Have you ever wondered how to use the front half of your body properly through your pitching delivery? In this Baseball Rebellion article I explain the optimal way to use your glove side to avoid injury with a healthy and smooth follow through. First though, I want to show you what NOT to teach when it comes front side pitching / throwing mechanics. In the video clip below, the two players are told to finish with the glove staying in front of the body which inhibits the shoulders from completing rotation. Completing rotation is important in regards to arm health because violently stopping rotation puts unnecessary stress on your posterior shoulder musculature.
These glove side mechanics have been taught in baseball and softball for the past 30 years and it’s just now coming to light that it’s NOT the safest or most efficient way to finish the throw. Arm injuries are at an all time high, across all levels of baseball, because of inefficient mechanics. I don’t prefer to use the word mechanics anymore, because “mechanics” sounds too robotic. Instead, I talk about creating better and smoother movements with my clients, using an athletic approach geared towards efficient lower and upper body sequencing. The pictures below are the finishes of just a few current and past MLB pitchers that have sustained season ending arm injuries.
Carter Capps – Florida Marlins (2016 TJS), Jarrod Parker – Oakland A’s (2010 TJS, 2014 TJS, 2015 fractured elbow), Phil Hughes – (2016 Thoracic Outlet Syndrome) and John Smoltz – Atlanta Braves, (2000 TJS). John Smoltz is the only pitcher, in the history of baseball, to have Tommy John surgery and be in the MLB Hall of Fame.
When I evaluate a overhead thrower, I look at the position he or she gets into when their front foot hits the ground “foot strike”. If the the upper body, glove side is flying open, it puts a tremendous amount of stress on the shoulder and elbow. Most of the time these pitchers are using their arm to generate power through the pitch which can lead to excess stress and major injuries. Steven Strasburg and Dan Winkler are two pitchers that have been sidelined with injuries because they let their glove side fly open when or before their foot strike.
Hip strength and flexibility are essential for getting your body into a good position and to throw harder. In the video below I will explain proper trunk rotation to maximize hip-shoulder separation into Thoracic Extension. Thoracic extension is the ability of the upper back musculature to shorten, thus allowing extension. The arms just go along for the ride. This helps the glove side, upper body stay closed and inhibits early shoulder rotation. Many baseball pitchers struggle to gain the last few inches of hip rotation largely due to little or no thoracic extension incorporated into the throw. Commonly their posture/spine angle is too far forward prior to foot strike, which results from the front toe being aligned with the back toe.
The two videos below are a before and after of a Baseball Rebellion Client, Logan Jarosz, a 16 yr old Sophomore committed to Georgia tech. His throwing velocity has gone from 80 mph to averaging 91 mph and touching 94 mph. In the first video, watch how his glove stops for a split second before finishing the pitch, which was stopping his momentum during his follow through. In the second video he gains more momentum down the mound which translates into a smooth and effortless finish.
I hope you enjoyed this article! Front Side Mechanics are an important topic that can be taught in a much simple manner to kids of all ages. Feel free to ask me any questions or leave comments below! Thanks for reading!
Dave Shinskie – Leader of the Pitching Rebellion