Throwing a baseball is different from throwing a football.
In football, there's pretty much an exact science — most quarterbacks throw the same way.
In baseball, different pitchers use different mechanics different ways.
The fact that no two pitchers are exactly alike is just one of the many things that make baseball so cool. As long as their pitching mechanics don't get them into any trouble by leading to an injury, nobody is in a position to complain.
Alas, strange pitching mechanics can lead to trouble. Dozens and dozens of MLB pitchers have had elbow and shoulder surgeries due to the stresses of their deliveries.
Let's examine these dangerous pitching mechanics characteristics a little closer.
Characteristics of dangerous pitching mechanics
- Arm action and loading
- Flying open with the front side
- Short stride
Chris O'Leary has exhausted this topic, but it's still very prevalent in today's game. If you didn't know, certain loading techniques can be potentially dangerous on the arm. The biggest issues arise from pitchers getting to the loaded position by leading with their elbows instead of dropping the hands down and back up in a smooth circular motion.
When pitchers lift up with the elbow, they will create what's referred to as an inverted W.
The most important thing to remember about the Inverted W is that it causes indirect problems in the subsequent sequence of your mechanics. The inverted W alone will not cause injury.
The problem has to do with the loaded position at the point of foot strike. Pitchers with inverted W's will still have their arm at almost a horizontal position with the elbow above the shoulder. The transition from this position to external rotation puts an incredible amount of stress on the elbow and shoulder.
Guys with good mechanics on the otherhand like Chapman, Verlander and Kershaw all have excellent loaded positions. Their throwing elbow is below the shoulder, and their arm is in a vertical position at foot strike. Another important thing to notice, is where each pitcher is showing the ball. Pitchers with good mechanics show the ball to either first or third base.
This is the safest loading position, and pitchers should avoid the traditional concept of showing the ball to center field. Like the inverted W, showing the ball to center puts extra force on the shoulder and elbow.
This is another mechanical issue that's not as prevalent in the MLB, but is seen pretty frequently in college and high school pitchers. The problem with pulling too hard to the glove side is it forces a pitcher to open up too early, and forces the arm to play catch-up. This puts additional stress on the shoulder, and will also reduce accuracy or even velocity.
Try to keep your glove side compact with the glove close to your chest. This will ensure accuracy and velocity potential.
Yes, a short stride can be a pretty serious pitching mechanics issue.
The problem with a short stride, is that it has the potential to decrease the amount of time a pitcher has to get their arm to the correct loaded position at foot strike.
Like the inverted W, a short stride can create timing issues with the arm. This isn't implying that you need a ridiculously long stride, but it should be at least 85 percent of your height. Anything shorter has to the potential to put additional stress on your arm.
As a youth pitcher, you should be working to avoid some of the main issues that result in future arm injury. Here's a review of mechanical elements to avoid:
- Avoid the inverted W.
- Don't show ball to second or center field, but instead show it to third or first base.
- Try to obtain a stride of about 85 percent of your height.
- Avoid excessively flying open on the glove side.
By avoiding these dangerous pitching mechanics elements, you will have a long and prosperous pitching career.
Keep working hard. No off days. No excuses.
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