In this blog post, I am going to focus on the lead leg when throwing. While arm path and direction are definitely something to not ignore, the lead leg plays a very important role when throwing a baseball, especially pitching.
Why the Front Leg is Important
Think of the front leg as a means of transferring momentum as energy gets built up. This allows for an optimal transfer of energy into the upper body through the throwing process.
The top pitchers in baseball often show similar traits and mechanics. While they each have a unique way to their delivery, most tend to hit similar checkpoints, and one of these checkpoints is a great front leg brace.
Without the front leg bracing and assisting in that energy transfer, where could all the force go?
Shoulder? Elbow? Your back?
All that will depend on the athlete, and their individual body makeup and throwing biomechanics.
How to Work on the Front Leg
The following exercises are some of my “Go To’s” I have used with MLB, MiLB, NCAA, all the way down to youth levels!
1. OVERHEAD MED BALL TOSS
This is a great drill to work on your front leg and knee extending. Watch the videos below to see what not to do, and how to optimally perform the med ball drill with the help of a ramp or wedge. We normally perform 2-4 sets of 3-5 reps on each side.
2. STEP UP JUMPS
This is a great drill to work on your front leg power and force. Start on a box around 12-18 inches based on your height. For reference, the athlete in the video is 6’3″ using a 18″ box.
Drive off your front leg to explode as high as you can. Allow your trail leg to perform a knee drive.
This will help to optimize your timing and production.
I personally like to use the gFlight to measure the athletes jump height. Here’s what we found out about this RHP…1. His left leg was measuring about 11-13″ each jump. 2. His right leg was measuring 7-9″ per jump.
So that lets us know there is a imbalance of power and force.
Getting his right leg caught up will only help his plant lead leg when throwing.
We normally perform 2-4 sets of 3-5 reps on each side.
3. FRONT FOOT ELEVATED LUNGE
This is a great drill to work on your front leg power and force.
Standing on an elevated plate or riser allows the athlete to get near parallel or slightly below parallel in the lunge pattern. The more weight, the more force you must produce to perform the exercise. I typically program 3-5 sets of 4-8 reps on each leg.
4. DUMBBELL STEP UPS
This is a great drill to work on your front leg power and force. This is a very similar leg extension seen in throwers.
We are now adding a weighted component, which will increase strength and power, and should help with force development.
The more weight, the more force you must produce to perform the exercise. I typically program 3-5 sets of 4-8 reps on each leg.
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