For my first case study since I have been at Baseball Rebellion I’m going to look at 17-year-old high school junior Jacob W.. Jacob and his parents make the two hour and fifteen minute trip once a week from Lynchburg, Virginia to Baseball Rebellion HQ in Durham, NC for hitting and throwing instruction. The long weekday trips have paid off for Jacob. Beside his dramatic improvements at the plate, he has gone from 76mph in his first initial evaluation to 91mph in his most resent visit. I first met Jacob and his parents in late November of 2017 where I saw him throw for the first time. It is now February 13th, 2018 and I have worked with him for a total of 7 lessons.
At 6’1″ 225lbs, Jacob definitely passes the eye. After watching him in the hitting cage, Jacob seemed to be very explosive with exit velocities over 100mph and home runs over 400 feet. After hitting with Chas for a few months, he asked me to do a throwing evaluation. I was surprised, despite his stature and ability to hit the ball a mile, he was not able to generate as much velocity on his throws. The following video is his initial evaluation with me.
Jacob W: Initial Evaluation Video 76mph
When looking at Jacobs throws across the diamond, I first saw that he was very tight through his arm swing. He didn’t allow his arm to get relaxed, which made his arm get very far outside of his body during the throw. So we started with the upper body movements and I showed him a variety of arm swing drills which we had him do every day. The arm swing drills allowed Jacob to feel his arm and trunk working together, which promotes healthier and more efficient positions through the throw. At times, we incorporate a slightly heavier ball, like a 10oz plyoball or a football, to start our throwing sessions to augment with the feeling of the arm swing. We also focused on a better deceleration process with a lower and more relaxed finish through the throw. This process is important when trying to accelerate the arm faster. Instantly stopping the arm in deceleration, if not fixed, can lead to loss of velocity and accuracy, and more importantly, arm injury issues down the road. Basically, these drills helped Jacob relax his body throughout his throwing motion, which is tough sometimes with his body-type.
Jacob also had to work on his hip mobility and speed through his lower half. The lower body is so important when trying to create more intent through a throw. We started Jacob with simple drills, like the Shoulder Separation Drill, to enhance the patterns needed to constantly get the hips and shoulders separated with more speed. The purpose of the separation with speed is to allow the hips to lead the thrower into the throw while keeping their head and chest behind their back hip when the front foot hits. When doing this, the thrower can let their shoulders and trunk rotate forward through the throw. That is is when we saw the drastic change in ball flight and velocity in Jacobs throws after working these upper and lower body drills.
Below is another one of the drill I did with Jacob during is training. It is called the Rock Drill with Transfer. This drill helps the thrower feel the proper arm swing while learning to transfer his body through the throw. Notice how Jacob uses the motion of a circle to allow his arms to relax and properly rotate through the acceleration phase.
Rock Drill with Transfer
Jacob has been dedicated to my program and has been working hard the past few weeks for the following change to occur. I really had no idea that the improvements the Jacob has made were even possible in such a short period of time. It has got to the point where I told him and his father, “I’m really excited to see what he can get!”. Literally every week he comes in with a number goal for that day and he passes it. The past two times he has hit 88mph and most recently an unbelievable jump to 91mph.
Jacob hit 88mph
Jacob was so excited after hitting 88mph but just fell short of the magic number 90. I told him to trust the process and movements because we know they obviously are working for him. Even though it was hard to think that he can make that big of a jump in such short of time. We still wanted to see that 90+ number. He showed up this week and accomplished something incredible:
Jacob hit 91mph!
I am so happy for Jacob and his family and the accomplishments that he has already had Baseball Rebellion. I have enjoyed working with him and getting to know his caring family. I get excited every time Jacob is on the schedule and I promise to keep delivering the information he needs to reach his fullest potential. Jacob, if you are reading this, I am excited to see you in the facility soon and keep working hard…you deserve all the success you are achieving! Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed!
