There are a number of ways to explain pitching mechanics as well as a number of things to work on. The idea is how do we simplify mechanics? I believe the answer lies with three words; Balance, Direction, Extension.
Balance. Your motion from start to finish needs to be consistent. Whether you’re throwing out of the windup or the stretch, you need to do the same motion to allow you to be more consistent with your pitches. That comes back to balance. The more you master your motion, the better your balance will be throughout your entire delivery thus allowing you to be more consistent around the plate.
Direction. The idea is you want your body heading in the direction of where you’re trying to throw the ball, which is to the catcher. If you’re stepping off to either side when you land, the direction of your body isn’t as lined up with home plate as it should be. For example, if we have an inconsistent landing spot it throws our balance off. When our balance is off, it’s harder for our body to to consistently head in the direction of home plate. If our front side is flying open or pulling us to one side, again, it throws off our balance and direction. When we’re inconsistent with our balance and direction, it makes it more difficult to complete the last part of our delivery.
Extension. That is the final part of our delivery. The idea is we want to reach and extend our as far as we can. We want to release each pitch as close as we can to our target (home plate) to help maximize velocity and location. Now you’ll hear a lot of people use the term finish and there’s nothing wrong with that. You need to finish, or follow through, on each pitch. The problem is that you can still follow through on each pitch but you’re body remains upright. You’re not extending out to your target. You can think about finishing out over your front leg or think about taking your chest forward and to the ground. If you happen to look at pictures of the majority of pro pitchers when they are releasing the ball or a video in slow motion, take a look at their body angle and how far out in front the ball is being released. Extension is about how far we can reach out and finish over that front leg.
Now it may seem pretty simple, but those three things are difficult to do consistently. If you’re balance is off, chances are your direction to home plate will be off. If your direction is off, it’s going to be much more difficult to maximize your extension. If you’re not reaching your fullest extension point, you’re not reaching your fullest potential on each pitch. Do you see how those three are related?
Here’s a simple drill that will provide you the feedback you need. I like to call it the hitting tee for pitching. All you need is a flat area but you can also do it off a mound. You make one line to simulate the pitching rubber. Then from the center or your pitching rubber/line, make a straight line going towards home plate. Extend that line out as far as you want. From there, go through your motion. You can make marks to see how far your body extends down the line. You can see how aggressive you can get with your motion and see how consistently you end up in the same spot. You can throw into a net, throw to a catcher, or just do dry work which means you don’t have a ball. The main idea is you want your body to stay close to that line as you can consistently from start to finish of your delivery. This is balance. As you stride out on the line, you can see where you’re landing and if you’re in line with your target (home plate). This is direction. With consistent balance and direction, you can then see how far you can reach out to home plate to release the ball, finishing out and over your front left leg. This is extension. That is a simple yet great way to work on your balance, direction, and extension.