Is there something wrong with the way I throw?

Recently I’ve been looking at the pitching mechanics or Major Leaguers, and even at the way my friends throw. The one thing I notice is that most players (and my friends) eventually arrive at this position:

…where their elbow is bent (or “cocked”) before they release the ball.

So I’ve been looking at videos of myself, and I finally recognize what I thought was very unorthodox when I first saw my videos: it seems as if I never arrive at that elbow position. Instead my arm is pretty much straight right until I begin to release the ball.

*I have a video that sort of shows it here:

(if at all necessary I can upload another video that shows it better)

Basically there are two things I don’t do:

  1. I don’t point my glove at my target.
  2. I don’t “cock” my elbow.

I’ve been throwing like this probably since I started playing baseball 3 years ago. It’s very comfortable for me and I haven’t had any arm problems yet (other than fatigue, which happens to everyone).
I’ve tried pointing my glove, but I find that I actually lose control.
As for the elbow-cocking…I never really picked up on it, mainly because I haven’t had any serious problems hitting my spots (or cut-off men, if I’m playing the outfield), and my coaches haven’t mentioned it to me.

In fact, the ace of my team throws with the same arm action as I (this video:

from 4:02 to 4:20), and just yesterday I saw Vicente Padilla pitch for the Rangers on ESPN. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t point his glove or cock his throwing arm.

So really, is there anything seriously wrong with the way I throw? Or is it just something aesthetic with no real side-effects?

*FYI: I’ve corrected some things since I recorded this 4 months ago:
-I pause longer before I raise my right leg
-I land on the balls of my right foot instead of the heel. My coach said that it helps with my balance.
-I now land with my body facing the plate, instead of my left side.

Thank You.

I am not a big believer in arm action and I think that what Bonderman is doing in the photo above is dangerous. I would never teach a pitcher to emulate what Bonderman is doing in the photo above.

In my view, what the arm and the elbow do are the EFFECT of a powerful throw, not the CAUSE of a powerful throw.

If you use your lower body properly, then your arm will do the right thing.

whoops, my bad. I didn’t mean for that arm action to be so extreme. I’ve just notice that most players when they throw have at least a slight bend in their elbow before they release the ball (more specifically, right before their front leg touches the floor), while i don’t.

Well, I think you do have a bend in your arm but maybe it doesn’t happen at the same point in time or for the same duration as other pitchers. You have to have a bend in the arm to initiate forward acceleration of the arm or else you throw entirely with the shoulder. Pitchers who extend their throwing arm straight back will have sort of a “2-step” arm action. The arm extends back and then it bends and rotates such that the elbow tucks down before forward acceleration is initiated. But I don’t really see you doing this.

What I do see is a lack of hip and shoulder separation. Your shoulders rotate very quickly after your hips and before your hips have rotated fully. This means you aren’t fully using your body. It also causes you to spin out of your delivery prematurely which shortens your stride and pulls your release point back. And it also probably effects your velocity. Try extending the glove arm out front more to give yourself the timing to keep the shoulders closed longer. And get those hips moving toward the target sooner. This should lengthen the stride and give you the timing needed to delay shoulder rotation until the hips have fully rotated and it will get your release point closer to home plate.

Can you give me an example of the 2-step arm action? I only have a vague image of what you mean, although I’m going to hazard a guess and say that Mariano Rivera is doing it:

Unfortunately I had much more trouble with the second paragraph, and was wondering if you can reword it…

Are you saying that my shoulder rotates too quickly and my hips are rotating too late?

Thanks though.

EDIT: Well, after reading the second paragraph over and over, it seems to me as if Rivera is a pretty good example of what you mean.

Try to stop your video clip right when your front foot plants. What I would expect to see is that the hips will have rotated (at least partly) but the shoulders are still closed. In your case, however, your shoulders have already rotated as well. This means you’re not getting th emost out of your body to maximize your velocity and reduce stress on the arm. The trick is to figure out why your shoulders are rotating early. I think your front arm action is rather abbreviated and doesn’t give the rest of your body the time it needs to do things properly and that leads to the shoulders rotating early.

Does this help?

As for the “2-step” arm action, your comments sound like you’ve interpretted what I said as something that is good to do and that’s NOT what I meant. The throwing arm needs to be bent when the shoulders rotate to allow the upper arm (ie. humerus) to go into external rotation. If that arm is complete straight, then it must be bent and the elbow lowered to be in the position to start external rotation. This represents and extra, unnecessary and undesirable motion that can affect timing.

