Throwing a ball is one of the fastest known human actions, but with the use of high speed videotape, computer programs, and muscle testing devices, researchers, bio-mechanists and coaches are able to study and analyze the throwing motion in specific detail.
For a coach, the use of video analysis, even done with a regular VCR, is a very effective way to study and learn about the specifics of the pitching motion and their pitchers. A coach needs to be able to recognize proper techniques during the various phases, then be able to identify specific faults. Finally, to be an effective teacher, the coach must be able to teach the pitcher how to overcome and correct various faults with technique adjustments and drills.
For a pitcher, the use of videotape allows him to see how he actually throws. Usually, a pitcher cannot “feel” what he is doing wrong because it feels natural to him. But, by comparing himself to other pitchers who have proper mechanics, he will be able to see the difference and try to copy the correct technique. It is also effective for a pitcher to practice various techniques in front of a mirror; this gives him instant feedback.
Remember, not all pitchers throw, or should throw, exactly the same way. Let the pitcher use his own style as long as his mechanics don’t limit his effectiveness, his potential, or cause undue stress on the arm.
Most long term, injury free, and consistently effective pitchers display the following traits:
- Good balance and stability throughout the motion
- Good body and arm alignment to the plate
- Proper weight transfer onto a strong and stable stride leg
- A strong horizontal rotational force (torque) squaring the shoulders to the plate as the stride leg braces.
- A smooth but explosive and consistent arm action
- A long smooth arc of deceleration
A pitcher only needs to throw 8-10 pitches at full velocity from the windup and set position to get a good read of his mechanics.
I. Film his normal throwing (not pitching) motion from 3 angles; no shirt, in shorts.
A. From side angle
— Throwing arm action
— Lead arm action
— Cocked position – head in top center of triangle
— Stride leg – flexion to bracing
— Trunk squaring
B. From the back
— Stride alignment
— Hand and arm alignment
— Trunk rotation vs. tilt
— Arm slot
— Body over the stride leg
C. From the front
— Lead arm action
— Trunk squaring
— Arm slot – Release angle
— Arm deceleration
II. Look for players with:
— A loose shoulder; a continuous motion; no hesitation
— A full range of motion, proper cocked position, good shoulder external rotation, full arm extension in front
— A loose wrist at the release point
— Throws in a 45 degree downward angle
— Has a long smooth arc of arm deceleration
III. Demonstrate various segments of the pitching motion
A. 3 segments of the motion
— Trunk flexion
Coach John Peter’s Note:
Coach Bill Thurston is one of the nation’s foremost experts on pitching mechanics, working with major leaguers as well as coaching over 20 college players who have signed with major league clubs. He is an impressive speaker with a style that non-experts can understand and learn from. Major League clubs have called on Coach Thurston to fix broken pitchers… he is that good! His DVD, Common Mechanical Pitching Faults, is available for only $39.95 here at Baseball Tips.
I absolutely endorse the content of this DVD. I believe it can help all serious pitching prospects!
Bill Thurston has been at Amherst College in Massachusetts for 40 years and his teams have won nearly 65% of all games played (729-418). He is an expert on proper pitching mechanics, video analysis of the pitching motion, proper care of the pitching arm and prevention of arm injuries. Since 1990, Thurston has served as the pitching consultant for the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a nationally known clinic speaker, and many of his instructional materials have been published and videotaped. His DVD, Common Mechanical Pitching Faults, is available at BaseballTips.com for only $39.95 and is a must own!