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Pitching: Importance Of Proper mechanics

Posted on July 21, 2016 at 11:20 PM

I am seeing more players every day coming in for pitching lessons from 8 years old to college that throw mainly with their arms.  Many have already developed sore arms because of trying to throw harder with the wrong pitching mechanics and putting too much tension on their elbows and shoulders.  This is something that should not be happening!  

New students that come in for their first lesson tell me the pitching cues they have learned from their coaches, former instructors, at pitching camps and from other parents.   The problem is almost everything they have been taught (99%) is why they have bad pitching mechanics.   As they grow older and throw harder they will likely develop arm soreness and even arm injury leading to surgery.  

These bad pitching cues will lead to bad pitching mechanics:

  • When front knee goes up balance on back leg
  • When front foot lands ball looking at 2nd base glove out towards home plate
  • Chest to glove
  • Twist or rotate hips
  • Elbow goes up when throwing
  • Pull arm faster
  • snap wrist at release
  • finish down (pick up dirt) 


I had a 13 yr old come in that already had Tommy John surgery.  They wanted to see if I could show him how to throw without pain in his arm.   He had been taught every one of the above bad pitching cues.  He was still having pain after surgery when he threw because he still had the same bad mechanics.  We worked hard on changing him from throwing with his arm to using his body.   After the fifth lesson we had a break through, he finished the lesson with no pain and he was throwing 6 mph harder than he was before.  The next four lessons were the same, no arm pain, he learned how to throw two new pitches and had even added 4 more mph on his fastball.  He was ready for the Middle School season.  

They started practice and he called me 2 weeks later that his arm was hurting again.  I asked if anything in his mechanics had changed, he said no but they were doing an arm routine that was suppose to strengthen their arms.  His arm would hurt after these and he was told it would go away as his arm got stronger.  But it wasn't going away, the pain was getting worse.  When the pain is in the elbow it will not go away as your arm gets stronger, it wll get worse as you try to throw harder with your arm.  He came back in and I first wanted to see the arm routine.


The arm routine consisted of these four moves:


1-with your throwing arm in front of you shoulder high, put your glove hand under your elbow to hold it up. You throw the ball and snap the wrist with only your forearm moving.  Your glove keeps the elbow from moving.


2- Get down on one knee (your throwing side knee), put your throwing arm back, ball looking at 2nd base, throw the ball and snap your wrist.


3- Standing and facing your target.  Keeping your feet planted you bring your throwing arm back, ball looking at 2nd base, throw the ball and again snap the wrist.


4- Stand sideways with your throwing arm facing the target which is behind you. Keeping your feet planted, with your throwing arm up, you turn your shoulders to the right (if you are a right handed) face the target throw the ball and snap the wrist.

These were the problem.  He had worked hard for three months to throw with his body so his arm would quit hurting and he was even throwing harder.  Now in just 2 weeks he was learning again to throw with his arm and it was hurting him again.   When I had him pitch he was back to using his arm because this arm routine put him back into the same bad habits as before.  His speed was down 8 mph and he could only throw 16 pitches when his arm started hurting again.

The bad thing is this arm routine for throwing is used by almost all of the Middle School and High School, baseball and fastpitch softball teams.  I have had many players come in that their arm is hurting and/or their control is off, everytime they are doing these arm routines.  I put them on the radar gun and every one of them is throwing slower because they are back to throwing with their arm and they aren't coming close to their target.  What we see with every baseball and fastpitch softball student is when they throw with their body the ball goes an average of 6 mph faster and they hit their target.  They get so excited when they do this and tell me they didn't even feel their arm.

Make sure that any drills or warm up routines you are shown mainly use the body to generate the energy rather than mostly the arm.  Any drills on one knee, keeping both legs on the ground, the towel drill or holding your elbow up while warming up will only instill using the arm more than your body and by themselves could even cause injury.  Make sure your coach or instructor only shows you drills that will strengthen your body to help you throw harder with much less stress on your arm.


If you would like to learn more on how to use your body when pitching and throwing in baseball and fastpitch softball call Mike Sedberry at 304-722-6393.   Please contact us before your arm starts hurting.

Categories: Baseball pitching

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