm) retreats as would handles on a captain's wheel.  The freeing and balancing effect of this process is a subtle but significant event in the kinesis involved with the upper body.  JB  (9/2/07)

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REVERSING ROTATIONS IN THE "MEAT AND POTATOES" DIET IN PITCHING  -  To pitch in a north - south design, one may use a 12/6 fastball (FB) spin and counterbalance this with a 6/12 curveball (CB) spin.  One is back spin (FB-12/6) and one is overspin (CB-6/12).  To evolve this into a 1/7 (FB - RHP) spin and counterbalance this with a 7/1 (CB - RHP) spin is to truly constuct the up and down plan of pitching, which is so devastating when executed well.  This scheme of pitching is to constantly challenge the eye-level of the batter, as well as assault his decision-making time.  The fact that trajectories are varying, and venues of movement are changing, and are complemented by changes of speed, enhances the flaws that even good hitters can encounter when dealing with this style.  Covering the plate from the inside and high and protecting the low outside part of the plate is a serious contest for the best of them.  Add in speed differentials, and you have a demanding scenario for any hitter and a commanding approach for any pitcher mastering or excelling with this style.  If one is looking for a consistent way to get good at the pitching game, he needs to entertain the intricacies of this arrangement, albeit time demanding, but big in the reward department.  While time is required, it still maybe quicker in the final aspect, because the success can come more rapidly.  It is a "meat and potatoes" diet, and one can really thrive on that diet in all respects.  This area is covered in great depth verbally and visually in the upcoming DVD "The Breaking and Off-Speed Pitches" - module 2 of the series, soon to be released [Sept. 2007].  JB  (8/14/07)

THE "MASTER" COACH  IN ANY TIME FRAME?  It is often suggested that the Vince Lombardies of the world would have trouble coaching the modern athlete.  I couldn't disagree with that concept more.  The Vince Lombardi types were and are master teachers, master motivators, master strategists, master organizers and above all, master communicators.  This makes them very functional and versatile personages for all time.  They are adaptable and adjust to changing scenes as a part of their great coping skills as coaches, and this is surely part of why they are extremely successful.  To relegate the "old school" great teacher - coaches and legends to a pile of obsolete, non- functional, dinosaur-type coaches, who really could not handle today's pampered athlete, is to truly demean their capabilities.  It is also, to never really understand or realize why they were great coaches.  Great coaches have a way of making changes to get things done.  They basically are  great planners and can function well in a vital  "one-on-one" venue, which even today's athletes respond to well, particularly when it is done well.  One should never undersell the truly extraordinary coaches of the past, because they occupied a different time frame.  These people would function in any time zone and in any scenario, if they chose to, for they are innovative and creative, and that quality knows no time boundaries.  However, you might find that they might not want to expend energy in something they may not have a high regard for.  You might not be able to pay enough for these exceptional people, to ever find out how they would function in the "NEW" school.  It's a joke to me to hear someone refer to someone as "OLD SCHOOL" with the underlying suggestion or connotation that this person is not aware of the so called "INCREDIBLE??" happenings in the "NEW SCHOOL"!  It is more than likely that the "Old schooler" is more than plugged into the cutting edge of all so-called "new" developments and trends, and actually makes up a large part of the jury that eventually validates or rejects these new happenings.  A reinvention of the "wheel" hardly constitutes a "new" event.  Blend these schools carefully, and you might have something.  JB  (8/7/07)

DON'T VIOLATE THE LEVERS!   The human body is equipped with a splendid system of levers which enables it to perform some amazing feats. One of them is the throwing of a baseball.  In one of baseball's all important skills, which is that of propelling a round object (the baseball) against a round object (the bat), at speeds of up to 100+m.p.h., the human machine gets one of its most severe tests.  That test is of synergistically uniting the prime levers that exist in the upper arm, forearm, hand and fingers.  The fulcrums which exist - i.e., shoulder (ball and socket joint), elbow (hinge joint), wrist (gliding joint) and fingers (hinges) are the joints of these parts, and need to be optimized as the throwing motion takes place.  If the fulcrums are out of order, the levers may not perform as they should.  When the elbow leads and the height of it is at shoulder level, we enhance the natural leverage system that a pitcher's arm has built into his anatomy, and this is interesting, because man was constructed to throw.  The shoulder, the elbow. the wrist, and the fingers are all leverage systems waiting to be activated in the throwing of a baseball.  These are all waiting to be synergistically utilized in the arm action of a pitcher with a correct and optimal kinetic sequence.  When this exists, one doesn't typically have arm trouble.  If the elbow goes low and gets behind, one forfeits the natural levers and their values.  This is when arm health is in question.  Some are strong enough to override this temporarily.  Some violations of the levers are: 1) low elbow; 2) elbow behind the hand; and 3) elbow off the vertical with hand inward.  Working with the levers optimizes the throwing of a baseball.  Where leverage exists, energy flows smoothly.  Rhythm exists and fluid action, which is beautiful to watch, emanates easily and there is always a definitive end.  WORK with the levers and don't violate them.   JB (8/6/07)

IS IT MYSTIQUE OR JUST DOING THE RIGHT THINGS?  Do we need to attach a significance to something or everything when one succeeds, or is it just the accomplishment of doing what should be done?  And for those who don't achieve the great result, is it because they don't do the right things?  I've almost never, or certainly rarely, heard of someone achieving big results by doing wrong things.  There are some that are practicing wrong things today, and there are people teaching wrong things today. This is where we have to be perceptive and precise in our analysis of thoughts that are out there, and not just grab at something because it's out there.  The right things almost always fit.  Correctness is almost always noticeable.  It's amazing how physical laws jive and gel with innate abilities and correct instructional techniques.  It's remarkable and wonderful to watch a well-oiled mechanical pitcher, who possesses developed and refined mechanics, and is in charge of his motion (i.e. is the  "master of his mechanics").  It's poetry in motion and beautiful to to watch, as smooth  rhythmic mechanics produce an artful display, which pleases the technicians of the world, who strive for this art level.  It should be FIND the RIGHT things, EXECUTE them and MASTER them!!    JB (7/31/07)Back to Top of Page

RECONNECTION WITH WEBBALL -  This has given me a lot of renewed satisfaction, because I have a high regard for baseball purism.  We find WebBall.com, operated by Richard Todd, who is truly a purist in this great game of baseball, to be a remarkable fund of baseball information in all areas.  I admire and commend all who are on the edge of baseball happenings and who have a passion for their work.  I include myself and my web site in this description and am truly pleased to be reuniting with Richard and WebBall and sharing thoughts and issues (in my particular instance - pitching).  I would strongly advise visitors here on this site to check in with WebBall.com, if you haven't already, to keep up with events in the pitching world and stay abreast of emerging  ideas and concepts.  JB  (7/19/07)

THE PSYCHIC VIRUS IN PITCHING  -  In responding to a very interesting and intriguing question on my web site forum, I have elected to expound in an article of sorts eventually, because of the ramifications of this query. This is the precursor to the article.  It's something I've suffered from in my pitching career early on and have always been mystified as to its origin and root causes.  The term psychic virus fits well, and essentially the malady is throwing the ball wildly at your target, whether it be home plate and the catcher's mitt, or whether it be an infielder throwing wildly to 1st base.  Examples in the past have been - Steve Blass, Mark Wohlers, Rick Ankiel, Chuck Knoblauch, and Steve Sax to note a few of the more famous psychic virus victims.  However, there have been others without the noted reputations, who have suffered from this disease and have been deterred in their careers due to this strange affliction.  Just what is it and what causes it?  Throwing the ball into the stands seems to have no purposeful excuse and must be the utmost of aberrations.  However we've all witnessed this phenomenon, and for those of us who have participated in this viral ritual, we stand awe-struck with its effect, and surely wish we could have an instant fix and solution.  Immunity for the virus resides within us, and we need to recognize that our immunity is within our system, and it is largely the power of positive thinking.  Athletics in its highest form doesn't allow  for the negative person  to flourish, and we must understand this.  At some point in time when all things are on the line, the competitor must realize it is him (her) against the opponent, and no space is allowed for contribution to the adversary.  Everything is too short, and in this ultra-demanding contest (struggle) or battle, survival and success are directly related to the competitor's viewpoint and demeanor, throughout the contest.  Be proud you gave all you had, and did not invoke any of the negative demons that unfortunately we all have, but  ultimately we all can control.   JB  (7/17/07)

