Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fundamental Points Of Pitching Mechanics

By Rena Hudson

Sometimes referred to as America's Pastime, baseball is enjoyed by millions of people worldwide. One of the most important components to building a competitive team is to have a solid pitching staff. Some are blessed with pure natural talent when it comes to throwing effectively while others may have to get by on lesser abilities. Regardless of the talent level, using good pitching mechanics can be an essential part of having a successful and healthy career as a hurler.

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.

Many people will automatically think first about the position of the arm. This is obviously of paramount importance but there is no clear agreement amongst experts on what exactly constitutes perfection in this aspect. There is more agreement, however, on a few fundamental points that are a good place to begin the process of evaluation.

The parts of the body that should be used to generate the majority of the force needed for a pitch are the legs and trunk. When the arm and shoulder are used too much in this regard, the result is decreased velocity and, all too often, a debilitating injury to the pitching arm. Conversely, good leg drive and use of the trunk results in faster pitches and less stress on the shoulder and elbow, which in turn means a lower risk of injury.

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.

How well the player is able to repeat the proper mechanics is of utmost importance. Variations in the delivery will lead to problems with command as well as potentially causing injury. It is essential, however, to be repeating the motion utilizing sound principles; repeating a poor motion is good for neither one's performance nor for the health of one's arm.

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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