Masahiro Tanaka is struggling in his last 4 starts of the 2017 season. Baseball Rebellion breaks down his pitching mechanics and gives insight on Tanaka’s troubles. He throws a four and two-seam fastball, slider, curveball, and a nasty split-finger. Tanaka was an All-Star his first Major League season in 2014. Much of his success has come from throwing low is the zone and mixing up his fastball and off speed. He is having to throw more fastballs this year and he is leaving balls up and over the plate. In this breakdown, I mention that these balls left over the plate can be due to a lack of efficiency with his hips and his front leg bracing up. Split-finger fastballs put tremendous stress on the elbow when thrown. This can also be a case of having to throw more fastballs because of his partially torn UCL that was never repaired. Either way, Masahiro has a few things to fix mechanically or he will continue to struggle. Thanks for watching this week’s pitching breakdown.
If you are interested in having your swing broke down by Dave, click here!
Hunter Greene is a senior at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California. He is 6’4″, 210 pounds and has reached 102mph on the radar gun. He is projected to be the first right-handed pitcher taken overall in the 2017 MLB draft. Greene also hits, and is rated one of the top shortstops in the country.
Brendan McKay, a two-way player at Louisville, is in a similar position and will most likely be drafted as a pitcher. Whatever team decides to draft either of these guys should consider doing so as position players first. Both Greene and McKay have flaws in their deliveries and limiting them to being only a pitcher could devalue their athletic movements, making them worse as they throw a higher valume of pitches. Going into into a full season and throwing as much as a starting pitcher does puts a lot of stress on a pitcher’s arm. Flawed movements and/or a lack of a quality throwing coach can play a big role in creating injuries.
In this breakdown, I explain how Hunter can pinpoint and correct a few things to help his delivery, keep him healthy, and potentially brighten his future.
This Case Study is the only study of its kind. Enjoy.
Today is February 11th, 2015. In the last several years, we have seen the number of throwing related injuries in all of professional baseball steadily rise. A standardization of pitch counts and guidelines among age groups have been introduced to combat the ongoing epidemic of throwing related injuries. Again, today is February 11th, 2015 and may it be safe to say that the number of throwing related injuries per year are occurring more than ever. If you are affiliated with the game of baseball in any manner, have you ever asked yourself the question as to why injuries are on the rise? With all the advancement in medical technology, nutrition, and strength programs, why are our pitchers getting injured more often in the game of baseball?
Just 50 years ago, it was common for major league teams to adhere to a four-man rotation, have pitchers throw far more than 100 pitches in any outing, and pitch again, on short rest. Why have the number of innings pitched for starting pitchers steadily declined over the last 50 years? As a culture of throwers, we are getting stronger but are capable of throwing far fewer pitches on average that our predecessors. Over the last 20 years, pitchers in the game of baseball have drastically diminished in their ability to recover, throw more innings, and avoid injury.
Will Fox and I have dedicated our time to providing answers. We want to enhance the game of baseball and empower pitchers the ability to throw more often without the risk of injury. Many leading doctors, including Dr. James Andrews advocate youth players to take time off from throwing and stay within the constraints of recommended pitch counts. USA Baseball and Major League Baseball have partnered to promote safer pitching practices. Pitch Smart was created to provide “A series of practical, age-appropriate guidelines to help parents, players and coaches avoid overuse injuries and foster long, healthy careers for youth pitchers.” The table indicates the amount of pitches recommended for each age group.
According to the Pitch Smart guidelines given through mlb.com, it is suggested that individual’s between the ages of 13 and 18 old should not exceed a maximum of 95-105 pitches within a given throwing bout. However, the amount of stress that accumulates through a specific number of pitches within a given throwing bout is relative to an individual’s mechanics. Through our research, we have found as a player’s DVS score increases, the amount of time needed to recover fully from high intensity throwing decreases. This relationship derives from an ongoing study at I.T.S. Baseball. We started to track pre and post ROM measurements in the shoulder in January 2013 and added the correlation of a DVS score in February 2014.
