Frame By Frame Analysis - Nolan Ryan


#1

Various people have criticized my method of analyzing the mechanics of pitchers because I do it using large numbers of still photos.

As a result, I have recently put together an analysis of Nolan Ryan’s pitching motion and mechanics using a number of frames from a single clip that I have laid out using Powerpoint…

Once the document loads, use the page up and page down buttons to go frame by frame through the clip.

I am currently working on similar analyses of the mechanics of Juan Marichal and Sandy Koufax, and will do the same for other great pitchers, if I can find a good clip of them throwing.

I’d be interested in what you think.


#2

Maybe if you didn’t have incorrect statements in your analysis there would be less criticism. Locking the knee out in Ryan’s case stops hip rotation allowing the momentum to be transferred to the torso and shoulders and eventually the arm.


#3

I don’t buy this, because most of the stiffening of Ryan’s GS knee occurs after he has released the ball. Also, if the stiffening of the GS knee was absolutely critical to velocity, then why do many hard throwers (e.g. Tom Seaver) maintain a flexed GS knee?

I also don’t think that the idea of momentum development and transfer is as important as some people (including Nolan Ryan) think it is. Instead, I think the proper sequencing of the stretching and contraction of certain muscles is more important.


#4

I like it. Looks good.

Chris, if you could get one of those for Pedro, I would be so thankful.


#5

something about that old texas stadium has the feel of a rodeo or a tractor pull or a state fair. It’s like, hey, let’s bring the family out and watch this 40-year-old man fire a ball.


#6

I’m trying to find a good clip of him.

Right now the only ones I have are views from CF, which isn’t the best angle. I prefer views from 1B or 3B since those are side views and you can easily see everything.


#7

Chris.
I must say that I’m somewhat impressed. I have a few comments though.

  1. From this angle, you can’t really see where his shoulders are pointing. I have a clip from the front view that shows a significant counter-rotation.

  2. The front foot doesn’t come straight down then out. I have a clip from the closed side that shows that it takes a slight forward angle but the important part is that there is a smooth transition from down to out. It’s not down then out. This smooth transition allows the momentum built up in the high knee lift to assist in sideways c.o.g. motion during the stride.

  3. This same clip from the closed side shows a curious little move with the hips at the top of his knee lift. Firstly, his c.o.g. continues its motion toward the plate, even as he is lifting the knee. The curious move is how he “tilts” his pelvis. This serves to get his c.o.g. moving forward, away from the supporting foot, thus creating “imbalance”. All of this would facilitate the initiation of the stride.

  4. This clip (closed side) also shows how he employs the back arch (Nyman’s bow-arch-bow. CADad, you might be able to describe this better than I.) just as the shoulders are turning and the torso is tracking forward. This helps to load the front side of the torso and the subsequent unload as the torso flexes forward.

  5. The front knee may not be completely straightened out until release or shortly thereafter but it is bracing the front hip and stopping forward c.o.g. movement prior to release.


#8

Seaver’s stride was so long that it effectively ended hip rotation. It isn’t as effective in terms of generating velocity as bracing against a stiffening knee. What Seaver gained from the long stride was a very low release point which almost allowed him to throw a rising fastball when he was up in the zone, more than making up for a bit less velocity because it was different from what hitters would normally see and along with above average velocity made his fastball very effective.

Where’s the part where I say it is absolutely critical?

I only said that bracing the knee stops rotation and allows the momentum to be transferred.

You can find examples of pitchers throwing effectively and generating velocity with a great variety of approaches. I always felt my short stride and upright motion limited my velocity but it sure didn’t seem to hurt Don Sutton’s effectiveness.

Agree with DM that there’s a lot of counter rotation.


#9

Only somewhat impressed? :wink:

I just got an e-mail from an area scout for the Rockies who was very impressed.

It could be that he reverse-rotated more in his early days. I know that Clemens’ mechanics changed as he got older.

I don’t see much (e.g. <15 degrees) sign of reverse-rotation in these clips…

I agree that Ryan’s leg motion is more of a swinging motion than Up, Down, then Out. The same thing is true for Koufax.

Koufax does the same thing.

I agree.


#10

A rising fastball doesn’t actually rise. It’s an optical illusion.

I don’t see it.


#11

I see a little counter rotation, however, I don’t think it’s enough to effect his arm, which is obvious because he pitched for like 100 years. I’d say he has a little bit, nothing really extreme though.


#12

I don’t buy this, because most of the stiffening of Ryan’s GS knee occurs after he has released the ball. Also, if the stiffening of the GS knee was absolutely critical to velocity, then why do many hard throwers (e.g. Tom Seaver) maintain a flexed GS knee?

