Since one of the keys to precision is utilizing locations that are constant, a review of the NHPA Pit Specifications is in order. The NHPA permits the “Pit” area to vary. For clarification, when I indicate “Pit” I’m identifying the area containing the stake. The area to either side is the “Approach”. However, they also require that the pitching platform is an area that is 6 feet by 6 feet. That means that no matter how wide the pit is, the outer edges of the left and right approaches are 36″ to the left and right of the stake. This is important if you are confronted with a pit that is only 15-1/2″ from the imaginary stake to the edge of the left or right approach. You must be able to deal with pit width variations.
The geometry of the setup and delivery described in Parts 41-43 is precise relative to all lines and body relationships, however, they are actually independent of either approach. So, it is possible to move the geometry to any location on either approach. If you think of the distant stake as the radius of a larger 30 foot circle you would be able to rotate the entire geometry to either approach. So, it is possible to move the geometry to the left edge of the left approach or the right edge of the right approach. The 3 images below demonstrate how the geometry rests on the approaches when rotated from the distant stake. Even though the foot positions shown on each approach are different, they are still relative to the foot positions of Parts 41-43. Further, the shoulders rotate 13 degrees from the Setup position to the Delivery position in all cases.
Rotation to the Left Edge of the Left Approach (Above) — In this rotation you will note that the left foot on the left edge is almost parallel to the left edge. In addition, the Visual Alignment Point will have moved further to the right. This pitching position presents an angle to the stake as far to the left as possible.
Rotation to the Left Edge of the Right Approach (Above) — In this rotation you will note that the location of the left foot after the stride forward is very close to the left corner of the right approach. In addition, the VAP has moved closer to the stake. The distance to the stake may not always be 18″ from this setup.
Rotation to the Right Edge of the Right Approach (Above) — I consider this location to be the best for the 30 foot flipper for several reasons. First, it’s the most precise location for NHPA spec platforms on the right approach. Secondly, it presents the greatest angle to the stake from any position on the left or right approach. I consider this an advantage for flipping pitchers to reduce bounce back. In addition, the VAP moves very close to the stake. Finally, it is actually possible to look down the Line of Flight from this extreme rightward position. It does require a cocking of the head to the right until you are looking straight down the LOF. Below I’ll describe an aid that verifies that you are actually looking down the Line of Flight.
If you happen to be a pitcher who cannot stride due to leg problems, you can move your left foot to the right corner of the approach and look straight down the LOF. In this case your Visual Alignment Point and Line of Flight are the same. You also have the advantage of completely eliminating the stride, which is sometimes a cause for misses.
If you started with Part 41 you were introduced to the necessary cords and anchors for the Line of Flight and perhaps you added cords for the VAP and/or Visual Stride Direction. I would like to introduce the most important Helping Aid I’ve found….the TAMPER. I place it on various locations of the LOF for checking my on line delivery, my backswing stop point, my VAP, and checking to see that I’m moving directly at the stake. In this case, we’ll be using it to make sure our eyes are directly over the Line of Flight from the right side approach. You can purchase a tamper at most DIY stores for $20 to $30 dollars. I guarantee that it will become your favorite helping aid during practice sessions.
For this use we’ll need a second cord and the tamper. First, connect each end at the anchors now being used for your Line of Flight. You should now have two cords, one on top of the other. Next, position the tamper directly over the Line of Flight cord about 6 feet in front of the pit. Make sure the tamper is straight up and down. Now grab your newly placed cord and rest it on the top of the tamper handle. You should now have two cords one over the other. As you setup on the right approach tilt your head until the top cord is directly over the bottom cord. You are now looking straight down the Line of Flight. In this case your Line of Flight, Visual Stride Direction and Visual Alignment Point are the same. Keep the cords in line and throw the horseshoe directly over the top of the tamper. Nothing beats throwing directly at what you’re looking at. See image below. If you look carefully you’ll see the Line of Flight cord directly under the center of the tamper.