Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Basic Points About Pitching Mechanics

By Rena Hudson

The game of baseball has been immensely popular in the Americas for many years. As any fan can tell you, quality pitching is a major key to fielding a successful team. While some of this is dependent upon pure natural ability, pitching mechanics play a major role as well. Improving the technique of throwing the ball can enhance one's natural abilities while poor mechanics can limit the upside of even the most talented pitchers.

The first thing to understand is why pitching mechanics are even important. There are two main answers to this: performance and durability. Those with solid, efficient mechanics are likely to have better velocity and command of their pitches than those with poorer technique. This latter group will also be more likely to suffer injuries to the shoulder and elbow due to excess stress on these joints that is created by flawed techniques.

The motion of delivering a pitch is a very complex one that includes many moving parts and potential for errors. It is no easy task to learn the details well enough to effectively assess the mechanics of any pitcher, but it doesn't take an absolute expert to learn a few key points that can help any aspiring hurler.

Proper arm positioning is obviously a fundamental element in the process. It is also very detailed as well as controversial. Experts have varying ideas on what are the best positions for the throwing arm at various stages of the delivery. There are few major points that are more generally agreed upon and easier to assess for those with less experience and expertise.

While throwing a ball is generally thought of to be performed with the arm, to be done well it must begin with the legs and trunk. Throwing mostly with the effort of the arm results in decreased effectiveness and a much higher risk of suffering an arm injury. On the other hand, good use of the legs and trunk to generate force that is transferred to the arm is a key in both throwing with more velocity and with less risk of arm injuries.

Closely related to this point is the need for balance. A balanced, controlled delivery will lessen strain on the shoulder and elbow, two main locations of major injuries for pitchers. Lateral movement should be minimized with nearly all the motion being in the direction of home plate. When starting the windup and when landing the front foot, the body should be in as balanced a position as possible.

One often overlooked aspect is repeatability. Using perfect mechanics on one pitch and poor ones on the next is not much better than always using poor ones. A good pitcher or coach knows that the more regular and consistent the movements associated with the throw are, the better the pitcher's control will be. And if these movements are in the range of what is considered to be proper, the greater the chances of remaining healthy and able to pitch.

No two players are exactly alike and thus there is no one-size-fits-all answer for what constitutes perfect pitching mechanics. Despite this fact, these fundamental aspects can be useful for all.

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