The Baseball Zone Blog

Ryan Armstrong | Mar 1, 2015 7:00:00 AM

The "Inside" Pickoff Move to Second Base

With a runner on second base it is essential to hold the runner close. Holding runners close will serve to decrease the chances of the opposition scoring on a single from second and also serve to give your outfielders a chance to throw them out at the plate if they do indeed attempt to score. If we hold the runner effectively it will decrease the distance they can reach on both primary and secondary lead offs thus making it less likely they score. Holding runners at second can also decrease a runner's jump making it harder for them to steal third base. If they reach do third base, especially with less than two outs, it is much easier for them to eventually score.

At the high school and college/pro levels, runners are coached to be aggressive and to put pressure on the defense. Pitchers must be able to combat aggressive runners by developing the ability to hold them close to the base they are at. This is skill is essential at higher levels as runs are harder to come by, but don't wait until you are there to develop it - get ahead of the game and work on it. One of the most essential moves you can develop to help you in this regard is the "Inside" pickoff move (or simply the "Inside move") to second base. Here is a brief video demonstration and explanation of it:

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Topics: pitching, pitching tips, pitching instruction, pitching skills, pitching advice, pick off moves, controlling the running game, inside move

Ryan Armstrong | Feb 20, 2015 10:05:21 AM

How Pitchers Can Vary Their Looks On the Mound

In the second part of this series on Controlling the Running Game, we talk about varying looks. Varying looks can be thought of as varying your timing to the plate with runners on base, not necessarily how many times you look at a runner, although that can be considered an element as well.

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Topics: pitching, pitching tips, pitching instruction, pitching skills, pitching advice, holding runners, Defense, pitcher's defense, controlling the running game, varying looks

Ryan Armstrong | Feb 12, 2015 6:00:00 AM

The Jump Pivot Pickoff Move to First Base

As players get older and play at higher and higher levels of baseball, keeping runners out of scoring position is even more crucial than at younger ages. This is true because as players get older they typically make less errors and pitchers throw more strikes, thus reducing the number of runs scored. Scoring is at a premium and thus preventing extra bases is as well. One way pitchers can help themselves and their time is by developing an effective pickoff move to first.

Right handed pitchers here in the Greater Toronto Area - and likely just about anywhere they play baseball - typically come equipped with the basic step off the rubber method. This is where the pitcher disengages the rubber with their back foot and throws to first. This is a great move to learn as one's first move as it is relatively safe and simple and every once in a while just might catch a sleepy baserunner off guard. The problem however is at higher levels this move is just not that effective anymore. As the back foot comes off the rubber it provides baserunners with too much time to recognize the pick off. In some cases  pitchers might even step off and not throw as the runner is already back to the bag. This completely defeats the purpose of the pick off, which is to hold the runner close, decreasing their jump and chances of reaching scoring position.

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Topics: pitching instruction, pitching advice, Defense, pickoffs, pick off moves, pitcher's defense, controlling the running game

Rick Johnston | Jun 12, 2014 9:13:00 AM

Scheduled to Start? 19 Tips to Help Pitchers Prepare on Game Day

Winning and losing, it is often said, is decided on non-game days and in the off-season, i.e. how you PREPARE to win will decide whether you win or not. We can also add to this thought that how you prepare to win on game day can also affect your success that day.

In this light, here are some tips for pitchers to help them prepare for their next start. I often see players who really have no idea how to prepare, simply expecting to stroll up to the mound and be successful. It is just not that easy and they usually find that out quickly, wondering what went wrong. Well, it could have been any of a number of little, preventable things that contributed to not being prepared.

These tips may seem simple, and it is hard to argue that they are not, however a failure to follow any of them can lead to interruptions, distractions, and ultimately less than ideal preparation and performance:

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Topics: baseball pregame, pitching, pitching tips, pregame drills, pregame observation, bullpens, pitching advice, long toss, pitching preparation

Ryan Armstrong | May 15, 2014 10:30:00 AM

Baseball Drill of the Week | "Rev Ups"

This week's Pitching Drill of the Week is "Rev Ups"

Rev Ups is a baseball drill we use to promote a strong arm action and connection to the body. We do this by simulating separation from glove, ensuring we start our action from the middle of the body as opposed to having the extremities take control.

When doing the drill we just need to start from simulated foot plant in an athletic position, with our lead elbow pointing to the target and our throwing elbow at shoulder height. We simply rock back and forth keeping the throwing elbow at or below shoulder height and making sure the throwing arm is loose and relaxed and doesn't get too long. When the athlete is ready to throw they want to take a short step to the target, finish with a complete follow through and focus on maintaining connection to the body. Coaching cues would be to watch for the arm getting too long and for the athlete to maintain athleticism through the drill to a full follow through on delivery. Rev Ups can be done at varying intensities.

Check out Coach Army (@tbzarmy) with a demo below

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Topics: baseball drills, pitching, pitching tips, pitching instruction, throwing drills, pitching drills, pitching skills, pitching mechanics, pitching advice, connection drills, connection, arm action drills

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