Part 2: Should Coaches Tell Pitchers, "Don't Rush" Or "Stay Back"?
"Don't rush" (or) "Stay back." (Part II)
In yesterday's blog I discussed the importance of timing and the critical role it plays in repeating a delivery. As much as that makes sense, and as much as it seems practical, it is incredibly rare for me to meet any pitching coach, at any level, who has ever actually measured a pitcher's timing.
If I were to take a poll and ask coaches and/or readers of this blog how long a pitcher's delivery typically takes from leg-lift to foot-strike, and how long it should take for maximum athletic efficiency, my guess is most would have rough estimations that are not based on actual data.
I never thought of it either. It was always just something I felt as a pitcher and felt as a coach, but never understood it enough to actually measure it. And if I would have, I wouldn't have understood how to interpret that data. (And my interpretation would have been based on what my eyes saw at approx. 32 frames-per-second rather than state of the art technology measuring 1,000 frames-per-second).
Pitchers filmed at 1,000 frames-per-second reveal that the opposite is true. When a pitcher takes a long time to pause and "load" the arm, the arm has a much greater chance at lagging. When a pitcher lifts and lands at or just under one second, his arm will be right where it needs to be at release.
I took my stopwatch and started measuring pitchers myself. After all, this contradicted what every other pitching coach I have ever had told me. Sure enough, when Randy Johnson lifted his front foot until the time he landed, it took less than a second. Same with Greg Maddux, same with Roger Clemens, the same with Mark Buerhle, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and big Bobby Jenks. (And many others).
While there are numerous other pitchers at the big league level who take much longer, the most efficient deliveries with the best cases of balance and posture all take at or under one second.
It is interesting that a quarterback takes a second to transfer his weight in football and a golfer takes a second for weight transfer in his swing. A hitter also takes a second when transferring his weight as well.
It is important to mention that certain types of rushing are still inefficient, such as rotating the shoulders before the front foot hits the ground, or artificially creating an arm-path that isn't natural for a given pitcher that, in-turn, quickens the overall timing the torso-rotation. The lift-and-land timing for a pitcher, however, at any age with any body type should ideally be at or under one second.