Proper Elbow Positioning
I recently received the following
e-mail from a confused parent of a young pitcher...
I have a 9 yr. old son who pitches a little.
I saw on a site that you mentioned a pitcher should not raise his
elbow above his shoulder. Is this throughout the entire pitching
motion? I have heard the opposite. That you must raise your elbow
above your shoulder. Can you help me?
The short answer to this question is that a
pitcher should NEVER take their elbows above the
level of their shoulders.
Now let me explain what I mean in depth.
I am not sure what people are trying to achieve when
they tell pitchers that they have to get their elbow above the
level of their shoulder. I believe that they may be trying to get
the pitcher to raise their Release Point and get some downward
angle on their ball. While I agree with this goal, I do not think
that telling pitchers to raise their elbows above their shoulders
is the right advice.
If you look at what successful, injury-free pitchers
do, in order to raise their release point they tilt their
shoulders as Jeff Suppan is doing in the photo below.
This raises the Release Point but
still keeps the Pitching Arm Side (aka PAS) elbow below the level
of the shoulders. In the photo above, the level of the shoulders
is indicated by the white line. Notice how high Jeff Suppan's PAS
hand is in this photo but, because his shoulders are tilted, how
it is still below the level of his shoulders.
I know that there are pitching coaches out there who
believe that pitchers should break their hands with their elbows
so that they come to the position that Anthony Reyes is in in the
photo below. They believe that this will improve the pitcher's arm
However, I think this is
I have found that pitchers, like Mark Prior and
Francisco Liriano, who come to this position face a significantly
increased risk of experiencing shoulder (and possibly also elbow)
As a result, I believe that pitchers should follow
the lead of Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson, who has been both effective and
durable, and never take their elbows above the level of their