The alterations in players ROM after high-intensity throwing, go untracked and unnoticed. Routine pre and post ROM measurements of players throwing shoulder are not a common practice in high school, college, or professional teams. During the recovery cycle, a player will determine how he feels and whether or not he will seek treatment for his arm. As a former professional pitcher, there was often a stigma surrounding players who were often in the training room too often. If you feel fine, why would you hang out in the training room? From our research, we see ROM risk factors exist in the throwing shoulder even when the player is asymptomatic. For this reason, if a program can routinely track their players ROM patterns, they can spot fluctuations and more adequately prescribe throwing regimens/rest throughout the course of the year.
The Pitch Smart guidelines serve as a safety net for a large population of youth players. They provide an initial layer of protection. But if a player’s throwing mechanics have several risk factors, the current set of guidelines put him even more at risk. On the flip side, a player with healthy throwing mechanics may not fit into the guidelines at all. Rather, he could throw more pitches, more often, and require less time off during the year.
We will continue to investigate the effects that high-intensity throwing has on the throwing shoulder and the different factors that may mitigate these effects. These factors include, but not limited to, an individual’s DVS score, arm care routine, recovery protocols, and training regimens.
Case Study #1:
It is widely accepted within the baseball and medical community that the throwing shoulder of a baseball athlete can undergo specific range-of-motion (ROM) alterations in response to a high-intensity throwing bout. These alterations have been shown to occur acutely (immediately post throwing) and can stay present for several days. As certain ROM adaptations have proven to be injurious to the throwing athlete, a player could significantly reduce their chance of injury and improve recovery time if ROM effects decreased. An individual’s throwing mechanics has been speculated to play a role in the amount of stress transferred to the elbow and shoulder. However, there are no studies to date that have objectively linked a mechanical pattern to the overall stress and injury risk through ROM testing. The Delivery Value System (DVS) is utilized to assess and quantify the quality of the thrower’s specific mechanical pattern present in this study.
There will be little to no reduction in passive ROM within the throwing arm immediately post and up to 5 days following a high-intensity, 100 pitch throwing bout. Additionally, specific injurious risk factors such as Bilateral Total Arc Motion (TAM), Glenohumeral Internal Rotation Deficit (GIRD), and Glenohumeral External Rotation Deficit (GERD) will not be negatively influenced based on pre and post ROM measures. Lastly, as an individual’s overall DVS score increases, undesirable ROM adaptions within the shoulder in response to high-intensity throwing will be lessened immediately after and up to 5 days post throwing.
Case Study #1 was a controlled high intensity bullpen.
One asymptomatic male baseball pitcher with a DVS Score of 20 participated in the study. Passive ROM measurements were recorded using a digital inclinometer for shoulder total arc motion, shoulder internal rotation, and shoulder external rotation on both the throwing and non-throwing arm. For each shoulder, the limb was moved passively in each direction until maximal motion occurred. In order to ensure each shoulder achieved its full range of motion, the examiner used a combination of capsular end-feel and visualization of compensatory movement. The humeral head was not stabilized in order to allow for natural shoulder motion to occur. For each measurement of internal rotation and external rotation, the scapula was securely stabilized on the table. Measurements were taken at rest prior to throwing, and then post measurements taken at five minutes and 120 minutes after throwing was complete. Five additional resting measurements were also taken each morning at 24, 48, 72, 96, and 120 hours post throwing to track the effects on a full recovery cycle. The subject threw a total of 170 throws, which included a sub-maximal warm up and 100 max-effort pitches off the mound. All 100 pitches are captured in a time-lapse format in Video 1. In order to ensure that the subject was throwing at max-effort for all 100 pitches, a radar gun was used to measure velocity. The subject maintained an average velocity of 88 mph and reached a maximum velocity of 91 mph; shown in Video 2. To the left, the table further outlines the throwing protocol used and the intensities of each throw.
