Something to ponder

Okay lets go to a scenario for a second. What if you had a son who had never pitched before in his life and had never seen a baseball game. He knew how to throw a baseball (like an outfielder). If he started to pitch without any knowledge of mechancis would he be able to have good mechanics?

This is just interesting to me because if he didn’t know what to do wrong, he would automatically do whats natural to him. And because of basic human instinct, he would do what would give him the best combination of velocity, control, and movement.

I’m not so sure that pitching a baseball is a motion that qualifies as “instinctual”. It’s not as though hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution, pressured by natural selection forces, has had baseball pitching as its primary focus. If the survival of the human race had depended from the earliest times on our ability to pitch a baseball then, yes, pitching would be instinctual…but that just doesn’t add up.

Anyone can pick up a baseball and throw it aimlessly, with no particular goal in miind. On the other hand, training to throw to a target with the goal of reliably defeating hitters is highly goal-oriented.

My guess is a very small percentage of the population might have highly efficient throwing mechanics hard-wired into their genetic make-up. With development of appropriate strength and flexibility, those lucky few might be able to pitch “naturally”–that is, they would need to maintain the necessary athleticism but they might not need any mechanics training. With a little skills maintenance these few might have a much easier time learning to pitch than the rest of us.

On the other hand, here are a couple of analogies that make me think most of us do need lots of mechanics training for baseball pitching, even though every one of us can pick up a ball and throw it without any training:

  1. Any 15 yo boy or girl can dance around the room when he/she hears a good tune. How many of them could execute a complex ballet motion with balance and grace–say, dance across the room on the tips of the toes–without years of mechanics training for that?

  2. Most 15 yo boys and girls can swim well enough to have some fun in the pool. How many of them could swim competitively in the Junior Olympics without years of training? How many could play competitive water polo without training for that?

I see your point laflippin, but think about it. The most basic human instinct is survival. And if a human 1000 years ago was hunting with rocks and had to throw it they would use the motion that was most natural to them because thats what worked. No I’m not saying that somebody could step on the mound and instantly be Lincecum, but with maybe three weeks of just using that delivery (towel drill, and mound work.) Would somebody have their “perfect” delivery?

Its more than likely that it wouldn’t happen. Like LA said an overhand throwing motion is not a natural thing, but must be acquired.

When it comes down to everything, you have to teach the body how to throw a baseball efficiently yourself.

re: “And if a human 1000 years ago was hunting with rocks and had to throw it they would use the motion that was most natural to them because thats what worked”

—Pitching is an extremely stylized version of throwing, just like the tango is a modern and extremely stylized form of dancing.

What’s more, I don’t necessarily believe that throwing at game animals with baseball-sized rocks is an effective way to hunt, do you? I’d say it is more likely that our survival skills evolved along the lines of using small group strategies to separate out and corner weak members of herds, and, well…you know the rest of that story.

Any humans trying to survive by hunting with rocks 1000 years ago probably didn’t make it any further along the evolutionary tree (their cousins had been using spears, knives, and axes for the past 10,000 years at least).

I agree with you that we evolved to be able to throw for short distances, but not for the purpose of hitting small animals with rocks for food.

Pitching actually shows just how severely limited our ability is (as a species) to throw with deadly speed and accuracy. There are only a few thousand people on Earth who can reliably hit a strike zone with 90+ stuff, and from only a measly 60 feet away. And that’s when they have a perfect sphere designed for the job, cleats, a groomed surface, and 10 or 20 seconds to focus everything they’ve got on the task.

Nahhh…the human race would never have made it unless the Roger Clemens’s of the Cro Magnon era were generously feeding everybody.

Interesting food for thought, Priceless.

Actually, throwing at game animals for food has a specific purpose and introduces the goal orientation referred to previously. Achieving that goal would drive the mechanics used to throw the rock. For example, having a quick release to hit the target before it runs away would probably be important as would, maybe, throwing on the run.

Yes, but if the goal were to get the most movement, location, and velocity would the person achieve it

Yes, I understand the reason for the nmemonic “…throwing rocks at rabbits to eat…” and I think there’s some utility in framing pitching concepts with that idea.

I just don’t happen to buy it as a literal truth, i.e., that humans evolved to have instinctual throwing skills based on that type of activity. There’s not any evidence that I’m aware of that “…throwing rocks at rabbits to eat…” is actually meaningful beyond its use as an allegory.

I do think it is a very useful allegory, but should be understood as such, not a an actual description of a guiding principle of human evolution.

So laflippin are you saying that “throwing rocks at rabbits to eat” is an allegory to that pitchers must evolve and enhance their deliverys to survive. Because thats the point I’m trying to make. THat to make it we must find our “perfect” delivery

Yes, that was well-said Priceless–that’s exactly what I believe.

I agree with you that each of us needs to find our individual ‘perfect’ delivery mechanics but that’s where allegory can break down…when it is misinterpreted as being literal truth, I mean. A highly individual ‘perfect’ delivery may be hidden within each one of us, but I don’t think very many of us will find those ‘perfect mechanics’ by trial-and-error, just doing what feels natural. Because pitching is such a stylized mode of throwing, I think there are some principles that need to be learned by most of us. Again with an analogy: You can dance around the room all you like, and you might be really really graceful, but you’re never going to perform the lead role in ‘Swan Lake’ without years of serious training for that specific form of dancing.

If our survival as a species had actually derived from natural selection pressure to “…throw rocks at rabbits to eat” (or else die out as a species) I think every one of us would be much, much better pitchers than we actually are, without any training at all.

Still, as we agree–it is a good allegory, and part of effective teaching is the illustration of principles with powerful allegory, i.e., fables. I think fables are good, not bad.

Um… when I moved to Canada, I never knew I would love baseball the way I do now. My dad never forced me to join any baseball leagues or any sports teams. I picked up baseball with my bro and we just played it everyday in our lawn. I never started pitching until i was like 9 years old. And I was one of the best pitchers in my leauge for the next 4 years. No one ever taught me anything, I just pitched. But, if your son doesn’t know any mechanics, you should at least teach him the basic stuff, so he will become natural to it and be a way better pitcher that he can be maybe without learning the basic mechanics

To Priceless’s original quesiton - and supported by what Kenja said - those who learn on their own don’t get corrupted by the conventional wisdoms and bogus teaches that those who receive instruction are. :wink: That lets the mind and body figure out the best way to chuck the ball. I would imagine that, many times, this probably works quite well.

Completey agree with this.