STRIDE LENGTH VS VELOCITY  -  This concept almost lends itself to a similar discussion regarding bent front leg vs. stiff front knee.  A critical aspect of this concept is driving forward.  The arm will not lag (the feared consequence of pushing off) if one gets his upper torso over the "wall" and buries his pitching shoulder and gets his chest over his knee, his knee over the ball of his front foot, and his face beyond his  front foot.  If this takes place with the idea of going: 1) out;  2) over;  3) down; and 4) deep, there should be no loss in velocity.  If the pitcher finds it hard to get "over", the stride length can be shortened; however, one should monitor the side effect of the pitch going high.  If this doesn't happen, then the the stride is probably correct and comfortable.  One needs to reach for the release point to get close to the plate which can increase velocity.  The upper torso with its core musculature has to get forward and over the front knee.  A longer stride is going to get the ball low which in itself is faster.  The fact that one holds onto the ball longer creates the potential to impart more spin and power to the ball.  One needs to find his best stride length.  Quite often this affects the action on the ball, as the trajectory and slot come together.  When one reaches this optimum point on stride length, a phase of pitching excellence happens.  One needs to pursue the "tweaking" necessary to get the comfort zone in order.  For those with a larger appetite for this topic, a significant amount of attention is paid to stride length with regards to control, velocity, and position in my recently released Fastball DVD.   JB  (6/26/07)

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THE ABSOLUTISM OF DIRECTIONAL POWER VS ROTATIONAL FORCE  -  The involvement of the body's core (abs, chest, etc.) in the production of force in pitching is potent by itself, but when forward movement is married to the rotating torso, a synergism is in effect and a power surge may likely take place.  The function of the back quadrant (leg) is 3-fold: 1) to drive forward;  2) pivot the hips; and 3) enhance the downward plane. This (1) forward force drives the body toward the target and gets the release point closer to the plate which in turn increases velocity.  So, in that respect, directional force enhances velocity.  Now with that energy initiated, the great rotational turning force (centrifugal) joins and with the inertia and momentum coming from the arm - we have a  cooperation or multiplying (synergistic effect) of power, which essentially produces a surge event.  This is what we are looking for in the integration of direction and rotation.  Does one have a priority over the other?  Realistically and ideally they fuse, and the great union happens.  JB (6/20/07)

 

UNDERSTANDING SPINS -  I have made it a point in our upcoming DVD on building a fastball to visit spin quality, quantity, direction, hand tilt, finger pressure, thumb location, finger and hand speed, arm angle and slot. The intention is to give an understanding of spin types utilizing the concept of the clock and stressing angular projections.  The aspect of the positions of the axis of the rotating ball is also stressed.  These are areas extremely paramount  to the development of a high quality fastball.  There is also an intentional return to details and reemphasis on the spin direction and amount.  This phenomenon employs the SAIN spinner as an illustrative device.  Because I feel that rotation is the precursor to the "HOLY GRAIL" (the Fastball), the video hammers on this theme throughout  module 1.  It's an area that cannot be overlooked or minimized.  One pursuing the mysteries of  the great fastball would do well to look at these depictions carefully, and revisit the concepts regularly to the point of mastery.  Repetition is a password here, and refinement is the goal.   JB (6/13/07)

 

SPIN IS THE PRECURSOR TO THE "GREAT" FASTBALL!   Velocity is hard to deny, but movement is everything on a fastball.  In the attempt to build a fastball from the ground up, rotation (lots of it), correct direction of spin and speed of fingers is everything.  Ideally, all fastballs would rise, tail, and/or sink.  Occasionally some super strong arm hurlers can make a ball appear to rise and veer at the same time.  While it (rise) might be more illusion than real, it still amounts to the same as a rise or lift, because it doesn't lose any altitude.  To the batters eyes, the illusion is a "hop" or a rise.  One really has to have momentous back spin and velocity to give this impression.  On the other hand, it is quite possible, and even surely probable and likely, that an omniscient pitcher can make a ball run or sink or both.  Here we have gravity working with us.  This is where we need to invoke the art form and develop this  condition (rotation) to its nth form. Great fastballs hang out here.  That's the fun of it.  JB  (6/12/07)

 

A BIOMECHANICAL EVENT -  When a pitch is thrown by a competent pitcher, a biomechanical event takes place.  This is from beginning to end, and it is an incessant chain of kinesis.  One would do well to examine this happening, if he is serious about pitching.  That is because just one "chink" in this process could easily disrupt the whole schematic.  When we argue over the value of a bent front leg versus a stiff front knee, little do we realize that the "comfort zone" may ultimately dictate the response to this potentially variable event.  To invoke athleticism as an entity unto itself, and create an importance on its own, again is to demean the carefully thought out kinetic events resulting from a structuring of the mechanical process and the careful analysis of biomechanists and technically oriented pitching instructors.  Always a conjuncture of philosophies yields the smooth and compatible, free-flowing mechanical event with power, that we all search for.  To recognize the parameters of physicality and kinesis is to invoke bio-mechanics as it should be .  JB  (6/11/07)

 

FLUIDITY WITH POWER -  At the core of this concern is the goal of fluidity and mechanical dexterity with power.  What we really would like to know and be sure of, is that the interaction of athleticism, leverage systems and beautiful synchronized, rhythmic mechanics through kinetic efficiency will meld into the purposeful emanation of a worthy fastball.  With serious intention at the forefront, that this emanation is the by-product of the integration of these prime concepts.  It seems like athleticism is obvious, and any dedicated pitching coach would recognize this instantly.  To relegate this condition as an entity by itself and consider that little else needs to be involved to succeed, is to demean the process of kinetic efficiency.  The distance to which athleticism can exist on its own is rare, and it is likely that tuning and refining are always in order.  I welcome the advent and presence of athleticism in the teaching of pitching mechanics, and am constantly striving to combine these areas into a powerful product.  More often than not this takes place.  We need to be sensitive to the degree to which alterations are made, but rather we should be aware of the complementation of the natural talent, and the events (mechanical structuring) necessary to augment this ability.   JB  (5/15/07)

 

ATHLETICISM VS. MECHANICS?  How does athleticism fit with the teaching of precision mechanics?  Does mechanical structuring interfere by making the process of pitching too rote or rigid and stiff?  Should athleticism be left alone to flourish by itself or to never materialize as a substantive product?  Are these events dichotomous and need to be seriously separated, or are they so intertwined that one should never consider them separate entities?  Or rather are they fused into the final product in which discerning their boundaries is improbable(perhaps even impossible). These are questions that the serious minded pitching technician and coach might do well to consider.  I want to think on the high side and never avoid the teaching of productive mechanics no matter what the greatness of the athleticism phenomenon suggests.   JB  (5/14/07)

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YOU NEED A FASTBALL FOR ALL PITCHES - To have the arm strength to throw a hard slider and a hard curve (hammer), you need to have a fastball.  To throw a quality cutter and an effective splitter, you need a fastball.  To throw an effective change-up, you need a fastball.  All of these connections may seem obvious, because the FB intensifies the usefulness of all the other pitches, but the reality is not in the obviousness.  Rather the obviousness should be the fact that the fastball thrown on a continuous basis, whether it is high velocity or not, gives the arm strength to power these other pitches and provide the arm health and stamina to practice breaking and off-speed pitches.  This enables the use of  the repetitive approach so necessary to master these pitches.  Time spent working on off-speed pitches reduces arm power, which is the mystique ingredient in throwing high quality breaking pitches.  To dwell on throwing curves without returning frequently to the fastball delivery is to demean both pitches.  One slows the arm in the release of a curveball, and no one can afford the transfer of this slowness to the FB.  Arm speed and arm power are quite likely related and both are necessary for high-quality multiple pitches.   JB  (4/18/07)

