We have all heard about the importance of momentum in pitching but do we really know what it means and how it works? Pitching velocity is a product of momentum and rotational torque. I believe that top velocity is achieved when both momentum and rotational torque meet. The problem is we all understand rotational forces when throwing but linear momentum seems to be a lot harder to truly understand and implement into our deliveries. To truly understand linear momentum, I have coined a new term, along with its description, "Speed Mechanics Pitching."
Speed Mechanics Pitching:
Speed Mechanics Pitching is the act of accelerating the body, through the delivery, to produce more speed or velocity.
The reason I do not call it Velocity Mechanics is because when we think of pitching velocity, we think of throwing and when we think of throwing, we think of rotational forces. Speed Mechanics Pitching makes us think of accelerating momentum which is the point of the term.
To better understand Speed Mechanics Pitching you must understand momentum. The definition of Momentum, by Google, is the product of a body's mass and its velocity. It is essential that to generate more speed or velocity you must continue accelerating your bodies momentum. This is where most young pitchers fail. Check your own delivery to see if your bodies momentum is accelerating. The most important time to check for acceleration is after your front foot lands. This is when low velocity pitchers slow down their bodies momentum and rotational forces take over. If both momentum and rotational torque do not meet at this point and continue increasing force to the ball, then pitching velocity suffers.
The Speed Mechanics of Tim Lincecum
Notice in the animated sequence of Tim Lincecum that when his front foot lands his head stays up above his shoulders and his momentum transfers from his legs into his chest. You can tell his bodies momentum is continuing to accelerate because his weight is still moving forward after front foot strike. There are no forces rotating down or across his body at this point. We can also tell his body is moving forward because when he releases the pitch his back leg is flying forward over his head. This doesn't mean after you release the ball to kick your leg over your head. This would be like using your hands to spin the wheels faster to speed up the car, just hit the gas and use the engine. Your engine when pitching is the muscles in your legs.
Speed Mechanics Pitching and Triple Extension
I originally brought the term Triple Extension from the Olympic lifting world into the pitching world to explain the mechanics of pitchers legs. Triple extension is the extension of the ankle joint, knee joint and hip flexor. This is anytime we push off of the ground. Like when we pitch or sprint. The reason for the picture above of Tim Lincecum and Jeremy Wariner, the USA Olympic sprinter, is to help illustrate Speed Mechanics Pitching. If it is the act of accelerating your bodies momentum to increase your speed or velocity, then this means as pitchers we should move like sprinters. Consider your stride as no different than a sprinters stride when he is up and running for the finish line. Both the pitcher and the sprinter are using the same tools to produce a similar outcome. The only difference is the pitcher is transferring his bodies speed into the ball. This is why after the pitcher strides he stops himself with his front leg and the momentum continues up his body into the ball but after a sprinters stride, he continues and strides again. So just like the sprinter, if a pitcher wants to accelerate his bodies momentum to increase his speed, he must triple extend his back leg harder and faster.
The negative behind Speed Mechanics is that it is an advanced level of pitching and trying to learn this as a beginner could cause serious problems to your delivery. This is not for young pitchers or even older pitchers, it is for experienced pitchers who have been sitting at a plateau on their pitch velocity for a few years. The reason for this is because learning Speed Mechanics before learning momentum transfer and hip to shoulder separation, is like learning how to pull the trigger on a double barreled shotgun before being taught how to hold and aim it. This means your delivery will be a train wreck if you do not learn momentum transfer before Speed Mechanics. So if you are still learning how to transfer your momentum into the ball efficiently and effectively then bookmark this article and come back to it later. It might not be valuable to you now but when you are ready for it, learning Speed Mechanics may give you those few miles per hour to get you over the 90mph mark. In the meantime, you should always train to develop more explosive power in your body.
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