When the back foot drives the back hip away from the pitching rubber towards home plate, the shoulders should display some“tilt”. The tilt of the shoulders is a RESULT from the back hip being driven forward, causing the feet to separate while containing the body’s weight to favor the backside of the delivery. “STAY BACK” is the advice given to every pitcher from little league to the big leagues. Somewhere along our careers we have heard this great advice, some more than others “STAY BACK”!
If I heard the term “stay back” once I heard it a million times, but no one could ever really explain how to “STAY BACK”……. Making matters worse, when we finally accomplished “staying back” RESULTING in the shoulders to tilt, the next piece of advice we would hear is “stay tall” “keep your shoulders level”…..
Will someone make up their mind? Is it, “stay back”? or “stay tall”?
Well to all the coaches, instructors, pitching gurus who never really understood how to teach someone to “stay back” but certainly loved to say it, here it is.
In order to “stay back” the front shoulder must be above the back shoulder creating a tilting effect but understand that this is a result and not an action! The tilting of the shoulders is the “staying back” that all those people have been telling us time our whole career. When you “stay back” there is a tilting effect that is a RESULT of the lower body being driven away from the rubber while the upper body goes for the ride favoring the backside of the delivery. Please understand: IT IS A RESULT AND NOT AN ACTION!!!
On the other hand, if the shoulders were to stay level there is a very good chance that the weight will transfer prematurely on the front leg causing a disconnect and timing issue. To make matters even worse when the shoulders are level and there is no “shoulder tilt” there is a tendency to pick up the throwing arm elbow causing the throwing hand to remain below the elbow. This will be discussed another time.
Below are photos of successful Major League pitchers illustrating how they incorporate some shoulder tilt causing them to “stay back”.
Now lets see where the shoulders become flat or level. The shoulders will become level as the foot plants and the angle of the shoulders are reversed to direct the throwing arm forward. The arm should follow the path created by the shoulders delivering the throwing arm to and through the target lane. The angle of shoulder tilt should directly correlate to the angle of the shoulders at the release point.
Shoulder tilt is maintained as the delivery progresses forward to foot touch. The slope of the tilt will start to level off at foot plant as the shoulders reverse positions, delivering the arm through the angled pathway they created. The photo below is a great illustration of how the shoulder tilt is transformed into shoulder angle. If the angles don’t match then the throwing arm will be exposed to higher levels of stress because the arm is assisting in the rotational phase. The hips, trunk and shoulders must be utilized during the rotational phase. The throwing arm gets involved after the energy is initiated in the back shoulder, igniting the arm.