Back in 2001 at Wolforth’s Pitching Coaches Boot Camp, I presented the concept of the Flatbed, Merry-Go-Round, Ferris Wheel to describe how the body throws the baseball.
It was my attempt to demonstrate three important components of the throwing process:
linear momentum towards home plate
rotational momentum around the bodies transverse axis.
flexing forward of the torso in the sagittal plane.
An important point/concept being it’s about momentum development and transfer. And an even more important point to understand that maximum throwing efficiency which includes both velocity and control occurs using rotational momentum.
The reason why it’s called 3° of freedom is because in three dimensions there are 6 degrees of freedon. An object moving in three-dimensional space can have translation (speed and velocity) along along each axis of the three dimensions (X, Y, Z). Along with translation there can be rotation around each axis.
In the case of the Flatbed, Merry-Go-Round, Ferris Wheel , if we arbitrarily assume that the X axis is aligned with the home plate to second base direction and the y-axis is aligned along the first base to third base direction and the z-axis would be the axis form by the pitcher standing erect on the rubber along the direction from his head to his feet.
In this case momentum from the Flatbed would be along the x-axis toward home plate. Translational momentum due to Merry-Go-Round rotation would initially be around the z-axis. And Ferris Wheel flexing forward would be motion around the y-axis. Hence we have movement utilizing 3° of freedom.
An important point that I have tried to explain, preach, repeat many many times is that translational movement onto itself has very little effect on throwing the baseball. Which is always brought up the question (in my mind) as to the value of pushing off the rubber i.e. generating linear momentum towards home plate. I won’t get into the details here but I believe it does have a role but a role that is not really understood by many who talk about the value of momentum created by pushing off the rubber.
So if we take the linear momentum equation or I should say out of consideration then we have rotational momentum around both the Z and Y axes. And rotational momentum can create velocity.
And to fully appreciate the importance of rotation I must emphasize again that rotation is velocity. Also that it’s not about arm strength per se meaning it’s not the rapid contraction of muscles in the arm that creates velocity i.e. strong-arm. But rather it’s the transfer of momentum and the ability of the arm to endure the stress and forces of this momentum transfer that creates velocity i.e. a whipping arm action.
The question to ponder for a rainy day is how does each rotational component affect the throwing velocity and throwing efficiency?