Step Back to Swag: Creating Character in Your Delivery

Written By: Justin Orenduff


Step Back to Baseball Pitching Mechanics with Swag

I had the opportunity to hear Tom Seaver speak about his delivery several years ago.  He talked about pitching as an art, and as he talked about his signature style, I started to think about my own delivery at the time and how I never thought about pitching as an art form.  I realized I had always worked to perfect specific aspects of my delivery, but never visualized my delivery as one constant flow of energy.

Pitching is about feel, rhythm, timing and the ability to create an efficient delivery that allows you to constantly repeat the pattern.  As you take the mound, your body and arm will be more inclined to be supported if all parts work together in unison.  It’s hard to stay smooth and relaxed if your mind is focused on getting to various positions within your delivery.  Everything slows down, arm drags, and results suffer.  We need to encourage pitchers to have the freedom to be unique, create their own style, and look like they have some swagger on the mound.  The first step to create your artistic masterpiece begins with simply stepping back behind the rubber.

Imagine your about to run the 100 meter dash.  All the runners are lined up in the starting blocks, and the race official walks over and tells you to start 10 yards behind the rest of the runners.  He informs you to start running, and when you reach the starting line of runners, he will fire the gun and the race will begin.  Sound like an unfair advantage?  Of course it is, you were able to build up speed while the others remained in the blocks.   As pitchers, we can utilize the same advantage in our full-windup by stepping back, shifting our weight, and stepping into our delivery to create momentum.  Watch Chas and I race below!

Your body needs to feel the momentum shift from behind the rubber and forwards into your motion.  This allows for all components to begin to work together into one fluid movement.  The step doesn’t have to be overly dramatic, a short step will suffice but that’s up to you.  As long as you keep everything together, not straying away from the center of your body, you will be fine.  Once you have stepped back, you can allow your opposite foot to slide slightly backwards as well (maintaining contact with rubber), or you can keep your opposite foot in place, but make sure you create a feeling of stepping forward into the throw!

Slightly angling your shoulders and feet allow you shift back more naturally and force you to not over rotate the hip socket to center your foot on the rubber as you step into the throw.  As you step into the throw, proper foot placement on the rubber is key to being create stability as well as allowing you to pre-set your hips and knee angle inside of your back foot.  Rick Honeycutt, MLB pitching coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers, showed me the value in “hooking” the rubber before moving into your throw.
Baseball Pitching: Hook The RubberNotice the right foot in the picture to the left.  The back portion of the foot is literally hooking the rubber with the shoe.  Hooking the rubber forces the foot into a downward angle which drives the knee and hip forward into the throw.  Maintaining this angle throughout the entire delivery will allow your pelvis to move forward naturally.

Think about how many pitchers you have seen digging out the rubber before they pitch. Ideally,  you want  dig out the dirt to create about a 1/4 inch cliff to hook the spikes to the rubber.  Unfortunately, not all mounds will are built well enough for this to be feasible.  I’ve seen some horrific high school mounds in my day!

The progression of the movement allows for the seamless transition between positions in the delivery, which leads me to my next point.  Avoid starting your delivery by stepping to the side!  Stepping to the side forces you make an extra step to re-center your pelvis before you move forward and prevents the delivery from building continual momentum.Baseball Pitching Mechanics and Swag

I like to allow all of my students to have the freedom to build their own unique style.  Whether the step back occurs with your hands in front of the body,  shifting overhead, or swinging your arm,  it truly doesn’t matter.  Take ownership of your delivery, work to constantly develop your ability to repeat the pattern.  Think about gradually building the energy into one powerful explosion.    Remember, you don’t have to be like every other pitcher on your team.  It’s ok to look different.  Make a commitment to start looking more dynamic on the mound, and invent your own style, that others will mimic for years.


Be Unique.  Create and Build your Masterpiece.

Do it here at Baseball Pitching Rebellion.


One thought on "Step Back to Swag: Creating Character in Your Delivery"

  1. jerry says:

    my son always did what you calling hooking the rubber . I thought it was wrong I believed it was creating a unnessary balancing act ..thankfully I didnt change it . guess messing with his hitting, teaching to pull the knob to the ball and getting lead arm extension was enough bad advice from me

Leave a Reply