Everywhere you turn you hear something concerning high elbows (elbows above the shoulder)… Well I guess the question is what causes this? I have my beliefs and like you all know pitching mechanics is a lot like politics and religion, we all have our convictions and beliefs. For every study that becomes available there is another one that follows trying to disprove the previous. To me, I try and trust what I see based on the information I obtain. I thought a couple of interesting points were made by Roger and Jdfromfla. Roger mentioned that getting the hips started will clean up a lot of arm action issues and JDfrom fla asked what is most important for arm action, pre or post-foot strike? Great points from both gentleman.
I posted a video last week about a 5th rounder of the Astros. This kid is 97mph in velo drills but only 87 off the mound (filthy secondary stuff). Watch the position of the elbows in the video below.
Over the last week we have been working on making adjustments and it had nothing to do with changing or altering the arm action. You will see he has what I refer to as a 2 piece arm action, meaning he takes the ball out with the hand and arm extended but then gets the elbow up quickly. I am a firm believer in arm action and as of last week I knew the lower body effected the arm action but primarily with timing and didn’t alter the path so to speak. Here is the difference after two days of specific drill work. He isolated the lower body with intent to get moving earlier and being more aggressive rotating the hips into footplant. Pay special attention to:
- Hips getting moving forward earlier
- The hips staying in front of the feet
- Position of elbows at foot strike
- Landing at foot strike, toe versus heel
- Extension at release
The high elbow more times than not has nothing to do with the action out of the glove or arm action or keeping the upper body connected. It is a product of the lower body. Most guys with high elbows (above shoulders) are not trying to get there and don’t know how to fix it. Most instructors are preaching that to get rid of the problem you should focus on the arms. I disagree. From studying hours of video and working with a guy that has that problem I took it in a different direction, I focused solely on the hips. What I have found is high elbows is a product of bad timing with the lower body forcing early hip rotation and the pitcher allowing the lead knee to get in front of the hip(which promotes early front hip rotation in most guys). It forces the rear foot to be the driving factor for momentum. When this happens, as the body is trying to transfer energy it transfers it vertically rather than moving it to the front side. What is the product? High Elbows!!!
For every reaction there is an opposite and equal reaction. (Tom House). The pitching delivery is like everything else in this world there is always a cause/effect relationship. So if you see a problem up top, look down. If you see a problem in the front, look in the back, etc…