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A new spin on training pitchers

September 22, 2003|Jeannine Stein

What's not seen in a pitcher's graceful arc of the arm or the slight flick of the wrist are the hours of work and practice necessary to make a pitch appear to be a combination of art and athleticism. Two longtime pitching coaches have come up with devices to help pitchers perfect their technique.

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Baseball Spin Right Spinner and the Perfect Circle: Cheri Kempf, a private pitching coach in Nashville, found it difficult to teach her students how to get the right spin on a variety of pitches. The problem, Kempf says, was getting them to see the spin on the ball while it was traveling. With the help of a physics professor at Vanderbilt University, she designed the Spinner. The first version was for softball pitchers; a new style is for baseball pitchers. The urethane disk is the same diameter and weight as a baseball, and the shape makes it easier to see the axis of the ball during the spin.

The Perfect Circle is an elastic band that fits around the upper thigh, with a square cotton flap that extends out a few inches. When doing windmill pitches for softball, the arm should touch the flap every time; going too far outside the plane can cause the ball to go askew. "It's a muscle memory device," says Mike Fairchild, a private softball pitching coach in Levittown, Penn., and inventor of the device.

Price: The Baseball Spin Right Spinner, $19.95, is available at www.clubk.com or by calling (800) 664-4887. The Perfect Circle, $24.95, is available at www.theperfectcircle.com, or by calling (215) 949-2008.

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-- Jeannine Stein

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