Avoid This Common Drill or Your Fastball May Wind Up In The Trees!!

Written By: Justin Orenduff
alg-mark-prior-throws-jpg

Former MLB Pitcher Mark Prior keeping the glove out in front of his body

One of the most commonly used verbal pitching cues is for an instructor  to say “chest to glove”.  The cue is designed to promote proper shoulder and trunk rotation into the release of the pitch.  Many young throwers struggle with maintaining a firm front side throughout the entire throw and when the mind decides to fire the baseball forward, the front side leaks open, and command issues arise.   The glove (front side) needs to be strong and remain in proper position until the chest drives the front arm out of the way and back into the body.   The idea is:  If I think about driving my chest to my front glove, the front arm will naturally fold back into the body, the shoulders will rotate properly, and I will be able to develop a consistent release point out in front of my body.  I’ve used the term before when working with younger throwers but I DO NOT have my students keep the glove out in front of the body after the ball has been released.  The emphasis on keeping the glove out in front of the body develops a fundamentally wrong approach in pitching.  I will go into more details as to why this is wrong but first watch the videos below to gain a better understanding of how this drill exists within the development of pitchers.

STARTS HERE

Thoughts:

  • “Good Momentum Builder”  How?  This kid is being forced into numerous static positions. ” Glove in front of face and walk all the way forward.”  Do you want to walk towards home plate as the batter is about to hit the ball?
  • Notice how the kid is completely unstable throughout the entire video.
  • What is the purpose of having him fall to the ground without the use of his legs?  When does this occur when we throw a baseball?

“GLOVE OUT FRONT AND IT STAYS OUT FRONT.”  WHY?

Thoughts:

  • I’m assuming the two pitchers in the video are in college and should be fully capable of stabilizing a delivery.  But, notice how they drift forward after each throw…looks like a push to me.
  • Do any of the throws look athletic or powerful?  Building command is great, but we have to have something behind the baseball.

Now, lets explore the fundamental issues associated with keeping the glove out in front of the body through release:

  1. The overall concept of delivering a baseball to the plate should be placed on creating angle, depth, and movement as late as possible towards the target.  By keeping the glove out in front, the body is forced to stay forward and the ball is thrust forward on a flat plane which will stay up in the zone as it heads toward home plate.  
  2. The spine and head remain in a straight line toward the target.  This allows for consistency in throwing the ball forward, but places strict limitations on the complete rotational turn of the trunk and arm back into the body.  The glove position forces the rotation of the trunk to exit forward towards the target , causing the pitcher to get to his front toe and fall forward.
  3. Velocity ceiling becomes drastically restricted.  The firing mechanism of the throw occurs right before foot strike, if the pitcher is focused on the glove position remaining out in front the amount of thoracic extension into the throw becomes limited.  The pitcher begins to rely heavily on arm speed and starts to feel his power generated not from his body but solely on his arm.
  4. The position will continue to build a pattern of the arm not fully decelerating back into the body.  More stress occurs on the shoulder capsule particularly the posterior rotator cuff.
  5. The natural athleticism in the delivery becomes restricted as the body is forced to halt it’s energy to maintain the glove out in front of the body.

A Hitter’s Perspective:

“Justin, you forgot number 6.  Hitters LOVE how the ball looks when it comes out of a pitcher’s hand like that.  If the pitcher stabilizes the glove out in front and brings his chest forward to it, the fastball is going to come out super flat and mostly elevated in the hitter’s wheelhouse.  If you give good hitters flat fastballs that are up in the zone…those TREES better watch out!”  –Chas Pippitt

Over the course of my professional playing and teaching career I have come across numerous pitchers who have been taught to keep the glove out in front of the chest.  Honestly, they look ridiculous playing catch and it’s a position that looks forced and overly mechanical.  They are all tall through the finish and the baseball is flat as a pancake as it approaches the target.  Stressing certain technical elements within the delivery are ok, but not this one.  Let the body and arm continue it’s natural course back into the body after the extension point.   Let the front arm and particularly the glove be strong, but don’t force it to an unnatural position.  If the mind is allowing the torso to fully rotate, the glove will get where it needs to be.

Justin Orenduff, Leader of the Baseball Pitching Rebellion

One final illustration:

Look at the picture of Trevor Bauer and Hiroki Kuroda below.  There is absolutely no way Trevor would be able to get to his explosive finish if he were trained to keep his glove out in front of his body.  His glove position falls into his back hip.  Notice Kuroda, the finish position can also have the glove continue behind the body to promote a healthy and repeatable finish.

Hiroki Kuroda

Hiroki Kuroda

10643364-large

Trevor Bauer

9
Leave a Reply

avatar
4 Comment threads
5 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
5 Comment authors
Brian AkinKevin GoodmanJustin OrenduffJeff PinkmanOwen Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Owen
Guest

In my novice career as a pitching coach, I taught pitchers to pull their glove to their chest if they were having trouble rotating, but never taught them to hold their glove in front on the follow-through. Good to know I had at least that part right.

Jeff Pinkman
Member

Justin, 1. You are correct in that the player was completely unstable in the drill. The reason behind doing the drill was to create stability and teach the player how to balance. Many players we see have no idea how to balance or stabilize on their front leg. The High 5 drill keeps players in line with the target, and teaches them to keep their foot, knee, hip, and shoulders all in line. I would rather my players walk towards home plate than spin off to the left or right as they are releasing the ball. By teaching them to… Read more »

Kevin Goodman
Guest
Kevin Goodman

I do not believe in the “chest to glove” theory of teaching as I believe it does not happen quite that way. My thoughts are that the glove side action should be more active than that. I teach an active swiveling up of the glove side in which the pitcher actively moves the glove side from glove down which should be behind or near his glove side hip as he begins his rotation of the upper body and that the glove and all that comes with it, the arm, so that when the ball is released the elbows are fairly… Read more »

Brian Akin
Guest
Brian Akin

Good stuff. The title of this post made me laugh. “To the trees!”