A Better Way to Pitch
In the 19 years I’ve been pitching and teaching pitching, I've seen different theories tried and failed, most ending in career ending injuries for pitchers who adopted these theories. To this day, 99% of all pitching coaches teach the same mechanics to all pitchers. The mechanics that are taught center around driving your body towards the plate, slamming your body to a stop and finally whipping the arm violently backwards and forwards towards the plate. There has been no decrease in the amount of pitching injuries over time, including the major league level, where the pitchers are the strongest on earth and the medical staffs are the best as well.
The truth is that we are all structurally built to function and move one way only. Over time, the study of baseball pitching has evolved into a multitude of copycats who, instead of learning the appropriate way to throw an object by way of the body's natural design, watch other successful baseball pitchers and mimic their movements, creating generations of pitching injuries. Example: If a certain pitcher has a great sidearm sinker, other coaches will attempt to teach this method to their students without any consideration to proper arm mechanics. Because of these training methodologies, we continue to push faulty mechanics on our pitchers without any knowledge about how poor mechanics leads to all arm injuries.
One of the ultimate causes of pitching injuries is pitching arm flyout as a result of extreme centrifugal forces. Like the end of a pinwheel, the arm flies away from the body as the torso rotates in its delivery. This causes:
- your upper arm to slam into your forearm (leads to bone chips)
- your bicep to help slow your arm down (biceps tendonitis, dead arm)
- supinates your forearm (flexor tendon strains, cracked growth plates)
- pulling your arm across your body (pectoral strains, rear shoulder strains)
Instead of driving the ball directly to the plate, baseball pitchers sling or whip the ball to the plate, affecting their control, velocity and ultimately arm health. Here are two pitching fallacies that many of you have known for years:
1. Showing your pocket: By showing your pocket, you are counter-rotating your lower half of your body in a attempt to generate more torque for a slam-landing leg. This rotational force leads to pitching arm flyout.
1. The pitcher should plant the ball of his foot against the rubber at a 45-degree angle with the heel of the plant foot on top of the rubber. This gives pitchers leverage to push off in a more direct path to the plate as a track runner would push off a starting block.
2. Plant throwing foot parallel with the rubber: This forces your body to make a 90-degree rotational turn towards the plate to deliver the baseball. The rotational forces lead to pitching arm flyout. The parallel foot will also lead to hip and knee injuries, and the muscles involved are not the muscles made to push the body forward.
2. Do not "show your pocket". Do not counter-rotate. The pitcher should powerfully stride foward
by pushing off the rubber with the ball of the plant foot. Any counter-rotation will lead to pitching
arm flyout as a result of the upper body’s power rotation through release.
By cutting these two fallacies from your pitching style, you will greatly reduce any risk of injury to your pitching arm.
My pitchers learn how to powerfully drive the ball
fowards, not sling them in a wild arc.
One pro pitcher who came to work with me this fall, started in October with 3 pitches and had a tired arm. He threw with a ¾ arm action and pulled his arm across his chest to deliver the baseball. After undergoing our BEAST arm strength training and pitching lessons, he is returning to spring training with 6 effective pitches and now throws at a high arm angle with great strength and without pain. He throws 130-140 pitch bullpens without feeling sore the next day or any need to ice. He threw 90 to 120 pitch bullpens four days in a row without feeling nothing but mild body fatigue. I told him he needed to run more to increase his aerobic endurance.
All of you have grown up learning mechanics from parents, pitchers you watch on TV, announcers and broadcasters, and coaches who pitched and played the game. That's how I learned. After four injuries in professional baseball, my trainers, coaches, physical therapists and doctors said nothing to me about my injuries being a result of my mechanics. I was never the same pitcher after my shoulder was injured in 1997.
After my years of research, trial and error, I can now pinpoint injuries back to my pitcher's faulty mechanics. All pitchers that have come to me with arm injuries are now pitching without pain or soreness, and have learned new nasty pitches for their arsenal. All this comes from having an open enough mind to making a few small changes in your arm actions.
As all new innovative techniques, it will take time to learn a new method of pitching a baseball, but in my opinion, and I am not that humble about this, I feel after all these theories and fallacies of pitching over the last 12 years, I think it’s finally time we realize that before pitching is art, it is a science first.