I also don’t think that the idea of momentum development and transfer is as important as some people (including Nolan Ryan) think it is. Instead, I think the proper sequencing of the stretching and contraction of certain muscles is more important.[/quote]

The above comment shows your ineptitude in regards to anything related to baseball pitching other than pinning up a few still photos and than regurrgetating what you have read and you THINK you may agree with! “I also dont think that the idea of momentum development and transfer is as important as some people” [thats the best comment in the world IF your goal is to make people who actually know really doubt anything you say only becasue it IS the most crucial aspect to EVERTHING on earth that involves a kinetic energy system. PLEASE PLEASE do not come back and tell me you disagree with a kinetic link and baseball pitching. Because if you do you are only SCREAMING at the top of your lungs that you ARE as inept as I think you are!!!] "I think the proper sequencing of stretching and contraction of certain muscles muscles, I thought muscles didnt stretch according to you? transfer/sequence now your parsing your own words! By the way the blocking of the front side IS what stops forward movement or drifting of the hips/pelvis and allows them to rotate. Ill give you this much you do put an effort into what your trying to accomplish. there is merit in that. Now you have just got to learn a little of what your spouting off. My advice would be to learn first spout later!!! thats just me though!


#13

Yo chin, easy, it’s not like you’ve got to be a certified expert to develop a theory or an opinion on something, anything.

There’s no requirement that you have a Ph.D. in physics in order to post here.

You can be full of B.S. and speculation and that’s fine. It’d be inept of someone to keep their B.S. thoughts and misguided speculations to themselves without sharing such misguidedness in an open forum so that others can debate and set them straight.


#14

Sticks and stones…

My point is that I believe that the stride, followed by the foot plant, is enough to create the momentum transfer (and the momentum transfer IS important but it’s not everything). I don’t believe that stiffening the GS is necessary (and I believe that it might be problematic). This view is driven by the fact that, while every pitcher strides, not every pitcher stiffens their GS knee.

I never said that and certainly don’t think it. If I did, then I wouldn’t have written extensively a month of so back about the importance of the Stretch Shortening Cycle to the creation of maximum power.

If I am so lacking in knowledge, then why in the past week have I gotten very complimentary messages from a former big league pitcher (current college coach) and a current scout for the Rockies?

They think that I know something.


#15

Chris,
Why do you keep answering things I didn’t say? I didn’t say his fastball rose. I said almost.

By the way, a fastball thrown up out of the strike zone from a low release point such as Seaver’s certainly can be still rising as it crosses the plate. Just as a submarine pitcher’s fastball can still be rising as it crosses the plate high in the strike zone despite the sinker type spin on it because of the low release point resulting in an upward trajectory that the spin doesn’t completely overcome before the ball reaches the plate, a pitcher like Seaver who is releasing the ball on a shallower upward trajectory with backspin will result in a ball about eye high that is still rising a tiny bit as it crosses the plate.

A decent but not amazing fastball takes about .44 seconds to reach the plate. The spin on a 4 seam fastball can give it a fairly constant upward acceleration of about 16 ft/sec2 according to Adair. Gravity results in a downward acceleration of 32 ft/sec2. The net is a downward acceleration of 16 ft/sec2. Taking up as positive then given v=v0+at if the pitch were released level then v=0-16*.44 and the ball would be dropping at a velocity of 7ft/s as it crossed the plate. The ball would actually drop about 1.5 ft from release to the plate. But if the ball were released from a height of 3 ft above the ground and an upward velocity of 8 ft/s then it would be still moving up at 1 ft/s as it crossed the plate. The question then is what height is the ball as it crosses the plate? We know that d=v0t+1/2*at^2. v0=8, t=.44 and a=-16. The result is about 2 ft above the release point. We add that to the 3 ft high release point and we have a ball moving upward at 1 ft/s crossing the plate 5 ft above the ground. Not a strike on many hitters but certainly a pitch many hitters have swung at.

Now we need to look at the sensitivity of some of the assumptions. What if the ball were released at 4ft above the ground? Then the ball would be 6 ft above the ground and rising as it crossed the plate. Not a strike on anyone but still a pitch that has been swung at. What if the ball was released from 4ft above ground and the initial upwards velocity was 7.1 ft/s? The ball would arrive at the plate with only the tiniest upward velocity but would not be quite as high, arriving at about 5.6 ft above the ground. Given that Tom Seaver was about 6 ft tall, had a low arm slot, had a long stride so that he was well off the crest of the mound 4 ft seems to be a very reasonable assumption for release height and it could have been even lower.

