How To Analyze Pitching Mechanics: Cues And Corrections

  • Last updated Dec. 17, 2016
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ATTENTION PITCHERS: One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not. To get to the next level, preparation matters. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching. If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my proven programs for pitchers of all ages.

Throwing a ball is one of the fastest known human actions, but with the use of high speed tape, computer programs, and muscle testing devices, researchers, bio mechanists and coaches are able to study and analyze the throwing motion in specific detail.

For a coach, the use of video analysis, even down with a regular VCR, is a very effective way to study and learn about the specifics of the pitching mechanism and motion. A coach needs to be able to recognize proper techniques during the various phases, then be able to identify faults. Finally, to be an effective teacher, the coach must be able to teach the pitcher how to overcome and correct various faults with technique adjustments and drills. This requires a lot of study and experience in analyzing and understanding mechanics.

For a pitcher, the use of video allows him to see how he actually throws. Usually a pitcher cannot “feel” what he is doing wrong because it feels natural to him. But, by comparing the pitcher to other pitchers who have proper techniques, he will be able to see the difference and try to copy the correct technique. It is also effective for a pitcher to practice various techniques in front of a mirror to get instant feedback.

Remember not all pitchers throw, or should throw, the exact same way. Let the pitcher use his own style as long as his mechanics don’t limit his effectiveness, potential, or cause unnecessary stress on his arm. Most long term injury free and consistently effective pitchers display: good balance an control of their body; have good bod and arm alignment; proper weight transfer; a smooth and consistent arm action; and a long smooth arc of deceleration.

The purpose of this analysis chart is to show coaches, pitchers and parents how best to film a pitcher, what to look for in the various segments of the motion, and how to recognize some of the more common and disruptive faults. Use the outline for reference. It is broken down by 3 different camera angles: 90 degree angle from the pitchers’s throwing hand side; from the back looking over the pitcher’s throwing shoulder; and from the front near the batter’s box or behind the catcher. If temperatures allow, have the pitcher strip to the waist, and wear shorts. This way it is easier to study arm angles, joint action, and the throwing sequence.

Side View

Segment of motion Proper technique Common faults
Stance Squared off, balanced, and relaxed Tense, poor balance, poor foot position, side saddles rubber.
Pump and rocker step Maintains balance

Body weight shifts too far back, or too much to the side

Leg lift, front hip rotation Closes up, lead knee points to 3rd base, knee at least belt high Never closes front side and rushes motion
Posting position Firm fairly straight posting leg, body weight does not start forward until leg starts to lower Flexes posting leg too early, out of balance, weight moves forward too early.
Hand break Between letters and belt near mid-line of body. Pitching hand goes down, glove hand out and forward

Real low hand break, or breaks in back of the mid line of body

Arm action Hand breaks down, back and up; fingers on top of ball. Elbow flexes on the way up

Hand breaks back, not down. Fingers under the ball, wrist and/or arm hooks. Stiff arms backswing.

Stride leg lowering

Lead leg lowers about shoulder width apart and skims along the ground

Swings out in a wide arc. Pushes off rubber before stride foot contact.

Stride direction On the mid-line to closed by 1-2 inches

Too closed, over 3 inches across mid-line. Open, over 1 inch open of midline.

Stride length Length of body height

So long that the head and shoulders can't get down over lead leg.

Stride leg position at landing Knee flexes 135 degrees on landing; braces during the release phase Lands on a stiff leg; land on too much of  a flexed leg; knee continues to move forward vs. Bracing
Stride foot position at landing Lands flat footed, toes pointing slightly in

Lands on heel, foot flies open; foot and leg doesn't stabilize body.

Weight transfer during stride Hips, shoulders and eyes stay level. Head stays in the top center of the increasing triangle, lead elbow, front shoulder, throwing shoulder and elbow are in straight line. Collapses posting leg early; tilts back and throws uphill
Glove arm action Glove arm drives downward as the throwing arm comes up towards cocked position No lead arm action; slow or late lead arm action
Cocked position at foot contact Hand higher than head, palm of hand faces SS, finger on top of ball, wrist extended back. Back arched, chest thrust out

Hand below cap level; elbow below shoulder level; hand faces the plate

Horizontal hip and shoulder rotation Hips open slightly at foot contact, but shoulder stays closed and opens later

Shoulder opens with the lead elbow below shoulder level; hand faces the plate.

External rotation of shoulder Forearm nearly parallel to ground

Early external rotation of shoulder, hand too close to head

Upper body thrust Back arched, then fires from extension to flexion. Pitcher flexes forward at waist Trunk is still; poor extension and flexion at the waist
Backside drive of back leg After the stride leg stabilizes the body the back knee is pulled forward and inward aiding hip rotation

No backside drive, dead or late leg action. Knee is dragged wide vs forward.

Release point Trunk flexed, stride leg braced, arm extended, fingers behind ball

Trunk upright; lead knee moves forward, head not over lead leg

Deceleration of arm Downward plane, good extension toward plate, long smooth arc of deceleration Recoil action of the upper body; poor arm extension, short-arms follow through across the body

Back View

Segment of motion Proper technique Common faults
Balance during leg lift Head and weight over posting leg Body tilts towards first (rhp)
Firm posting position Leg fairly straight Flexes posting leg too early, out of balance
Shoulder and hip alignment during posting and weight transfer forward Front shoulder and hip aligned to plate; closed up, but not over rotated

Front side opens too early or was never closed

Hand break Above belt, in mid line of body Too late or low, behind back hip
Arm path Down, back and up

Straight back, wrist or arm hooks

Hand position Fingers on top of ball

Fingers get under the ball

Elbow action Flexes as the hand starts upward Stiff arm, long arm action
Stride leg action Up, down and out to landing area Swings around to landing area
Stride direction Closed within 2-3 inches of mid line

3 or more inches across mid line; or open from mid line

Stride foot position at landing Lands flat, slightly closed Lands on heel; toes pointing open
Horizontal hip and shoulder rotation Hips rotate up against a firm front side. Back knee drives forward and inward

Back hip does not come around to square body off; back knee does not drive forward

Cocking position At least to top of cap, extended back Too low; too close to the head

Front View

Segment of motion Proper technique Common faults
Proper use of eyes Eyes lift to refocus on target as lead leg rises

Picks up target too late

Getting sign Hides ball from batter

Shows ball or grip to base coaches; or shows different arm actions on various pitches

Closes up front hip and shoulder During weight transfer forward the front hip and shoulder comes directly to the plate

Over-rotation swings out of posting position, opens front side early; flies open

Hip shoulder sequence Shoulder stays closed longer than hip Shoulder opens with hip
Stride direction and landing Close to mid line

Strides across body; strides open

Stride foot position at landing Toes pointing slightly in

Lands on heel; foot flies open

Lead arm action Leads with high glove or high elbow and whips elbow down outside lead hip

No lead arm action; slow or late action, out of sequence

Release Good arm angle and arm extension

Hand too high or too close to head; extreme upper body tilt to the side

Deceleration Long smooth arc finishing outside the lead leg

Short arms across body; arm path straight down into body

Follow-through Recovers balance, fields position

Never gets head and shoulders down over lead leg; lead leg does not control forces, out of balance

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Youth pitching program
One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not. To get to the next level, preparation matters. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.

If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my proven programs for pitchers of all ages.

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