Glove and Bat

Mastering the Set Position: Benefits Foot Positions and Penalties

Pitching is an essential element of the game of baseball. It is the technique that the pitcher uses to throw the ball towards the batter with the intent of striking them out or forcing them to hit the ball in such a way that they are caught out by the fielders.

In professional baseball, there are two primary pitching deliveries that are recognized and permitted by the rules of the game: the windup and the set position. In this article, we will explore the technicalities surrounding these pitching deliveries, including their advantages and disadvantages, the foot positions, penalties for illegal pitching, and much more.

Windup and Set Position:

The windup and set position are the two pitching deliveries permitted by the rules of baseball. The windup is a pitching delivery that involves the pitcher lifting their front leg and raising their rear leg in a backward motion before driving forward and releasing the ball.

On the other hand, the set position is a pitching delivery where the pitcher comes to a stop with one foot on the pitching rubber and the other foot just in front of it. The delivery is often quicker than the windup because the motion is shorter, and there is less movement involved.

Advantages of Set Position:

The set position is advantageous for some pitchers, especially when there are runners on base. It offers a quicker delivery because there is less motion involved.

This quick release allows the pitcher to throw the ball to a particular area with greater speed, making it harder for the batter to hit the ball. The set position also gives the pitcher a better opportunity to pick off any runners who are attempting to steal a base.

Penalty for Illegal Pitching:

Sometimes, a pitcher may use an illegal pitching technique, such as the Balk or illegal pitch. The Balk is called when the pitcher makes an illegal move or movement in an attempt to deceive the baserunners.

An illegal pitch occurs when the pitcher does not comply with the rules which govern pitching motions, which include the use of both feet on the pitching rubber. The penalty for either an illegal pitch or Balk is an automatic ball for the batter, progression of any runners on base, and an official warning to the pitcher.

Set Position Definition:

To use the set position, the pitcher must rest one of their feet on the pitching rubber with the other foot just in front of the rubber, known as the back foot. The pitching rubber is a rectangular slab of rubber that is placed on the pitcher’s mound.

The position of the back foot is determined by whether the pitcher is left or right-handed. A right-handed pitcher will have their back foot closer to the first base while a left-handed pitcher will have their back foot closer to the third base.

The pitcher will then take a short step forward with the front foot, often with a reduced leg kick, to pitch the ball.

Foot Position and Orientation:

The back foot of the pitcher is placed on the rubber as it provides a stable platform and prevents the pitcher from stepping too far forward.

The pitcher’s foot may be turned inward or outward based on their preference, but neither is a requirement. A right-handed pitcher will often have their body facing the third base, while a left-handed pitcher’s body will face the first base.

The pitcher’s throwing arm would then move across their body when they pitch the ball. Shorter Pitching Motion:

The set position has a shorter pitching motion in comparison to the windup.

The reduced leg kick in the set position means that the pitcher is using less of their body, making their delivery quicker. This speed can catch a batter off-guard, making it harder for them to hit the ball.

The shorter motion also makes pick-off throws more accurate and quicker.

In conclusion, understanding the differences between the windup and set position, along with their advantages and disadvantages, is crucial in improving a pitcher’s performance.

It is also important to know the penalties for illegal pitching, as they can affect the game’s outcome. By mastering the set position, pitchers can throw the ball more accurately and quicker, giving them an advantage over the opposition.

3) Penalty for Windup or Illegal Pitching:

While the windup and set position are both legal pitching deliveries, they each come with specific advantages and disadvantages. A windup pitching technique gives pitchers the ability to aim for more power in their pitch, which can be advantageous in certain situations.

However, on the downside, the windup technique may take longer to execute compared to the set position, making it disadvantageous in situations when there are runners on base.

On the other hand, an illegal pitch or a balk results in a penalty being given to the pitcher.

A balk occurs when a pitcher makes a movement that is intended to deceive baserunners or fails to come to a complete stop during their pick-off motion, while an illegal pitch happens when a pitcher violates certain rules or fails to follow the pitching guidelines. These types of pitches can result in an automatic base advance for the runner or the award of a ball to the batter.