What does all this math tell us? It tells us that Tom Seaver was able to throw an eye high rising fastball that hitters would swing at and miss because they were expecting the ball to drop like virtually every other pitch they’d ever seen.

I get tired of people who repeat things they don’t really understand as dogma.


#16

A few comments:

(1) On slide 5 (the apex of his knee lift) I’d point out that the hips are starting forward.

(2) Around slide 13 or 14, I’d point out that he leads with his front hip and his head and shoulders stay behind his front hip into foot strike.

(3) On slide 15, I’d be careful with the description of his front leg motion. He straightens that leg so there is also a bit of “out and around” in his motion.

(4) On slide 27 you point out that the PAS arm is bent about 90 degrees. I would also note that the glove arm is also bent about 90 degrees. Yes, this is Tom House “equal and opposite” stuff that you probably don’t buy into but it is evident in the video that he does it. (Whether you agree it figures into balance of the rotating torso as well as contributes to timing and is, therefore, important is another story.)

(5) On slide 28 you say the PAS toe is off the ground. The toe doesn’t really come off the ground until slide 33 which is well after his release point.

(6) On slide 30 you say that the glove side leg has firmed up. I believe that happened at slide 28. The leg doesn’t have to be straight to be braced - assuming one has the proper strength.

(7) Even though you said early on that Ryan’s eyes remain locked on the target, I’d reiterate that point on slide 36.


#17

Now let’s treat another problem with your so called analysis. You say that the stiffening leg lets his shoulders continue to go around. What is the reality? from images 26 to 29 the shoulders rotate about the spine from about 120 degrees closed to fully open and the arm fully laid back (shoulder externally rotated). From 29 to 31, from fully laid back to well past release the shoulders virtually don’t rotate about the spine at all. That is the shoulders have stopped rotating and have transferred their momentum to the arm. That is the end of the kinetic chain in all it’s beauty and all it’s stress on the arm.

Nice clips, keep posting them, I’m sure the scouts like to see clips they don’t have to know how to use quicktime or media player to look at frame by frame. But please leave the analysis to somebody who knows more about pitching than you do.


#18

Thanks for the comments, Roger.

Done.

It’s especially evident on the Koufax clip, but you can see it on the Ryan clip as well.

Done.

I agree. He’s not strictly Up, Down, and Out. It’s more of a swing.

I think the key is that he’s leading with his GS heel and his GS butt cheek.

I don’t have a problem with equal and opposite, since I do believe that they can help with balance. It’s just that IMO being equal and opposite isn’t enough to ensure that you will be injury free. You can be equal and opposite but have the PAS elbow above and behind the shoulders (and IMO be at a higher risk of shoulder problems).

Someone else mentioned this, so I took another look at this. I think I might have been fooled by something.

In my experience, there is usually a 1/2" to 1" depression in front of the rubber on most mounds. It could be that Ryan’s PAS toe is on the ground and tracking through and then up and out of this depression, which would make it look like it is popping up in the air. IOW, in frame 27 his PAS toe is in the depression but in frame 28 his PAS toe has come forward and up and out of the depression.

Does this make sense?

Maybe, but I don’t see the angle of the GS knee change significantly until frame 30.

I agree that you can brace against a still-bent knee. I think that’s the ideal.

Done.


#19

So, at this point your analysis contains statements of your observations. Presumably, your statements comment on aspects of the mechanics that you feel are important. There’s not much to debate here except for the accuracy of the observations (e.g. when the back toe lifts off the ground). But the next step would be to describe the importance of each of those items so readers will understand why they should do those things. Of course, that will be a source of much more debate.


#20

[quote=“CADad”]Now let’s treat another problem with your so called analysis. You say that the stiffening leg lets his shoulders continue to go around. What is the reality? from images 26 to 29 the shoulders rotate about the spine from about 120 degrees closed to fully open and the arm fully laid back (shoulder externally rotated). From 29 to 31, from fully laid back to well past release the shoulders virtually don’t rotate about the spine at all. That is the shoulders have stopped rotating and have transferred their momentum to the arm. That is the end of the kinetic chain in all it’s beauty and all it’s stress on the arm.

Nice clips, keep posting them, I’m sure the scouts like to see clips they don’t have to know how to use quicktime or media player to look at frame by frame. But please leave the analysis to somebody who knows more about pitching than you do.[/quote]

THANKYOU!!! hes a much better photogragher than baseball pitching guru, in my opinion of course!