 

THE CASE for "DRY" MECHANICS - This is an area that needs to be explored in depth - the degree that "DRY" mechanics can be used in teaching pitching.  I find in my very best pitching camps, that the absolute  best success in implementing useful mechanics, and those with the greatest rhythmicity and fluidity outcomes  are those where "DRY" mechanics were used not only in stretching routines, but also in actual drills where pitching concepts were being emphasized.  A definition of "DRY" should be injected here - DRY mechanics are the mimed execution of the mechanical pitching system without the actual throwing of the ball.  However, the motion of throwing is quite distinct and all aspects of pitching a baseball are incorporated.  The quest for fluidity with power is best achieved when one is free to experiment.  Standing in front of a mirror is desirable - however without a ball in hand.  Much of the system is within the imagination.  Active visualization should be stressed.  Working with a partner is often productive.  Working with a mirror can be a partnered experience, and the mirror is always honest.  Things to work on are: 1) front foot alignment-partly closed; 2) arm action with junctures; 3) leg lift and symmetry of the lift; 4) back leg release-height; 5) command presence - concentrative expression; 6) pronation angles - early and late; 7) ending - with punctuation and finesse; 8) hip lead with hip load; 9) closure - staying closed long; and 10) fluidity with power - rhythmicity and kinesis.  The concept of  "DRY" mechanics can go as far as one wants to take it.  JB  (3/28/07)

 

THE OCCURRENCE OF THE MEDIUM JUNCTURE IN THE IDEAL PITCHING ARM CIRCUIT -  A point that I refer to as "medium cock" often gets overlooked in the flow of smooth mechanics, and yet is a juncture that is specific in all "long-armed" throwers.  This juncture is really necessary to developing arm momentum and power.  Going from hand break to 1st wrist, to medium cock, to hi-cock is ideal arm action.  One can go from 1st wrist to hi-cock, as I have indicated and demonstrated in video clips on this site and actually pass through medium cock without allowing a conspicuous stopping or pausing, but rather depicting a continuous flowing of arm action.  Nonetheless, this spot is part of the circuitry even though passed through.  Position 6 (hand break and 1st wrist) to position 7 (hi-cock-launch) in the 10-step full mechanics process could easily allow a spot here to illuminate this important phase of arm movement.  In the book The Act of Pitching. this spot is illustrated on p. 49. In the 10-step video clips on mechanics here on this site, step 6 passes to step 7 without calling attention to medium cock, and yet the spot is depicted and noticeable through the arm flow, without attention being brought to it.  It is my purpose in this blog, to refresh the concept of 3 distinct junctures in ideal and optimal arm action (1st wrist, medium cock and hi-cock).  The arm should be prepared to enhance its natural leverage factors (shoulder, elbow, wrist, fingers), and its capacity to build momentum, power, and speed.  The arm's natural anatomy requests throwing with fluidity to enhance arm health and kinetic efficiency.  In my opinion, to throw a baseball REAL hard and REAL stress-free, the three junctures should be incorporated for optimal pitching arm circuitry.  JB  (2/17/07)

 

REVISITING THE "GREAT" CURVE!   THE difference between a great curve, a good curve, and an average curve is measured in light years.  The great curve is a striking, stunning event, and one would not mistake it for its lesser imitative cousins.  It seems that the great curve separators are the position of the pitching elbow and its lead and height.  This winter in working with aspirants on an effective, even outstanding curve, the discriminating factors have been: 1) a high elbow, 2) a leading elbow, 3) a 3/4+ arm slot, 4) a supinating angle which is medium in occuring, 5) fingers up front, 6) an arm circuit that finishes diagonally (hit the "gun") across the body, with fingers pointing up at the ending.  Mix this with an attempt to get a  consistent 6/12 top spin (down) thru a 4-seam grip (2-seam surely can work - a little more red here) that emphasizes the middle finger in its action on spin.  The 1/7 spin (RHP) or 11/5 spin (LHP) can come after the pure down spin has been accomplished.  Supinating early (ear or behind) causes a larger and slower type curve.  If the arm angle collapses out of the "L" arrangement, the curve takes on a larger quality.  To get a sharper and later break, the arm has to remain more in an "L" or right angle position and a later supination has to occur.  These areas are worth working on if one truly wants the genuine, outstanding curveball!!   JB  (1/23/07) 
 

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THE "SHUUTO" AND THE "GYRO" - TWINS?  The "Shuuto" and the "Gyroball," pitches which haven't been assimilated by the American Baseball society yet, but have been popular in Japanese pitching circles (shuuto anyway - gyro still has a hung jury) for some time are, in my opinion, versions of a reverse slider.  I have attempted to throw a reverse slider many years ago, and while understanding the aerodynamics, did not master it.  For those who put it into the change- up, screwball category, I suspect their assumptions might be somewhat correct.  Until I see the "gyro" fully exposed, I'm going to consider it in the land of the pronators, with just an interesting name.  If it is spiral in concept, it is likely a reverse slider - some call this a screwball.   Because it is off in speed, some may call it a change-up, so obviously it takes on a coat of many colors.  My colleague, Gary Garland, writer on the Japanese baseball circuit, who has been privy to Japanese baseball for a long time and is a writer for the Japan Baseball Daily insists the Shuuto and the Gyroball are different pitches. For now, I'm going to say the shuuto is a reverse slider and the gyro will have to remain on my back burner for a while, but we will be hearing about this soon enough and I'll be toying with it.  JB  (1/04/07)

 

MEAT AND POTATOES -  It's difficult to get several outstanding pitches, but it's not improbable to master TWO.  My "druthers" would bring me to the fastball and curveball and try to bring them to equality.  If one gets both of these under control, there can be a definite mastery that has dominance as an outcome.  The ability to create a mindset in the hitter that he is fighting two outstanding pitches at all times can be trying to the best of hitters.  One and two for signals reduces the game to a "meat and potatoes" diet.  Anyone with great control of these two surely can dictate a game.  There is always the chance of a wrong guess.  The problem with many is the inability to control the curve.  Most pitchers have somewhat adequate control of their fastballs.  Umpires are not willing to call close curves strikes, until the pitcher (and the catcher also) show an excellence in intersecting the strike zone with a bending pitch.  Once the umpire recognizes that a degree of mastery exists by the pitcher, then the close curve pitches have a higher degree of being productive.   Being able to throw a first pitch curve for a strike really puts everybody on "red alert."  Now this has to be contended with.  The fastball then takes on another character and wrong guesses result in fastballs going by.  Hitters are so good at sitting on fastballs today that anyone with some off-speed pitch to maximize the quality of the FB, sits in command of the hitter to an extent not realized when the diet is fast stuff mostly, and that may include cutters and sliders.  One needs to master the FB and then the CB, and bring them to the point where one is equal to the other - it's worth every bit of the time and energy used in this endeavor.  JB (12/22/06)

 

