Baseball: Windup & Pickoffs

The Wind-Up

(Pro tip: Scroll down for video tutorials!)

The wind-up is a traditional aspect used in pitching when there are certain situations with runners on the bases. Situations in which the wind-up can be used:

1. No runners on base

2. Bases loaded**

3. Runners second and third**

4. Runner on third** 

** Although you can use the wind-up in all four of these circumstances, most Major League pitchers only use the wind-up in the first situation. The reason for this is due to a suicide squeeze attempt, or if your wind-up is just too slow, then a possible steal to home.

The wind-up itself may seem simple when you watch it, but there are a bunch of small steps inside the wind-up that need to take place. When executed properly, the wind-up can help aid in kinetic energy created, rhythm, and timing in the pitching delivery. We will break down the wind-up by both left-handed pitchers and right-handed pitchers below.

Right-Handed Pitchers

1. Start with a tall, relaxed posture (poor posture can result in poor mechanics later on in the delivery)

2. Keep the elbows relaxed (no chicken wing elbows)

3. Feet should be shoulder width apart in an athletic position

4. Toes are pointed directly to the catcher, or slightly to the right.

5. The first movement in the wind-up starts with the left foot

  • Move the left foot either behind the rubber, to the side, or in between these two areas. 

6. The right foot now pivots and becomes parallel against the rubber

7. The left foot now picks up into the leg kick

Things to note:

  • Your wind-up should have rhythm to it
  • Feel your weight shift from foot to foot
  • Make sure you do not coil the upper body when going into your leg kick

 

Left-Handed Pitchers

1. Start with a tall, relaxed posture (poor posture can result in poor mechanics later on in the delivery)

2. Keep the elbows relaxed (no chicken wing elbows)

3. Feet should be shoulder width apart in an athletic position

4. Toes are pointed directly to the catcher, or slightly to the left.

5. The first movement in the wind-up starts with the right foot

  • Move the right foot either behind the rubber, to the side, or in between these two areas. 

6. The left foot now pivots and becomes parallel against the rubber

7. The right foot now picks up into the leg kick 

Things to note:

  • Your wind-up should have rhythm to it
  • Feel your weight shift from foot to foot
  • Make sure you do not coil the upper body when going into your leg kick

 

Pick-Off Moves

Pick-offs are an essential aspect in the game of baseball to help control the running game as a pitcher and possibly get an out on the base paths. There are three things that come into play: timing, look variation, and the pickoff.

Timing

A pitcher's timing is based on the runner at the given base. Pitchers do not want to pick-off right as the runner is taking his lead. Pitchers should try and pick-off when the runner is trying to increase his lead more than the normal distance. Catching the runner mid-step will make it harder for the runner to get his momentum moving in the other direction to get back to the base. Another tip is to analyze the runners stance and watch to see if you can get the runner to sit back on his heels. A runner will typically sit back on his heels when the pitcher holds the set position for a long time. In doing so, runners lose their athleticism, thus making it harder to get back to the bag. The third tip is to vary how long you hold the baseball until you pitch. Doing this will not allow the runner to time you up on the mound.

Look Variation

Look variation is based on the amount of times you look at the baserunner. If you get in the habit of doing the same number of looks, then the runner is able to time you up and easily steal a base. Simply vary the amount of times you look at the base and remain aware!

The Pick-Off

Pick-offs vary by base and by RHP's and LHP's. We will break down the pick-offs by base, then by throwing hand.

First Base

RHP

LHP

Second Base

LHPs switch the feet used.

Third Base

 


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