In comparison to pre-throwing resting measures, there was a minimal decrease in the dominant shoulder total motion (-1°) and internal rotation (-1°) immediately after throwing. This pattern stayed consistent up to 24 hours after throwing with the greatest deficit in the dominant shoulder total motion (-5°) and internal rotation (-5°) occurring 48 hours post. However, by 72 hours post throwing, dominant shoulder total motion had fully returned to resting levels. Throughout the entire duration of the study, the subject failed to exemplify any injurious risk factors (TAM, GIRD, GERD) as outlined in the current literature. Below, Table 2 represents all ROM measurements taken throughout the study’s entire 5-day window along with bilateral measures of TAM, GIRD, GERD.
For the non-medical and non-research community, Justin and I don’t expect the majority of readers to grasp the significance of the data listed in the table above. As too many numbers at once can be overwhelming, let’s break this table down a little bit so you can understand its value and some important concepts. First off, it is important to understand that a loss of motion typically accompanies stress, trauma, or overuse, so it can be a powerful indicator of how efficient an individual’s throwing pattern is. The worse the mechanics are, the more stress transferred to the shoulder and elbow. Just like the check engine light in your car, this information gives us a way to determine if something is wrong. Without it, you are simply throwing blind and waiting for a potential arm problem.
Now that we have established some basics as far as ROM goes, let’s look at the table above and dig a little deeper. Internal Rotation (IR) and Total Arc Motion (TAM) are common ROM measures that are hot topics when talking about throwing related injuries. As you can see in the first, and third columns, D-IR (dominant shoulder internal rotation) and D-TAM (dominant shoulder total motion) don’t change that much from resting to immediately after throwing. That’s pretty cool considering one of the more notable studies within the research has reported an average of a 9 and 11-degree decrease in each of these categories! Table 3 and Table 4 below show a nice comparison of this, which includes one other highly recognized study to validate our results further. Tying all this back into what you now know in regards to loss of motion, this means that the mechanical pattern we use here at Baseball Rebellion is less stressful than the average!
Now, if you look at the far two columns in Table 2, you will see ND-TAM and TAM-DIFF. ND-TAM is simply the total motion of the non-throwing shoulder, and when compared to the total motion of the throwing arm (D-TAM), you get TAM-DIFF. This relationship is important because TAM-DIFF, or Dominant Total Arc Motion Deficit (DTAMD), is arguably one of the most influential factors in predicting a throwing related injury. If TAM-DIFF becomes less than -5, (i.e. the throwing arm is limited relative to the non-throwing arm by 5 degrees or more), the chance of sustaining a throwing related injury increases exponentially.
As you can see in the TAM-DIFF column, Justin never becomes less than -1. Once again, this is not even close to the industry average as the same study mentioned earlier reported a decrease from +4 to -9 before and after throwing. That is 13 degrees in the wrong direction in case you were wondering! Table 5 and Table 6 zoom in on this comparison in greater detail so you can see how we stack up to the rest of the field.
From this study, it’s safe to infer Justin sufficiently supported the demands of 100 pitches and was able to recover effectively within a matter of a couple days. The full recovery stems from the fact that his ROM measures were back to normal within 72 hours and that there was no soreness present at any time during those three days. This is evident in Table’s 3 and 4, which not only depict that Justin had less negative ROM effects immediately after throwing, but he also was able to bounce back much more quickly by 72 hours in contrast to the Kibler study.
In the days following my 100 pitch bullpen, I adhered to the soreness and throwing protocols within the Throwers Development Program. Each day post bullpen, I never passively stretched my arm during the full recovery cycle. Instead, I used our shoulder isometrics to activate my throwing arm before and after throwing each day. If you look at Table 2 above, you will see I had a large volume of throws (300+) during my 5-day post recovery cycle. I had no throws 72 hours post because it was Sunday, and we are closed. The large volume of throws is due to the fact I play catch with all of my students as they warm up during their lesson. The volume of throws is high, but the intensity remained lower. I abided by Phase 1, 2, and 2a protocols within the Throwers Development Program.
