Today, President Barack Obama posted a picture to Facebook of him greasing up the ol’ windmill, practicing his pitching form. At first glance it looks like he has a pretty good pitching motion but we talked to a pitching expert, former pro pitcher and pitching instructor to give “Ba-Rocket” Obama a few pointers.
In addition to the pointers below, our expert has offered a free lesson to the Obama (afterall he’ll have three more Opening Days as the leader of the free world) so if anyone from the Secret Service is reading this and he’d like to take us up on the offer you probably already know how to find us.
Stop Hooking The Ball
One of the first lessons you learn as a pitcher is to point the ball straight back towards second base when you are winding up. As Obama starts his motion towards home plate, he pulls the ball seemingly out of nowhere, with no arm swing and hooks the ball. The proper technique can be see by Matt Cain on the right. He is in the same point of the motion as Obama and the baseball is behind his head aiming at second base whereas Obama has the ball by his waist pointing somewhere in the direction of first base.
Tall and fall
All ball velocity is created from torque of the core and Obama has none. Once a pitcher’s front foot contacts the ground, the pelvis should rotate and the weight should shift. Obama has a good stride and his front foot faces the catcher which are good fundamentals, but he doesn’t do a good job of keeping the weight back. Instead of a powerful hip rotation he just falls forward losing the majority of his power.
High and away
Not that Obama is trying to throw a 100 MPH fastball, but there is vast room for improvement when it comes to accuracy. The majority of his pitches go high and away from righties and this is happening because his shoulders and hips are opening too early. Obama needs to keep his front arm up and shoulder closed (like he is about to throw a punch) instead of having his glove flailing down by his hip. To the same point, when his shoulders fly open this forces his throwing arm to get into throwing position faster than if he stayed closed longer, which results in release of the ball prior to it being out front as it should, thus causing the ball to go high and away.
The President leads with his elbow and forearm which makes it look like he is throwing darts. See the above photo where it looks like his arm is inverted. Obama can improve on this pushing action by keeping his hands outside his elbow when throwing to get more of a whip action on the ball. See Cliff Lee above who does this well.
Lack of follow through
This is a basic pitching fundamental. If Obama keeps his weight back and hip closed, the natural kinetics of the motion will give him a better stride towards home plate and follow through once the ball is released. These is an old saying in baseball called “chin to glove.” You want to drive your chin to the catchers glove, carrying your weight directly toward home resulting in proper follow through, but all that can only happen properly if Obama keeps his front side closed and weight back.
If you look closely Obama’s ball grip is way off (bottom right photo). Rather than sticking with the classic four seam grip (bottom left), he’s just holding the ball with no rhyme or reason. Throwing the ball with the seems will allow for better feel and control. It’s the same principle as Tom Brady using the laces of a football to control his throw.