# Bthrowing arm loose or stiff?

ive been wondering about when your upper body has fully rotated and you started to bring your arm around.

should you let the torque momentum of opening your torso and chest bring your arm around and while doing that let your arm be very lose

(picture a ball on a string and slinging the ball around the room…kinda like that)

or should you pull the arm foward by using strength

basically what im saying is should you throw the ball or sling it?

*by saying sling it i dont mean coming sidearm

the arm stays rag loose as you throw the ball

Interesting question.

Imagine (or actually do the experiment) throwing a baseball with absolutely no rotational contribution from your torso. That is, from a static position where your torso is already facing home plate, throw a ball with your arm only. No cheating, you cannot use your torso at all in this experiment.

How much velocity can you generate that way? How does your “arm-only velocity” compare with your actual pitching velocity?

Most of the velocity of a real pitch comes from the potential energy that you store in your torso as your hips rotate open with your shoulders still closed. That is also called “hip-shoulder separation”. When your shoulders do rotate open the potential energy you briefly stored in your torso is converted to the kinetic energy that is responsible for most of your pitch velocity.

For the most part the throwing arm goes along for the ride–that is, whatever “ride” you created for it with the mechanics that led up to launch of the ball.

On the other hand, I don’t know that I’d describe a pitcher’s throwing arm as “loose” in a good delivery. Perhaps “supple” would be a better description. Firm enough to maintain form under the stress of ball launch, but certainly flexible enough to transmit the force from your torso to the ball in a “whip-like” fashion.

no not supple, loose. when i throw my arm feels like it was dislocated from my body right when my hand break is at max. but when i throw my curve and my change i have more control of my arm. i do that because the less loose the arm is the slower you throw. so its kinda how i keep same mechanics while changing speeds on ball without hitters knowing. but for a fast ball id say “dislocated” loosness.

well as you release the ball is it harmful to let your throwing elbow lead infront of your forearm. ive seen alot of mlb pitchers and the lead from the elbow is rediclous it almost looks like their arm is bent back completely.
like when you scalp load that puts your throwing arm behind even further.

my coach has been gettin mad at me for doing this but i hardly ever have arm pain

jake,

re: “no not supple, loose. when i throw my arm feels like it was dislocated from my body right when my hand break is at max. but when i throw my curve and my change i have more control of my arm. i do that because the less loose the arm is the slower you throw. so its kinda how i keep same mechanics while changing speeds on ball without hitters knowing. but for a fast ball id say “dislocated” loosness.”

---------I am not disputing what you believe you feel; however, in my opinion, there are a couple of problems with your beliefs.

1. If your throwing arm was really as loose as you describe it, what do you think would hold it up as you launch the ball? I think dusty delso described it as “rag loose” but, of course, I disagree with that characterization as well. If a 3’ long rag were attached on one end to your shoulder, and had a 5 oz baseball attached to its other end, where do you think that rag would be hanging out without some visible means of support? Straight down at your side, of course. You could not possibly throw any type of reasonable pitch with a “rag loose” arm. You do need to exert some muscle tension to maintain support of your arm during a pitch, whether you “feel” it or not.

2. Your understanding of the difference between a change-up or curveball and a fastball is very flawed, in my opinion. Quality change-ups and curveballs are thrown with fastball arm-speed–it is their unique grips that takes speed off of those pitches, not a reduction in your arm speed. It may be a common “Little League” sort of technique, but slowing your arm-speed down to throw curves and change-ups won’t work for you very well in the long run. As you progress, and the hitters that you face get better, they will be watching you carefully to see when you are doing something different in your delivery. Deliberate changes in your body/arm speed from pitch to pitch are among the easiest “tells” for a good hitter to pick up.

[quote=“drew_14”]well as you release the ball is it harmful to let your throwing elbow lead infront of your forearm. ive seen alot of mlb pitchers and the lead from the elbow is rediclous it almost looks like their arm is bent back completely.
like when you scalp load that puts your throwing arm behind even further.

my coach has been gettin mad at me for doing this but i hardly ever have arm pain[/quote]

A pitcher has absolutely ZERO control over whether this happens or to what degree.

