Have your previous pitching lessons included instruction to stay tall and get your hand up as high as possible during release? This is a common thing coaches teach to pitchers. However, it may not be the most efficient or effective strategy. When talking about release point height, we also need to discuss release distance. Increasing one typically decreases another, so there are tradeoffs. We’ll discuss the differences and the pros and cons.
Should Pitching Lessons Focus on Release Height or Distance?
Now, if you’re reading this you might be looking for a quick answer to the question “should I focus on higher release height or a longer release distance?” The problem is that there isn’t really a quick answer for this question. In some cases, changing either of these may not help you achieve your ideal results. Most pitchers fall into a range for both release height and distance, and trying to achieve extremes of either might be inefficient.
Increasing Height May Not Do As Much as You Think
As we’ve mentioned, a lot of coaches out there like to teach players to maximize release height. The idea behind this is that it will help create more of a downward angle, which may increase the number of groundballs. So, it’s common to hear things like “stay tall,” or “get on top of the ball,” during pitching instruction. However, this common perception may not be rooted in science.
In fact, our research has found that for every extra foot of height, a pitcher only gains one additional degree in downward trajectory. The difference in groundballs between 3.29 degrees and 2.38 degrees to the middle of the strike zone was only 0.51% based on our calculations. So, the difference per foot of release height isn’t very significant.
Another issue with trying to increase release height is that it can create unnatural biomechanics. In order to achieve a higher release point, many pitchers will tilt their spine in an unhealthy way that puts extra stress on the body. So, in many cases, the pitcher sacrifices good posture and balance to achieve a higher release point, which may do more harm than good.
Release Distance Can Increase Perceived Pitching Velocity
A pitcher can also choose to lengthen their release distance by increasing their stride. However, a longer stride will also typically shorten release height. So, it’s important to keep this tradeoff in mind.
A longer release distance does have its advantages. One major one is faster perceived pitching velocity. While the radar gun will still read the same, increasing release distance can make the pitch look faster to the hitter. This can throw them off and may cause them to strike out. From our research, for every extra foot of release distance, the hitter perceives the ball to be three miles per hour faster.
So, maximizing your release distance may offer better results. However, remember that trying to achieve an extreme height or distance may not be the best thing for you. Your pitching instruction should be personalized to you and your mechanics for the best results.
Personalized Pitching Lessons from National Pitching
Looking for coaching that can help you improve health and performance? At National Pitching, we offer a comprehensive program for pitchers. When you attend a lesson or remote coaching session, we personalize our instruction to you. Based on years of coaching experience and scientific research, we’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t based on motion analysis and pitching data. We’re here to teach our program to pitchers of all skill levels. Find a coach near you, sign up for remote coaching, or purchase a membership to our online pitcher training videos today! We have instruction options to suit every situation.