Pitching mechanics instruction is broken.
It increasingly ignores what the best pitchers --
pitchers like Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Mariano Rivera, Justin
Verlander, and David Price -- actually do.
Pile on top of that rising levels of risk-taking
encouraged by the (mis)perception that procedures like Tommy
John surgery are completely safe and effective, and may even boost a
pitcher's performance, and you have
The Difference is Easy to See
The difference in how dominant and durable pitchers and
modern, hard-throwing but far more injury-prone pitchers move is
visible to the naked eye. While
dominant and durable pitchers have exceptional
Timing and consistently get to the
Ready Position, modern pitchers increasingly exhibit problems
Flat Arm Syndrome and
Harvey, Seaver, Fernandez, and Ryan
Click to Enlarge
These differences explain why
Matt Harvey and
Jose Fernandez quickly experienced injury problems early on in
their professional careers while Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan were equally dominant
and far more durable.
The Root Cause
The root cause of the problem is that...
- The definition of
proper pitching mechanics has changed.
- How pitching
mechanics -- and, more fundamentally, throwing mechanics -- are
being taught has changed.
I'm not just talking about the
although that is increasingly, inadvertently, and again becoming an important and relevant topic.
Instead, I'm talking about all of the different
problematic pitching cues and drills that "work" by creating
There's no question pitchers at all levels are throwing
harder than ever.
However, the latest
research into pitching mechanics suggests that these changes to
how throwing and pitching are taught are contributing to the
rising injury rates to pitchers.
How Things Have Changed
To fix the problem with how pitching mechanics are taught,
and reverse the course of the
pitcher injury and tommy john surgery epidemic, we
first need to understand how things have changed in terms of
throwing and pitching mechanics and how they are taught.
Tom Seaver, Jose Fernandez, and Nolan Ryan
Click to Enlarge
I grew up hearing stories about Bob Gibson...
...and Tom Seaver...
I was able to watch Nolan Ryan, on TV, if not in person.
As my kids got older, I focused my attention on Greg Maddux,
his pitching mechanics,
and the ridiculous ways he could get the ball to move...
...and Mariano Rivera and his cutter.
The more I studied pitchers and pitching mechanics, the more
obvious it became to me that modern pitchers looked -- and moved
-- differently than the pitchers I idolized and studied ad
and his pitching mechanics were part of it, but he wasn't the only one.
Living in St. Louis, Anthony Reyes quickly caught my eye due to
his pronounced -- even worse than Mark Prior's --
Yes, there were guys like Justin Verlander...
...and David Price, who brought to mind the pitchers of my
But there seemed to be fewer and fewer pitchers who
displayed the pitching mechanics of the greats.
What I came to understand over time was that the differences
in how pitchers moved were due to differences in how they were
As I discuss in my
analysis of Matt Harvey's pitching mechanics, in my opinion
the root cause of Matt Harvey's elbow -- and eventually,
shoulder -- problems is something called the Power T. If you got
here by Googling "pitching mechanics," "proper pitching
mechanics," or something similar, you likely came across a piece
with these two pictures illustrating what are (supposedly)
proper pitching mechanics.
I assume that Matt Harvey was taught something similar.
Matt Harvey's Power T
The problem is that the Power T works by creating a
Timing problem; the pitcher's arm isn't up and in
the correct position when their front foot plants and their
shoulders start rotating.
Matt Harvey's Power T
The Power T works -- for a while -- by overloading the arm;
by pushing it past the red line. That will often
yield quick velocity increases but, in my experience, will also
lead to elbow and/or shoulder problems.
I believe that people who teach the Power T think they are
teaching pitchers to throw like Roy Halladay.
But they aren't.
analysis of Jose Fernandez's pitching mechanics discusses my
belief that other common cues are compromising his pitching
mechanics and are putting his career in jeopardy.
I say this in part because, of
all my pitcher injury
...unfortunately proved to be the most accurate, which
suggests that the problem with Jose Fernandez's pitching
mechanics is extremely serious.
Where to go from Here
I have put together a number of free and other pieces for
people who want to dive into the topic of pitching mechanics.
Pitcher Injury Predictions
Since 2006, I have been making predictions about which
pitchers I think are more, and less, likely to experience injury
I mention this because I believe it establishes that I have a
deep understanding of pitching mechanics and injuries; you have
to understand a system in order to make accurate predictions
Professional Pitcher Analyses
In order to help people understand how major league pitchers
actually throw the ball, I have created a
number of analyses of the
pitching mechanics of major league
baseball pitchers, including...
Research Into Pitching Mechanics
Since 2005, I have been researching the topic of pitching
mechanics and how and why pitchers get injured or stay
Pitching DVDs, eBOOKs, and Webbooks
As a result of the research I have done into pitching
mechanics, I have put together a number of ebooks, webbooks, and
streaming DVDs that discuss the topic of proper pitching
mechanics and how to develop them.
an attempt to reverse the trend of rising injuries to pitchers,
I have put together a webbook that
discusses what I believe are the root causes of the pitcher injury epidemic.
It is called, simply,
The Epidemic gives my view of what is happening, why,
and what coaches, parents, and physicians can do about it.
In order to ensure that everyone who wants to read The
Epidemic can do so, rather than charging a fixed amount for
it, I have made The Epidemic
available via a Pay What You Can pricing model.
That means that everyone can read most of
The Epidemic, regardless
of your ability to pay. All I ask is that you remember that I
have spent years researching and putting The Epidemic
together, and my family and I would appreciate it if you would
pay what you can for it.
Throwing Mechanics 101
people can, and often do, go into excruciating detail about
pitching mechanics, at the end of the day pitching
is just throwing with less margin for error. As a result,
the way to learn to pitch well is to learn how to
throw well. To that end, I have put together
Throwing Mechanics 101, a webbook that explains the
keys to teaching
Pitching Mechanics 101
Finally, just as there are some things a pitcher should do,
because they will improve your ability to throw hard and well, there are
some things a pitcher should not do because they increase the
risk a pitcher will injure himself. Unfortunately, many of these
things are taught by many well-meaning, but ill-informed,
pitching coaches. Pitching
Mechanics 101 discusses what
pitchers and, just as importantly, what
not to teach pitchers.
Power Pitching Mechanics
Power Pitching Mechanics is the ultimate pitching
mechanics resource. It is a bundle that gives my clients access
the information contained in The Epidemic, Throwing Mechanics 101, Pitching
Mechanics 101. It also provides access to my analyses of the pitching mechanics of the
most dominant and durable pitchers of the past 50 years,
including FREE access to my in-depth analyses of...
...as well as access to my Pitching Mechanics 101 DVD and MUCH more.