One of the most common problems I see in pitchers while going about their bullpens, throwing program, etc. is the inability to find the true root of what they feel when throws feel “different” in a negative way. After a poor throw or pitch, I will see pitchers do a simple, dry, recap of what they “felt” was wrong. Nearly 100% of the time they will shadow this wrong-doing by simulating some movement with their upper half, usually something with their glove side or throwing arm.
The problem here is that the “bad” feeling they just felt with their upper half is, most of the time, spot on…But, it most likely was the byproduct of an improper movement stemming from their lower half, aka the “root” of the problem. Pitchers, especially at the college and professional level, have made quality pitches thousands and thousands of times… They know how their arms are supposed to work, it is second nature. So, for a player to shadow or do a dry rep of some kind of “reminder” with their arm or glove side after a poor throw is due to an inability to recognize where the problem is stemming from. Every throw made, your glove side and arm are working in the rhythm that has produced thousands of good throws over the course of years. When you throw, say, 20 pitches or throws during catch, it’s not like you consciously did something on the 18 good throws that you didn’t do on the 2 bad ones..But, instead, what was the rest of your body, from your head down, doing that caused your glove side or arm side to be “out of whack”?
For example, one that I see most commonly is a post-throw, dry rep, of a pitcher “reminding” himself to get his front side cleared so he can give himself the “freedom” to locate throws/pitches where he wants. Well, chances are that plenty of the other throws he is making are quality pitches/throws without having to think about clearing his front-side… But, the ROOT of the problem to this example stems from the lower half. If you are in a “hurry” to push, laterally, to your catcher/throwing partner, you will hit ‘foot strike’ prematurely, aka not giving your glove side and arm enough time to “work” to the proper position. When your front foot lands in the throwing process, its telling your body “I’ve got to god rid of this ball.” When have you ever seen a pitcher land and then take an extra second to continue working his arms so that it can get to the proper placement? Never. Therefore, when you hit foot strike and it’s “go-time”, if you prematurely reach that position, you have not given your glove side and arm enough time to reach the point where good throws/pitches happen… You will block yourself off with your gloveside and simultaneously feel “late” with your throwing arm.
So, take the time to try to identify the true root of what is happening on good versus bad throws. Just like many ailments or mild injuries, it is rarely the case that where you’re feeling the pain is the actual source of the problem, this is termed as ‘referred pain’ in the medical world. Same goes for throwing/pitching.