45° Rule≈(mass)x(momentum + rhythm)2
By no means do I claim to be an expert on mathematics and if the formula above does not meet the standard rules in the field, then I apologize. But, since I’m talking about an angle the body produces, I think it’s a fun way to introduce a rule that I have created and implemented throughout my teaching career that has greatly influenced the development of my students both online and in person.
The ability to repeat your pitching delivery begins with the creation of a uniquely timed cadence of the moving parts of the body into the final release of the baseball. Throughout the history of the game, a variety of rhythms and signature movements are born from the way a pitcher feels comfortably moving through his delivery. Whether you look like Juan Marichal or Fernando Valenzuela, the continual movement of the lower half is vital to maintaining and building constant momentum in the pitching delivery. One of the easiest methods I have engineered to teach my students involves abiding by what I refer to as “The 45 Degree Rule“. Hall of Famers Whitey Ford and Don Sutton figured this rule out long ago, and now we see the rule being carried out by rookie sensation Jose Fernandez. So, what exactly is The 45 Degree Rule?
The 45 Degree Rule
The 45 Degree Rule involves lifting the lead leg outwards at a 45 degree angle from the front hip as the pitcher moves towards the target. As you watch the clip of Don Sutton below, notice how his left knee extends outward from the body and as his knee reaches a 45 degree angle, his right hip moves forward and underneath his left hip. It will look as if the left leg is coiling back into the body if done correctly. The movement helps a pitcher create a natural timing synchronization (rhythm) between all moving parts of the body. The lower half gradually progressing towards home plate and the upper half building leverage as it delays behind the back hip. How the pitcher chooses to move into this rule may be different (Sutton vs. Fernandez) but in terms of pure execution, the body will transition in the same manner.
Jose Fernandez and Don Sutton provide just two examples of the rule the delivery. Watch the clip below and see one of my online students execute The 45 Degree Rule perfectly.
Executed To Perfection
Implementation To Your Delivery
If you decide to incorporate the 45 into your windup, consider several factors before progressing forward.
- The movement is much easier to transition into if you step behind the rubber instead of to the side.
- DO NOT close rotate your shoulders closed before the leg starts to move in front of the body. The movement of front leg will naturally line your shoulders to the target.
- The knee should lift up to at least hip height. The front hip needs to “clear a path” for the back hip to “move under”.
- Execute the rule at a slower pace before transitioning to quicker one.
- Feel the back hip gradually moving toward the plate.
Can the 45 Degree Rule be used out of the stretch?
Yes! First, I would recommend coming set with your feet shoulder width apart, making sure you are creating a good back knee angle by “hooking the rubber“. Concentrate on bringing the knee upwards towards the front hip and letting the back knee immediately start working towards home plate. This will create the same effect as the 45.
Increased MOMENTUM from the back hip gradually moving forward and RHYTHM from the natural cadence of moving parts are the two advantages of using the 45 Degree Rule. But to get the most value out of the 45, FIRST focus more on establishing the rhythm and timing and less on the momentum. Once you find your own signature timing pattern you can increase how quickly your back hip moves forward. And always practice repeating your mechanical pattern. Far too often I find too much emphasis placed on increasing velocity and not enough on being consistent in the pattern. If you become an expert on the efficiency of your mechanics, you can have BOTH ACCURACY AND VELOCITY.
- Justin Orenduff, The Leader of The Pitching Rebellion