NO Windup, Best Windup


The old-fashioned full windup is a waste of energy for pitchers.

It was originally started as a way to distract the attention of the batter, but today’s batters know how to ignore all the gyrations that occur before the pitcher reaches his release point.

With pitching mechanics and windups the KISS method applies:

"Keep It Simple, Stupid"

With machines, the more moving parts, the more likely something will go wrong.

In his book about pitching, The Head Game, Roger Kahn wrote:

“Most contemporary pitching coaches preach against the elaborate windups.  They reason that the more motion, the greater the chance for something to go out of whack.”

Kahn quotes Coach Dick Bosman’s tenet:

“The simpler the mechanics of a delivery, the easier it is for most pitchers to master it.”

[Roger Kahn, The Head Game, p. 167.]

Even advocates of the full windup, like Don Weiskopf, Author/Publisher of Baseball Play America admit that it can lead to less control of the pitches.

“The biggest change in pitching technique over the past three decades had been the switch from a full-wind-up with a pumping motion to a simplified and compact no-pump technique.

Although it has achieved a more balance position and perhaps better control, I firmly believe today’s no-windup delivery has contributed to the epidemic of pitching injuries to the elbow and shoulder joints.”

Mr. Weiskopf may believe the no-windup causes injuries, but he offers no proof.

Q:  Would the full windup put more strain on a pitcher than a simpler no windup approach?

Certainly there is more arm motion and energy expended with the full windup.

The causes of pitching injuries will be addressed in another column, but, for now, it is fair to say that the common “rotator cuff” injury has never been linked to a no windup delivery and is caused when the muscles that put the brakes on the forward motion of the arm become stressed, strained, and begin to tear.

In most windups, the pitcher starts with his lead foot on the rubber pointing toward the plate [as in Step 1 in the diagram below.]  Then, he goes into an arm motion, while turning his foot on the rubber to rotate into the “hole” in front of the rubber, so he ends up with the front of his lead foot either pointing toward Third base [RHP] or First base [LHP] in Step 3.

This “pivot” [Steps 1 and 2 below] on the mound is no easy task.  The spikes on the shoe can slide on the rubber or get caught and the rotation will vary with each pitch.  Thus, the rotation of the front foot to get into the “throw” position [Step 3, below]–where the rear foot is securely aside the rubber—can easily cause a slight alteration in the pitcher’s mechanics.

Why not skip that tricky movement and just start with the rear foot in that “forward-ready” position–where the rear foot is securely aside the rubber?

Look at the sequence of Jake Peavy’s windup [below]

In the first frame he is beginning his rotation and in the second frame, he has arrived at, what I call,  the “forward-ready” position with the rear foot is securely aside the rubber; he is now ready to begin the forward part of his pitching mechanics.

"Why not skip the stance in frame 1 and start with the frame 2 stance?"

The rotation does not contribute to the forward motion, but is just a means to shift the rear foot to the second stage; plus, skipping it will eliminate any slips on the rubber during the rotation.

Nearly all pitchers today understand that the leg lift is the first step toward “loading” up the body to move toward the plate.  What I call the “flamingo” stance, is the part of the delivery when the pitcher has his leg lifted to its high point and is in a balanced position.

From this point, the pitcher [photo right] leans his upper torso just slightly toward the plate and begins to shift his body weight forward.

Thus, until the pitcher arrives at, what I call,  the “Flamingo Forward” position, any effort expended is wasted and he will become fatigued sooner and his mechanics will begin to break down, as he “cheats” on a link on his chain of forward motion to keep some reserve in his “gas tank.”

The best way to avoid fatigue and breakdowns in mechanics is to not waste energy during the chain of movements called the “windup” and use a minimal sequence of actions to deliver the ball to the plate.


Funny windups in video game, invented by players.

The game is apparently called 98Koshien and users were able to customize their own pitching windups.

A bit of windup history:

“The change that took place during the mid-1950s was the result of suggestions Yankee pitching coach Jim Turner made to Don Larsen and Bob Turley. Bob credits Turner with launching their no-wind-up of pitching. The no-wind-up was believed to help a pitcher’s control, in part because Larsen went to it and threw a perfect game in the 1956 World Series. (Illus. 23). “Jim did it with both of us, but for different reasons,” said Turley. “Teams were stealing Don’s pitches. To stop it, Turner suggested he hold the ball in his glove in front, and keep it there, with no-wind-up.”

By the mid-1960s, an increasing number of major league pitchers were using the no-wind-up delivery. Billy Muffett, the Cardinals pitching coach who used a no-windup during his entire career, induced several St. Louis pitchers to employ the technique. Among the pitchers whose deliveries Billy altered were Dick Hughes, Nelson Briles, Ron Willis, and Steve Carlton. All had banner years until 1968 when a major change in the rules dictated that the pitching mound be lowered.

The dropping of the mound, from 15 inches to 10 inches, made it more difficult for Briles, and others, to throw “over the top” with his key out-pitch, the curveball. Because of the lower pitching mound, many of them, like Briles, found it more difficult to get a good push-off off the lower mound.”

SOURCE: Coaching Clinic,

Don Weiskopf, Publisher, Baseball Play America