I recently purchased a high speed video camera to help analyze my students pitching mechanics. My students range in age from 9 to 13 year olds. I have been noticing that many of them have this thing in their motion that I am perceiving as a problem. I would like to know from you if it is or not. If it is, I would also appreciate any advice you could give me on how I can alleviate this or any drills that will help. I am including a link to a video of an 11 year old from the side so that you can see the motion in slow motion. It was taken at 240 frames per second. What I am concerned about is just after his foot landing, as he twists his upper body towards the target, his upper arm from the elbow to the shoulder seems to be traveling at a faster rate than is foream, hand and ball. The lower part of the arm seems to be going backwards because of it and he puts his arm is an odd position. When I put my arm in that position my rotator cuff hurts, (many years of pitching didn’t help it). I am concerned that this upper arm lag is going to hurt my student’s shoulders and also make them throw slower. Am I on the right track with this? Any help you could give me would be wonderful.
What you are describing is normal. It’s called “external rotation” (referring to the rearward rotation of the upper arm or humerus). It’s difficult to see in realtime with the naked eye so it may be surprising to see it when you watch is slo-mo the first time or two. While the amount of external rotation will differ slightly from pitcher to pitcher, all pitchers do this.
Now repeated pitching over a long period of time can result in an adaptation whereby a pitcher gains more external rotation while losing internal rotation. This is called “GIRD” which you can read about here
. GIRD can be a problem though I have never personally encountered such a case.
One thing I did notice was that your pitcher sets up with his feet too wide which causes him to weight shift towards 2B as he goes into knee lift. Try to get him to move only towards home plate.
Thank you Roger for your informative response and the link to read about GIRD. When they talk about internal rotation are they talking about the forearm moving forward? The article also talked about stretching exercises for internal rotation. Do you know of a link where I can see some of them? Thank you also for the advice about the pitcher leaning towards 2nd base. I will work on correcting that. Rich
Yes, internal rotation is the upper arm (and, therefore, the forearm) rotating forward.
I don’t think you need to plan on doing stretched associated with GIRD. Was just making you aware of it since you’re focusing on the movements of the arm. But if you want to learn one of the stretches, Google “sleeper stretch”.
Regarding your pitcher, simply have him start with his feet closer together - think “armpit width” apart. You might also have him put some bend in the knees and waist to give him a posture he has the strength to stabilize. That should help him keep his head from moving in directions other than at the target. Use you best judgement as to how much.
yeah, I’ll never forget the 1st time I saw MER… I was terrified & thought my son was doing something wrong. Video is a beautiful thing vs naked eye.
Roger, I have seen various pros do the sleeper stretches, but thats it.
What are your thoughts on this stretch? Is it a must do or just another way to skin a cat?
I’ve heard both good and bad things about the sleeper stretch, some people say that it loosens up your rotator cuff muscles and your just asking for a torn rotator other people swear by it. I know that in certain pro organizations its mandatory for ALL pitchers to do this stretch.
GIRD is extremely common in baseball populations (not just pitchers) but cannot be determined without using a goniometer and someone trained in measuring ER/IR differences between the shoulders.
Prescribing IR stretches blindly without measuring these differences is probably not a very good idea, though it is true most pitchers should be doing them on their throwing arm.
My opinion is that stretching on your own for flexibility is fine. GIRD is an adaption and stretching to try to alter that adaption probably shouldn’t be undertaken without proper medical supervision. IMHO.
Something else that your pitcher does in the video, towards the end during the follow through, you notice how he shifts towards first some. This means he is losing momentum towards home place, which means that velocity is lost as well. That may be something you want to fix.
- Try releasing the ball out in front more.
- Load up more on the ball of your foot, you have a lot of weight on your heel which doesn’t allow as strong of a push forward.
- Try bringing your back knee in a little more so you can push from the ball of your foot.
- You could also try to utilize your core muscles more. Instead of just twisting with them, allow them to pull your upper body to the release point.