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Goodbye Slide Steps

goodbye-slide-stepsMatt Whiteside is the owner of All-Star Performance Baseball Camps and Clinics, and director, pitching instructor, and coach of the St. Louis Gamers. He previously played in the MLB for six years over the course of a seventeen year professional baseball career. Additional educational resources for players, coaches and parents are available at gamersacademy.net.

Preseason Pitching Workout: Week 8

Two tenths of a second. That’s all that separates a thrown-out runner from a stolen second base. The question of how to shave time off of the pitching motion is controversial, but we here at the St. Louis Gamers are huge proponents of what we call the quick move/knee to knee movement.

The goal of this drill is to train pitchers to deliver a quality pitch to the plate, while still being quick enough to give the catcher a chance to throw out a base runner attempting to steal second. For the high school age group, that means delivering the ball to the plate in about 1.25 seconds from the time the front leg begins its movement, to the time the ball arrives in the catcher’s glove, giving that catcher about 2 seconds to deliver the ball back to second base, adding up to roughly 3.3 seconds in total. The fastest runners are going from first to second in 3.5 seconds. Maintaining the quality of the pitch is crucial, as the runner may not run, and your pitcher still needs to deliver a quality pitch.

Have your pitcher get set as if he were pitching from the stretch, feet shoulder width apart, hands in front of his chest, shoulders parallel to the ground, with his weight on his back leg, and the knee slightly bent. The key to this drill is to have the player focus on performing the movement of his lower half faster, which is achieved by sacrificing height from the knee lift.

The pitcher’s left knee (for right handed pitchers) should go straight back to right knee, and act as a timing mechanism to separate the hands and start the push and reach. From there, the mechanics are the same as any other pitch thrown in the stretch. As a coach, I prefer this to a slide step, as it allows pitchers to perform a more natural, familiar movement, while still achieving a full arm swing, and getting the ball to the plate as quickly and accurately as possible.

Quick Move/Knee to Knee