Don’t Let Your Pitching Be A Drag!
First, what is a pitcher’s dragline? When a pitcher rotates after foot strike, the back foot should flex (think shoelaces down) and stay on the ground at least through the release of the baseball. That back toe will literally draw a line in the dirt as it drags, thus creating a “dragline”.
This process is critical to the pitcher’s ability to stabilize their body and keep all his/her energy going directly to home plate, and not drifting to the side. Keeping a pitcher’s energy going directly to home plate will increase the pitcher’s velocity and accuracy while reducing stress from inefficient movements, and therefore injury, to a pitcher’s throwing arm. If the back foot lifts off the ground before the release of the ball, it becomes much easier for the body to drift to the side and then allowing the energy the pitcher has created to go to that side, This will take away the energy that is getting put into the baseball towards home plate.
A pitcher can have a variation of drags. It can be a straight line, or it can curve – even as much as create a semi-circle. In some cases, the pitcher’s toe can come off the ground temporarily. That is fine if it is brief, and the toe gets back down before ball release. Ultimately, you want that back toe to be on the ground, to drag for at least two of the pitcher’s own feet away from the rubber and be centered between the rubber and home plate at release.
While assessing your dragline, the best thing to do is to draw a three-foot straight line in the dirt from the center of the rubber towards the center of home plate. Then go through your pitching delivery. If your back toe ends up a foot to the right of that center line, then you should adjust where you set up on the rubber one foot to the left so that adjustment gets your back foot to be on that center line at release. If your dragline not at least two of your own feet, then it is likely your head is getting over your body too far. You want to keep your head over your center mass of gravity.
Having a good dragline will also help keep your eyes level at release, allowing for your release point to be closer to home plate. This will increase your perceived velocity because you are releasing the ball closer to batter. It will also create more movement on the baseball by generating a higher spin rate.
And mom, if you are getting upset that you have to constantly purchase new cleats because your pitcher is always wearing out the toe of his cleats, I have good news for you! Your pitcher has a great drag line and is on the right track with his pitching mechanics!