Any time a pitcher is struggling with a pitch, although there are many reasons why a certain pitch may not work, the first thing I check for is In-Line verses Out-of-Line. What are In-Line and Out-of-Line pitches.
In-Line and Out-of-Line describes the path of the hand just prior to, during and immediately following the delivery of the pitch.
If we take the arm circle, which would be in line with the plate, this becomes the line of attack or the line of force. Anything that stays on this line, during the delivery of the pitch, would be In-Line. While anything that drifts off this path, would be Out-of-Line.
To throw a Rise, the hand (actually the fingers), come under the ball, towards the plate to create reverse spin. Thus any movement or force that moves, in to out or out to in will do either of two things. First, it will reduce ball spin and reduction of ball spin reduces movement. Second, it will also produce spin direction at angles to and contrary to the reverse spin. This contrary spin reduces movement.
Likewise, to throw a Drop (whether a Peel Drop or a Roll Over Drop) the finger tips must stay in line with the plate and to create forward spin. Thus any movement or force that moves, in and out of out and in, or any force that is contrary to the forward motion towards the plate will do two things. First, it will reduce ball spin and the reduction of ball spin reduces movement. Second, it will also produce spin direction at angles to and contrary to the forward spin. This contrary spin reduces movement.
To throw a Curve the pitcher releases the ball with the palm to the sky and the fingers on the outside of the ball. As the hand comes under the throwing shoulder it breaks off of the Line of Force and moves Out-of-Line toward the glove hip. This movement creates sideways spin on the ball as the fingers come across the front of the ball.
Likewise for the Screw, as the hand comes under the shoulder, the arm swings in towards the pitchers body, spins the ball, and then finishes with the hand outside the elbow on follow through. This Out-of-Line movement creates sideways spin on the ball as the fingers move from the back, to the inside, and then to the front of the ball.
So the next time one of these four movement pitches is not working, check to make sure you hand is In-Line on Rise and Drop pitches and Out-of-Line on Curve and Screw ball pitches.
In the next post we will deal with what causes the hand to move Out-of-Line on In-Line pitches and what causes the hand to stay In-Line on Out-of-Line pitches.
© 2014, Greg Loveless. All rights reserved.