By Dan Gazaway, Owner & Founder of The Pitching Academy
How long should your stride be? That is a question that we get from many coaches, parents and pitchers. Many coaches give their opinion of how long a stride should be; some say as long as you are tall, some say longer and some say 75% of your height. The answer is as far as your body will allow you to while maintaining proper pitching mechanics. You don’t want to jump to foot strike (losing balance and posture) just so you can add a foot to your stride. You want to push off the ball of your pivot foot while maintaining a closed posture to foot strike. Don’t jeopardize your pitching mechanics at the expense of gaining distance. There is a way to do it right. Your ultimate goal however, is to get a stride at least as long as you are tall.
Why is a long stride important? There are two reasons why you need a good stride. One is to gather enough momentum to foot strike so your fastball has pop. The most exciting reason is that 1-foot = 3 mph perceived pitching velocity. The closer you are to home plate when you release the ball the better. To the batter’s eye the ball appears to be going faster than it really is. Furthermore, when you throw inside, the batter has to react that much quicker to the pitch as well. In order for him to hit the ball on the fat part of the bat, he has to react much quicker to get the bat around.
How do you get a longer stride? Maintaining a proper strength and flexibility pitching workout is important. For example, if your hip flexors aren’t conditioned to handle the demands of the workload pitching places on them, it will affect your distance and you will be more prone to injury. To add distance, try a delayed shoulder rotation. Some pitchers gain an extra 6 inches to a foot delaying their shoulder properly. Work on releasing the baseball later; this will also help you gain velocity. Pushing off the ball of your pivot foot not only keeps you balanced, it also helps you to explode to foot strike adding some distance along the way.
Dan Gazaway is Owner and Founder of The Pitching Academy. He has instructed over 2,000 pitchers in the last seven years and received a Bachelor’s Degree as a Health Education Specialist at Utah State University. He is a motivational speaker for topics ranging from attitude, goal-setting and leadership and be contacted at email@example.com.