[quote]1) If your throwing arm was really as loose as you describe it, what do you think would hold it up as you launch the ball? I think dusty delso described it as “rag loose” but, of course, I disagree with that characterization as well. If a 3’ long rag were attached on one end to your shoulder, and had a 5 oz baseball attached to its other end, where do you think that rag would be hanging out without some visible means of support? Straight down at your side, of course. You could not possibly throw any type of reasonable pitch with a “rag loose” arm. You do need to exert some muscle tension to maintain support of your arm during a pitch, whether you “feel” it or not.

1. Your understanding of the difference between a change-up or curveball and a fastball is very flawed, in my opinion. Quality change-ups and curveballs are thrown with fastball arm-speed–it is their unique grips that takes speed off of those pitches, not a reduction in your arm speed. It may be a common “Little League” sort of technique, but slowing your arm-speed down to throw curves and change-ups won’t work for you very well in the long run. As you progress, and the hitters that you face get better, they will be watching you carefully to see when you are doing something different in your delivery. Deliberate changes in your body/arm speed from pitch to pitch are among the easiest “tells” for a good hitter to pick up.[/quote]

i never tryed to argue i just used your your supple as reference. first or all a rag weighs 1 ounce. your arm weighs more than 5 pounds. i said after full hand break my arm goes that loose, meaning arms are in full load position and when i start the throw with arm its rag loose. i also never said i slow my arm down with fastballs and changeups. i said that my arm isnt as loose when i throw them meaning it doesnt move as fast because its not as loose but that you cant tell the difference because my delivery and precieved arm speed stays the same. theres no way for a hitter to tell your arms not as loose on one pitch to the other. the fact that you used the word “very flawed” makes me laugh because i have an extremley good strike out ratio with those pitches. Also tendons and muscles suport the arm when throwing rag loose. you still have alot to learn if you think our thoughts of rag loose arnt right. and i can tell you its pretty hard to top 86 if it isnt

Okay, Jake–take a deep breath and relax.

I didn’t say you’re a bad pitcher or a bad person. In my opinion, and it is just that–an opinion, you do have a very flawed understanding of some points.

If you do something to make your arm move less fast on curves and changes, then…that’s the same as doing something to make your arm move slower, no?

In my opinion, your fastball, your curveball, and your changeup should all be thrown with fastball arm-speed. The different grips that you use for these different pitches will cause them to have different velocities (and of course, different spin characteristics).

You and I pretty much agree that tendons and muscles support your arm during a pitch. I just don’t call the muscle tension that is sufficient to hold up your arm during a pitch “rag loose”. If there isn’t anything looser than “rag loose” then, what would you call a rag without support from muscles and tendons, “really, really rag-loose”? I guess you could see where that would get confusing.

only problem is that precived arm speed from being more controlled with your arm during delivery isnt noticable. your body and everything moves just the same the only difference is you have more control over your arm. so rather than rag loose you can position the pitch to stay on top of the pitch. but it is unnoticable because delivery arm speed is seen the same to a batter you cant tell that the arm is more loose during the pitch because the body mechanics bring the arm around like a fastball. if you try and throw a curve with same arm speed you will over rotate and hang curveballs. i throw consistant 88-89 and if i try to throw my curve with same action and loosness it will hang the pitch because it is moving to fast. but if i slow body down just a lil bit the loosness creates a great curve but you see it coming. thats when i started throwing with less loosness and same delivery and the result is an unnoticable(and every game i make sure to ask if the pitch can be projected) difference between pitches and effective pitches

if you think keep your arm loose and the elbow flexed, the bones and connective tissue should provide enough support to thow effectively. i have better luck having pitchers think this than i do when they are trying to muscle the ball. i have some slow motion footage of clemens and mariano rivera and their arms just flop after they throw the ball.

may not be what you actually do but the concept works for me.

