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Pitching Mechanics Overview

Pitching mechanics instruction has a problem; it no longer teaches what great pitchers -- pitchers like Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Mariano Rivera, Justin Verlander, and David Price -- (actually) do.

Pile on top of that rising levels of overuse and risk-taking encouraged by the (mis)perception that procedures like Tommy John Surgery are at least safe and may even boost a pitcher's performance, and you have The Epidemic.

Comparison of Nolan Ryan, Daniel Winkler, and Tom Seaver

Nolan Ryan, Daniel Winkler, and Tom Seaver
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In my opinion, that is because...

  • 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 Inverted W, although that is again, increasingly, and inadvertently becoming an important and relevant topic. I'm talking about all of the different problematic pitching cues and drills that "work" by creating a Timing problem.

There's no question that pitchers at all levels are throwing harder than they ever have. However, the latest research into pitching mechanics strongly suggests that these changes to how throwing and pitching are taught are contributing to the rising injury rates to pitchers.

So what can we do about it?

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.

Comparison of Matt Harvey, Tom Seaver, Jose Fernandez, and Nolan Ryan

Tom Seaver, Jose Fernandez, and Nolan Ryan
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I grew up hearing stories about Bob Gibson...

Bob Gibson's Pitching Mechanics

Bob Gibson

...and Tom Seaver...

Tom Seaver's Pitching Mechanics

Tom Seaver

I was able to watch Nolan Ryan, on TV, if not in person.

Nolan Ryan's Pitching Mechanics

Nolan Ryan

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...

Greg Maddux's Pitching Mechanics

Greg Maddux

...and Mariano Rivera and his cutter.

Mariano Rivera's Pitching Mechanics

Mariano Rivera

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 nausaeum.

Mark Prior's Pitching Mechanics

Mark Prior

Mark Prior 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 -- Inverted W.

Anthony Reyes' Pitching Mechanics

Anthony Reyes

Yes, there were guys like Justin Verlander...

Justin Verlander's Pitching Mechanics

Justin Verlander

...and David Price, who brought to mind the pitchers of my youth.

David Price's Pitching Mechanics

David Price

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 being taught.

Matt Harvey

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.

Power T

Power T

Power T

Power T

I assume that Matt Harvey was taught something similar.

Matt Harvey's Power T

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

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.

Jose Fernandez

My 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.

Jose Fernandez

Jose Fernandez

I say this in part because, of all my pitcher injury predictions, my...

...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 problems.

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 about it.

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 healthy...

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.

The Epidemic

The EpidemicIn 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.

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

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, a webbook that explains the keys to teaching throwing.

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 to teach pitchers and, just as importantly, what not to teach pitchers.

Power Pitching Mechanics

Power Pitching MechanicsPower Pitching Mechanics is the ultimate pitching mechanics resource. It is a bundle that gives my clients access to 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... well as access to my Pitching Mechanics 101 DVD and MUCH more.

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