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A Thorough Guide (and Ideas) to Drop Down Pitching.

July 25, 2016

 

Preface: This post is very different from others. This offers ideas from many people and some ideas I do not fully agree with. The purpose of this article is to provoke thought.

 

In December of 2014, I was fortunate enough to attend Butch Thompson’s 2nd Annual Drop Down Pitchers Camp in Starkville, Mississippi. Coach Thompson, arguably the best pitching coach in college baseball, did a masterful job of gathering some of baseball’s best minds to instruct, speak and share knowledge. Needless to say, it was the experience of a lifetime. Out of respect for Coach Thompson, I won’t divulge much of his philosophy and pitch sequencing theories, since he is competing in the SEC, yet I would like to share a lot of the ideas and thoughts that were passed around by other great minds such as Chad Bradford, Scott Sullivan, Chris Berry, Chad Girordo and many others. Through my own experiences, research and questions, I have developed my own philosophy of drop down pitching which is evident throughout the articles entirety. I ask that you read this article with an open mind. Many of the ideas proposed are just that-ideas that are geared to provoke thought. Drop down pitching is such a unique craft, and unique to each individual, that there may not be any mechanical or philosophical absolutes. As a drop down pitcher or not, this article will provide you with an eclectic view of dropping down and provide great information regardless of the arm slot that you throw with.

 

Before we dive deeper into the complexity of multiple arm slots and pitching theory, how cool is it that some pitchers can make a living playing big league ball with an average fastball velocity below 80 MPH? An article from 2014 discussed the velocity of drop down pitchers. Thought I'd share this excerpt from Jeff Wilson's piece, "Rowen has topped out at 81 mph this season with an average fastball velocity of 78.3 mph and a whopping 72.6 on his slider. Bradford averaged 79.9 mph and 73.2 mph".

 

Chad Bradford’s Three Key Tips to Remember

  1. STAY BACK (similar to what an old school hitting coach would teach, keep weight on back leg as long as possible). STAY CLOSED AS LONG AS POSSIBLE (it is important to use your glove arm to hide the ball or even sweep through the slot while keeping the shoulders closed. Do not leak front side). THEN EXPLODE TOWARDS THE PLATE!

  2. FLAT GROUND EVERYDAY WITH ALL YOUR PITCHES.

  3. KEEP A STABLE AND SMOOTH HEAD.

 

Posture

 

As you move down the mound, it is a must to maintain consistent posture for a sidewinder. Posture relates directly to the degree of hip hinge. For example, if the hip hinge angle at ball release is 45 degrees, then the goal is to get into that postural position as early as possible. That doesn’t necessarily need to be when you come set, but once the leg-kick starts you should be moving into position and pre-setting your shoulder. Notice, pre-setting your shoulders is a different action for everyone and requires a certain amount of thoracic mobility. Furthermore, for drop down guys who are lower than sidearm (even knuckledraggers), you can maintain a consistent posture while still getting low enough to throw nearly off the ground. You can get lower throughout the delivery while maintaining posture- the key is to avoid “curling the back”/rounding out the lumbar. One way to get lower is to hip hinge and recruit the glutes and hamstrings as you progress down the hill. Another method to is to get full extension on the lower back side (the post leg). Doing so will require a adequate amount of hip internal rotation, hamstring strength at the end range of motion, and adequate dorsiflexion and plantarflexion in the ankle. While achieving full rear hip extension, it is important to keep the majority of your weight on the backside. All energy can be moving toward the plate but keep weight back a