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Proper Throwing Mechanics

I first became interested in the topic of proper throwing mechanics as part of my research into pitching mechanics.

My older son decided he wanted to try his hand at pitching. I had pitched a bit when I was a kid and, since in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, I took on the role of pitching coach for his team. I then became the pitching coach for my younger son and his teams and then the instructional coordinator for our entire youth recreational program.

My Younger Son Throwing

My Younger Son

In working with my sons and their friends on their pitching, I found that the best throwers tend to make the best pitchers.

There's no point in working with a kid on their pitching if you haven't first worked with them on their throwing.

The Problem

The problem is that, when it comes to teaching throwing, people tend to...

  • Over-coach arm action, which most kids do right naturally.
  • Under-coach things like the starting position, which many kids — and especially girls — don't naturally do right.

What's worse, I have found, as a result of 10 years of research into kinesiology and the biomechanics of throwing, that the things that many/most people teach with respect to arm action are dangerous and are likely contributing to the pitcher injury and tommy john surgery epidemic.

Proper Throwing Mechanics?

If you Google "proper throwing mechancs," the first result that comes up, for me at least, is a Baseball Factory coaching tip on throwing. The key teach in this clip is a saying that is fairly common, but comes in different forms across the country.

  • Thumb to thigh, show it to the sky
  • Snakebite

This clip encourages what emerging research suggests are two problematic movement patterns.

Prolonged Internal Rotation

The research of Dr. Cynthia LaBella has demonstrated that a significant risk factor for throwing is prolonged internal rotation. Similarly, a study by Dr. Weimi Douoguih, team physician for the Washington Nationals, has found that delayed external rotation relative to torso rotation is also a problem.

The problem is that the "thumb to thigh" portion of the arm swing puts the thrower in a position of internal rotation that Dr. LaBella has found to be problematic and will tend to create the Timing problem that Dr. Douoguih has found is problematic.

Premature Pronation

As I explain in Pitching MRSA, while the "show it to the sky" portion of the arm swing may have helped to fix a problem in certain pitchers, I believe it puts the arm in a position of what I call Premature Pronation. Recent research into the physiology of throwing, and how the muscles of the forerarm can help to protect the ligament that is repaired during Tommy John Surgery, suggests that showing the ball to the sky, pointing the ball at second base or center field, or whatever it is called can interfere with this process of protecting that elbow and/or create a timing problem.

Thus the Epidemic

I have put together a number of pieces that discuss the topic of proper pitching mechanics in general and the pitcher injury and tommy john surgery epidemic in particular.

Throwing Mechanics 101

I have spent the past 15 years researching the best way to teach kids how to throw both safely and effectively. In fact, this page started out as an extremely well-received essay into proper throwing mechanics. I have since expanded it into Throwing Mechanics 101, a webbok which addresses topics like...

  • The biggest mistake that throwers make.
  • How to fix dropping the elbow and pushing the ball.
  • How to reduce the likelihood of throwing injuries.

Throwing Mechanics 101 costs only 29 and is delivered through my client site. To purchase access to Throwing Mechanics 101 simply click on the button below.

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