Why Do People Think Long-Arming Is Bad?

Recently, some people have implied that long-arming the ball is bad.

Well, here’s an image sequence of Roy Oswalt throwing a 95 MPH fastball. He’s clearly long-arming the ball in this sequence (see frame 28 in particular).

Why do people think this is bad?

No relevant discussion can be had on this until we all agree on the definition of “longarming”. Personally, I do not call what Oswalt does “longarming”. Look at frames 29 thru 31. Not longarming there. From 29 onward, he’s doing what many, many pitchers do. The only longarming is in the early part of the backswing.

My definition of “longarming” would be to describe a “fault” where the arm never really gets that bend in it that Oswalt shows. Throwing a hand grenade would be an extreme analogy.

what chris calls long arming as been benefic for me since i learned to o it because that increase the whipping action and reduce the stress i have to put on my arm to throw. i used to throw a lot like roger clemens or johan santana but i saw some marichal and koufax clips and decided to try it. it totally worked for me.

best way to learn how to do it is to break the hands early (when the leg lift is hapenning) and to break them low.

I agree with DM - what is “long-arming”?

If you consider one extreme where the elbow never bends, then one would be throwing with a straight arm and all of the stress would be shifted to the shoulder joint. On the other extreme, if the elbow is bent as far as it can such that the hand and ball are next to the ear, then the stress gets shifted to the elbow joint. Ideally, we want a balance such that neither joint gets overly-stressed.

I agree that part of the problem is the definition. People talk about it being bad but then don’t define exactly what they are talking about.

I agree that lobbing the ball or grenade tossing is bad.

However, how often do you really see that?

Also, what initially brought this up was this post by joearnz…

I’m not in love with his arm action as he looks like a long armer, but it’s tough to change him from that to the inverted W or the W with a 45 deg. angle. He looks more like a 125 deg. angle action…but it’s hard to tell I guess in this video.

I would suggest that he got some questionable comments about how his son is a long armer who should be making the Inverted W.

So, how do we define it?

Good question, because it’s ultimately about specific relationships of muscles and bones.

Oswalt definitely is ‘long in back.’ However, I think Chris misses the boat on this in terms of biomechanical issues, because the critical reference point is hand position when a pitcher is ‘long in the back.’ From frames 27-29 you can clearly see the hand position start on top of the ball, then the forearm pronates to face the ball to first base.

This is a big problem. In order to throw a pitch with active pronation of the forearm, if the forearm is already pronated, you can’t simply pronate more. The only forearm action now possible at these high speeds is supination. Ultimately the act of hooking the ball the way Oswalt does will result in posterior elbow damage. In frame 35 his elbow has already, milliseconds earlier, hyperextended.

To protect the back/posterior of his elbow at pitch release, he needs to start turning the ball over, showing it to third base (or better yet palm facing skyward), by frame 26 or 27. The fact that he is ‘long in back’ does protect the UCL and front of the shoulder to a degree because in minimizes the distance his forearm bounces back, roughly at frame 34. If I were in the business of predicting, which I’m not, I would offer that he will end up with bone chips/spurs and cartilage damage in the posterior elbow in addition to decreased elbow range of motion.

Early extension of the elbow. It’s a timing problem.

I actually thought and may be very wrong …that the tendency to take the ball back such that your forearm is at the 110 to 145 deg. angle with respect to the ground causes the forearm on delivery of the pitch to never be able to get truly horizontal as your coming through with the arm action and get the snap that you might need.

I talked to several parents of a travel team we were on and coaches Pitching that is, were trying to get their kids to have the ball by the ear, such that you get more of a whip type action during your arm motion in the delivery.

Having the ball by the ear seems to be easier to get the elbow going out front and causing the forearm to accelerate in the horizontal direction.

just some stuff I heard along the travels, but I’m not really sure what’s right.
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My son never has had much elbow trouble but has complained somewhat of some inner soreness within the right shoulder last year at teh very end of the summer. Of course he was lifting for football at the time so I’m not sure what caused it.

My thought that the inverted W or short arming is the preferred method is simply because most of the pitchers i’ve seen on these sites in video seem to do this and they are the guys who made it to the collegiate and or pro levels

Heck in the frames below, Gooden and Prior both have inverted W paths and Marichael in my opinion was just a freak of nature

People with different builds throw differently. Palmer and Marichal had body types that allowed the to long arm the ball effectively. Billy Wagner wouldn’t be able to throw very hard relative to what he does now by long arming the ball. Scap loading tends to help with velocity for most pitchers so it is a good idea for most pitcher but if a pitcher is effective enough to reach their goals without it then why change?

Palmer looks like he has very long arms and Marichal looks like he has fairly long arms, while Gooden and Prior don’t look like they have that long of arms for their height relative to Palmer at least. Hard to be sure from the clips. I’m just speculating.

I posted a video clip of my son under “college evaluation” October 31, 2006 and there seemed to be a concensus that he was a long armer, somewhat of a pie thrower and I agreed.

I was able to find some earlier video clips that showed he didn’t have such a long arm earlier in the year. I pointed it out to him and got some advice from a knowledgable pitching coach. My son made some small adjustments to move back closer to his original arm slot. Last year he started to throw a slow overhand curveball and I thought perhaps that led to the long arming. Just a guess because of the way he threw it.

This is a sample of the most recent video.

They may, but they shouldn’t! If you would just read ANYTHING that Chris writes you’d know that everyone should be throwing exactly the same.

Gosh, that’s the whole point of overanalyzing every millisecond of Greg Maddux’s mechanics.

Shame on you!

[quote=“joearnz”]My thought that the inverted W or short arming is the preferred method is simply because most of the pitchers i’ve seen on these sites in video seem to do this and they are the guys who made it to the collegiate and or pro levels

Heck in the frames below, Gooden and Prior both have inverted W paths and Marichael in my opinion was just a freak of nature[/quote]

If you look at the guys who had long, relatively injury-free careers, guys like Ryan, Seaver, Maddux, Glavine, and Clemens, you will not see the Inverted W.

That is not a coincidence.

If I’m so off base about this, then why is it that guys like Ryan, Clemens, and Maddux all throw basically the same?

Dino in my novice opinion, your son is NOT short arming

He is getting the ball in a 70 degree position relative to the horizontal with the forearm before letting it go

If I’m so off base about this, then why is it that guys like Ryan, Clemens, and Maddux all throw basically the same?[/quote]

I imagine you are still hunting the internet for still photos of Drysdale. Or trying to conjure an explanation for Clemens’ TWO rotator cuff injuries.

That’s fine, I’m patient. I can wait all month.

I’ve never heard that long arming was bad, just that it was a bad thought to use it as a way of improving velocity and gaining a grip for your throwing base. But all they used as an excuse was a fellow who joined in the 70’s who could throw 105 mph without any previous long toss or weight lifting. My coach and I surmised that he was just talented. So I’ve never believed long arming to be a bad things. That’s what baseball is comprised of for defense, throwing and catching. So why not improve on both through long toss.

I used to do it both ways. I used a long-arm motion naturally (remember, I was a sidearmer) and then I learned the short-arm motion, which gave me twice as many pitches, and I never had any trouble. So I would say if you can do it and be effective with it, go ahead.

[quote=“joejanish”]

I imagine you are still hunting the internet for still photos of Drysdale. Or trying to conjure an explanation for Clemens’ TWO rotator cuff injuries.

That’s fine, I’m patient. I can wait all month.[/quote]

Freak injuries can happen too.