Pitching - Stretch

Stance

The stretch position is used whenever there are runners on base. You start with your back foot against and parallel with the rubber. Your feet should be approximately shoulder width apart with most of your weight toward your back leg. You move into the set position by bring your hands together in the center of your body and bringing your legs closer together. Some right handed pitchers will have a slightly open stance when they come set, this allows them a better view of the runner at first base. While the view may be better, it will open up your left shoulder and make for a longer delivery and could cause poor rotation. Strive to be in a good position to pitch from and work on your ability to see the runner by turning your head.

Motion

From the set position, lift your leg to its highest position and make sure to have your back knee flexed, not locked. If you're a right handed pitcher you will want to develop a slide step to help out your catcher in trying to throw out a runner trying to steal. The slide step will require that you don't lift your leg as high before striding. The slide step is difficult to master and younger players shouldn't worry about it.

Slide Step

Here is an example of a very low slide step by Josh Beckett. You can see how quickly he delivers the pitch.

For young pitchers just learning the stretch position, you should try and help them get to the same throwing position at the top of the leg lift that they are in when they windup. This will help them become consistent whether throwing from the stretch or the windup.

As they get comfortable pitching from the stretch then they can begin to lower the leg kick in order to help the catcher out.

Coaching Advice

A balance point that is commonly taught in pitching again causes a problem with pitching from the stretch. With a forward lean, it is much easier for a pitcher to develop a slide step or lower leg kick in order to speed up the delivery. I wouldn't try to get a pitcher to get to be able to develop a slide step like Josh Beckett above. I've included that as an example of what a slide step looks like. Instead I would focus on simply having a pitcher reduce the height of the leg kick while keeping a good balanced and timed delivery. It should not be rushed! Below is an example of a pitcher at the top of the leg kick from the windup and then from the stretch.

 

Left handed pitchers are at an advantage with a runner on first in that a normal leg kick will allow them to go to the plate or to first base. A slide step isn't necessary with a runner on first base.

It's essential to remember that pitching from the stretch doesn't require a different pitching motion. Once you get to the highest point of your leg kick everything should be exactly the same as when you pitch from the windup.

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