Tim Lincecum and the non-existent "push"

Great posts Dusty…

Gotta be that ole’ push.

Roger… You stated that you actually saw TL’s back leg start to straighten like what Flippin’ said would happen from a push. How else would that back leg straighten?

Great post Dusty


I appreciate you digging back into some of the literature on this subject. There is obviously much, much more written material on this subject but it was a great start.

At this forum everyone should be pretty well aware by now that there are lots of contradictory opinions about how pitchers generate their initial motive force off the mound.

I thought the various citations you gave usefully highlight the extraordinary level of that confusion. For some, the confusion is so deep that merely seeing a printed word from an “authoritative” source may be enough to confirm their deeply-held beliefs without any further critical examination.

I think the word “push” is entirely appropriate in the context of doing a “push-up” but it has been used indiscriminantly and inappropriately for a long, long time by baseball pitchers and their coaches. It is ingrained in all of us that a pitcher needs to develop some kind of explosive momentum off the mound. Granted, absolutely. But, the word that has stuck in our lexicon is “push”, as in “push off the rubber”. However, it doesn’t matter how many great pitchers used that word if that is not what their mechanics actually showed. If they actually develop forward momentum by a different means than “pushing” off with their post leg–then it is misleading, at best, to teach with the wrong words and the wrong ideas.

In fact, what the confusion does is simply to make it harder for those guys to teach the rest of us how to be great like they were–and it’s hard enough already, without the confusion.

It is very cool to look back at the wisdom of the greats through their written words–as a voracious reader I do it myself all the time. But, these words need to be critically evaluated within the context of what we know now and what they knew then. Without critical examination we are in constant danger of passing along baloney, under the guise of “common wisdom”.

As an example, we can surely learn some useful things from the writings of whe world’s very best surgeons of the 1950s and 1960s–but is that the information you’d rely on for your elbow surgery today? I sure hope not.

Knowledge marches on; whether we keep up with its refinements, or not, is our choice.

the 50s-60s point is very good. we are talking about throwing a baseball. has it changed that much from the days of cy young and walter johnson? kind of like teaching. teaching has not changed dramatically in the last 2000 years. what we teach has changed, but how we do it even in the advancements of the computer and technology is virtually unchanged (lortie, 1975; delso, 1996).

if we must change with the times, should we still use a 2000+ yr old document that rode around in the wilderness on a cart every sunday when we go to church?

just because it’s old, and been studied with high speed photography does mean it changed. if whatever terminology or methodology you use works (like wearing the garter belt in bull duram) i say use it. like the major league pitching coach for the white sox when he said stay sideways all the way to foot plant. probably used it to get guys to stay closed longer.

who knows, that’s what makes this fun.

re: “has it changed that much from the days of cy young and walter johnson?”

–I completely agree with you that the greats from the past would still be great today, and in many respects the total range of pitching mechanics used by elite pitchers probably hasn’t changed too dramatically over the years. Certainly some style trends have come and gone, but not too many major fundamental changes.

What has changed fundamentally is the way we can study pitchers’ mechanics and what we can learn from modern study techniques. I like high speed motion analysis precisely because it frees us from having to rely exclusively on the ability of guys who pitched great to also be able to explain to others how they were great.

I think there is a lot more to pitching–much more–than mechanics. That’s a given. Sometimes a pitcher’s subjective view of what he is doing does jive with the more objective information from hi-tech analysis. But certainly not always. Optimizing their individual mechanics is still a central issue for all pitchers and I would personally always choose the best objective information available over a pitcher’s subjective opinion whenever the two pieces of information do not jive properly.

Put another way, in court would you trust an eyewitness account that the bank robber was wearing a sports coat and a bowler hat or would you trust the videotape from the bank’s security cameras that shows he was wearing an aviator jacket and a baseball cap?

It’s funny that you mentioned Walter Johnson–one of the greatest and most rugged pitchers ever, right? The Big Train, of course, was a pure sidearm pitcher and by all accounts had one of the most durable arms of all time. Some modern sidearmers with excellent career longevity are Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson. But, that never stopped my sidearmer kid’s Little League coaches from passing along the ‘common wisdom’ that sidearm pitching would ruin his arm. Even clear video evidence that their heroes were in fact sidearmers couldn’t dislodge this deep-seated but completely baseless opinion that throwing sidearmed is ruinous. (Fortunately, the kid thinks for himself and doesn’t blindly accept advice from strangers…).

Just curious Flippin’, what do you consider sidearm?

To me, I consider Randy Johnson and Pedro to be low 3/4 guys. I’m not looking to get into a big discussion on this just wondering what your thoughts are flip. Thanks.

I don’t mean to hijack the thread either guys. Apologies.

This whole “push”, “no push” debate is pretty stupid because everyone is trying to say the same thing with different terminology. Everyone interprets “push” differently, so what’s the point?

I think there’s a certain push in every delivery but the problem is how hard do you push, when do you push, etc.?

In frontal pictures of Randy Johnson’s delivery that are taken at the instant of ball release, it is clear that his arm (shoulder-to-shoulder-to-elbow line) is basically sidearm, certainly no more than a few degrees above sidearm. In most relevant pictures of Martinez, he looks like pure sidearm to me.