By the way, what I’ve called the “2-step arm action” is not a well-known term. I just made it up to describe the motion I’ve seen with young pitchers who extend the arm straight back.

Your problem is that you have virtually no arm action as defined by developing external rotation of the shoulder. It appears that your action rotation is at best 120°. High-level throws approach 180°. A big part of your problem is you’re doing exactly what Chris O’Leary advocates, using your body to throw the baseball. Contrary to popular belief you have to learn how to throw with your arm first before the body can do its thing.

The pitcher on your team that I think you are referring to develops almost 180° of external rotation of the shoulder which results in his ability to whip the ball as opposed to what you are doing which is pushing the ball.

This is not an easy thing to correct as evidenced by the fact that you been doing it this way for over three years. My suggestion is you start off pretending you’re catcher throwing somebody out at second base i.e. making snap throws.

I would also suggest that you make throws emulating Bartolo Colon ( short arming by tucking the ball behind her ear) and then rotating the crap out of the the hips and upper body to throw the ball.

[quote=“coachxj”]Your problem is that you have virtually no arm action as defined by developing external rotation of the shoulder. It appears that your action rotation is at best 120°. High-level throws approach 180°. A big part of your problem is you’re doing exactly what Chris O’Leary advocates, using your body to throw the baseball. Contrary to popular belief you have to learn how to throw with your arm first before the body can do its thing.

The pitcher on your team that I think you are referring to develops almost 180° of external rotation of the shoulder which results in his ability to whip the ball as opposed to what you are doing which is pushing the ball.[/quote]


Large degrees of external rotation is the EFFECT of throwing hard, not the CAUSE of throwing hard.

Throwing hard is the result of learning how to throw with the entire body and not just the arm. As Roger correctly points out, that means rotating the hips ahead of the shoulders so that the large muscles of the lower torso will powerfully pull the shoulders around (which causes the external rotation).

It just blows me away that you don’t understand this basic point.

… who fancies himself as a great pitching theorist but has little or no practical application experience.

Not so.

External rotation is necessary for throwing hard. Tt doesn’t happen magically because you rotate the hips- shoulders. This player has a reasonable amount of hip and shoulder rotation, yet he has very limited external rotation. This player has developed a way of using his body that precludes external rotation and I don’t care how much he rotates his hipster shoulders there is little hope of him developing significant extra rotation unless he focuses on developing better arm capabilities. Not the least of which includes increasing his flexibility as I suspect that after three years he has a significant external (and internal) range of motion deficit.

There are an infinite number of ways that the body can create motion. And simply rotating the hips and shoulders violently do not necessarily mean that the player is going to develop external rotation. Anyone who has worked with players for any significant amount of time should know this. I speak from first-hand information as I have always had an external rotation deficit and one of the most significant problems is adaptive shortening and lack of flexibility which no matter how hard I rotate my hips and shoulders does not get my arm into the correct position ( significant next on rotation).

This player reminds a very much of someone else was posted Nikae09 who is also a pusher with very poor on action. And if I remember correctly when he tried to change his arm action to create more of a whipping action (whipping action also synonymous with developing a much better external-internal sequence) he experienced arm discomfort which is typical of someone who has either not done much pitching and does not have the flexibility or someone who is on the baseball a certain way for a number of years ( adaptive shortening, i.e. my situation).

It just blows me away that you don’t understand these basic points. Or to put more bluntly you don’t have a clue and as hard as you try to show how much you know you show how little you do know. And I will add your when the most dangerous posters (to destroying a playersbaseball potential) on the Internet because of your arrogance and ignorance.

Can you imagine how much better the jungle folks would be throwing spears in order to eat, if they knew as much as us.

…interesting debate, to say the least.

As I expected there are vastly different perspectives on this. I’ll keep them in mind when I have practices this coming week.

Besides, only I can change myself, eh?

The arm needs a certain amount of time to do its thing properly and it needs to do its thing with proper timing relative to other parts of the delivery. I think that the early part of this person’s delivery fails to provide both the timing and the time for the arm to do its thing. And this probably one cause of the lack of external rotation.

Can someone explain to me what exactly external/internal rotation is? As you can probably tell I’m relatively new to all these terms…

Stand with your arm pointing straight out to the side. Now, bend your arm at the elbow so that the forearm is pointing straight up and you have a 90 deg. angle between the upper arm (horizontal) and the forearm (straight up).

