Here we have (Group A) statistically the best pitchers of the last 25 years.
The theme that runs through these pitchers careers is health, longevity, and success.
Look at where their strides are… ALL in line with home plate.
Take a look at group B.
The theme that runs through their careers is injury, moderate success and wasted potential.
What can we learn from the images?
The pitcher’s direction of the stride should be as close to inline with home plate as it can.
There’s been much discussion whether a pitcher can stride closed or not.
Years back, pitching coaches started teaching pitchers to reverse rotate, and that means they turn towards second base as they lift their leg. Teahces like “show the number” or “show the pocket” to home plate in an effort to generate rotation and momentum became popular.
The problem is that when you lift then turn back and to the right (RHP) , you then have to go forward and to the left (equal and opposite reaction). Both ‘back and to the right’ and ‘forward and to the left’ are not directed towards home plate. When a pitcher rotates back and to the right as he begins to go down the mound, he’s got about one second from this first movement to get the front foot on the ground. There’s just not enough time or strength to be able to bring that stride back in line with home plate as he moves down a hill. So because of the reverse rotation, the pitcher ends up with a closed stride.
There’s a couple things that can really hurt a pitcher with a closed stride.:
#1: You’re going to lose real velocity.
A pitcher with a closed stride is not going to be able to properly and adequately separate his hips and shoulders ( hip/shoulder separation or torque). When he can’t rotate his hips fully, he’s essentially shutting down a portion of the power from his lower half. That’s means that energy will not transfer and flow out to the upper half of the body. This also means that the upper half is going to have to work harder. In addition to the subsequent loss of velocity, you’re also increasing the risk of injury.
#2: You’ll Lose Visual Velocity
A pitcher with a closed stride will have a release point that is further back from home plate. A ball that is further back from home plate will give the hitter a longer look at the ball and your ball will appear slower. But not only that, all of your breaking pitches… your cutters, your curveballs, your change-ups, your sliders, your sinkers… will all move further back from the hitter, when we want the exact opposite…
We want all that movement to happen late.
We want the hitter to have a short look at the ball,
There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that a pitcher’s stride direction should be directly in line with home plate.
Don’t take my word for it. Take a look at the statistics, health and career length of group A vs. Group B.