The important thing is to choose pictures taken from straight in front, from a hitter’s or catcher’s perspective, then you can see it clearly.

If you think of arm-slots layed out on a clock face, and taking a frontal view of the pitcher, a LHP sidearm is 3’oclock. Pure 3/4 for the LHP is 1:30 and pure “over-the-top” would be 12 o’clock. (Some people might argue that pure 3/4 is (practically speaking) 2 o’clock and over-the-top is really only 1 o’clock, but let’s use the idealized numbers 3, 1:30, and 12, for the sake of discussion).

The thing is, from 3 o’clock to 1:30 on the clock face is 45 degrees of angle! So even if Randy Johnson’s arm-slot is 4 or 5 degrees above pure sidearm… I’m still calling him a sidearmer because he’s much closer to that than he is to the 3/4 slot, IMO.

you’re a good man la. makes total sense.

for what it’s worth (not much), i consider sidearm anything where the hand is even (horizontal) or below the elbow.


You can say it’s stupid if you like, but what if the misunderstanding sometimes makes an actual difference in how some guys are taught to pitch?

That is, if you should be focusing on conditioning yourself to create first forward momentum with a weight shift at your hips during your leg lift, rather than pushing off the rubber with your post leg, wouldn’t you want to know that?

On the other hand, if your coach uses the wrong words but he correctly shows you how to execute a good pitching motion, then there’s no real problem for you individually.

Those are good points flip…

I watched the slow mo of randy, certainly he gets close to the degrees your talking about. The reason why I call him low 3/4 is because he seems to be a few degrees above, but more importantly his fingers are still coming down mostly on top of the baseball. Am I making any sense? That’s why I call him a Low 3/4’s guy… Sidearm is fine too.


Here’s a funny thing…if you look at Johnson’s book, Power Pitching, there is a posed picture of his release point, him just standing there with his arm in the air at about 1:30 on the clock face, where he is quoted as saying “my ideal arm-slot is 3/4”.

But there are 3 or 4 other pictures in that same book, taken at the release point of an actual pitch, that show his arm-slot is much lower than in the posed picture.

Same kind of complaint I’ve had about John Bagonzi’s ideas on arm-slot. Pitchers cannot actually get a high arm-slot under the stress of an actual pitch by simply trying to raise their elbow high over the plane of their shoulders. Instead, if you study it, all the guys with a really high arm-slot (Koufax, Hoffman, Nomo, etc, etc) get there by leaning their torso away from the throwing side at release point. But, how many times have you ever heard a coach say, “I want you to get over the top,son, so lean your body far away from the throwing side during your delivery while maintaining good dynamic balance”. My guess is, you might never have heard it. Instead, most coaches simply tell guys to raise their elbow up, because they don’t realize that it’s easy to do that standing still but virtually impossible during a real pitch.

I’m glad we’re finding some common ground here, buddy. I apologize to you, and to dm59 if he reads this, for my occasionally cranky, uppity 'tude. I never mean for it to come out that way, but hell sometimes it does anyway.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and all!

Haha, classic examples there.

I’ve heard that a gazillion times… “Raise the elbow!” that’s classic.

Randy is certainly NOT a 3/4 arm slot. He is very close to sidearm, and probably a little below a Low 3/4 slot.

My apologies to you as well flippin’. I didn’t mean to come off rash, just passionate about pitching just like most of us in here. Great debate!

Happy Thanksgiving to the forum!

[quote=“Hammer”]Great posts Dusty…

Gotta be that ole’ push.

Roger… You stated that you actually saw TL’s back leg start to straighten like what Flippin’ said would happen from a push. How else would that back leg straighten?[/quote]

You misunderstood me. I was talking about the stride leg - not his back leg. Lincecum’s stride leg bends into knee lift, straightens out as is drops and swings forwar, and then bends again into foot plant.

Correct. My bad.

What Lincecum does is “rotating out to landing”. He creates tension in his back hip from the reverse-rotation and that energy from the back hip is released by his “stepover” move. His stride length isn’t created from a push. It is created by his violent hip rotation combine with the stepover move.

Interesting series of comments. In my mind I have to oversimplify things. Partly for the purpose of teaching using simple concepts and partly just for my own understanding. I know this is a repeat from a previous post, and I apologize for that.
But… The whole concept of ‘push or not’ seems to me to be incomplete. Much of the forward motion is “reaching” not pushing. Maybe that’s why the posting leg doesn’t extend. A stride reaches sideways, then after hip separation occurs, and rotation begins, additional momentum towards the plate occurs as a function of that rotation process. Good rotation moves the body /trunk in a ‘stack and track direction’.

Some can move forward better than others. Much of that is a result of stretching. Tight hips, tight legs prevent good stretch and good rotation. Prevents reaching and good rotation.

Just another way of looking at it.



no offense, but mike marshall isn’t insane. I follow chris o leary.

sorry to continue a dead beat topic but i believe majority of pitchers use a controlled lateral push… timed just before footplant

using TL as just one example… look at video from 2:46 onward and notice he loads his backside then thrusts forward while keeping his hips closed… what makes the backfoot “scrape” is the rapid fire of his hips which pulls the foot off the rubber and over the body