Now, if you keep your upper arm horizontal and pointing to the side, rotate your arm so that the forearm points forward. As you rotate in this direction, it is called “internal rotation” of the humerus (upper arm bone). The humerus is rotating “internally” within the shoulder socket.

External rotation of the humerus is rotating back the other way. The pic of Bonderman shows both upper arms “internally rotated”. This happens, to varying degrees in different pitchers, during the early cocking phase of the pitch.

If you watch video, frame by frame, you’ll see that the arm then “externally rotates” as the ball comes up and, when the shoulders turn for the throw, the forearm actually lays back (external rotation) past vertical and, in hard throwers, to approximately horizontal. You can’t really get to that position without the contribution of the body. This is often called “full external rotation” of the humerus. As you can imagine, it’s a particularly nasty thing to do to the tissues in and around the shoulder socket. The really difficult thing is that, if a pitcher does not get to and through full external rotation, he won’t be maximizing his throwing abilities. You can’t force it though. It will happen as part of good, overall body mechanics.

As the throw progreses, the arm will go back into internal rotation. This internal rotation typically happens late in the acceleration phase.

Maybe a long winded answer but I hope this helps.

You CAN “force it” IF you know how to “force it”.

Arm action as with all movement is acquired (motor programs). Mechanics (or more specifically pitching biomechanics) is “supposed” to be about understanding how the body creates movement. Unfortunately (for most of you here) the general belief in the pitching community is that arm action is something that naturally happens, i.e. you have no control over, I do you have it or you don’t.

What does happen is that somewhere along the line between ages 0 and whenever the player starts getting serious about throwing objects, and ingrained pattern of throwing movement has been learned. This movement was developed through a trial and error process. Most likely with an external demands for attributes ( external constraints) such as accuracy in getting batters out as opposed to just possibly just throwing the crap out of the ball ( How far can I throw the ball and how many times can I strike out my next-door neighbor).

And then we have the word “talent” which is used when all other understandings fail, i.e. you’re either born with it or you’re not…


Although I dont’ disagree with what you are saying, I’d like to point out that my statement included the following:

The operative term being the bolded part. The intent was to state that, if one were to stand with the upper arm horizontal and out to the side with the forearm pointing upward (90 deg. bend), you’d have quite a time trying to simply lay the forearm back to horizontal unless you use the body to provide the required force to “force” it back that far. Simple conscious muscular effort of the arm/shoulder complex won’t do it. Now, there may be a Gumby doll out there somewhere who can do it, but I’d say it would be quite rare.

I disagree.

Many moons ago I began using the cue “throw with your elbow”. Mariano Rivera uses the term “rag loose forearm”. Combined with scapula loading (another “cue”), it is very possible to achieve significant external shoulder rotation with minimal rotation of hips and shoulders…

One of the biggest contributors to poor external rotation is the player thinking (his mental image) that you throw the ball with his/her hand which results in pushing the ball (throwing disconnection among other things).

I’m not discounting the role/importance of the body (hip-shoulder rotation) in developing maximum throwing (external rotation). what I am saying is that if you don’t know how to properly use (movement sequence) the scapula-humorous-forearm-hand, all of the hip-shoulder rotation the world will not necessarily produce good external rotation.

And that it’s one thing to “observe” poor external rotation.

It’s something else again to fix it (knowing how)…

I’m not sure what you’re disagreeing with. I’m agreeing with what you’ve been saying. Very helpful stuff, actually. My point was about not being able to get there with NO hip or shoulder contribution. Try it. Put your arm up as I described and lay it back. No hips. No shoulder. Just lay it back. Keep the bend in the elbow.

Actually, this argument is pointless and doesn’t help with the original question. I was simply trying to describe the terms and touch upon how important the contribution of the body is. What you describe about the “how” of doing it effectively is all good stuff.

dm59, thanks for the previous explanation.

I’ve been attempting to throw with more of a whipping action in my arm and trying to get more external rotation there. As expected, I’m having trouble with the flexibility part of it. Is there any way besides continually throwing that can help get my arm back there? Or does it just come with time?

I’ve also noticed that I lack much control throwing this way, but I guess that’s supposed to happen if I change my arm action.

Just to note Mark Prior Throws with a external rotation and again has ended up on the DL with i think Shoulder Problems once again :evil: