It happens day after day after day. A new student arrives and says, “My coach (or instructor) keeps saying I need to use my legs better”.
They know they need better leg drive but have no idea how to do it. Telling a kid she needs to better use her legs is like telling her she needs to throw faster. She thinks, “Thank you for stating the obvious, but how do I get there?”
How does she use the legs better? Some people think it is stride length. It can be. I want every inch of stride length a kid can get, but if she gets it in the wrong way, she can ruin the pitch. Let’s say she leaves the back leg behind. Do we shorten the stride length to keep the back leg under her? No, we focus on a far more dynamic push.
We spend a lot of time experimenting in the Lab and studying video, working on questions like these. What happens if we change the timing of one element? What role do different parts of the body play in explosiveness? What are the most effective movement patterns for females in other sports and how does it translate to pitching? We never want to do something just because we believe it. We want results, proven results, with the most kids across the spectrum.
The reason many kids cannot use their legs well is a direct result of things they were taught. We simply shake our heads at some of the drills people teach pitchers that actually force issues into a kid. In fact, often we meet kids who never had formal lessons, choosing instead to go out and develop a sense of how their bodies should work. They have no pre-conceived notions, nor do they grab a bunch of drills off the internet. They just work on being smooth and natural, symmetrical and balanced. That is where the body will naturally go if left alone. When we get one of those kids at 13 or 14 years old, we often see a college prospect emerge. It is so easy to get the hips and legs engaged on kids like these. We love a blank slate.
On the other hand, we often meet new students who have been to every camp, clinic, and pitching coach that promised results, but they are still falling far short of their potential. They are very skeptical when we meet because they have seen way too many tools and gimmicks that promised success. We always tell them to relax…that we are not going to put anything new into their form. Our focus will be removing barriers that are keeping her from performing in a smooth and natural way. We want her to feel free to fly, and we want to enable her to get her unfair share of energy from the body. It should look and feel effortless.
As you remove barriers and help the kid actually feel the power in the hips for the first time, the legs move right into the pitch. Simply get the upper body out of the way so the lower body can work. Unlike men, 60-percent of a female’s power is located in the lower body. If she is not using the legs effectively, the weakest 40-percent of the body is trying to carry 100-percent of the load. It leads to frustration. It leads to injury.
Unleash the beast. Our Certified Instructors are specialists at getting the upper body out of the way so the lower body can work, so ask them questions.
In summary, the first thing you should always do is remove barriers, then work on dynamic ways to create and transfer energy. The second part is easy once the first part is accomplished. Next week we will talk more about dynamic movements and the relationship between power and speed.
**Note: We are planning trips to northern Virginia, South Carolina, and UNCW in coming weeks. Hope to see you. And special thanks to our new friends in Minnesota. We saw some kids make amazing transformations this past weekend and that keeps us happy on the road.