“Heel, Toe, Go!” Weight Shift Drill for Pitchers

Written By: Nicole Denes

How to Generate Power and Explosiveness off the Mound

One of my favorite things about providing instruction is that there are always several different methods to get the same outcome. When trying to help a pitcher generate power and explosiveness off the mound, I like to focus on loading the hips, activating the glute, and driving forward with the hips and shoulders square off the mound.  

Rachel Garcia of UCLA and the 2020 U.S. Olympic softball team shows us a great example in this video:

What to Look For:

You can see that Garcia's hips and glute are loaded as she drives through the heel of her right foot (drive leg), and the hips move just behind the rubber before she begins her stride.  One easy way to help a young pitcher feel this is my “Heel, Toe, Go” weight shift drill.

Heel, Toe, Go - 1st Progression

Key Takeaways:

  • Starting “like a penguin” with arms to the side, helps the focus of the drill stay on the lower half and shifting weight appropriately.
  • Lifting the back/front leg respectively increases body awareness and helps the pitcher feel all of their weight shift.
  • Incorporating the use of a balance pod can help a pitcher feel their weight press through the heel, and thus, activating the glute.

As the pitcher gets the hang of this, move to the next progression, where we keep both feet on the mound while continuing to feel the weight shift, and incorporating their typical wind-up.

Heel, Toe, Go - 2nd Progression

Key Takeaways:

  • A pitcher’s weight should continue to shift completely to the front leg when the drive is initiated, no weight should be left on the backside or middle.
  • Watch for a “rogue toe” of the drive foot that opens up too early, this will open the hips too early and take away power.  Emphasize the shift from heel to toe to help hips and toe stay straight at the catcher off the mound.
  • Timing with the wind up is key, arm(s) should be moving forward when stride foot begins to move forward.
Nicole Denes, Be Complete Athletics

Nicole Denes is a performance coach and licensed professional therapist in the state of Oklahoma where she works with professional, collegiate and amateur athletes to help them reach their highest potential.  She is a former pitcher for the University of Oklahoma and has been providing professional pitching and softball instruction for 20 years. She founded Be Complete Athletics in Oklahoma City in 2018, a facility that provides elite-level softball instruction and mental skills training in confidence, leadership, and mental game strategies to young athletes.

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