Over time, I have personally discovered a part of the pitching motion that allows me to lo- cate laterally across the strike zone. Because the majority of our pitches should be low, this mechanical adjustment can potentially help in commanding all of your pitches down in the zone, as well as corner to corner. This is a discovery worth sharing, as it played an immense role in my ability to command locations. It took thousands of reps to create and gain the feel of the mechanism; it may take equal amounts of time for an aspiring commander to achieve it as well. This adjustment may not work for everyone; however, over long periods of time, pitchers under these instructions have understood the concepts and have made positive adjustments improving true command. There is no end all to perfect command mechanics and I make no claims of presenting as much; this is simply what I discovered through my sixteen-year experience in highly competitive pitching. Although I did find what helped trigger my command, having a road map to get there would have helped tremendously on my journey.
Finding a solid starting point can make all the difference in reaching your goal of commanding successfully. The mechanism has everything to do with your front side arm/ and or glove side mechanics. Many pitching coaches, including myself, teach their pitchers to send their front side arm in an upward direction, in front of their body, as they make their approach toward home plate. To be clear, a pitcher at separation can send his glove toward the target, or in an upward direction (slightly diagonal) in front of his body. The upward direction creates a bevy of positive results. For starters, it helps keep your weight back while keeping your front shoulder closed on your approach toward home plate. Secondly, it creates deception as your glove rises in the same window as your release point, hiding the ball. It creates a much tougher task for the hitter to identify your release point. And finally, and most importantly, it can create a mechanism for your release points.
The front side glove arm should move in a downward fashion initially at separation, following your lift leg knee down (see diagram A). When your knee goes down, your front side glove arm should be fully extended (low) before rising. Your front side glove arm should be straight as it rises to its clicking/trigger height. It can bend at follow through. To be clear, your elbow can bend on the driving action downward or across depending on your arm slot.
The leg direction may vary depending on the mechanics of any given pitcher. Should your lead leg not travel back down in front of your body, but rather a more directional line toward home, then the timing of your front glove side arm will need to start the process sooner so you don’t become over-closed. Lower half mechanics can be interchangeable with the pro- cess of the glove heights. The timing of the process of the glove heights may need to vary based on the lower half mechanics. Understanding the route and direction of the front side glove arm is the most essential factor. Implementing the timing factor of the process will take a degree of feel as to create a smooth delivery.
As mentioned, the front side glove arm will be rising in height prior to pulling it through the finish (see diagram B). The particular heights at which the glove “clicks” can build a trigger mechanism that allows you to find and feel for your release point.
At release point, you are reaching toward the target. The trigger point is designed to help you feel further travel, or less travel with glove hand height, resulting in throwing hand following suit (as in farther release = opposite arm side, less far release = arm side fastballs). Regardless, you should always be “reaching” and/or getting extended to any given release point. As reaching signifies that you are truly getting extended through your pitches, which will bring about the best quality in them. The glove route itself will be the same whether the pitch is inside or outside. A pitcher’s ability to feel his glove height trigger slightly higher or lower will allow him to reach farther (opposite arm side) or his glove to travel slightly lower (arm side) (see diagram C). The distinctions in the front-side glove arm heights may or may not be subtly visible to the naked eye; however, this is largely based on the feel of the pitcher when he establishes the trigger point once the glove reaches a certain height that allows his throwing hand to replace his glove through spatial awareness.
Spatial awareness in this setting involves knowing and feeling where your glove arm/ hand is rising to in space (specifically your actual glove hand and glove) and replacing that triggered space with your throwing hand and the ball. Both spatial awareness triggers are occurring diagonally from your head, the glove/glove hand height and your release point with your throwing hand. It is entirely possible to feel the glove hand travel to a height you’ve established and still not reach with your release point following suit (disconnect).
The point of understanding the mechanism is that once you understand the feel and how it works, it can greatly help you understand your bodily movements in your path to achieving a degree of command and will subsequently help you make the proper adjustments pitch to pitch. The front-side glove arm does not need to be a rushed motion. Guiding the front side arm can be a slow methodical process, which creates a much better scenario to al- low for feel. Trusting and gaining confidence in your glove arm/hand trigger points will allow you to let your throwing arm accelerate with more confidence and aggression en route to your intended location.
Aside from understanding the pure concept of the trigger point and the replacement mechanism, the timing of the entire process is important to understand as well. The front- side glove heights should reach its “apex” prior to front foot strike (stride foot) of the ground. Once the glove gets to the height where you feel it “click” then everything follows through (see diagram D).
The front-side glove arm will be close to even/slightly open, allowing for shoulder rotation by foot strike well after the apex trigger point (see video). Your throwing arm and hand replace the glove height spot, which should have been diagonally from your head at trigger/“clicking” point. When learning, the entire process should be done slowly to gain an understanding and feel for the process. When performing these new movements, it is important to really emphasize the heights and points at which your glove hand pass through each time. It’s important to note the front-side arm and glove hand are moving at a much more controlled pace than the throwing arm and hand are. This mechanism can and should be used for all pitch types
Finally, perfection of this concept is up to the mind of the pitcher, as well as vast amounts of repetition. The most important aspect with the entire mechanical adjustment is understanding the initial concept: that the throwing hand replaces the glove hand. Aspects that can vary among pitchers are glove heights/symmetry (dependent on arm slot), mental triggers, and physically visible trigger heights. Perfection of the mechanism will not result in 100% increase in command on day one simply because you understand the concept or feel like you are executing the concept. The concept alone is built to give you the awareness of how to feel for body movements, where you are in space (spatial awareness), and what to feel pitch to pitch so you can make adjustments. The understanding of the movements and feelings of your body in this motion over time can begin improving your command.