Minor League Pitching Coach Says Today’s Instruction Is Hogwash

Coach Mills on August 25, 2008 | No Comments

Brent Strom, minor league pitching coordinator of the St. Louis Cardinals, said in a recent article much of today’s pitching instruction such as reaching a balance point, slow down, pulling the glove to the hip or staying back is in his words – Hogwash!

Strom and I totally agree on this one. In fact, much of what he says I have been saying on my website since as early as 2004. Then, in 2007, Dr. Brent Rushall and I discovered what we refer to as Momentum Pitching, where the pitcher steps back toward second base, and does not lift the leg up to balance in order to gain more forward momentum and, thus, more velocity.

The following article was posted on my Member’s Forums by one of our members. He said this:

“I found this article which I think you and the rest of the Members might enjoy reading. Seems like your ideas have been really making a big difference in the way coaches are rethinking pitching. Unfortunately, you are not getting the credit for something you have been stating for years.”

I am glad to see that Strom stepped outside the box, and is the first pitching instructor, to my knowledge at the professional level, who embraces what is in our book, “The Science and Art of Baseball Pitching: The Coach’s Complete Handbook of Scientific Pitching.”

In fact, Strom purchased our book back in 2006, which provides the only source of current evidence based pitching research available today.

The Book Confirms Why Many Pitchers Today Waste Their Time on What Does Not Work

The book confirms why many practice activities today at all levels of baseball do not improve performance, such as long toss in-season, flat ground pitching, weighted balls, towel drills and balance drills, less-than-game-intensity pitching or weight lifting to increase velocity, and more.

What Strom is really saying is something I have been writing about lately, and that is the amount of overcoaching at all levels. Overcoaching by using drills, for example, removes the ability of a pitcher to create more natural movements. Thus, why we are seeing pitchers who move to slow, and are too robotic with their mechanics. This hinders their ability to create and maximize their velocity.

Below are some excerpts from the article. Parents need to pay attention to what Strom is saying. They may want to reconsider who is coaching their son.

Strom says: “The philosophy is we’re trying to bring back what the old-timers used to do before all of us coaches muddied the waters. As weird as that seems, it’s kind of gotten away from us. We utilize modern technology, but we still understand the value of momentum and being athletic when we pitch and creating angles and watching things that may be injurious to the pitcher.”

Strom, Like Me, Has Studied Pitchers from the Past

In past years, as he began studying pitchers and their movements, Strom started paying closer attention to things like motion and momentum.

He began looking at other athletes like shot putters, javelin throwers, discus throwers and tennis players, noticing how they also used momentum, only they weren’t staying back, holding their balance and slowing down, as pitchers had always been told to do.

During a trip to the Dominican Republic, Strom’s eyes were really opened.

Why Small Pitchers Can Throw Harder

“I’d watch these kids who had no instruction, moving correctly, and then I’d see the American kids who had a ton of instruction not moving correctly,” Strom said. “I’d see 5-11, 150-pound Dominicans throwing 94 mph, and 6-5, 230-pound (Americans) throwing 84. I said, ‘There’s something wrong here.'”

Part of Strom’s duties include watching video of the Cardinals’ minor league pitchers. He looks for movement patterns, rather than their body positions.

“Instead of trying to clone and make a guy look a certain way, we deal with rhythm,” Strom said. “We deal with tempo.

“My pitchers laugh at me all the time because I ask them if they know how to dance. If you don’t know how to dance, it’s hard to develop the rhythm.”

Strom visited with the Redbirds’ pitchers during their last homestand. He sat back and observed each pitcher, then offered subtle suggestions to help them out. The fact that he didn’t come in and implement a bunch of changes didn’t go unnoticed by the pitchers.

When studying pitchers outside the Cardinals’ organization, Strom likes to look at small guys like Tim Lincecum of San Francisco or Houston’s Roy Oswalt. “To be a little guy and throw well like they do, you have to be efficient at throwing,” Strom said.

If you would like more information on our Pitching DVD instructional program, where we show you how to help your son move more explosively and more naturally then click on the link below. We guarantee the program will boost your son’s velocity, improve his control while reducing his risk of an arm injury.

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