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The Pitching Mechanic
March 2007

Real-Time Illustrations and Analyses of
Proper and Improper Pitching Mechanics


The Pitching Mechanic - April 2007



Frame By Frame Analysis: Daisuke Matsuzaka

I have just completed a frame by frame analysis of the pitching motion and mechanics of Daisuke Matsuzaka. Once the document loads, use the page up and page down buttons to go frame by frame through the clip.



Frame By Frame Analysis: Roger Clemens

I have just completed a frame by frame analysis of the pitching motion and mechanics of Roger Clemens. Once the document loads, use the page up and page down buttons to go frame by frame through the clip.



Predictions About The Cardinals' Pitchers For 2007

If I'm going to convince people that I know what I'm talking about, I'm going to have to make some predictions that come true.
     So here goes.
     While my Cardinals are leaving Spring Training with a great team ERA (sub 2.0), I am still concerned about the team's prospects for this year due to what I think is a high level of injury risk among their pitchers.
     As I have said before, I think that Anthony Reyes will be the Cardinals' Mark Prior; a pitcher who shows tremendous promise but who ends up with a series of injury problems. I would not be surprised if Reyes struggles in July or August of this season, and hits a major bump in the road by the end of next season.
     I continue to be concerned about the PAS shoulder of Adam Wainwright. His PAS elbow gets really high, and I am concerned that, ala Jonathan Papelbon, he could start having problems in August.
     While Chris Carpenter has been relatively healthy of late, probably due to increased attention to the conditioning of his shoulder, he still has a problem with habitual rushing. As a result, I think he is at an increased risk of experiencing shoulder problems.
     To finish on an up note, I do like the mechanics of Kip Wells. While I haven't been able to study him in depth, from what I have seen his timing is good and he doesn't make the Inverted W. I also think the Braden Looper has solid mechanics, although I hate how he finishes. If someone hits a ball back at him, he's screwed.



Frame By Frame Analysis: Mariano Rivera

I have just completed a frame by frame analysis of the pitching motion and mechanics of Mariano Rivera. Once the document loads, use the page up and page down buttons to go frame by frame through the clip.

Mariano Rivera

One thing to notice is that Mariano Rivera does not make the Inverted W.



Kerry Wood's Shoulder

Sorry I've been quiet of late. I'm back from vacation and catching up on what I've missed.
     One recent development is that Kerry Wood's shoulder problems have cropped up again. I'm not surprised by this, given that Wood has a serious problem with Rushing. As you can see in the photo sequence below, Wood starts rotating his shoulders before his PAS forearm is vertical and while his PAS elbow is above or at the level of his shoulders.

If I'm right, then in the near future we should hear that Wood has been diagnosed with a Labrum problem (and not just a Rotator Cuff problem).



Teach Your Pitchers To Protect Themselves!

Yesterday, I came across the picture below of Jason Simontacchi pitching and it reminded me of a point I have been meaning to make.

We as pitching coaches have to teach our kids to finish in a position that will allow them to protect themselves. The photo above makes it clear that, if a ball is hit right back at him, Jason Simontacchi is screwed. Notice how his glove is back behind his GS hip. There's no way that he will be able to protect himself.

Contrast this with the above picture of Greg Maddux. He has finished in an athletic position with his glove at his GS pec, ready to protect his head and his sternum. It's not a coincidence that Maddux has won 14 gold gloves.



How To Protect Young Pitchers

I was recently asked to list 3 things that I think would help to protect the arms of young pitchers. I thought y'all would be interested in this list.

1. No tournaments. No fall ball. Never pitch on less than 5 (or better yet 7) days of rest. Limit pitches thrown in an outing (e.g. 10U = 30, 11U = 35, 12U = 40). Teach everybody on the team how to pitch.

2. No curveballs or sliders until 16 or 17. Until then, only fastballs and change-ups. Learn to pronate both fastballs and change-ups (e.g. circle change).

3. Stick with "natural" arm action (what most people do instinctively). Once you break your hands, never take you elbows above the level of your shoulders (e.g. no "Inverted W" or "Making The M"). Do not show the ball to 2B/CF. Do not always keep your fingers one top of the ball. Do not break your hands thumbs down. Instead, after breaking the hands go thumbs up and show the ball to 3B.



Don't Break The Hands Thumbs Down

I'm in the middle of a virtual conversation with a dad whose 10YO son is having a problem with shoulder laxity. I think his son's problems are related to one bad piece of advice; that pitchers should keep their thumbs down as they break their hands.
     I think this is bad advice and can lead to both elbow and shoulder problems.
     What I teach my guys is to go "thumbs up" after they break their hands. This means that they show the ball to 3B as they raise their PAS arms up into the High Cocked position.



Get The Balance Right

Over the past few days, I've come across a couple of people with shoulder impingement injuries that may result from a muscle imbalance. A muscle imbalance means that the muscles in the front of the shoulder are stronger than the muscles in the back of the shoulder.
     You can get a muscle imbalance by just doing bench presses (or push-ups) rather than exercises that work the muscles on both sides of the shoulder. That's like dropping a bigger engine in a car but not upgrading the brakes.
     Poor technique can contribute to the problem. When it comes to bench presses, that means bringing the bar all the way down to the chest. When it comes to push-ups, that means bring the chest all the way down to the floor.
     The right way to do bench presses is to not max out the weight and to not let the elbows go behind the shoulders. The right way to do push-ups is to not bring the chest all the way down to the floor (since that also takes the elbows behind the shoulders).
     Also, it's not a coincidence that, if you read Tom Seaver's book and look at the photos of him doing his work-out, in most cases he has a 3 to 5 pound barbell in his hand. You don't need anything heavier.


The Pitching Mechanic - February 2007

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