Pitching mechanics are the most misconstrued concept in baseball. Everyone has an opinion on them and none of it is actually correct or proven. I used to be a big mechanics guy. Analyzing every little minute detail of body movements in order to improve one’s pitching velocity and effectiveness. I have recently trended away from this mantra. As I have come to realize, and you will too after this post, is that pitching mechanics do not mean that much and do not have that much bearing on one’s success. Let me provide you with some examples.
Is long or short better? Should I throw like a catapult or a shortstop? According to a few biomechanics studies, a short arm action is supposed to be better and that is what we teach here at CBC. However, here are a few examples of guys who were highly successful, and all had different arm actions:
These two have long arm actions; and yet they are highly successful pitchers. I’m not going to tell them that they need to change. They were/are better than 99.9% of baseball players that walk the face of the earth.
These two have short arm actions. This is more of the model that we look for at CBC. However, it does not always have to be so. If someone demonstrates a longer arm action, yet proves they have the sequencing of the other parts of their body that do not inhibit them to throw hard and throw strikes, then we will leave them alone. However, shortening them up usually unlocks some other parts of the kinetic chain that help produce more consistent results. But I do want to highlight that it can be done both ways.
We normally teach some form of bag leg squat here at CBC. Meaning, we would like a bend in the back leg while moving down the mound. This is not always the case either, as I will show you two different pitchers and two different bag leg mechanics:
I could not have picked two more different candidates for this one. Randy Johnson who is 6’11’’, and Tim Collins, who is 5’5’’. Johnson throwing over 100 mph, Tim Collins runs it up to 97+ mph. Their back legs are completely different and their body types are different. This is a stark contrast and should be studied extensively. This is why I do not want to have a certain “philosophy” on pitching mechanics because if I tried to teach them both the opposite of what they do, then I might screw them up.
So what do we know?
These are a few examples of pitching mechanics that differ immensely, yet they are/were all highly successful pitchers in MLB. There are a few key things that we do know that could help in pitching velocity as well as consistency.
I wrote a post on this for CBC a few months ago link HERE. It references a couple of studies that say pitching velocity directly correlates with how much force the front leg produces upon landing. From foot strike until ball release, the front leg should be producing force which allows the energy to transfer up the trunk and into the baseball. The more that is produced, the harder one tends to throw. This has been studied and actually replicated a few times. This lends one to believe that this is more than just an opinion.
I know this is not pitching mechanics but here me out. Weight lifting has shown to increase fastball velocity numerous times. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and squat a couple hundred pounds and see what happens. Remember, nothing happens in a vacuum and just doing squats will not help you. But if you have a complete, well thought out, lifting program that will definitely help to increase your velocity. By how much is a loaded question indeed.
This one is a bit of a controversy. Because there are some who complain about the health benefits of long toss. I tend to disagree with them. However, there are some people who do not react well to long toss. Too be honest, those are the exceptions though, not the rules. Most pitchers will hear this statement and say, “That’s me, I don’t react well too long toss.” No, it’s probably not. Unless you have done it structured 3x a week for more than a year and finally go, “Nope it’s not for me,” then you have not tried hard enough. Putting aside the health controversy for a minute, let’s look at the velocity implications for a moment. Here is a nice chart to help demonstrate what I mean:
So, as you can see, the farther you can throw it, the harder you have to throw it. In my personal opinion, those velocities are a bit high for those distances. However, the premise is correct. In order to increase velocity, work on the dynamic movements of throwing a baseball hard first.
This is why I do not like to get wrapped up inside pitching mechanic circles. They tend to be heavily debated and everyone picks sides. I frankly don’t care for this. I only care for making the athlete better and improving his performance in the game. If this means I have to check my ego and not teach something that I hold dear to my heart, then so be it. Player development should be focused on the athletes themselves, not the coaches. Don’t be that coach that doesn’t check his ego and destroys a player. And don’t be that player that gets so sucked into the mechanics of pitching, that he forgets to actually be an athlete.
Director of Pitching
Chapman Baseball Compound
Chapman Baseball Compound is a 3,000 square foot facility where we specialize in baseball development specifically in the areas of: hitting, pitching, catching, and mental training.