In Mach 1 we evaluate the biomechanics of a pitcher by utilizing the Gestalt Performance method of biomechanics breakdown. This method analyzes many different movement flaws and/or energy leaks that could result in poor performance or even worse, injury. Instead of spending 30 minutes describing every little kinematical variable I’m going to just give 3 pretty important movements that need to be right.
We’ll start by describing what we should be seeing in the back leg, specifically the back ankle. When the front leg comes up the pitcher should have some tension on the inside of the back foot. The goal is to have equal pressure from the front to the back on the inside of the foot, not just the ball of the foot. That pressure should be maintained up until right before the front foot hits the ground and is used to propel the body forward.
Next, we’ll look at the position of the arm at front foot plant. The arms position right before the body goes into the throwing (acceleration) phase will determine the type of stress the arm takes and how the arm will compensate elsewhere down the kinetic chain to avoid more stress. Ideally the position of the arm should be parallel to the spine, so the arm is up at a 90-degree angle. This allows proper loading of the shoulder joint to assure maximum energy transfer through the arm and into release of the ball without over stressing the joints and soft tissue in the arm. This is a very common mechanical flaw in both youth and professional baseball that could lead to various arm injuries.
The final movement flaw we’ll discuss is just as important if not more important than the previous flaw. Here we’re looking at what some call early trunk rotation. When they activate the front side too early we have a severe energy leak through the torso which puts the arm in a dangerous position. Many coaches cue this up by having them tuck their glove hard into their body causing the pitcher to spin the front side too early and disconnect the body’s kinetic chain. We look to see the elbow and knee relatively in-line with each other until front foot strike to assure that everything is still well connected and ready to transmit energy
Now pull out your smartphone and take some high-speed video of your pitching mechanics and see if you’re doing any of these flaws.
Burkhart, Stephen S., Craig D. Morgan, and W. Ben Kibler. “The disabled throwing shoulder: spectrum of pathology Part III: The SICK scapula, scapular dyskinesis, the kinetic chain, and rehabilitation.” Arthroscopy: The Journal of Arthroscopic & Related Surgery 19.6 (2003): 641-661