When pitchers tell me they can’t figure out why they are not throwing harder, the first thing I do is to look at their motion from a perspective of what they might be doing that is blocking or interfering with the velocity capability that already resides within them.
It is common these days to feel like you have to search for some new thing “to do” to throw harder. While there are always ways to improve on the specific skills required for your maximal velocity, looking first at eliminating interfering movements is critical. Without first eliminating possible culprits that may be getting in your way, you run the risk of “adding” something to a motion that may have some basic flaws, thus leading to more frustration and failure — not to mention injury.
These are the three most common motion flaws I see that can interfere with the pitcher’s capability of improving his velocity:
- Speeding down the hill
- Incomplete hip rotation
- Leading with the elbow
Pitching Mechanical Flaw #1: Speeding Down the Hill
Speeding down the hill creates a situation of so much power at the beginning of the motion that the body has to jar itself to stop once the front foot lands. This excessive deceleration can create problems for the rotational phase of the motion which is where the accumulation of rotational forces actually begins. The stride is a delicate balance of direction/control/and intensity.
Pitching Mechanical Flaw #2: Incomplete Hip Rotation
Incomplete hip rotation causes a problem for the sequencing and separation of the rotation that occurs through your hips, lower trunk, and upper trunk, essential characteristics of an efficient motion and top velocity production. This error is seen when the lower body is not square-to-the plate prior to accelerating the ball into ball release. Some common causes of this are improper use of the rear leg, pulling the rear foot off too soon, or landing in a location that prevents full hip rotation.
Pitching Mechanical Flaw #3: Leading with the Elbow
Proper acceleration of the ball requires using the shoulder correctly and its capacity for fast rotational forces. When the shoulder and elbow mechanics are off, the elbow will get in front of the shoulder before the shoulder internally rotates (leading with the elbow). This creates a different action at the shoulder and thereby diminishes its vast capacity for acceleration forces. Common causes of this are improper hip rotation (the upper trunk arrives before the hips), a lack of knowledge of proper arm mechanics, and an unstable base (faulty stride position) that disallows proper sequencing during the rotation phase.
It is so important to unleash the velocity potential that is already in you. The first step is to get out of your own way. The second step is to work on the skills required.