Balance Point Checklist: Mastering the Fundamentals of Pitching

Brian TollbergThis blog post was written by Brian Tollberg, UP17 ProCoach. 

In today’s game, velocity and strikeouts are discussed all the time. I believe, however, that the basic fundamentals of pitching mechanics, specifically the balance point, are much more important to a young pitcher’s development. Velocity and strikeouts are simply a byproduct of the pitcher’s ability to maintain consistent, repeatable mechanics. The repeatability becomes much more difficult as a pitcher becomes fatigued during a game.

The balance point is essentially a check point where we as pitchers are able to make sure everything in our delivery is sequencing correctly before delivering the pitch to home plate. It is virtually impossible to have a sub-optimal balance point and be able to make up for those inconsistencies later in your mechanics. This issue can compromise velocity and  command, and lead to arm injuries. Below is a simple checklist to think about when practicing your balance point.

Balance Point Checklist

Is your leg lift too high or do you swing it up instead of lift?
This may lead to an arching of the back to counterbalance, which affects direction and release point.  You see this in younger pitchers a lot, and they often have trouble staying directional to home plate and finishing in a good fielding position.

Is your leg lift too low?  
This may lead to pitchers not fully utilizing the main muscles in their lower body that tend to be explosive mechanically, leading to decreased velocity/more stress placed on the arm.

Are your shoulders not square to home plate?  
Too closed off oftentimes leads to a step across our bodies and a needed correction to clear our glove side out of the way to get back directional towards home plate (which cuts off velocity, direction and command.) Additionally, this blocks your front hip off and it becomes much more difficult to stay directional to home plate, leading to an inconsistent release point.

An open front shoulder prevents us from fully getting our momentum going towards home plate and leads to a weak front side, open front foot/glove at foot strike and a severe decrease in velocity and command. This can also lead to elbow and shoulder injuries.

Are you getting to a good balance point, or are you rushing through before our lift leg gets to its highest point?  
This leads to our hands never fully being able to get separation on a consistent basis and the pitcher will have minimal, if any, lower body load, and have to shorten up his arm backswing to catch up. In the process, you lose command, extension and velocity, and place much more undue stress on your throwing arm.

I hope this checklist helps you to better understand the importance of a good balance point. It should be an absolute that every pitcher, regardless of their age, works to perfect it in order for them to be healthy, durable and have the ability to throw strikes consistently throughout their career. Good luck working hard on your mechanics. If you are interested in learning more from myself and our coaching staff, please click here for a free consultation.