Lead with elbow?

The harder throwing pitchers almost seem to lead with the elbow of their throwing arm and the forearm angled back almost parallel to the ground. I can see how this would give more of a whip action and increase velocity. I have thought of trying to get my son to LEAD WITH HIS ELBOW but was not sure what was right. I am sure it would take a bit to get his arm and shoulder more flexible. Is this right or wrong??


you have me confused with someone else. My son is 15 and about to be put in his high school rotation. He is probably throwing mid sixties which I know is slow but he is throwing harder than all but one Sr. By next year I would like him to be at least in the low 70’s if possible.

Do you have some pics or video that will help illustrate your question?

I’ve heard some things about this. While your write that more of the harder throwing pitchers tend to lead with their elbow, there’s no real hard evidence that that’s what makes them throw so hard. Many have also talked about the “inverted w” which is the shape your arms and shoulders make when leading with thte elbow, and have said that it causes much more stress on a throwing arm.

All that aside however, there’s one thing I believe and that’s not to mess with the natural throwing motion of a pitcher. Proper mechanics with the body should put the arm in a good throwing position, but by having a kid alter how he naturally throws something after he’s been throwing like that since little league is foolish in my eyes, and could certainly lead to a preventable injury. unless he has an awful throwing motion, that is not the answer to him throwing harder. focus on the rest of his body mechanics and strengthen up his core and legs and you’ll see the real velocity jumps.

no pics or video right now but maybe this will help. During delivery some guys upper arms are parallel (or close to it) to the ground and the elbow pointed toward 3rd(for a righty) and the forearm rotated back pointing somewhat towards second base. My son at this point has his forearm pointing up to the sky nearly. It just seems it would produce more whip if the elbow were further in front of the ball and the forearm laid back more. The only thing we have for a pitching coach is a coach from another school and he is really not supposed to help kids from another school. We have went to him twice for advice and last time the only thing he said that was wrong was short arming on occasion. He was throwing from beside his ear as he got tired and not extending his arm back after hand seperation. I am thinking if he tries to lead that arm with his elbow it may help and gain velocity but not sure.


Before messing with the flexibility of your son’s shoulder this is a great article to read by Eric Cressey.

Ok how about pics or video showing what it is you think you want to get your son to do?

GREAT article amar thanks for sharing it

I personally think that there should be a focus on arm action daily. It should be a part of your daily routine. The idea that you wouldn’t focus on trying make the arm more efficient is ridiculous to me. Sometimes this requires the athlete stepping out of his comfort zone. But like everything else there is a time and place. The action of the arm is constantly evolving, watch vdeos of Roger Clemens and watch how his changed. I am not saying that you should make a total overhaul but that there should be focus and allow the body and arm to make it’s own change. It will happen if you keep the movement goals clearly defined.

Sorry cellman, I certainly do, another poster just came on with a similar name. Some video would be great on your son…sorry again.

No problem buwhite and good read Amar. Sounds like for now I should probably not change anything. I do not want to be the obsessed parent but I do know my high school baseball was one of my favorite times in life. If he gets to play and throw some that is enough for me, I just don’t want his memories to be of losing seasons. Will try to find a way to get some video. What do you guys do to prevent short arming when getting tired?? Proper mechanics and time I would think??

Prevent him from getting tired as soon by throwing more.

Proper mechanics is only part of the equation. Have to get out of the mindset that everything is a mechanical problem, we are all guilty at times.

I think vtpitch got it right. I have certainly seen a pitcher’s arm motion improve (as subjective as that is) as a result of improved mechanics, sequencing and timing.

Wrong on both counts.

There are several studies that correlate external rotation with velocity i.e. extra rotation is leading with the elbow. It’s been demonstrated that the close of the 180° of extra rotation the greater the velocity.

With respect to the inverted W you have no clue as to what you’re talking about. There’s a tremendous amount of misinformation it was spread by Chris O’Leary who has no idea as to what the inverted W actually is or how to achieve it. The inverted W simply scapular loading. O’Leary equated inverted W to raising the elbows above the shoulder which is a total misrepresentation of what the inverted W is and what it’s intended to achieve.this

Again more misinformation. There’s no such thing as “natural throwing motion”. All throwing motion is a learned movement pattern. A 15-year-old throwing in the mid-60s is pushing the baseball as opposed to throwing the baseball. He’s probably “shortarming” i.e. not getting external rotation. This can be changed. It’s not easy and it’s a gradual process but it can be changed. Requires working on flexibility as well as in granting a new movement pattern.

There we go with Paul and his not so humble opinions. Spreading the correct knowledge is always a good thing even if you have to say someone is dead wrong. Besides the way you throw a ball at 70 and the way you throw one at 90 mph are going to be different, thus altering the “natural throwing motion”. If only you, Paul would sell some of your products again, as long as people are willing to learn.

I can deal with ignorance and wanting to learn…

I can deal with arrogance if it’s accompanied by factual information…

But I have absolutely no tolerance for the combination of ignorance and arrogance…

[quote]Baseball - Throwing Mechanics

Comparison of High Velocity and Low Velocity Pitch Deliveries
Stodden DF, Fleisig GS, McLean SP, Lyman SL, Andrews JR. Relationship of pelvis and upper torso kinematics to pitched baseball velocity. Journal of Applied Biomechanics 17(2):164-172, 2001.
Matsuo T, Escamilla RF, Fleisig GS, Barrentine SW, Andrews JF. Comparison of kinematic and temporal parameters between different pitch velocity groups. Journal of Applied Biomechanics 17(1): 1-13, 2001.
Stodden, DF, Fleisig, GS, McLean, SP, Andrews, JR. Relationship of Biomechanical Factors to Basebal Pitching Velocity: Within Pitcher Variation. Journal of Applied Biomechanics 21(1): 44-56, 2005


In three published studies, Dr. Glenn Fleisig and Dr. James R. Andrews from ASMI worked with other researchers in studying many of the parameters that affect baseball pitch velocity. Two of the studies looked between different pitchers and one study looked at variations within each pitcher. Motions during delivery were analyzed using a high speed (200 frames per second) infrared three-dimensional motion analysis system.


In the study by Matsuo and others, pitchers with higher ball velocity were compared with pitchers with lower ball velocity. Four significant differences were found between these two groups.

Compared to the low ball velocity group, the higher ball velocity pitchers demonstrated less lead knee flexion velocity after front foot contact and greater lead knee extension velocity at the time of ball release. Extending the lead knee in this manner may provide stabilization allowing better energy transfer from the trunk to the throwing arm, and could be a critical factor in pitch velocity. Maximum shoulder external rotation and forward trunk tilt at ball release were also greater in the higher velocity group. Greater shoulder external rotation causes a stretch of the internal rotators allowing energy to be stored in these muscles, and creating greater internal rotation during the arm acceleration phase.[/quote][/b]

Another study:


Nigel Zheng and Koco Eaton
University of North Carolina at Charlotte, NC, USA
University of South Florida, Tampa Rays, FL, USA

Table 2 lists the Pearson correlation coefficients and significance p values. There were significant correlations between the maximum shoulder external rotation and ball gun speed, and between the shoulder external rotation and shoulder rotational flexibility.[/quote]

Great info right there Paul, thank you for sharing. Things are always better when you back them up with hard facts. Shining light on how to throw the crap out of a baseball one day at a time, thank you.