The other day I went to a batting center that included tunnels where pitching lessons were being taught. Over and over I heard the same phrase from the instructor: “drag your back foot!”.
To me that sounded a bit perplexing, and thought perhaps the coach was teaching the change-up. After ten minutes, I realized the coach was using his “drag your back foot” instruction as a means of teaching the fastball.
A few days later I witnessed another pitcher, in another facility, consciously dragging his back foot on all pitches per the instruction of a completely different “pitching coach”.
Now I’m really befuddled.
Perhaps I’ve missed something, but what I have been taught is that you want to do anything BUT drag your back foot if you’re interested in increasing velocity on your fastball. In fact, what you should do on your fastball is push off the rubber with your back foot — much like a sprinter does off the starting blocks — and as a result the back foot should fly up in the air, high over your butt, after the stride foot lands. The back foot pushes, the front foot pulls, and if you get them working in sync, you’ll be using your legs to power the ball (now you know why pitchers do so much running!).
The only time a pitcher would drag his back foot, as mentioned earlier, is on a change-up. If your back foot — or more specifically, your toes — drags along the dirt in front of the rubber as your stride (front) foot lands, then it should help take a few MPH off the change-up. However, that is a pretty advanced technique, and should only be practiced by those who have a very solid understanding and execution of sound pitching mechanics, and whose changeup needs to be just a bit slower.
If I’m missing something with this “drag the back foot thing” — perhaps I’m misinterpreting a newfangled, cutting-edge technique — please let me know in the comments below.