1ST PITCH STRIKES!  What could be more important in pitching than being in control of the game?  Once the pitcher can get ahead in the count on the batter, he exerts a strong mindset and influence on this magnificent duel, which can be brief or extremely drawn out and tedious.  The shifting of advantage often depends on the count number.  If strike one is achieved, statistics show that the pitcher is overpoweringly (as much as 100%) more successful, than when he gets immediately behind.  Being up in the count (0-1) is being in command and being able to create images in the batter's head of ensuing pitches, that may or may not happen and give him (batter) potential false guesses.  Walks are minimized when the  count goes to 0-1 immediately.  Bases on balls are drastically lowered when one is up in the count.  First pitch strikes reduce the number of total pitches thrown in the game, and this allows the pitcher a longer time to control the game.  It also allows for controlling and exacting tempo and also executing desirable  pitch sequence.  More critical and effective pitches can be created and used.  If one wants to be successful quickly and extensively, he needs to understand and master the strike zone and get the first pitch "in there."  It surely requires attention to detail and focus, and one isn't going to have success with this all the time, but it will be worth the effort in pursuing this concept.  JB  (12/16/06)

 

GETTING GOOD!  DO YOU NEED PERMISSION?  One of the great enigmas of baseball is the large number of young pitchers who seem to be afraid to get good.  It is totally alarming that spending time practicing a skill is negated by a tendency to be timid in using these developing skills.  Certainly one doesn't experience the exhilaration of getting good.  You can get VERY, VERY good at pitching if you get out of your own way.  You must in effect give your self permission to get good!   Practicing the right things consistently allows for dramatic improvement.  This needs to go on - on a routine basis.  Confidence builds up along the way.  No one should really have to give a person permission to get good.  That's part of the scheme, and it should be understood.  Practice the right things and it happens.  It can be subtle and suddenly one has a degree of mastery and is pretty good.  One should never interfere with this process.  Then where is the secret to this? -  Being sure it's the RIGHT things one selects to practice, and then let it happen.  Never sell yourself short.  Most people can get better than they think by simply allowing a series of positive events to happen.  One of the truly satisfying happenings in coaching is watching that skinny kid with the weak fastball become the efficient, even domineering pitcher he can be, because he worked at it, and allowed himself to develop.  Contrast this with the apparently talented star hurler who has remained at a static level by not attempting to learn anything new, and he is often surpassed by others with lesser physical talent.  It happens quite frequently!  Obviously there are choices here.  It would impress me seriously as a coach when I noticed the pitcher who was opting for improvement irregardless of his physical prowess.  I would do all I could to help this person along.  The essence of "being the best you can be" is mostly a choice.  When the agenda is set, and goals are seen clearly, and the right things are invoked, its amazing how often this slogan is accomplished.  Allowing this to happen should always be part of the prime objective.  Most are capable of doing this!  They don't need permission to get good!  JB  (12/8/06)

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WINTER WORK WITH REPEATABLE MECHANICS - For those of you who contemplate enrolling in winter pitching programs or already have, a precise schedule of things to work on should be in order.  This is an ideal time to work on weaknesses.  It also is a time to solidify one's mechanics, and make them repeatable and dependable upon demand.  Areas such as stride length, should be seriously addressed, so that affirmation in delivering and locating the pitch can be a consistent event.  Lift-leg height and use of hips should be emphasized with back leg  release (and height ), a product of this action.  The improvement of spin rotations should be accomplished with drills (wrist) to implement this on a continuous basis.  Action on the fastball and location through correct pitch slots should be worked on.  The angle of pronation is an area that needs work with most pitchers whose fastballs need tuning up.  Of course this is always a great time to experiment with a change-up and to refine the curveball with its rotation and location and getting consistent release points.  This is also an excellent time to work on stretch motion and to pitch simulated innings by throwing a structured pitch array with a catcher calling pitches.  This is not a time to waste opportunities for improvement by just throwing the ball and keeping in pitching shape.  That can be done anyway and serious improvement can also be a by-product.  For some, this will be a great time to advance a level.  Make it be a rung on the ladder of improvement.   JB  (11/25/06)

 

An Ode to Red Auerbach! -  I’m deviating from the baseball script simply as a former basketball coach because of the regard and respect I have for this man.  As with the passing of Ted Williams, I feel a compulsion to expound my thoughts on the passing of Red Auerbach.  I was well aware of the Celtics mystique even as a young athlete.  Doggie Julian, the early basketball coach at Holy Cross and then with the fledgling Celtics was someone who I got to know quite well.  He was followed by Arnold “Red” Auerbach as Celtics coach. Red brought the Celtics to Woodsville, New Hampshire in 1956 to play in the Woodsville Community Building, which incidentally has recently been inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.  His team, replete with Cousy, Sharman, Palazzi, Heinsohn, and Jim Loscutoff, came to play the Rochester Royals with Maurice Stokes, Jack Twyman, and Jack Coleman, etc.  Bob Smith, former Red Sox pitcher and I were introduced at the game as local, young professional baseball pitchers at the time and the Celtics were very respectful of us and I always remembered that.  My father and mother were operating Bagonzi's restaurant at that time and the Celtics came there to eat.  I think my mother was concerned about Red’s cigar smelling up the place, but my father was a big fan of the Celtics and was quickly into talking with Red and the to-be legendary players.  Being a close friend of Larry Siegfried, a Celtics player of the late 60s and 70s and also having operated basketball camps with him, I got to know Red Auerbach somewhat.  I really thrived on the Celtics style of play and saw many games at the old Boston Garden, many of which were playoffs, when the Celtics were in their heyday, winning championships regularly.  I brainstormed defenses with Siegfried and offenses with Heinsohn and no doubt this influenced my philosophy while coaching basketball at Woodsville High School.  But the underlying force behind all this great Celtics dynasty mystique was Arnold “Red” Auerbach.  His entire approach was that of going for broke all the time - unrelenting pressure and fast break at all costs. This was winning, exciting basketball - drawing the fans - requiring tremendous dedication from the ballplayers and causing basketball fans in New England, the East, and the Nation to take notice and follow the exploits of the great Green Machine.  They’ll never be another dynasty like that.  The Chicago Bulls came close and Phil Jackson rivals Red in championships (nine), but he is no Red Auerbach.  I was intrigued with Red Auerbach from the get go, meeting him at Bagonzi’s Restaurant in the early days.  He was a gruff guy, but not as tough as he wanted you to think.  He was a man ahead of his time.  He was a man for all seasons and truly influenced the coaches and players of that timeframe.  He will last as the progenitor for basketball as it should be played.  Every time I eat a corned beef sandwich I think of Red Auerbach.  Hail to the Maestro!  JAB (11/11/06)

 

YOU CAN GET GOOD AT BEING WRONG!   What is good coaching and teaching?  My feeling is - being able to recognize when someone is practicing a skill wrongly.  Many young baseball pitching aspirants practice things religiously that are sometimes wrong.  One can get quite comfortable with a wrong habit such as stepping in the bucket while hitting, as I did years ago and feeling awkward when corrected.  This leaves the person wondering if the correction is really good, because it feels differently.  The same holds true with opening early in pitching.  It can get to be quite comfortable, and yet this is wrong.  In effect, one is practicing to be wrong.  Changing feels strange, and one is reluctant to change.  Obviously the earlier this is corrected, the easier it is.  Occasionally, a good coach and teacher will succeed in breaking a bad habit without all the discomfort that may go with it.  This requires the cooperation of the student to a great degree.  This is an ideal scenario and always a productive event.  Learning to self-correct is always a treacherous condition, but useful, if the student is motivated and omniscient.  It can become ideal.  One needs to allow himself to get good.  Pitching technology is eternal.  Yet one can get very good at this craft, given enough correct approaches which improve existing skill, and when  the environment is created which allows repetition and the practicing of techniques that work.  The bottom line is always continued improvement and stepping to the next level.   Encountering success with correct technique sets the stage for the advancement of the pitcher.  I like to create the idea that you climb a ladder where you don't quite reach the top rung.  The objective is to constantly go up the ladder to the next rung, don't slip back down, and don't try to skip any rungs.  JB  (10/31/06)

 

