I can give you many reasons why you would want a Three Piece Tee Pitching Plank in your arsenal, but for starters I’ll name three. Oklahoma, LSU, Mississippi St. All three of these programs are currently using these planks in their bullpens. Those are teams that are continuously putting out some of the best pitchers in the country. If they’re using the Three Piece Tee’s Pitching Plank to get their pitchers optimal balance, then we should ALL pay attention!
Balance is of KEY importance in pitching! Without proper balance a pitcher is going to struggle. In the past we’ve used balance beams to work with our pitchers on their balance, but found many flaws with the beam. Even though it’s low to the ground, pitchers felt it was too narrow, and sometimes too slick for landing. Thus, they would move timidly when on the beam. That’s the opposite of what we want to teach our pitchers to do, even if they did have better balance while on the beam, they struggle to recreate that balance at full-speed.
When we discovered the Three Piece Tee Pitching Plank at the 2016 NFCA Convention we were really excited, because it solved many of our problems with the traditional balance beam!
Pitching Plank to Create Balance
Just like balance beams, the pitching plank was created to encourage pitchers to stay on their power line when pitching. One common problem pitchers face is falling off their power line at the end of their pitch. This causes the pitcher to lose both speed and accuracy, and can be quite challenging to fix. With the pitching plank, the problem is solved. I tell my students there are two rules when they’re on the plank:
- Stay on the plank. (Seems simple enough ;-))
- Finish with power leg behind your stride leg.
Look at the video below to see a before and after of a pitcher’s balance on the pitching plank.
Another balance problem that pitchers may experience is stepping too far away from or too far across the power line. Using a pitching plank helps the pitcher learn where her stride foot should land each and every time. You can also align the plank for inside and outside pitches when adjusting stride slightly for those locations.
Pitching Planks Make Pitchers More Aggressive Than Balance Beams
As stated above, one of the problems with a balance beam is that pitchers tend to hold back when they’re working on it. Pitchers need to be aggressive so they can learn to control their bodies pitching at full speed. If they hold back on the beam, they may not be able to transfer the good mechanics learned on the beam to their actual pitch, and may actually teach themselves to move slower. NOT GOOD. The pitching plank allows pitchers to improve their balance and still throw with power.
Why do we see this difference on the plank? One reason is the pitching plank is wider than a typical balance beam. It is a full 12″ wide, so in most cases, a pitcher’s entire foot will fit comfortably on the plank. This alleviates worry of falling off to the side. It’s approximately 9 ft in length when put together, which allows for pitchers to stride their regular distance without fear. Another reason pitchers are more aggressive on the plank is because of the turf that covers the surface. They feel comfortable landing solidly on the plank without worry that their foot will slip (which can happen on a wooden beam).
The turf is also great for working on a proper drag because the pitcher can feel the turf beneath her foot. If you have a pitcher that leaps, or drags too far too the side, the plank is very helpful in getting her to feel her foot drag straight down the power line.
Planks for Movement Pitches
Intermediate and advanced pitchers throwing multiple pitches should use the plank for their movement pitches. Changeups are exceptionally important to throw on the beam. If a pitcher has balance issues on her fastball, most likely they will be even more prevalent in her changeup. Below is a video of a very aggressive pitcher throwing all of her pitches on the plank. She does this without hesitation or worry and maintains a long stride.
Notice the way she walks back on the beam to her starting point between each pitch. This helps prevent her from drifting off the power line at the end of each pitch to retrieve the ball and return to the pitcher’s mound. The more time she spends on the plank, the better her overall balance.
Most beams are big and bulky and difficult to move around. I remember watching Jackie Traina from Alabama warming up on one at the WCWS several years ago and thinking to myself, “That’s cool, but how did they lug that thing around with them?” The pitching plank, however, is conveniently portable. In fact, that was the mission of Three Piece Tee when they created their patented technology. They wanted to make something that could develop a player’s balance, yet be easily transported. It’s made of three interlocking pieces, each one 1 ft wide by 3 ft long, and each piece weighs less than 10 lbs. Because it can be broken down so easily, it can be stowed away, or toted around in the trunk of just about any vehicle…great for taking to practices and tournaments.
The Power of Balance
Regardless of the method you use to achieve it, balance is a priority in developing a great pitcher. Some of our students have even taken up Yoga to help improve their balance. The Three Piece Tee Pitching Plank is a terrific tool for pitchers from newbie to college level pitchers. Something tells me that the elite group of three colleges mentioned in the beginning of this article, will soon be growing. Will you be one of them?
If you’d like to us to evaluate your pitcher’s balance, or any other aspects of her pitching motion, please check out our contact page ! Out of town? No problem! Check out our page for out of town students here. Visit our online store to see all of our pitching tools and products. For more videos with tips and drills, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and/or join our mailing list (green button below).