How to Use the Glove Side in Pitching
There have been millions of words (literally) written about the glove side as it pertains to pitching mechanics. I’m not going to add much to that, as I think a simple video and an animated image can say a lot more about how you can use the front side effectively in rotational sports.
Rotational sports are all basically the same when it comes to generating power and speed-strength. High velocities of the distal body part in question (foot for kicking, hands for throwing/swinging) all require effective sequencing of the body’s muscles and limbs (what we call “mechanics”). When you show baseball players examples of pitchers with elite velocities (Tim Lincecum, Roger Clemens, Aroldis Chapman, etc), it’s a good teaching tool for sport-specific uses. However, oftentimes people can get overloaded or get conflicting advice when seeing athletes in the same sport as them. Like the people at the Titleist Performance Institute, I’ve found that generic examples of rotational velocity can help a person understand the simple mechanics of producing high rates of pelvic and shoulder rotational velocity without confusing them with specific details of their sport.
Growing up, I loved tennis. As a baseball player, it came naturally to me, since it’s a rotational sport that requires solid hand-eye coordination and uses the dominant hand in a forehand manner. Unsurprisingly, I had solid first serve speeds (about 100 MPH, which is good for a teenager but nothing special) combined with a terrible backhand. My favorite player growing up was Michael Chang, even though we had wildly different games – he was incredibly fast with a quick forehand and jumping two-hand backhand, and I was pretty slow with a powerful forehand and a laughably bad one-handed backhand.
At any rate, after recently reviewing some video of Chang (source), I realized that he is a perfect example of how rotational athletes use the front side (non-dominant shoulder/arm) to create high rotational velocities. His extremely quick forehand – while below-average in power on the ATP tour – was deceptive due to how “short” his mechanics were to the ball and how long he kept the front side closed, while still using it to create leverage for the dominant hand.
All of this is evident in this quick shot of his forehand:
See how he creates leverage using the front side? Sure, his lower body mechanics are nearly perfect, but those will go to waste unless the front side is adequately “disconnected” from the back side. The front side pulls the back side around in an effective sequencing of body parts to produce an extremely quick, short, and powerful forehand volley.
Think about how this applies to baseball pitchers. I’ll let you do the theorizing.