THE DISAPPEARING PITCH OF KENNY ROGERS -  When a pitcher can make a pitch disappear or evaporate, he truly has mastered his art.  Kenny Rogers' (LHP, Detroit Tigers) low outside fastball to RHBs has a tendency to vanish.  The height of the pitch, mixed with the velocity, trajectory, and location is united precisely for a unique melding of factors necessary for the ball to fade into the twilight zone where practically no batter can wander.  His big sweeping hook to LHBs neutralizes them, he can jump a 90+ mph FB by either side, when they start looking for something slower.  The man has refined his trade to a point where at age 41, he can control a game with deftness.  A craftsman at work is such a pleasure to watch.  The pine-tar or dirt clump is a non-factor, but interesting.  He mixes FB, CB, CU, and cutter into his schematic, but the disappearing low outside FB to me is his prime weapon.  Almost always in the LHP-RHB confrontation, the RHBs have a statistical advantage.  Because of this type of pitch, that advantage is nullified.  I really respect and admire this type of pitching which is an art in itself.  JB (10/27/06)  

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THE "EQUALIZER!"   In watching the Division Playoffs, it strikes me strangely, when hitters hammer that 95+ mph regularly when it's up and yet look like weaklings on the low curveball and low change-up even when its out of the strike zone and in the dirt.  These are disciplined hitters who watch pitches barely out of the strike zone with an eagle eye for close pitches and yet break up on pitches that are seriously out of the strike zone, particularly when they are off speed.  This is all the more reason to have a pitch that is 12-15 mph or so slower than the FB that can be thrown down in the strike zone, and humble that strong batter who thrives on and wrecks high velocity FBs.  The sheer fact is that the ball is sometimes off-speed (change-up), and it catches the  hitter out in front when his adjustment is difficult to control.  This is contrasted by this same hitter's ability to constantly foul off pitches - 95, 96, 97 mph and up where decision time has to be some of the most remarkably tuned and developed  of any athletes in any sport.  Yet the crumbling, almost pathetic surrender is to a pitch that is insulting in its strike zone quality.  This is the great enigma in  the batter - pitcher confrontation.  Surely this magnifies the business of "changing speeds" as the viable solution to those "dead red" hitters.  The good curve is also in this zone.  JB (10/19/06)

 

WHEN IS TOUCHDOWN AND WHEN IS FOOT PLANT?  A little "grey" area that I'm asked about sometimes is -  Where is the arm when the stride foot is about to land?  This is somewhat difficult during "dry" mechanics to describe and demonstrate in motion, because the front foot has to be held slightly off the ground as the arm (and hand) go through the first juncture.  Upon hand break, the pitching hand moves to "first cock" or "first wrist," which is somewhat behind the back leg and down slightly (not deep).  The foot then is just about to touchdown, and for some it already has (lightly).  Then, as the the foot firms up, the arm reaches medium cock.  As the arm travels to the launch position (hi-cock), the foot is now planted (this is the true foot-plant).  I prefer to have the foot slightly closed at this point.  Some prefer to have it straight.  The question of whether the hips open before the shoulders do is aggravated in my opinion, by stressing the opening of the front leg to get to a straight front toe.  If the foot is slightly closed, then torso rotation brings the foot to a straight alignment, which is ideal.  To have the chest over the front knee and the knee over the ball of the foot confirms being on "top" of the pitch.  Once the knee heads outward because the foot has rotated too far and too early, this top advantage is forfeited.  At the recent Old Boston Braves baseball dinner in Boston (Oct.8, 2006), Bill Monbouquette (Red Sox Hall of Famer), a former teammate of mine and I  had a very robust discussion of this phenomenon of the front foot, and we were completely in accord with the proper positioning of this with the reasoning behind it.  This is explained consistently in articles on this site and also in The Act of Pitching.  JB (10/12/06)

 

SHORT VS. LONG STROKE - THAT IS THE QUESTION!   You know some insist that the "long" stroke in pitching is "old school," and yet there are plenty of major league pitchers (some just on the scene) who are long-strokers.  Just what is this stroke business?  When the ball, pitching hand, and glove come together (loop) in front of the body, we have a segment of the pitching cycle called the STROKE.  It can be chest high or lower in the center of the body.  This is when the ball in the glove, is secured by the pitching fingers of the pitching hand, with the back of the glove facing the batter.  This is the SHORT STROKE.  Its older brother, the LONG STROKE is arrived at by bringing glove, ball secured by pitching hand, OVER the head with again the back of the glove  facing  the hitter.  The ball and hand should be deep in the glove to  insure concealment of the wrist (which can reveal different types of pitches by its angle).  I tend to favor the long stroke as I have seen, in general, a little higher velocity emanating from long-strokers.  This could be due to the flow of energy from the outset into the progression of the pitching motion (the effect of inertia getting a head start).  The advantage of the the short stroke is a compactness that conserves energy and allows a concentration to develop quickly.  These style approaches have varieties of course, and can also be worked into the set position.  One should try both and see if there is any velocity difference.  This is illustrated in "The Act of Pitching" on pages 32, and  33 and p.300, 301.  JB  (9/25/06)

 

THE IMPACT OF THE DOUBLE BAR TEE -  There are some that are caustic about drills.  Some mimic the drill effect, even before they know anything about them - while I'm not immersed in the concept of drills being a panacea to everything, I realize the intrinsic value that comes with certain drills that create more than one event in the pitching chain.  A drill that I concocted quite a number of years ago, that I still admire and use for its correctability, is the Double Bar-T Drill.  This essentially addresses the launch phase and places scrutiny and emphasis on critical junctures of the power position.  I go to it whenever I see a flaw in one's delivery, and need to pursue the exact moment of the flaw.  Everything can go well, but if it defaults in this stage, then many things can go wrong.  The drill looks like this.- Create a simile of the pitchers plate - This is the back part of the tee.   Attach a straight line stem perpendicular to the back and direct this to the catcher.  It should extend a couple of feet beyond the stride length.  Now put in a bar parallel to the back plate and midway through the stride length (this is the "wall").  There you have it.  Get into the hi-cock position-, for a RHP, get on the right side of the back plate-. Stride out partly closed and be sure to retain a closed posture.  I use it to cure stride problems, balance, closedness, back foot action, elbow height, being on top of ball, burying the shoulder, eyes on target, off arm usage, and adjusting location and control.  You can find this drill illustration in the "Act of Pitching" on p. 286-290.  A windows media clip of the drill is located on the video library page of this website.  For those who complain about pitching flaws and are contrary to drills, you have my sympathy. JB  (9/16/06) 

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GO TO THE NEXT LEVEL WHEN IT'S TIME!  Dwelling on the past has no use for anybody in and by itself.  This is unless individuals study their successes and validate what went right, reincarnate that master event, refresh it, polish it and use it again.  Many study the past with a vague uselessness, built out of a morbid negativism, fueled by a lack of confidence.   This is when disappointment and failure reigned and success ruled only momentarily.  One needs to visit the time when dots were well-connected, things fell into place, and strong positive things came about.  These are repeatable maxims.  This applies strongly to the pitching business, and particularly to pitchers who desire to go to a higher level.  Repeatable good mechanics and repeatable good pitches are the recipe.  If you can throw one good fastball, you can throw many.  If your curve breaks once well, then it can be repeated.  This is the only way one gets to the next level.  Obviously this idea can work in any endeavor, but for pitching it is an ABSOLUTE.  Get out of your own way when it comes to studying the past.  Do not fortify failure or contribute negative energy, if the next league is the goal.  Retrieve that which works and put it into the NOW tool kit and advance.  See what the next level is all about.  There is always a next level.  JB  (9/6/06)

 

