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Proper pitching mechanics, up until 20 years ago or so, was understood to refer to those movements that allowed pitchers to throw as hard as possible, with control and command, while not taking stupid risks. Nobody really talked about injuries, but the assumption was that nobody would teach pitching mechanics that significantly raised the risk of injury.
That would be insane.
That's all changed.
And people refuse to acknowledge, much less discuss, it.
Proper Pitching Mechanics
Due in large part to innovations like Tommy John surgery, the prior view of proper pitching mechanics has changed.
That includes the view held by sports medicine researchers and doctors.
Movements that reduce the risk of elbow and shoulder problems are now labeled as flaws.
Which is crazy.
It's the Timing, Stupid
By Timing, I mean the position of the pitching arm when the shoulders start to rotate.
If you compare the position of the pitching arm of dominant and durable pitchers and frequently-injured pitchers at the start of the rotation of the shoulders, you can see an obvious difference.
The pitching arms of dominant and durable pitchers are UP when their shoulders start to rotate — which is usually at front foot plant — and the pitching arms of frequently-injured pitchers are FLAT when their shoulders start to rotate.
I use the term Flat Arm Syndrome to refer to the tendency for frequently-injured pitchers' arms to be flat at the start of shoulder rotation.
Justin Verlander August 21, 2016
Justin Verlander is probably the best current example of good timing and proper pitching mechanics, and I believe his getting back to his original mechanics helped to explain his success in 2016.
The Tragic Two
The definition of proper pitching mechanics is changing, and I believe Timing problems are becoming more prevalent as a result and due to the proliferation of two cues.
Tommy John Twist
The Tommy John Twist is taught using any number of cues, including...
The idea of pointing the ball toward second base at the power position is advocated by USA Baseball, among others.
I was taught that great pitchers do some variant of pointing the ball at second base. However, when I checked, I found that was not the case.
However, if you look at pictures of pitchers who need Tommy John surgery, they are often pointing the ball at second base at foot plant.
The most problematic cue is one that is, tragically, advocated by the Mayo Clinic as being part of the mechanics of a safer fastball.
It's anything but.
Mayo Clinic Power Position
As I said above, if you look at the pitching mechanics of dominant and durable pitchers like Nolan Ryan, Justin Verlander, and Tom Seaver, their pitching arms are UP when their shoulders start rotating.
What the Mayo Clinic is advocating is something you see in the pitching mechanics of frequently-injured pitchers like Henderson Alvarez.
The obvious contrast between what Henderson Alvarez does (did?) and proper pitching mechanics made his injury problems sadly easy to predict.
Dominant and Durable
Every harder thrower doesn't get hurt.
The history of baseball is full of pitchers who were both Dominant & Durable. That includes pitchers like...
I have spent the past 10 years identifying the differences between dominant and durable pitchers and pitchers who have trouble staying healthy, including...
I believe I have identified the — in my opinion unnecessary — movement patterns that place them at risk.
What are Proper Mechanics?
This is just an overview of my views on proper pitching mechanics.
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