The online world of pitching experts have been throwing around the buzz word “Momentum pitching” recently. This isn’t anything new unless you are up to date on the breakthroughs of pitching science. Pitchers have been trying to find better ways to generate more momentum in their deliveries for years but what is changing is the science behind this matter.
During the prime of the likes of Nolan Ryan, the popular way of generating more momentum back then was the “Stand Tall and Fall” style developed by Nolan Ryan and his pitching coach Tom House, who may have coined the term. This proceeded the popular style of “Drop and Drive” used by the great Tom Seaver. These two styles of pitching are still used today. What is changing is pitching mechanics are evolving from an art form into the world of science.
Instead of hearing terms like “Stand Tall and Fall” or “Drop and Drive,” we are now hearing terms like “Core Torque,” “Triple Extension” or “Separation.” What we are learning is the more science we can put into pitching, the more benchmarks we have to help pitchers make their improvements. If pitching mechanics are only seen as an art form, then they are based on opinion, which has been the case for some time now. When pitching mechanics are seen as a science then through analysis pitching mechanics must meet certain benchmarks to be labeled efficient and effective.
What we have learned from these two styles, “Stand Tall and Fall” and “Drop and Drive,” is more momentum equals more velocity. What we know today is that digital science has proven that momentum is only effective if it transfers from the lower half to the upper half of the body before it can move into the ball at release. This is the importance of “Separation.” “Separation” is at front foot strike when the hips are open towards the target and the shoulders are still closed. Notice the picture of Tim Lincecum above just about to land in this position. You can develop all the momentum in the world with a Nolan Ryan leg lift or a Tim Lincecum jump off the mound but if you do not let that momentum travel up your body into the ball, with proper “Separation,” then this means you will be stuck with just your arm to generate the velocity of the pitch.
I like to use the analogy of a moving car. Imagine a car traveling at 100 mph. The drivers side door is closed but it isn’t closed all the way. All of a sudden the driver slams on the brakes and stops the car in its tracks. What would happen to the door? It would fly open because once the momentum of the car is stopped by the brakes, the momentum moves into anything that is not secured down. The door was not secured down, so it picked up the momentum and flew open. This is exactly how momentum must travel through a pitchers body. To transition from the moving car analogy into the delivery of a pitcher we could say the car is the legs and core of the pitcher and the door is the shoulders and arms. Once the pitcher puts on the brakes with his front leg during front foot strike and the shoulders are closed, then the momentum will travel into the shoulders launching them open towards the front knee. If the front leg continues to stabilize, the momentum will jump into the ball once the shoulders and arms cannot travel any farther.
This analogy makes it sound simple but it is not because there is a sequence of rotational pivots that must rotate perfectly in order for the ball to reach your potential velocity. To learn more about these pivots read Pitching-torque-and-the-3-pivots. It is also a major feat to train your muscles to move your “car” at speeds that cannot be seen by the human eye but I believe it is possible and so should you. Purchase the 3X Pitching Velocity Program for a complete training program to help you grow bigger, stronger, faster.