Pitching Mechanics 101
When it comes to pitching instruction, there are a number of ideas and teachings out
there about pitching mechanics that get in the way of people's
understanding of pitching mechanics. There are also a number of
things that can cause problems,
including increasing a pitcher's risk of experiencing injuries.
Let let me deal with some of these myths, misconceptions, and
dangerous teachings in this piece.
Myths and Misconceptions
When it comes to teaching pitching, it's important that you
understand what the best pitchers actually do when they pitch
Many of the myths and misconceptions that exist do so because
people don't understand what a pitcher's arm (actually) does
when they throw the ball.
As a result, on my
client site I have put together a piece entitled...
...that breaks down the pitching mechanics of Jeff Suppan.
What Jeff Suppan's arm does during the throw is the same as what
you will see in every good pitcher.
Many -- and perhaps even most -- people believe that a
pitcher's arm slot is determined by the angle of the pitcher's
elbow at the release point. They also believe that a pitcher's
shoulders should stay level during the throw and that the thing
that should vary is the bend of the elbow.
Arm Slot - Perception
They believe that if a pitcher wants to throw sidearm, they
fully extend their elbow. They believe that if a pitcher wants
to throw from a 3/4 arm slot, they bent their elbow 45 degrees.
They believe that if a pitchers wants to throw from an overhand
arm slow, they bend their elbow 90 degrees.
Jeff Suppan's Arm Slot
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
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. The photos below
demonstrate that this is the case.
Pedro Martinez's Sidearm Arm Slot
Pedro Martinez threw from a sidearm arm slot. As a result,
at the release point his shoulders are pretty much level and his
Pitching Arm Side (PAS) forearm is extended out to the side.
Greg Maddux's 3/4 Arm Slot
Greg Maddux throws from a 3/4 arm slot. As a result, at the
release point his shoulders are much more tilted than are the
shoulders of Pedro Martinez. However, here too his PAS elbow is
fully extended and is just below the level of his shoulders.
Hideki Okajima's Overhand Arm Slot
Hideki Okajima throws from an overhand arm slot. As a result,
at the release point his shoulders are extremely tilted.
However, here too his PAS elbow is fully extended and is just
below the level of his shoulders.
Leading With The Elbow
Another common myth about pitching mechanics is that it is
bad for a pitcher to lead with their elbow.
Greg Maddux Leading With His Elbow
However, if you look at pictures and video clips of every single major
league pitcher -- such as the photo above of Greg Maddux -- you
will see that at some point in their motion they come to this
position. That is because leading with the elbow is simply a byproduct of the process of throwing
a ball hard.
Do Your Homework
One way to learn about pitching mechanics is to study major
league pitchers and see how they throw the ball.
Pitchers To Stay Away From
There are also a number of active pitchers who have poor
pitching mechanics and who have had injury problems as a result
of their poor pitching mechanics. This includes...
- BJ Ryan
Needless to say, new pitchers should NOT study the mechanics
of these pitchers.
Pitchers To Study
There are a large number of pitchers who have good
pitching mechanics and who new pitchers should study and learn
from. This includes...
of the pitching mechanics of these and other of the best, most
durable pitchers are available on my
client site, which is accessible by everyone who purchases my
Mechanics 101 DVD.
Where to Go From here
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,
I have put together a
Mechanics 101 DVD that discusses what to teach
pitchers and, just as importantly, what not to teach pitchers.
Because the way to learn to pitch well is to learn how to
throw well, I have also put together a
Throwing Mechanics 101 webbook, which costs just $5.95.