Almost all pitchers employ the Leg Lift, because it puts weight behind the pitch.
LEG LIFT: RAISING YOUR MPH
Nolan Ryan’s left leg was about 1/5 his total body weight.
For every 2” a pitcher lifts his leg, beyond the waist level, he adds 1% to his total forward movement energy; that 1% can translate to an additional MPH of velocity.
Thus, lifting the leg 4” above the waist level could add 2 MPH to the velocity.
So, the higher you can lift your leg, comfortably, the more MPH the ball will move.
Imagine a beginning pitcher, who lifts his leg 10” BELOW his waist level.
If he could just lift his leg to be EVEN with his waist level, he would increase his forward moving energy by 5%. He would add 5 MPH to his velocity.
If this same pitcher could comfortably lift his leg 4” ABOVE his waist level, he would add 2 MPH, for a total increase of 7 MPH from his original pitching motion.
From Explosive Pitching By Coach Jerry Kreber:
“The first stage of the pitching motion is the leg lift. The leg lift occurs when the pitcher pivots the throwing foot on the pitching rubber to perpendicular to home plate and raises the glove foot.
The leg lift is important for two different reasons. First, it starts the pitcher’s momentum toward the plate. Momentum is important for the pitcher because it helps generate force behind the ball. Secondly, the leg lift allows the pitcher to load the back leg and hips. The pitching leg is loaded when the glove foot leaves the ground.
When the pitching leg is loaded, there should be a slight bend at the knee. The pitcher’s eyes and head should be focused directly on the target. On the lift, the pitcher’s glove should line up with the knee and serve as a good indicator for the height of the lift.”
As a pitcher gets tired, his brain tries to conserve energy. The brain may decide to decrease the height of the leg lift, or shorten the distance the front leg travels to plant, or cut back on the reach back length of the pitching arm.
Try to notice what part of your pitching motion you brain “cheats” to conserve energy.
Once you have identified the link in your chain of delivery, tell your catcher to watch for it and let you know when fatigue is causing you to “cheat” on your effort.
Many pitchers will reduce the height of their leg lift to conserve energy, but it usually slows their MPH and leads to trouble.
Be your own coach. Know your weak link. Make corrections during the game.
[The Pitching Professor will appear every Thursday here on BSI.]