The Southpaw Advantage: Pick-off Moves

All left-handed pitchers should have a great pick-off move. This may seem obvious, but many lefties don’t make the most of the huge advantage in baseball that life has given them.

A left-handed pitcher with good mechanics should be able to “hang” at his balance point and read the motion of the runner at first base. This stymies the runner because a simple forward step to first rather than the plate means the runner has almost no reaction time if they are in a secondary lead. This eliminates the running game completely, and trims the ERA for savvy lefties.

In addition, most high school and college games use only two umpires, minimizing the risk of being called on a balk if the pitcher crosses the magic 45-degree line. Good lefty pitchers work on shading this to their advantage. A lefty pitcher without a good pick-off move hasn’t worked hard enough on developing their game. If that sounds like you, get with it.

On picks, remember these key elements: short arm, accuracy, window.

Pick-offs require the pitcher to throw like a catcher, getting the ball from the glove to the ear and released as quickly as possible. A long arm swing, as seen during a pitcher’s normal delivery, will not pick anyone off.

With that quickness must also come accuracy, or a single can quickly turn into a triple due to an overthrow. Pitchers should seek to deliver the ball to the first baseman’s “window,” an imaginary rectangle above the first base bag. Remember, a throw at the ankles does as little good as a throw at the eyes. Make it as easy on the first baseman as possible without sacrificing quickness.

Good Luck and Play Ball!

Camwood Speed ‘n Hands Drill #10: Pitch Recognition

Here’s the next training installment for Camwood Training Bats which integrate the overload training weight into a wooden bat right at the hands where it is needed to both reinforce proper mechanics and improve bat speed.

Check it out!

Camwood Speed ‘n Hands Drill #9: Basketball

Here’s the next training installment for Camwood Training Bats which integrate the overload training weight into a wooden bat right at the hands where it is needed to both reinforce proper mechanics and improve bat speed.

Check it out!

Position Yourself For Success

Here’s another DirtDog Pitching tip: If you keep missing your spots, try standing on a different part of the pitcher’s rubber. For instance, instead of starting your delivery from the right side of the rubber, move your feet to the middle or left side of the rubber. Former big leaguer Orel Hershiser used to do this with great success. He said that by constantly moving his feet on the rubber, he could expand the strike zone on hitters while always keeping his mechanics the same.

Good Luck and Play Ball!

Littleton-Harvard Tied for 1st Place

The First Round of the Babe Ruth Minuteman League summer season for 2011 has wrapped up, with Littleton-Harvard tied in first place for Division 1 along with Acton and Westford. See the Round 1 Standings here.

The Divisions will now be realigned based on record which will sort and rebalance the competition. Round 2 starts the week of 7/18/11 and will continue into early August before single-elimination playoffs are scheduled.

Stay Tuned!

Camwood Speed ‘n Hands Drill #8: Focus

Here’s the next training installment for Camwood Training Bats which integrate the overload training weight into a wooden bat right at the hands where it is needed to both reinforce proper mechanics and improve bat speed.

Check it out!

Zen Pitching Tip

Pitching is a mentally-intensive activity, and requiring zen-like concentration is the key to success. As a pitcher you need to “let go” of everything external to yourself and stay centered in your internal Zone.

Control the variables (mechanics, mental, and physical). Concentration is the key to consistent pitching, and nothing snaps concentration faster than a concession to external factors and letting them bother you.

So what if it’s raining, or windy, or hot, or cold, or the mound is too high or too low? Who cares how many men are on base or how many thousands there are in the stands? What’s the difference between a spring training game and game seven of the World Series? Even the inconsistency of the umpire or his squeezing of the strike zone can be handled by focusing on working with what area you learn that he will give you. Don’t fight your circumstances, accept them for what they are and go to work accordingly.

You can only control yourself. That’s it. It’s not an easy skill to learn because it goes against human nature, but once mastered it is possibly more important than any other skill as a pitcher.

Good Luck and Play Ball!