I want to stay on this point for a moment longer. Imagine how much better your delivery could be if you repeated your mechanical pattern 300 times per day? It’s possible! But the current culture would restrict you from such throwing. 300 throws at max intensity is a different story, but actively throwing through your delivery at lighter intensities are beneficial to the overall skill development as a pitcher. But at the end of the day, you have to feel great to be able to want to throw! Two years ago, there was no way I could throw 100 pitches in 30 minutes. And by no means would I want to throw 300 baseballs the following day. But now, times have changed. My DVS score is 20, I feel like I can throw all day, and I have learned how to activate my body and shoulder drastically different compared to when I was a professional athlete.
As I performed this study with Will, I couldn’t help but think about two recent scenarios that happened in Major League Baseball. First, the 2014 World Series and Madison Bumgarner. Madison pitched on three separate occasions during the World Series. He threw 106 pitches in Game 1. After four days rest, he threw 117 pitches in Game 5. And after two days rest, he threw 68 pitches in Game 7. Which many fans and baseball enthusiasts will argue single-handedly won the Giants the World Series Title. Throughout the World Series, especially leading up to Game 7, talks abounded about the use of Madison Bumgarner. Was it healthy to pitch him on short days rest? What are the potential repercussions of pitching on short rest? After the Giants picked up another World Series Title, and as we head into Spring Training, seems like Madison Bumgarner is feeling great.
The larger issue at play in this particular case is how much information did the Giants have at their disposal. Did they test Bumgarner’s ROM after each outing? Was the decision to pitch him in Game 7 a slam dunk because they truly knew he was healthy? I don’t think we will ever know, but these are great questions for organizations moving forward.
On the flip side, anybody remember Postseason 2012? When Stephen Strasburg wasn’t allowed to pitch because, he supposedly reached his innings limit for the calendar year. How did the Nationals and their team of doctors even come up with that arbitrary number of innings? Many will argue, the Nationals were the heavy favorite in 2012. History would have been written different if Strasburg had been allowed the same opportunity as Bumgarner.
But I would argue, Strasburg’s ROM patterns would be far inferior to Bumgarner’s ROM patterns based on their DVS scores. Maybe the Nationals knew this and opted to keep him out to avoid another Tommy John Surgery? Doubt it. But if the Nationals were smart they should be figuring out ways for Strasburg to throw 250 innings and pitch well into the postseason and capitalize on their investment.
The effects of high-intensity throwing on dominant shoulder total motion, internal rotation, and other injurious ROM adaptations that occur from throwing a baseball were minimal relative to other studies with a similar design and objective. As these ROM adaptations are related to excess stress, overuse, or trauma, the quality of a thrower’s mechanical pattern may have a large impact on shoulder and elbow health. The results of this study suggest a newly defined mechanism for evaluating injury risk within the throwing athlete. By objectively quantifying the efficiency of a thrower’s mechanical pattern and prehab/rehab/training routines, we can start to create correlations with ROM measures and research established ROM risk factors.
–Justin Orenduff and Will Fox, Leaders of the Pitching Rebellion
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Chas and I had a discussion recently regarding many of our students both in person and online. Last week, Chas wrote about one of his younger students Henry and how fast he has developed in such a short period. We’ve been amazed how far some of our students have progressed since their initial evaluations. Glancing back through my most recent articles, I realized I’ve been writing some pretty heavy articles and haven’t produced any recent case studies. I want to start sharing more success stories with you about students who embody not only my teaching methodology but characterize the values of learning and practice.
As I enter into my fourth year of teaching, I now have a staff of students who have made significant strides in their pitching deliveries, as well as achievements on the field. I’m proud of all of them, but a few of them have been a joy to watch develop over the years. The process of development takes a joint effort between me, the student, and parents. This case study centers around Eddie A, an in person client here at I.T.S. Baseball.
