Baseball Pitching Technique

Baseball pitching technique and pitching mechanics are very important, not only for velocity and control, but also to stay healthy and avoid arm injuries! What is common among Stephen Strasburg, Matt Harvey, Yu Darvish, Bronson Arroyo, Ivan Nova, Jose Fernandez, Dylan Bundy, Tim Hudson, Adam Wainwright, Daniel Hudson, Jarrod Parker, Zach Wheeler, and Joe Nathan, to name a few? Future Hall of Famers??? Some, perhaps. Future or past all stars??? Maybe, and yes. Pitchers who have undergone surgery on their throwing arm??? Most certainly! And this is far from an all-inclusive list. In fact, it is a VERY SMALL percentage of major league pitchers who have had arm surgery within the last few years. Since 2010, over 160 major leaguers have had major arm surgery, with the majority being pitchers. But why?

Image courtesy of Christine Beck, chrissybeckphotography, Chesapeake, VA

There are many debates on the topic…ranging from over use or too much playing youth baseball, to not enough rest, to poor mechanics, to, believe it or not, choice!  According to the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI), “During the past few years there has been an ‘epidemic’ rise in the number of professional pitchers requiring ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (Tommy John surgery - TJS).  This is like déjà vu, as a similar sharp rise was seen in adolescent pitchers near the turn of the century.  These two rises are indeed connected; that is, today's pro pitcher in his 20’s was an adolescent pitcher a dozen years ago. Thus in many cases, the injury leading to Tommy John surgery in today's young pro pitchers actually began while they were adolescent amateurs. Observations by orthopedic surgeons support this link, as the torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in a pro pitcher usually looks like it has worn out over time.” 

Pitching Technique is Important!

The ASMI also notes that research has shown that the amount of competitive pitching and pitching while fatigued are strongly linked to injury, while other risk factors include pitching on multiple teams, pitching year-round, playing catcher when not pitching, poor physical conditioning and POOR PITCHING TECHNIQUE and PITCHING MECHANICS. The first recommendation of the ASMI for pitchers and teams to reduce the risk of TJS is to optimize pitching mechanics to ensure using the whole body in a coordinated sequence (kinetic chain). A biomechanical analysis is recommended, as it provides objective data to the pitching coach, strength coach, and pitcher. A biomechanical analysis can also serve as a baseline for re-evaluation later in the pitcher’s career, after performance improvement or after return from injury. Seen here http://www.asmi.org/research.php?page=research§ion=TJpositionstatement

So not only is learning proper technique and fundamentals one of the surest ways to achieve your baseball pitching goals, it is also the top ASMI recommended way to reduce the risks of TJS, sure to put you on the shelf for at least a year, up to 18 months or more! The first step in this process is to acquire a strong understanding of baseball pitching technique and the pitching delivery because developing effective mechanics is absolutely critical to your success as a pitcher. Many studies have shown that better pitching technique and mechanics will increase your velocity and ability to throw strikes with a fluid motion, thus reducing the enormous strain placed on the pitching arm by distributing the stress of throwing throughout the body.

The pitching motion is one of the most complex movements in all of sports, with many moving parts and pieces. While pundits, broadcasters, sports scientists and baseball professionals have spent years trying to understand the physics behind certain pitchers throwing harder than others, a set of core pitching mechanics principles has been developed. Luckily, our organization, KBA at www.kojackbaseball.com, is run by a former professional pitcher, Phil Kojack, who has tons of experience and expertise on technique, fundamentals, and form, and I have learned an awful lot from him over the years. Even more luckily was his willingness to contribute to these pitching articles and allow others to benefit from his years and years of experience.

Read this article for specifics on improving your baseball pitching technique and mechanics so you can increase velocity, have better command, and reduce your chance of arm problems, all necessary to give you the ability to go deeper into games and the potential for a long and successful career!

Follow these steps to becoming a great, fundamentally sound baseball pitcher!

› Pitching Technique

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