Phase One: Understanding (Cognitive Stage)
Phase One is about developing an UNDERSTANDING of the Key Drivers of a powerful pitching delivery. This is a critical stage of motor learning... It's where all meaningful progress starts.
This is about processing information before you start putting it into action. You'll need to revisit this stage any time you attempt to make a big mechanical change, learn a new pitch, etc.
Phase ONE - Understanding: Here the pitcher is learning all about the Key Drivers of a powerful pitching delivery. There is no one “perfect model” when it comes to pitching mechanics. Every athlete is unique and should be allowed the freedom to develop his own style. That’s why in the 5 Power Move videos you’ll see examples of hard-throwing big league pitchers with different styles. Focus on the things these pitchers do the same (or similar).
Even if a pitcher is beyond this early motor learning phase, it may be necessary to revisit it. At the very least, developing a deeper understanding of powerful pithing mechanics by reviewing the 5 Power Move Videos and Amateur Sample Videos will serve as a guide and inform his continued development.
After developing an understanding and good mental picture of the pitching delivery (and what he might look like and feel like performing it), the pitcher should start the process of feeling his way through these movements.
As with the way Fitts & Posner characterize this phase, movements at this stage tend to be slow and inconsistent. The athlete has to think consciously about the movements as he performs them. Mirror Work and Dry Work should make up a big part of a pitcher’s training in this phase… Why is this important?
There is NO FEAR of failure! This is huge. Let me explain…
Pitchers who are either just learning these movements or attempting to replace old muscle memory will find their movements inconsistent and difficult to control in this early stage. If they immediately move on to throwing live or pitching to a target, their focus will shift solely to being accurate… tough to do when you are thinking consciously about your movements. The FEAR of missing the target will interfere with their movements.
By performing these movements without a ball - doing “dry” work or practicing in front of a mirror - the pitcher can focus consciously on his movements and his delivery without worrying about the RESULT. All of his focus is on HOW he is moving without fear or tension. What does it look like, what does it feel like. Movements will be slower and more deliberate in this stage as the pitcher feels his way through things.
Pitchers can then move on to throwing, but with most of his attention on moving well and less emphasis on hitting his target. Video can be reviewed periodically for feedback and to track his progress.
When To Dive Deep And When To Revisit
Ultimately, deep Phase ONE work is best suited for the off-season where a pitcher can practice more without the demands of in-season competition (where command and throwing strikes is the name of the game).
That said, even during the season, a pitcher can use dry work and mirror work on a regular basis to reinforce good movement patterns. And for many young pitchers where habits are less imbedded, they are already operating in either Phase ONE or TWO, so interfering with their mechanics is less of a concern.
Phase ONE is where a pitcher begins the road to developing a consistent pitching delivery. In Phase TWO things will become smoother, and in Phase THREE the pitcher is largely operating without having to think about his mechanics at all.
From time to time, it will make sense for a pitcher in Phase TWO or THREE to revisit Phase ONE - particularly when coming off a long layoff (injury, etc.) or when a major inefficiency has been identified and needs correcting.
Download The Phase One Introduction (PDF)
Intro Video: Understanding Phase One
The 5 Power Moves (Video Demos)
Watch these videos to gain a deeper understanding of the Key Drivers of a powerful pitching delivery. Remember, it's not about positions here, it's about movements. Ultimately, you don't want to work on these moves completely independently... It's in how they fit together where you'll find the real secrets to a powerful pitching motion.
Power Move #1: The Big Shift (Early Momentum)
Working On "Early Momentum"
Power Move #2: The Backside Power Engager
Working On Engaging The Back Leg
Power Move #3: The Counter-Balance & Loaded Stride
Working On Staying Loaded Late
Power Move #4: The Lower-Half Unwind Into Foot Plant
Power Move #5: The Stabilize & Launch Sequence
Working On Getting Over And Around The Front Leg
Amateur Pitcher Videos
In this section we'll look at sample videos of amateur pitchers, highlighting some common tendencies and issues to look out for.
Lack of Early Weight Shift & Timing (Raising The Arms Early)
Stiff and/or Passive with the Back Leg
Sinking/Collapsing Before Weight Shift
Opening/Unloading the Hips Early in the Stride
Lack of Lower-Half Unwind Into Foot Plant (Blocking Yourself Off)
Lack of Forward Trunk Tilt Into Ball Release (Too Upright)
Soft Landing Leg (Sinking into Landing)
Hips/Center Drifting Towards Home Plate (Loss of Power-Transfer)
Incomplete Weight Transfer (Getting Stuck on the Back Side) and/or Pulling Off/Spinning Out
Before & After Videos
Here we'll look at examples of amateur pitcher before & after videos - comparing their initial analysis video to a video after they've spent some time working on making adjustments in their pitching delivery.
Improved Upper-Half/Lower-Half Timing (and Engaging the Back Leg)
Improved Weight Shift, Drive and Finish
Improved Early Stride and Positive Impact on Arm Action and Finish
Staying Loaded Better While Moving Down The Mound
Mirror Work & Dry Work
Quick Tip: Lower-Half Dry Work
Quick Tip: Upper-Half Mirror Work
Phase ONE Throwing - Drill Work
You'll now see a full selection of throwing drills in the Ballistic Pitching Drills Section
Using Video in Phase ONE
Example Of Using Mobile App For On-the-Spot Video Work
Note: The above video shows how I'll work within the Ubersense mobile app for "on the spot" video when working with a pitcher. It's particularly helpful for letting him see (in near real time) how he's moving, making it easier to make adjustments more quickly.
The actual video is a "screen-capture" from my phone - it will look sharper and crisper when viewing on your phone or mobile device.
Super-Special Surprise BONUS!
There are few people in the pitching world today whose work I respect a much as Lantz Wheeler...
Which is why I'm excited (and honored) that Lantz was generous enough to share this piece of work with YOU as a member of the Motion Mapping Method program.
In it, you'll learn all about the "Butterfly Effect" or how "Everything Affects Everything" in your pitching motion.
It's some of his very best work on the study of High-Level pitching mechanics, and previously the only way to get it was to buy his program. It's fantastic information. Enjoy...
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Send me an email directly at Phil@BetterPitching.com with any issues or questions.