[quote=“dusty delso”]if you think keep your arm loose and the elbow flexed, the bones and connective tissue should provide enough support to thow effectively. i have better luck having pitchers think this than i do when they are trying to muscle the ball. i have some slow motion footage of clemens and mariano rivera and their arms just flop after they throw the ball.

may not be what you actually do but the concept works for me.[/quote]

There is a certain tension built up in the arm simply through the act of gripping a baseball. The rag loose feeling is simply the arm in a relaxed state; this is not to say there is no tension. If there were no tension at some point in the motion, the ball would drop out of your hand at that time. The fingers are connected to the forearm, which is connected to the elbow/upper arm/shoulder group.

Nothing happens in a vacuum, and that includes muscles and muscle groups. Tension in the fingers translates to tension in the entire arm and shoulders. The best pitchers minimize this tension to the point where it is only enough to hold on to a 5 oz. ball, and then allow the naturally relaxed state of the muscles to transfer the energy (built up in the pitching sequence) to the ball near release. At that point, with the exception of the change-up, some force is applied to the ball again by the fingers to impart spin (backspin on a fastball, topspin on a curve, sidespin on a slider, etc … or no spin in the case of a knuckler) for a split second. It is my layman’s belief that it is this last bit of “oomph” applied to the ball that leads to most pitching injuries as it places an incredible amount of stress on the soft tissues at a point of highest applied-force.

Anyway, I understand what both sides are saying, and I think both are right. If you’re doing it right, the arm will “feel” rag loose, regardless of what science or reason may tell us to the contrary.

The Hose

dusty,

I pretty much knew that you understand all of this stuff, despite differences in jargon. And I get where you’re coming from–if a pitcher has a pronounced tendency to muscle up on the ball, coaching him to feel “rag loose” would usually be a step in the right direction. Presumably, no pitcher would take “rag-loose” literally, for more than about one attempt at a pitch.

Hoseman,

Very well said!

The only point I quibble with is excepting the change-up from your discussion of how the fingers apply linear force and spin to the ball.

To summarize my experience, all pitches are thrown with as-near-to-identical body/arm speed as possible. FB obviously has most linear force applied because of the FB grip. The FB grip also allows for very high backspin rotational rates–in the neighborhood of 30 +/-10 revs per sec.

Quality curves are thrown to get even higher rotational rates, perhaps 40 +/-10 rps, of topspin. Because the i- and m-fingers are not directly behind the ball for breaking pitches, curves are considerably off-speed.

Change-ups are the most interesting (and least understood) pitch in some respects. My pitching mentor taught me that the highest quality varieties of change-up are all thrown with significant pre-set pronation of the hand/wrist/forearm. Whether you throw a C-change, O-change, or 3-finger “pitch-fork” change-up, the pronated change-up grip imparts screwball-like topspin and the fact that the fingers are not directly behind the ball takes considerable velocity off of the pitch. Pitchers who throw a change-up without a pronated grip are really throwing a mediocre FB, which usually will lack decent movement–because the spin is FB-like.

I knew when I wrote that that I would get some argument, and it’s true that spin is generated on a good CU. I would even go as far as to admit that the fingers have a roll in imparting the spin 8) I do believe that on a good CU the fingers are mostly along for the ride, while with some folks pressure on the middle finger is applied - but the pronation of the forearm and the position of the fingers does most of the work.

I believe that a great example of a loose arm and fingers is the clip of Nolan Ryan on this site.

http://www.letstalkpitching.com/images/nolan_ryan_open_side.gif

Watch as he finishes. His fingers are limp as his hand reaches the point of its greatest forward movement.