Eddie A, 13 year old student at I.T.S. Baseball
We first met Eddie and his parents Tom and Katie on May 2nd, 2012. They originally wanted Eddie to be evaluated in hitting, but after a conversation with his parents we decided to take a look at Eddie’s mechanics first, since he pitched regularly. Eddie was in sixth grade at the time and had his eyes set on making the middle school baseball team the next spring. Eddie, or as a commonly refer to him as “yea yea”, a nickname given to him because of his frequent response “yea yea”, was receptive from the start and eager to learn. Since I’ve known Eddie, he has always been ahead of the curve with his “sock game”. From dress socks, Nike Dri-Fit Elite’s, or Shawn Kemp Super Sonic socks, Eddie always walks in looking on point with his sock/shoe combinations. Here is Eddie’s initial evaluation video at I.T.S. Baseball.
Eddie “yea yea” Evaluation Video
The first order of business was to reduce Eddie’s arm from going to extreme limits outside of his body. We began to work diligently on a variety of arm swing drills in an effort for him to feel his arm and trunk move into healthier positions. He picked up the arm action faster than expected, and we quickly moved into incorporating the concepts of better trunk rotation into each throw. Eddie rarely saw the mound through this initial training phase. He remained focused, and every other week, Eddie arrived at I.T.S. baseball eager to advance to the next step.
As Eddie began to learn and master his upper body mechanics, we shifted gears and concentrated on his lower body movement. As the center of his mass started to move together down the mound, we soon found instabilities within Eddie’s core and hips that needed to addressed in order for him to fully rotate his entire body through the acceleration phase. The instability proved to be Eddie’s toughest challenge in his development thus far. With his long limbs and undeveloped musculature, Eddie had a hard time stabilizing his body consistently. We worked to build him a training regimen at home to increase his stability and muscle function throughout his entire body. The speed of his new movements was proving to be too much for his body to handle.
Right after the turn of the new year in 2013, Eddie’s body began to stabilize, and his pitching delivery escalated to new heights. His delivery was blending nicely and was beginning to showcase a stronger finish from the mound. This was a great sign for us all; Eddie’s middle school tryouts were right around the corner. I know there was a degree of uncertainty from Eddie on whether or not he was good enough to make his middle school team, but he soon realized, after the team was announced, he was a proud member of the 2013 squad.
Eddie rarely pitched in his seventh grade year, a few of his teammates were further along the food chain, and just proved to be bigger and stronger. Didn’t discourage Eddie at all, and as we headed into the summer, Eddie turned it up a notch. After a year of my teaching under his belt, Eddie had clear goals and all the information he needed to practice on his own. He started spending more time improving his strength and repeating his delivery in the mirror. To aid in his development, his father Tom, built Eddie his own private pitching mound in the backyard. “No Excuses” Tom verbalized in an email, and he was right. Eddie had all the resources at his disposal and this year Eddie was focused on contributing valuable innings to his middle school team.
Two games into Eddie’s eighth grade middle school campaign, he got the start and the win. Two years of work earned him a spot in the rotation, and he proved to be victorious. Take a look below to see the strides Eddie has made over the last two years.
Eddie “yea yea” March 2014 Video
Here’s what Eddie’s parents, Tom and Katie, have to say about Eddie’s time with I.T.S. Baseball and Baseball Rebellion.
Eddie arrived with a love of pitching, mental focus and relatively good control but lacked proper mechanics and his delivery looked clunky. Justin was able to break his delivery down into a progression of steps and corrected his mechanics one part at a time, with eddies understanding that he would not move on until each was mastered. Justin is a great communicator and has a unique ability matching the progression of the delivery to a changing and maturing youth physique. He is a solid mentor, role model, and friend to my son, a coach that he naturally wants to please.
In Eddie’s Words,
Justin gives me good tips, drills and exercises that I do at home to speed my progress. He speaks in a way that I understand which helps me improve fast. He teaches me to use whole body, not just arm. Everything working together in one flowing motion. Throwing correctly will help my arm last.
I created a short highlight trailer of Eddie’s delivery.