GET THE CURVE IN THEIR HEAD! -  The minute a batter can isolate a pitcher to ONE favorite pitch, and generally this is likely to be the fastball, then it doesn't matter how fast the pitch is.  Some batters can "pull a bullet," but that same pitch after a good curve in the strike zone has been thrown (or a good change-up) becomes a challenging and sometimes overpowering task. The pitchers, who have great success with their curves, are guys that can consistently intersect the strike zone with this parabolic phenomenon, and at the same time convince the umpire that there is a mastery to this.  There are pitchers with super great curveballs who absolutely cannot throw strikes with these pitches, and they finally reduce the game for the batters to a one pitch contest (i.e., the FB).  Professional hitters, and for that matter all GOOD hitters, can catch up with a high speed FB when they sit "dead red" on it.  In order to magnify the fastball here, the pitcher has to have a second pitch which is good enough to put an image of it in the batters head, whether he wants it there or not.  The image of this pitch must be omnipresent, so that he cannot sit (dead red) on the FB.  The minute a competent curveball is into the strike zone, often enough to be a worthy "out" ball - the FB takes on more of a reflex defying condition.  This takes place, particularly after a serious down breaking curve or slider is established.  This works somewhat with a splitter.  It helps if catchers are good at catching curveballs and enjoy "framing" them in the strike zone, so they can "snitch" one once in a while.  Catchers who are weak at receiving breaking pitches cause the umpires to lessen the "portal of entry" and declare  the pitch out of the strike zone, even when it is in it!  This truly discourages a pitcher, but if he shows a consistency in getting the curve (or the slider) in the zone, it becomes part of the mystique necessary to get a close call going the pitchers way.  Put the curve ball seriously and permanently into the hitters memory bank, so that even if it's just a slight quick replay (image) that comes to the batter - then that good FB that gears up a little, when it's upstairs ,will get by.  Without that slight memory hint, this FB gets rapped, because its being looked at as an entity unto itself.  Stressing  the importance of changing speeds is the art form and the great challenge in the batter - pitcher confrontation.  Get the curve over and in the strike zone!  JB  (8/30/06)

 

THE SINK - IS IT THE ANSWER?  For anyone who doesn't throw real hard, the sinking fastball may be the ultimate answer for an effective fastball.  It seems that velocity, while a great advantage a majority of times, doesn't always abet the effectiveness of the FB.  The sinker can exist in a lower velocity range, and be a primary fastball.  For those that are capable of throwing a power sinker, (obviously the velocity spices up this great pitch) "great"!, but it is not an absolute in the construction of a sinker.  A real good mastery of the 2/8 spin is necessary to create a strong sinking  FB, and is the key to the development of this rapidly evolving popular pitch.  It's been around for a while, but it seems to be taking on a new meaning.  The sinking  FB can exist in the 80 - 85 mph range, also 85 - 88 and be an out pitch, and it can exist in the 89 - 91+ range and be a power sinker-- more reserved for those who can throw real hard, but resort to the sinker type to make their FBs more effective.  Some who are never going to throw hard have to seriously consider making the sinking FB their primary pitch.  The ground ball out is a characteristic of this pitch, and an abundance of double play possibilities present themselves.  Balls hit on the ground are usually limited to one base.  Sometimes one can't veer out of a small pitch slot, where the  ball acts.  This cannot  be very much or the ball dramatically flattens out, and the pitch becomes bland and practically useless.  Combining trajectory, elevation and pronation angle, all figure into the action of a sinking FB.  There also seems to be a preferred speed where the ball is at its best.  Less seems to be better, and yet there are guys with great sinkers in the 90+ range - making for that all important power sink type of pitch.  However as a sheer matter of out-producing pitches - the moderate speed sinker may have the edge.  This is a pitch that a lot of pitchers possessing average velocity or even sub-par would do well to incorporate as their primary FB.  It surely requires mastering the spin (2/8) and the pronation effect, as well as adjusting optimal, convenient speed, trajectory, and pitch height.  This may be well worth it for those complaining about and berating their lower velocity FBs.  Sinker-slider type of pitching has been quite effective in the past and will remain quite effective.  This can be a learned event.  JB  (8/29/06)

 

THE MARVELOUS MYSTIQUE OF THE OFF ARM -  Call it directional, lead, glove side, front side, off arm or non-throwing arm, it becomes and is quite a magnificent quadrant of the pitching process.  When utilized properly and done well, a very noticeable fluidity is accomplished.  Almost all long-lived pitchers have this part under control.  The freeing of the pitching arm by the action of the pectoral girdle (shoulder girdle) initiated by the glove arm more than likely results in some acceleration of the throwing arm, as well as balancing of the upper torso, and ultimately balancing the entire delivery.  The work of the off arm is critical to integrated mechanics, and the interaction of the four parts of the pitching anatomy (throwing arm, back leg, lift leg, and off arm).  The glove side commences as a sighting device and a covering of the "box" (at hi-cock-batters hone in on the area around the pitchers hand) obscuring this "box" by having the glove in line with it (pg. 57 in The Act of Pitching shows this).  The glove turns palm up and with a smooth piston-like backward movement of the elbow, the glove comes to rest at these following  possibilities (choices): 1] hip,  2] flank (side), 3] arm pit, or 4] heart area of chest.  When this part of the pitching apparatus works smoothly and rhythmically, there is a balancing and softening effect which assists the upper body going out over and down with accuracy and finesse.  JB (8/24/06)

 

WHATS' THE DEAL WITH LEFTIES?  We can involve Scott Kazmir, Billy Wagner, Jon Jester and Sandy Koufax as guys who consistently throw and did throw 95 MPH+.  They still form a smaller group than all the righties who throw 95+.  That is not to say that there aren't or have been a lot of great left-handed pitchers over the years.  A lefty is always highly regarded, because of his consistent moving fastball and his southpaw slants being often times unique and perplexing.  The prototype sculpture for a professional scout is a tall RHP-6'3", 195 pounder who throws in the nineties, and doesn't have to be the world's most agile person.  The lefty prototype can be 5'11", 175-185 lbs and of course up from these figures.  Size is not quite the discriminator as his mirror-image cousin.  He has that all encompassing movement (tail, veer, sink) by happenstance.  If he's big-GOOD, but not to be alarmed if he is not.  God had something in mind.  Recognizing that it might not have been fashionable to be lefty as the world seemed to cater to the north paw, he chose to give him an extra degree of pronation to insure that his fastball never went straight. In doing this (extra movement), the velocity factor was lessened, due to the fact that movement curtails velocity somewhat.  Again, not to be alarmed as the movement more than makes up for itself in effectiveness.  So we may prioritize the southpaw status while at the time combating it (at least some) by the increase in switch hitting.  Low and behold those that could wish ambidexterity (throwing-wise) upon themselves might opt more for the portside condition.  JB (8/20/06)

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LOADING THE LOWER BODY -  Ted Williams always said he hit with his hips.  For some, this may have been too much of a complex statement, but whenever one looks into rotational energy in athletic skills, one sees quickly the action of the hips, whether it be golf, tennis, boxing, or throwing a baseball.  The hips come into play, and are a vital component of the mechanical energy chain.  With pitching, as the posting position is arrived at, the back leg loads by a degree of flexion, and the back foot takes on a drive position by the inside part of the foot and the "ball" (of the foot) against the rubber, and this is immediately followed by the hips "loading".  The left buttocks (RHP) rolls, and the back pocket glares at the target.  The LIFT knee lines with the chin and points to the back shoulder, and the LIFT foot is even or beyond the post foot.  Now hip and back leg are "loaded".  Things are happening.  The coil of the lower body is the setting of this powerful spring combo.  The back foot is the bonding on this rotational power, as its setting acts as a fulcrum for the turning and pivoting of the complete torso.  As this energy transfers forward, the spring releases and voila, we have a boost.  Pitching with the lower body is worth every minute.  The art form is in "loading" the bottom half and deserving of every bit of ones effort.  JB (8/16/06)

 

