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Pitching Mechanics 101

When it comes to pitching mechanics and pitching instruction, a number of myths and misconceptions get in the way of developing pitchers and keeping them healthy.

Arm Action

Many of the myths and misconceptions about pitching mechanics that exist do so because people don't understand what a pitcher's arm (actually) does when they throw the ball.

Jeff Suppan

Jeff Suppan

In The Epidemic, my analysis of the pitcher injury epidemic, I include a piece entitled...

...that breaks down the pitching mechanics of Jeff Suppan and that explains what a high-level pitcher's arm (actually) does when they throw the ball.

Arm Slot

Many people -- including and most likely because of Tom House -- believe a pitcher's arm slot is determined by the angle of the pitcher's elbow at the release point.

Arm Slot - Perception

Arm Slot - Perception

If a pitcher wants to throw sidearm, they fully extend their elbow, if a pitcher wants to throw from a 3/4 arm slot, they bend their elbow 45 degrees, and if a pitcher wants to throw from an overhand arm slow, they bend their elbow 90 degrees.

Jeff Suppan

Jeff Suppan's Arm Slot

However, If you spend any amount of time studying photos of pitchers at the release point, you will find that their elbows are always fully extended -- and their elbows are just below the level of their shoulders -- regardless of the arm slot that they throw from.

Arm Slot - Reality

Arm Slot - Reality

That is because the truth is that, as the diagram above shows, the primary driver of a pitcher's arm slot is the tilt of their shoulders at the release point, not the angle of their elbow.

Where to Go From here

If you are interested in learning more about pitching mechanics, and how the most dominant and durable pitchers (actually) throw the ball, I offer a number of options.

The EpidemicFirst, and as I mentioned above, I have put together a piece that discusses what I believe are the root causes of the pitcher injury epidemic that is plaguing baseball at all levels. It is called, simply, The Epidemic.

Throwing Mechanics 101While 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, which explains the keys to teaching throwing.

Pitching Mechanics 101 DVDFinally, 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 to teach pitchers and, just as importantly, what not to teach pitchers.

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