I probably should have included the CU in my original post, but chose to exclude it so that I could have this conversation instead :lol:

im sorry but i have to say this is extremely untrue. if you put a screwball spin on a changeup it give the pitch away more than if you put backspin. i throw a circle change, i use to have the screwball rotation but because the pitch slows down you can spot the rotation as a batter and thats why i had to change it. i throw directly on top of the ball and make sure to stay on top of it. it spins like a fastball which gives it its deception but mine goes from a 89mph fastball to a 79mph changeup with over a 3 inch drop and nobody seems to hit it well. if you spin the changeup like a screw or anything different then it will be extremly easy to pick up the pitch. once it leaves your hand they can see that rotation and recognize the pitch. if you get on top of it it creates backspin but not as much as fastball it is also held deeper in the hand.

i teach throwing the change off the end of the ring finger spinning straight backwards. if you get 12 to 15 mph difference, it doesn’t have to move much and doesn’t have to located extremely well. i’ve posted extensively on this in the past. pronating the change up is tough to control, but effective if you can. i just do not think it is as easy as many make it appear. if it was easy, you would see more quality change ups. pedro has one of the best and he spins the ball backwards (hitters on hitting-finding the sweet spot, super slow motion video of pedro)

dusty how do you grip that pitch throwing off the ring finger

is the ring finger in the middle of the ball with the other fingers to the side?

yes they are. the index finger is completely off the ball and the middle finger rides along side the ball. the fingerprint pads of both these fingers must be off the ball to slow it down effectively with fastball backspin. try throwing this way into the end of a cage or while playing short catch to get the feel of it. it will take some practice and time to get comfortable with the grip.

it’s worth the effort.

Jake,

What I was saying about the pronated, screwball-like grip for release of change-ups like the circle-change is relatively easy to verify for yourself.

Simply go to gettyimages.com and look for stills of elite pitchers who throw a circle change. You should look for quality stills of the pitcher taken just about at the moment of foot-strike–that is, well before actual release of the ball.

You will clearly see from these pictures that the “circle”, made with thumb and index finger, is pointed toward the catcher…this is a highly pronated grip, which necessarily makes the ball roll off of the middle finger with topspin.

A true screwball is not very much different, except that the index finger lies alongside the middle finger–it’s really just a curveball grip that is preset with pronation of the wrist/hand/forearm.

Credit where credit is due, Jake, I didn’t figure out any of this stuff on my own and I didn’t make it up out of thin air…it is first-hand information from the pitching coach my son and I have been working with for 5 years now. This coach has 35 years of professional baseball experience including 9 years pitching in MLB, 6 years coaching pitchers in the Astros and Padres organizations, 5 years head pitching coach for Texas Rangers when Nolan Ryan was on their staff, and basically a professional lifetime spent researching pitching mechanics, etc.

[quote]You will clearly see from these pictures that the “circle”, made with thumb and index finger, is pointed toward the catcher…this is a highly pronated grip, which necessarily makes the ball roll off of the middle finger with topspin.[/quote] ya it can roll with topspin if you want it to but the thing we were talking about is deception. rolling it off middle finger is what i use to do. alot of people that i play with pointed out the rotation on the ball and said they could pick it up out of my hands. if you get more on top of the circle change it will roll off of you middle and ring finger and create more backspin. the grip alone take the speed off of the ball and the flick at the end will give it a downward drop. you get a drop with the middle finger roll but you also get alot of rotation that gets picked up out of your hand by the batter…anyway its all relative to the person throwing, its just when you say my veiws are flawed then its a problem. and yes you might have a great coach but the coach isnt you. do you throw? have you ever thrown over 87? have you ever practiced every day until your arm cant go on? i tell people what i think because i was in same place, trying all the different styles and thinking 1 magic thing is gana fix it(like everyone and lincicum). and i went through all of it without any coaching. im telling people what i know from activley pitching in games and game situations. yes your coach told you about that changeup but have you ever thrown it in a game? do you know from personal experience that the changeups and fastballs hes teaching are right? so when you tell me that im flawed its kinda like your saying i dont know what im talking about which i could understand if you were a pitcher and could argue your effectiveness with me. but when you say im wrong because somone told you different its pointless
who is the coach? what team did he play for?