If you want to be a pitcher, the one thing all coaches will urge you to do is practice your mechanics. Practicing your pitching mechanics always sounds like a great idea, but one issue players run into is that they can only practice throwing a baseball so many times before they wear out their arm. The good news for pitchers is there is a pitching towel drill that can help with mechanics and not wear down their arm. How do you do the towel drill for baseball?
The towel drill is performed by following a normal pitching routine, but using a towel instead of a baseball. Pitchers begin the towel drill by wrapping a towel around their throwing hand, going through their normal pitching motion, and whipping the towel when they reach their release point.
The towel drill is an excellent drill for aspiring pitchers to practice their delivery and there are some fun variations to help those aspiring pitchers succeed.
- How To Do the Towel Drill: A Step-By-Step Guide
- Common Variations of the Pitching Towel Drill
- What Does the Baseball Towel Drill Do?
- How Often Should You Do the Towel Drill?
- How to Make a Pitching Towel
How To Do the Towel Drill: A Step-By-Step Guide
The baseball towel drill is excellent for warmups, but it’s also a great solution for those who are wondering how to practice pitching at home. Let’s look at how to do the towel drill, step-by-step.
Step 1: Wrap a Hand Towel Around Your Fingers
There’s nothing fancy about how players should wrap a towel around their hand, but the first thing most people wonder is how you hold a towel for a towel drill.
Players should wrap their towel around their four fingers and use their thumb to keep the towel from slipping. The player’s hand should be in the shape of a fist to firmly hold the towel in place.
You should be able to whip the towel in a downward motion while never letting go of the towel.
Step 2: Start From the Windup Or the Stretch
Depending on what part of your mechanics you are focusing on, you can take your starting position from either the windup or the stretch.
If you feel like there is something off with how you approach hitters from the stretch, then start from the stretch. If you’re using the towel drill to warm up, most pitchers will start from the windup. It’s completely up to you.
Step 3: Focus On Your Mechanics
The main focus of the pitching towel drill is to focus on your mechanics.
Because you’re not throwing an actual baseball, you’re not worried about the speed of your pitch. Focus on specific parts of your mechanics like balance, speed of delivery, your release point, and how far your plant foot lands.
Every pitcher is different so if there is some other part of your mechanics that needs work then you should work on that.
Step 4: Whip the Towel When You Get to Your Release Point
An important step that gets overlooked during the towel drill is focusing on your release point and whipping the towel.
To do this correctly, imagine home plate in front of you and you’re looking to throw a strike. As you’re going through your pitching motion you’ll naturally feel where you should release the ball to throw a strike – that is where you’ll whip the towel toward the ground.
Your towel should make contact with the ground. If your towel is not hitting the ground then you know you are not bending over enough when pitching.
Step 5: Hit Your Back With the Towel (Follow Through)
Another overlooked aspect of the towel drill is following through.
However, the follow-through motion with the towel drill is quite easy – simply hit your back with the towel.
If the towel does not make contact with your back then you know you’ll need to focus on following through.
Common Variations of the Pitching Towel Drill
What we’ve covered so far are the basics around the towel drill. Once you’ve understood the basics of the towel drill you can try out some of these different variations.
Use Flat Ground Instead of a Mound
Not every towel drill needs to be performed from a pitching mound. It’s very common for pitchers to practice the towel drill on flat ground.
I’m also a fan of drills that don’t cost a lot of money and it’s hard to beat the cost of the towel drill when you’re using flat ground and a simple hand towel.
Place an Object in Front of You and Hit it With the Towel
Most pitchers like to hit a 5-gallon bucket of baseballs or a chair when they are whipping their towel during the towel drill.
To perform this correctly, place the object about a foot in front of your landing spot and then increase the distance once you are able to push off the mound further. The objective is to make a lot of noise by going through your pitching motion and then whipping the towel as hard as you can onto the object.
Place an Object Where Your Release Point Should Be
Some pitchers will want to make sure they’re accurately hitting their release point while performing the towel drill.
If you’re worried about your release point, try placing an object where your release point should be and make sure you hit that object with the towel.
You could use the back of a larger chair, an L-screen, or even ask a friend to hold their hand out so you have something to aim for with your towel.
Really, anything that is roughly shoulder-height will be a great object to place just off to the side of your stride. You just need something to aim for that is at the same place as your release point.
Add a Small Weight in Your Glove For Balance Training
A simple, two-pound weight in your glove can do wonders for you with the towel drill. The purpose of the small weight is not for any type of strength training, but to give you feedback when you are off-balance.
When there is a two-pound weight in your glove and your pitching motion is good, you should not notice the additional weight. But if you end up being slightly off-balance during your pitching motion your glove will feel pretty heavy and you will instantly know that your balance was off.
This additional weight added to your glove during the towel drill is a great way to get that immediate feedback on how well your pitching mechanics were during that pitch.
What Does the Baseball Towel Drill Do?
The baseball towel drill is a total-body mechanics drill that allows pitchers to work on every aspect of their pitching motion. The towel drill allows pitchers to work on their mechanics without worrying about overworking their pitching arm.
A lot of other pitching drills focus on certain aspects of a pitcher’s motion, but the towel drill forces pitchers to go through their entire delivery. And as a bonus, no pitches are actually being thrown so there is less wear and tear on the arm.
How Often Should You Do the Towel Drill?
It is extremely common for pitchers to use the baseball towel drill to warm up. Pitchers use this pitching drill to warm up before a game and before a bullpen session.
For example, I used the towel drill in the video below for about 5 minutes as a way to warm up before my bullpen session with Coach Ford from Coach Built Tough.
In addition to warming up, pitchers can also use the towel drill whenever they feel like something is off with their mechanics. They’ll keep practicing until they feel like they’ve fine-tuned their issue.
It’s difficult to put a specific amount of time around how often a pitcher needs to perform the towel drill. So as a general rule, use it to warm up and whenever you feel like fine-tuning your pitching mechanics.
How to Make a Pitching Towel
Most towels pitchers use when performing the towel drill are old kitchen towels or old hand towels they already had laying around the house.
A pitching towel should be made from cotton and roughly 14 inches wide by 20 inches in length. As a general rule, a bath towel is too large and a washcloth is too small for the pitching towel drill.
The best pitching towels tend to be old, worn-out towels. Kitchen towels and gym towels will do the trick.