Reading a pitching study


#1

Well I was reading a study of kinematics in 1996 Olympic Pitchers.

Not a whole lot special accept this:

The greater shoulder horizontal abduction observed in Cuban pitchers at lead foot contact is thought to be an important factor in the generation of force throughout the arm cocking and arm acceleration phases, and may in part explain why Cuban pitchers generated the greatest ball release speed.

I’m sure it’s nothing new, but I was wondering if someone could illustrate this point in the throwing motion via a photograph or two.

Thanks


#2

Fundamentally, this is related to the controversial topic of Scapular Loading (horizontal abduction is also sometimes referred to as adduction).

The idea is to arch the back so that the elbows come behind the shoulders. I don’t think this is necessarily bad, as long as the elbows stay below the shoulders. Here’s an example of Greg Maddux doing this the right way…

What you DO NOT want to do is to follow the advice to make an “Upside Down W” with the elbows both above and behind the shoulders. This is what Mark Prior is doing in the photo below, and I believe it’s related to his shoulder problems…

I am not hopeful about the long-terms prospects of Anthony Reyes of my Cardinals because he does the same thing as Prior (e.g. takes the elbows both above and behind the shoulders)…


#3

I believe it was Reyes who attended USC and already had a history of shoulder problems due to improper timing and opening up the shoulders too early.


#4

According to this page at USC, Reyes had no problems with injuries in high school. Instead, his elbow problems cropped up during his junior year in college.

http://usctrojans.cstv.com/sports/m-basebl/mtt/reyes_anthony00.html

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Mark Prior also went to USC. I think that the coaches at USC (possibly with the assistance of Tom House) are teaching their pitchers mechanics that increase the risk that they will be injured.


#5

In the Tom House/NPA coach’s certification clinic I went through last year, House used Reyes as an example of someone with timing problems. He described Reyes as having the fastest shoulder rotation of any pitcher they’ve cataloged in their computer. He also talked about how the USC coaches tried to get him to not rush since they perceived him as having problems with opening the shoulders too early and being over-rotated at release (problems that can certainly lead to arm problems). But their adjustments messed up his timing (which could also contribute to arm problems). House was finally able to assist and made some different adjustments that corrected his timing so that he would be squared up at release instead of rotating early and going beyond being squared up at release. The result was no more arm problems and Reyes made it to the big leagues.


#6

Im sorry but i dont know some of the technical terms being used but i was wondering however…

With prior and reyes i do see the problems of the upside down W i never noticed it before in regular game speed but with the pics i can definitely notice. If prior for example did not have his elbows pointing up but rather just back to first base as they are is that ok, meaning if he got rid of the upside down W does he still have a mechanical problem?


#7

Prior would still have some problems with his mechanics, but that (e.g. keeping the elbows below the shoulders) would be a significant improvement.


#8

As it turns out, I’m currently working with a D-1 pitcher who is being converted from an outfielder to a pitcher (see, it does happen) and who also brings his elbows both above and behind his shoulders as Prior and Reyes do.

Surprise surprise (or not), he’s having shoulder problems.

I’m working with him to tweak when and how he breaks his hands so that he keeps his elbows below his shoulders.


#9

Sorry, but this doesn’t hold together logically. Reyes’ mechanics are very similar to Mark Prior’s, and Tom House said that Mark Prior had perfect mechanics. Therefore, that means that, in Tom House’s opinion, Anthony Reyes’ mechanics are near-perfect.

How could someone with perfect mechanics struggle with injuries?

Also, Reyes has continued to have arm problems, which is one of the reasons why he has only recently made it up to the big leagues.


#10

Overuse, improper timing, muscle imbalance… :roll:


#11

Overuse, improper timing, muscle imbalance… :roll:[/quote]

I don’t buy it.

You’re saying that Mark Prior, Anthony Reyes, and Paul Byrd, all of whom have essentially the same pitching mechanics, all have the above problems rather than a set of common mechanical problems?

Occam’s Razor says it makes more sense to look at their mechanics as the root cause of the problem. Also, improper timing is a mechanical problem, since mechanics influence timing.

House should just admit that he was wrong.


#12

No, I am not saying that. I honestly don’t know the cause of those pitchers’ problems. All I’m saying is that I don’t think their having similar mechanics automatically makes those mechanics the cause.

When it comes to health issues, I don’t think it’s wise to discard possible causes just because they are less likely or less simple to explain. The cost of missing the actual cause is too high.

If you presented some convincing evidence that “Tom House mechanics” were the cause of these pitchers’ problems, then I might actually jump to your side of the argument. But I have yet to see convincing evidence. You claim you’ve identified a trend whereby pitchers who raise their elbows above and behind their shoulders have problems. But I’m not sure how big of a sample size you base that on nor how thorough of an analysis you’ve done. Most of the time I see you pointing only at Mark Prior. Regardless, I don’t think you necessaryily know the medical history of these pitchers to know whether their issues stem from past problems as opposed to their current mechanics.


#13

Sorry, but this doesn’t hold together logically. Reyes’ mechanics are very similar to Mark Prior’s, and Tom House said that Mark Prior had perfect mechanics. Therefore, that means that, in Tom House’s opinion, Anthony Reyes’ mechanics are near-perfect.

How could someone with perfect mechanics struggle with injuries?[/quote]
It seems likely that Reyes’ mechanics were not like Prior’s when his problems started and then they became more Prior-like after House began working with him. That seems like a perfectly logical sequence of happenings to me. But I don’t really know all the details. (BTW, I’m taking your word that Reyes’ mechanics are very similar to Prior’s.)

It’s not clear to me at what point House worked with him nor who else has since worked with him that could have changed or undone things that House did. So I can’t really argue this issue one way or the other. I’d have to make a bunch of assumptions to put the blame on House as you seem so eager to do.


#14

Prior would still have some problems with his mechanics, but that (e.g. keeping the elbows below the shoulders) would be a significant improvement.[/quote]
What are these other problems you’ve identified?


#15

Thank you for answering my question, my elbow goes behind a little bit as does Prior though my is significantly better if his mechanics may not be that good for his health. Also my elbows are level and are not the upside down W.