THE WRIST DRILL TO SPEED UP FINGERS -  The fastball travels as fast as the hand and fingers do upon release.  One can increase hand speed by intention, but a drill that works to improve rotation and speed of release is THE WRIST DRILL.  It is performed by bringing the elbow to shoulder height, placing the glove hand on the elbow of the throwing arm, assuming the preferred grip (4 seam or 2 seam), adjusting the downward plane, tilting the wrist for FB movement (optional), throwing through the "heart" of the ball, and flicking the ball quite briskly to a partner 15-20 feet away.  One should concentrate on doing this with vigor and "tight spin" and a fast hand causing a "crisp"pitch.  Partners can move further apart as this drill is mastered.  The weighted baseball can be introduced here as an aid, and this invariably increases hand speed.  In the final end of it, the delivery of a pitched ball depends on what the hand and fingers impart for energy.  This drill can be found described and illustrated in "The Act of Pitching" on p.250, 280, and 283 and discussed in articles in the pitching article section of the site.  JB  (8/15/06)

 

THE ESSENCE OF BALANCE -  Everything can be done correctly in the delivery of a pitch in baseball, and all "ducks" can be in order, and then because the balance factor is not right or executed poorly, we have a "self destruct" mechanism, and the phenomenon of the delivery becomes flawed.  The axiom should be "begin right" and "end right".  I see altogether too many who don't "end right".  If any singular item is critical in the pitching of a baseball, it has to be BALANCE.  Landing on the "ball" of the striding foot comfortably and consistently, guarantees that the weight comes over the front leg evenly, and this support is firmed up.  Then it can be out (reach for the release), over (chest over the knee, knee over the ball of foot and face in front of foot), down, and deep.   When a consistency is effected here, quality pitches can be made one right after the other.   JB (8/7/06)

 

The "SLING SHOT EFFECT" -  When a space vehicle is launched, it is directed into orbit, so the earth's spinning energy (centrifugal force - 1,000 mph at the equator) acts as a boost to the vehicle, if it is going further into space.  Other planets (ex. jupiter) are also used for this boost, which is rightly called the "sling shot effect."  This phenomenon also takes place in the throwing of a baseball.  The arm has its own energy, but when given the effect of torso rotation (centrifugal), a boost (sling shot) is created.  This is why it is so important to have the action of the hips, the off arm, proper and correct closure, and drive-off all incorporated into the action of the torso, upon rotation.  This will optimize the force already generated by turning and ultimately will now join the arm.  While this is science at work, it is also an art in the performance of such.  JB  (8/6/06)

 

LEADING WITH THE HIP - A CURE-ALL??   When one arrives at the mid-point of the pitching delivery -- posting, a treacherous thing happens.  All deciding issues on throwing a ball are formed and firmed at this point.  The body should be aligned, the back leg should be set (maybe flexed), the shoulder should be aligned with the target, and the front leg should be leading the "show" by loading the hips, and preparing for the stride event.  At this point, the hip should be leading (in front of the knee), the knee should be in line with the chin, point of knee should be towards the back shoulder, knee above the belt (maybe higher), 90 degrees or more with the angle of the lower leg, foot even or slightly turned down, and now we are ready to stride.  The toe should be partly closed, land on the ball of the front foot, and convert the lower body energy into the pitch.  Leading with the hip not only cures "rushing", but is the guide for correct pitching motion. (p.50,51 & 52 in The Act of Pitching describes and illustrates this concept with photos)  JB  (8/4/06)

 

ARM JUNCTURES -  It's pretty clear that those who are familiar with my teaching tendencies on pitching know that I abhor "short arming".  I feel this could be epidemic, if we don't correct youngsters in the early stages (i.e., little league).  I favor a long loose arm type of style and delivery -- maybe because I was a "long armer".  Breaking from the hand-glove-loop should be smooth, not jerky or abrupt and progress into a definite spot or juncture (1st wrist).  This doesn't have to be fast, but rather medium in terms of speed -- then reaching back to "medium cock" ensures the 2nd juncture.  Things are going good now, then to "hi-cock", still closed and smooth, then to "layback" and release.  This is a normal circuit.  Momentum builds up in this type of arm action and likely enhances throwing with power.  Arm circuits can be refined with repetition.  Well worth the time.  JB  (8/1/06)

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LISTENING TO ONE'S ARM -  You know the beautiful thing about a pitcher's arm is that it generally gets stronger with use - not overuse, and it will tell you many things, if you know how to listen carefully to it.  The arm gets stronger, even bigger (in my career - my right arm, the throwing arm, was always bigger than my left).  It's capable of delivering many pitches in it's lifetime, and if it's lovingly treated, not babied, it can pitch well into its 40's.  For some, it's  much longer than that.  One needs to hear its gripes and complaints and outright resentments and give homage to these outcries.  The throwing arm is a wonderful contraption (mine is still capable of throwing a ball with force, and it doesn't ache or throb with use -  I don't tempt it if that throwing feeling isn't there).  Unless one is ambidextrous (and few are), it's the only throwing arm one will have, and its magnificent performance must be treated with a lot of respect and care.  This care does not fit in the category of neglect by not using.  But use it and listen.  JB (7/30/06)

 

THIS BUSINESS OF "INTENT" -  I get so many questions, not only on this site, but in pitching camps, in seminars, and in coaches clinics on "how one can throw a baseball harder."  You know if we had a perfect answer, everyone would throw hard.  But one thing I'm positive of, is if you don't possess the "intent" to throw hard, it will never happen.  If you are trying to put a ball by someone by velocity, and not trickery, you absolutely need the intensity in your make-up to do this.  Sometimes I think aspirants are waiting for someone to magically make them throw hard.  I find that those who want to throw hard will at some point do this, even if its relative.  We can whine about what coaches do or do not do, and yet if we don't possess the internal make-up to go for it, then this won't happen.  Some people are born with weak arms and weak upper body strength.  It is not in their genetic disposition to throw hard and they probably should not be pitchers.  But there are plenty that are in the "in-between zone" (the middle margin) that can enhance, and empower their velocity on a thrown ball, not only by ergogenic aids and good mechanics, but by and large by force of will.  It will be mostly mental. (we can help but! - read "Power Focusing" in the Articles Section).   JB (7/27/06)

 

THE RELEASE OF THE BACK LEG -  When the tremendous drive and action of the back leg is completed, there is a rebound effect, and its release is after it has produced the kinesis necessary for lower body rotation.  It then quite naturally releases its energy.  This is manifest in the leg coming high (probably in most instances as high as the hip) and surely punctuating its effect in the complete mechanical process of throwing a ball.  The back leg release is a comment on a successfully thrown pitch.  It indicates all things are in order.  It's release the ball, release the leg.  Pitchers that throw particularly hard and involve the lower body greatly and emphasize a good drive off have a high back leg release.  JB (7/26/06)

 

LIGHT VS. HEAVY BALL - These terms are not to be confused with overload and underload training through the use of disproportionately weighted baseballs - either over the 5.25 oz. of a regular ball or under this weight. That's for another time. This discourse is to describe the character of a thrown ball according to its  rotation and its impact.  Those who have played for a long time surely remember someone describing a pitcher as throwing a "heavy ball".  Of course players other than pitchers can  throw a "heavy ball".  On the other hand, we have those that throw a so-called "light ball".  Basically a" light ball" is 4-seam fast ball spinning largely in a 6/12 direction spin-wise.  Although a 1/7 four-seamer could be a" light ball".  The ball shows white with no red circles emanating.  The ball appears small, but comes crisply in its path.  The" heavy ball" on the other hand is a 2-seamer with red appearing concentrically on the sides of the ball.  It's spin direction is more likely 1/7  or better yet 2/8 or even 3/9.  The ball appears larger than its counterpart and "stings" in the glove - comes in with a thud and seems "heavy" (cement like).  Of course, both of these balls weigh 5.25 oz. - but their effect is quite different - a light ball is likely to be hit in the air - whereas a heavy ball is more likely to be hit on the ground.  The possessor of a characteristically "light ball" in days gone past was Hall of Famer, Bob Feller, by his own declaration, intimated this to me in an enlightening conversation a while back. The possessor of a characteristically "heavy ball" was Kevin Brown, recently of the Yankees  (he of the power sinking FB which was hit on the ground mostly).  I used to avoid playing catch with Norm Tanner, former Red Sox pitcher - (a "heavy ball" guy) in my playing days as the glove hand always got a workout.  JB  (7/24/06)