Examples of Legal and Illegal Pitching:

Some examples of legal pitching often involve a pitcher entering the set position with their front foot on the rubber and their back foot on the ground, touching or being behind the pitching plate. However, if the pitcher has their front foot off the rubber when they start their pitching motion or during their pitch, this would be considered an illegal pitch.

Similarly, if the pitcher is found to be not following the restrictions on motion or not adhering to the pick-off rules, then such a pitch would result in a balk. It is, therefore, important for pitchers to be mindful of the different rules and regulations surrounding pitching techniques during the game.

Balk as Penalty:

A balk is a penalty that is given to pitchers who use illegal pitching techniques during the game. This penalty often occurs when a pitcher attempts a pick-off move and fails to stop all motion before releasing the ball, or when they have made specific movements that are intended to deceive the baserunner.

The main consequence of a balk penalty is that the baserunner is awarded a base; all other runners on base are also awarded a base. 4) History of Set Position:

The evolution of pitching motion throughout the years has played a significant role in the development and effectiveness of the set position.

Previously, pitchers would often use the windup pitching style, which typically involved a more extended pitching motion that allowed the batter to read any pitching cues accurately. This technique created an opportunity for the runners on base to steal bases, too.

The set position was then developed to address these shortcomings in pitching techniques. By keeping one foot on the rubber and the other foot in front, the pitcher could use shorter and more concise movements while also having a better view of runners on base.

The quicker motion of the set position allowed the pitcher to focus on pick-offs, preventing runners from advancing, and minimizing stolen bases.

Advantages for Pitchers:

The set position continues to be an advantageous technique for pitchers to this day.

In addition to its primary function of preventing runners from stealing bases, it also allows for more precise and faster pitching motions, which helps pitchers gain an advantage over batters. Furthermore, the set position enables pitchers to execute pick-off moves and prevent runners from moving to the next base.

Traditional Aspect of Baseball:

The set position has also become a traditional aspect of the game and forms an integral part of baseball history. The term ‘stretch’ is often used to refer to the set position and is commonly heard by baseball fans across the world.

While the windup was the dominant pitching style for many years, the set position has grown in popularity and is now recognized as a crucial aspect of modern-day baseball. In conclusion, the windup and set position are two primary pitching deliveries accepted under the rules of baseball.

While they each possess unique advantages and disadvantages, mastering these techniques can improve a pitcher’s performance. Illegal pitching techniques such as the balk can result in penalties for the pitcher, while the set position remains a traditional aspect of baseball, addressing previous inefficiencies in pitching techniques and allowing for more precise and faster pitching motions.

In summary, understanding windup and set position pitching deliveries, their advantages and disadvantages, foot positions, and penalties for illegal pitching, is crucial in improving a pitcher’s performance. The set position remains a traditional aspect of baseball, improving pitching efficiency, offering more precise and faster pitching motions, and minimizing stolen bases.

Always follow the rules and regulations surrounding pitching techniques to avoid penalties. Pitchers must know the different techniques and their advantages to choose which pitch is best to use in certain situations.


1. What is the difference between windup and set position pitching deliveries?

Ans: The windup involves lifting the front leg while the set position involves coming to a complete stop with one foot on the pitching rubber and the other foot just in front of it. 2.

What is the penalty for illegal pitching? Ans: A ball is awarded to the batter, and the runners on base advance one base.

3. What is the primary advantage of the set position?

Ans: It offers a quicker delivery, giving the batter less time to react, and allows pitchers to execute pick-offs more efficiently. 4.

Why is it important to follow the rules and regulations surrounding pitching techniques? Ans: Failing to follow the rules could result in a penalty, which can affect the game’s outcome.

5. What is the “stretch” in baseball, and what is its significance?

Ans: The stretch is a term used to refer to the set position, which addresses the inefficiencies of pitching techniques and minimizes stolen bases, making it a traditional aspect of baseball.

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