The Inverted W
The Inverted W is a term I use to refer to one of a
family of problematic pitching arm actions, including...
Recent studies have found...
Pitchers who make the Inverted W, and
who have a
Timing problem as a result, are at a significantly higher
risk of experiencing shoulder and elbow
In the Inverted W, the pitcher lifts their elbows to the point
where they are at, or even above, the level of their shoulders.
Biomechanically speaking, that means bilateral hyperabduction
and internal rotation of both arms. However, what the pitching arm
does is more important.
The Inverted W
I initially referred to the Inverted W as
but changed the term I used to refer to this pitching arm action upon
realizing that people were talking about and advocating it as the Inverted W.
Timing: The Core Problem
The Inverted W, and many other problematic pitching arm actions, often
leads to a problem called
Flat Arm Syndrome, which is another, easier-to-visualize way of
Timing problem that is the root cause of the injury
problems of a number of pitchers, including...
As I explained in late 2007 in my
of Mark Prior's pitching mechanics, and more recently in my
analysis of Stephen Strasburg's pitching mechanics...
The Inverted W isn't (necessarily)
a problem in and of itself.
Rather, the Inverted W contributes
to injuries in pitchers by creating a
timing problem, and
timing problems are what tend to hurt pitchers' arms.
The Inverted W increases the likelihood that a
pitcher's arm will not be in the proper position when their
front foot plants and their shoulders
start to rotate. That will increase the load on the elbow and the
shoulder, providing a short-term velocity boost but, in the long
run, significantly increasing the risk of injury to the pitching
In the picture above of Anthony Reyes, the primary problem
isn't the height of his elbows. Rather, the problem is that
Anthony Reyes' forearms are pointing downward at the
moment his front foot plants and his shoulders start rotating. That will cause his pitching
arm to externally rotate (flip over backwards) with much more
force than his body can handle.
Justin Verlander and Anthony Reyes c. 2006
If you compare the arm actions of Justin Verlander and Anthony
Reyes, it's obvious why Justin Verlander is still pitching and
Anthony Reyes isn't. As I discuss at length in my piece on
Flat Arm Syndrome, at foot plant Justin Verlander's pitching
arm is UP while Anthony Reyes' pitching arm is at best FLAT.
Anthony Reyes' pitching mechanics
-- his Inverted W and resulting
Timing problem -- are why he only pitched in
the major leagues for a few years before breaking down for good.
a result of the recent discussion about the baseball
pitcher injury epidemic, I have put together a webbook
The Epidemic that gives my view of what is
happening, why, and what coaches, parents, and
physicians can do about it.
The idea that the Inverted W is problematic is controversial,
and I have addressed some of the objections to the theory...
Recently, a number of studies have been completed that are
relevant to the Inverted W in particular and Timing problems in
general. I discuss them on my piece on
The Science Behind The Epidemic.
If you are interested in helping to fund this project, I have
put together a page for