Real-Time Illustrations and Analyses of
Improper Pitching Mechanics
The Pitching Mechanic
- September 2006
Curt Schilling: Great Example
of How to Stride
I came across this picture of
Curt Schilling this weekend and think it is a great example of how
First, notice how he is striding
with the side of his foot facing the target (and his toe pointed
at 3B). This enables him to
keep his hips closed as long as possible. Second, notice how low
his foot is to the ground. This keeps his shoulders level and also
keeps his hips closed as long as possible.
Scott Kazmir: What Happened?
Scott Kazmir is another guy whose
mechanics I like who has recently had shoulder problems. As with
Mark Mulder, I'm not entirely sure what is going on, but I also
think that Scott Kazmir's problems could be related to a very
subtle timing flaw.
The photo above suggests a touch of
habitual rushing. Notice how his Glove-Side (or GS) elbow is bent
and his GS foot is planted, both of which are indications that his
shoulders are starting to turn, while his Pitching Arm Side (or
PAS) forearm is not yet vertical. This will increase the rate and
amount with which his PAS upper arm will externally rotate.
The photo above is also interesting. Notice how
far both his PAS and his GS elbows are behind his back. Both of
these things indicate that he is starting to rotate his shoulders.
Having his PAS elbow so far behind his back will also put a lot of
strain on the muscles at the front of his rotator cuff.
Mark Mulder: What Happened?
To be honest, I was surprised by
Mark Mulder's recent shoulder problems. I didn't see them coming.
Part of the reason for this is that, as you can see the photo
below, Mark Mulder keeps his Pitching Arm Side (or PAS) elbow
below his shoulder.
While I'm still not entirely sure what happened,
I think the photo above also provides a clue.
Notice how in this photo Mulder is pulling his
glove-side elbow back and in, and starting to turn his shoulders,
while his forearm is not yet vertical and in the high cocked
position. This will cause his PAS upper arm to externally rotate
especially hard and much. Starting to turn the shoulders early,
which is a habitual form of
rushing, can also cause the pitcher to leave his pitches up in
the zone. I believe that you can see signs of rushing, evidenced
by increased numbers of his and home runs, in the
statistics for his last 6 starts.
Pitching = Throwing (With Less
Margin For Error)
I have said before that I believe
that pitching is just throwing with less margin for error. As
evidence of why I think this is the case, I give you this photo of
Hideki Matsui getting back in shape following his wrist injury.
In the photo above, Hideki Matsui
is doing the same thing that good pitchers do. First, notice that
he strode sideways to the target and is just now rotating his GS
toe to point to the target. Second, notice that his hips are
rotating ahead of his shoulders. Third, notice that his timing is
good and that he is not rushing; his GS foot is just about to
plant and his PAS forearm is almost vertical. This will ensure
that his PAS forearm will be vertical at the moment that his
shoulders start to turn.
Nolan Ryan: As Good As it Gets
If you've followed my work, you
know that I'm a fan of Nolan Ryan. I don't think his longevity was
The photo above illustrates why I
have such a high opinion of his mechanics.
The first thing to notice in this photo is his timing.
Notice how his PAS forearm is nearly vertical while his GS foot
has not yet planted. This means that, when his GS foot plants and
his shoulders start to turn, his forearm will be vertical. This
will decrease the force with which his PAS upper arm will
externally rotate and will reduce the load on his shoulder.
The second thing to notice is how both his elbows are
below the levels of his shoulders (in contrast to Shawn Marcum,
Dontrelle Willis, Mark Prior, Billy Wagner, Anthony Reyes, and
many others). I believe that this also helped to protect his
The third thing to notice is where his palm is facing.
In the above photo, he is showing the ball to 3B or SS, and NOT to
2B or CF as some people say is necessary. I believe that doing
this helped to protect his UCL.
Shawn Marcum: An Accident
Waiting To Happen
In an effort to prove to people
that I know what I'm talking about, when possible I try to make
predictions about what I think about a pitcher's injury history
will be. This week's subject is Shawn Marcum of the Toronto Blue
I'm not thrilled
with what I see in the photo above. As you can see, Shawn Marcum
takes his elbows both above and behind his shoulders (ala Mark
Prior and Anthony Reyes). For this reason, I believe that he is at
an increased risk of having problems with his rotator cuff
(specifically the Subscapularis muscle).
I also don't like the position of Marcum's forearm at
this moment. His glove-side foot is just about to plant, which
will start his shoulder rotating, but his forearm is below the
horizontal. I believe that this will increase the amount and rate
with which his PAS upper arm will externally rotate, which will
place a tremendous amount of stress on his shoulder.
Dontrelle Willis: Shoulder
As long as I'm talking about guys
that I think are at a higher than average risk of having shoulder
problems, let me mention Dontrelle Willis.
I have seen a lot of photos of
Dontrelle Willis and in many of them he is also taking his elbows
both above and behind his shoulders. I believe that this may
create problems for him over the next few years.
As long as I'm talking about Dontrelle Willis, I should
also mention that I wonder if he could end up pulling a Tiger
Woods; being great for a few years and then struggling. The
problem is that his motion and mechanics are so violent (not to
mention strange) that I think they could be more vulnerable to
breaking down. I wouldn't be surprised if at some point Dontrelle
Willis, like Tiger Woods, had to rebuild his mechanics so that
they are easier for his aging body to consistently repeat.
Danny Haren: The One That Got
I wasn't that into pitching when
Danny Haren was pitching for my Cardinals, so I wasn't that upset
when they traded him to the A's. However, pretty much every time I
see a picture of Haren now, I think about what might have been.
The above photo is a
great example of what I think are Danny Haren's very solid
pitching mechanics. Some things to notice are...
- How far his hips are rotating ahead of his shoulders.
- How his glove-side knee is flexed (not locked).
- How his eyes are locked on the target.
- How the palm of his PAS hand is facing 3B (and not CF or 2B).
I think that any
young pitcher would be well-served by emulating Danny Haren's
Pitching Mechanic - July 2006