 

THE ALWAYS "WALL" - There is an invisible, yet forever critical, crossing in the correct pitching motion that needs to be identified and affirmed.  This is a juncture in the stride length, approximately mid-way that serves as a guide to the pitching delivery and its forward progress.  I call it the 'WALL".  It could  be called other things.  It's a zone that requires the head and shoulders to pass over and to literally go out , over, down and deep with the upper torso as one is delivering a pitch. This remedies some of the ills of not bending , not following through, not having a stable release point and surely not burying the shoulder.  This wall concept can be found on p.64,65, and p.66 in The Act of Pitching and is referred to in several articles particularly "the stride drill".  This is an area one could do well to utilize and be attentive to in his pitching approach.  JB (7/20/06)

  

PRONATION AND SUPINATION IN PITCHING -  These are terms that are largely anatomical in referring primarily to the position of the palm in the throwing of a baseball.  The muscles of the forearm - the pronators and the supinators are obviously involved.  In the throwing of a baseball, the conception of pronation is always a constant in the releasing of the primary pitch - the fastball.  Supination on the other side is a term used in throwing breaking pitches that move to the glove side - curve, slider, slurve, and cutter. The screwball, an erstwhile pitch that surely falls in the breaking ball category is the exception.  Mike Marshall's pronation curve which moves to the glove side is brought about by pronation and therefore is an exception.  Pronation and supination are terms that are necessary to explain arm and wrist action in pitching and in particular on movement of the fastball (sink, veer) and breaking pitches (curve, slider, slurve, cutter).  A complete article on this subject will appear in the articles section shortly.  A lot of attention and detail will be given in this article to explain the nuances of various pitches.   JB (7/18/06)

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RHYTHMICITY AND KINESIS IN PITCHING - I suspect these words might intimidate the sandlotter who says "I just throw the ball."  But to the extreme and confirmed purist who is searching for enlightenment and needs precise perception in his quest for excellence, these  terms might very well fulfill the missing ingredients in his pitching equation.  To be rhythmical, free flowing, mechanically sound and yet exude power, one may also have to possess the aesthetic quality that great artists exhibit.  Not only are these artists functional and effective, they are very pleasant to look at.  The blend of artistry, aesthetics, athleticism, and quality is the real true directive and many of us have unknowingly been striving for this utopian meld without identifying and realizing the makeup of the project.  To constantly improve and refine style is the measure of the real professional in any sport.  Whether it be bowling, billiards, fly casting or tennis, we identify quickly to the smooth, stylish performer.  Style attracts, but quickly succumbs to function, as the combo allows for excellence to exude and flourish.  It is likely that there is a minimal amount of time to be spent to achieve style and function together rather than separately in the quest for excellence.  Time spent here is well worth it, and one should complement the other during the learning phase.  JB (7/16/06)

 

THE INNER SANCTUM - This is a hallowed place for purists.  Its a place I treasure.  I want to visit there as much as I can.  There are not a lot of members here, but those that are share that rare and insatiable curiosity that lingers and causes their current understanding of the game to be heightened and yet never in totality fulfilled.  The inner sanctum is rife with questions - always ongoing - understanding is a work in progress -- never an ending in itself.What makes these members beautiful is they don't think they have found the "holy grail" and realize it is an eternal pursuit.  One needs to have a lot of respect for members here as they have a lot of time "in the saddle", " been there", " done that", "seen that", but are refreshed in their chase for "the cutting edge". The reservation is clear - it's for the hearty, the venturists, and the "soul searchers" and those who are in a pursuit mode - who chase after all quasi-answered and unanswered phenomena regarding the inner workings of the pitching process. The penchant for excellence and detail is a specific passport and this card should be scrutinized carefully.  Members have no official standing, but rather occupy stature because of their curiosity and unwillingness to accept pablum like answers to anything.  There can be a sincere sharing of privy info.  The inner sanctum is a wonderful place to share and trade in -depth versions of the game.  JB (7/13/06)

 

REVISITING THE " TOOL KIT" -  Curt Schilling, premier pitcher of the Red Sox, has surely been one of my favorite models for the ideal pitcher. He personifies the "blue collar" approach to pitching with an intellectual flair.  It seems as though he has reinvented himself.  He has revisited his "tool kit" and included a cutter, uses the curveball more, occasions a 2-seam sinker and is causing his splitter to act inward more.  This all after his most recent venue was - fastball - splitter. His fastball doesn't seem to have the "giddy-up" of the past , although he can rise to that point.  Schilling's control has always been his great forte ,and this of course has allowed homeruns by hitters who know he is always around the plate.  Curt Schilling personifies the true dimension of PITCHING.  May he go on for some long while, so pitching aspirants can pattern themselves after the way this business should be conducted.  JB (7/11/06)

 

WHAT'S ON MY MIND!  -  Just watching Scott Kazmir, 22 yr. old lefty for the D.- Rays shut out the Red Sox 2-0 recently, strike out 10 and basically overwhelm perhaps the most dangerous offensive team in baseball, convinces me that the North--South approach to pitching is the most devastating. Its been my suggested way to approach pitching for a long time. It involves changing eye levels. obviously, this can be mixed with East- West and is. One may need great stuff as this lefty generates 95+ m.p.h.  FB's with a biting down breaking hard curve-slider pitch.  Possessing two strong pitches and using them well electrifies this approach, but the concept can be accomplished with lesser stuff.  JB (7/7/06)

 

JEFF LOCKE - A NH LEFTY GOING HIGH IN THE DRAFT - A boy who appears as a model in my book The Act of Pitching, and who I had the pleasure of working with early on, has been looked at by 30 major league scouts on a consistent basis and who steadily lights the gun at 94mph. Jeff is a 6' 2" lefty,180 lbs. with a loose throwing motion.  His ball comes on you with that "LATE LIFE" that I frequently allude to in my descriptions of the ideal fastball.  I got him at 73 mph when he was 12.  Jeff is self motivated and directed and at 17-18 yrs. of age (barely) is composed, mature and very much  a dominant overpowering type thrower.  I feel this boy will be a bona fide major leaguer and will be an outstanding pitcher for years to come.  It is always a pleasure to work with individuals who truly have their "act together" and adhere strongly to their dream wishes and carve a future for themselves by sticking to the prime directive. Success here has been self-programmed, and it is refreshing to see motivated individuals use the right approach to achieve their lifetime dream. I want to wish Jeff the absolute best in his pursuit of a professional career and realize that we at pitchingprofessor.com are 100% behind him as he is an ideal model for baseball pitching aspirants everywhere. big time good luck Jeff--- Coach Bagonzi   

 

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Take a look at our Reference & Articles Library Page - current Top 5 favorites are:

#1 - Increase Your Velocity And Develop Your Arm (at the Same Time) - gain speed on your fastball while increasing arm strength using these techniques and drills.  click here...

#2 - Mastering the Breaking Ball - The Coach's thoughts regarding mastering the curve and the state of the modern breaking ball - the pros and cons of power curves and sliders.  click here...

#3 - The Fastball - No one is doomed to mediocrity because of a humble fastball. Even a weak fastball can be juiced up!  click here...

#4 - The Effects of Graded Weighted Baseballs... - When used properly, and with patience, the weighted ball can be an extremely effective aide. I've had nothing but success with them and several of my subjects who've gone on to the pros, swear by them and are absolutely dedicated to them.  click here...

#5 - The Anatomy of a Screwball - Dr. Bagonzi discusses one of the often maligned, and yet misunderstood pitches. click here...

 

 

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