Eddie and his family have been dedicated to my program for the last two years and I want to thank them for entrusting me with their son’s development. I’ve truly enjoyed my time spent with teaching Eddie, watching him progress, and getting to know his family. I’m always excited to see him on my schedule and will continue to deliver my information to the best of my ability to see him reach his full potential.
#YeaYea Lets Do This
-Justin Orenduff, Leader of the Pitching Rebellion
Is it possible that a 10 year old kid could be the most consistent pitcher I have in my program? The answer is YES! After I finished part 3 of the “UP, DOWN, & OUT” article, I wanted to make sure I provided you with an example of how I can take a high level mechanical pattern seen in professional players and instill the same pattern in a young pitcher.
My case study is a 10 year old pitcher who has been in my program for almost a year now. He had no prior pitching instruction and limited experience on the mound before his first pitching lesson with me.
I want to begin to shed light on my pitching theory, and what you will see in this case study will give you a couple of core components of the delivery I teach here at Baseball Rebellion. I’ve created a foundation within this young student that will allow him to repeat his delivery for years to come, stay healthy, and as his body matures, so will his velocity gains.
His ability to command his fastball at 10 years old is unmatched for his age. Time and time again he reaffirms our belief the value of implementing advanced patterns in the younger athlete before they are prone to bad information. Chas Pippitt, over at the Baseball Hitting Rebellion has hitters as young as 6 performing high level patterns within their swings. It’s rewarding to see what can happen with the right information.
I have implemented the process but without the student’s own personal work ethic we couldn’t have progressed as quickly as we have. His ability to engage within lessons, communicate, and understand the principles of his delivery have allowed him to practice correctly on his own time.
Let’s look at his initial evaluation video…
BEFORE: Student’s Evaluation Video (11/11/2011)
One of the most common fundamental coaching cues with regards to playing catch is “Hit him in the chest”. A problem that begins to surface is the body is never forced to fully complete the throw. The chest stays upright or tall, and the arm never gets proper deceleration. We must strive to get ALL of our throwers to work to get the chest over the knee; if even just slightly. Young throwers tend to throw the ball forward which leads to a “push”. We want to constantly think of driving the ball down. Try saying, “Hit him in the belt”.
After watching the student’s evaluation video, I noticed this “push” was evident in his delivery. I asked him if he pushed off his back leg to generate power, and he responded “yes”. Pushing off the back leg in most cases, can lead the chest and head to get too far forward at foot strike, leading to the arm playing catch up. When the spine angle (chest) is forward at foot strike, our head and shoulders have to open up across the body forcing the arm to get to a lower arm slot than it should be.
Good direction with lower half
Keeps head on target
Clean arm swing
Hips are fully open at foot strike
Lead foot gets away from body too quickly
Sits on back leg
Pushes off rubber leading to his chest and head getting forward to quickly
Arm is unsupported through release
I decided to start the student’s developmental plan by getting him to think about throwing the baseball differently…DOWN.
AFTER: Student’s Video (7/25/2012)
Down = >
Have you ever seen the equation above before? I like to use a simple analogy of a greater than sign “>” or a sideways V when I talk to young throwers about getting their bodies in a position to drive the ball down.
The symbol seems to resonate in their minds and they instantly transform their movements differently. I started my student’s throwing program by creating a series of throwing drills where he was constantly forced to manipulate this “>” pattern into each throw. We create this position by allowing the hips to lead us out into the throw, keeping our head and chest behind our back hip, and at foot strike, we drive the chest down.
Within a few lessons, the ball flight of the student began to dramatically change. His arm slot went from a low 3/4 angle to high 3/4 angle with added velocity and more depth at the end of each throw. His chest and head have remained consistently behind his back hip as he moves forward into each throw, and as he goes to fire, his arm is now supported as a result of this efficient pattern.
Don’t try and create a great wind-up off the mound first. Work on throwing a baseball consistently by just playing catch and you will be amazed at the results when you advance to the mound.
I’m Justin Orenduff, and I’m the Leader of the Baseball Pitching Rebellion