Why Some Pitchers Throw Harder Than Others is a big question in baseball and it is a question that seems to continue to go unanswered. Determining why some pitchers throw harder than others was the basis for a study by the American Sports Medicine Institute, the School of Health & Sports Sciences Osaka University and the Department of Surgery Duke University. The study was called KINEMATIC DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HIGHLY-SKILLED AND LESS-SKILLED BASEBALL PITCHERS. This study took place in 1999.
I wanted to title this article, "Why Some Athletes Throw Harder than Others?" but conventional wisdom does not label pitchers as athletes yet so I didn't want to confuse anyone. I hope I can help change this perspective of us Pitchers in the near future.
The results of the study showed that hard throwing pitchers had more external rotation of the throwing shoulder after front foot strike and also had more forward trunk tilt at ball release. You can read the results and more of the study here.
I believe these results are true because it is a part of my 6 components to velocity in the 3X Pitching Velocity Program. The reason that the results of this study do not answer the question, "Why Some Pitchers Throw Harder than Others?" is because you can't answer a question with another question. The final results of this study leaves us with a new question, "Why Do Some Pitchers Have More External Rotation and More Forward Trunk Tilt than Others?" The answers to this question was attempted in the study but neglected, I believe because the researchers were more focused on physics than biology in finding the answer. I have nothing against a physics approach but it doesn't give us all the answers and most researchers today, performing these baseball studies, are not focusing enough on biology. Now that we have a pretty good understanding of efficient and effective velocity focused pitching mechanics, we now need to understand more about the athletes or pitchers who are performing these mechanics.
The point in this study when the researchers attempted to answer the question, that inspired this study, was when they stated that, "The greater external rotation produced by the FAST group may increase the stretch-shortening action of the internal rotators, and consequently, contribute to greater ball velocity." The reference to the stretch-shortening cycle should have pulled them into biology to continue searching for the final answer, but they left us hanging as if their money ran out and they had no more time to continue on. So, I would like to continue the study for them here. First we need to learn more about the stretch-shortening cycle before we continue.
The stretch-shortening cycle (SSC) can be defined as an active stretch (eccentric contraction) of a muscle followed by an immediate shortening (concentric contraction) of that same muscle.
This makes perfect sense because the reason the harder throwers have more external rotation and forward trunk tilt is to maximize the SSC but now the question becomes will all pitchers have the same velocities with the same degrees of external rotation? The answer to this question is, NO. All athletes are different because of their muscular, skeletal, and chemical makeup. This is what separates us physically from each other. The harder throwers will get more velocity from the same external rotation than the slower throwers because they have physical attributes that allow them to move with more power. Power is strength and speed combined. This would mean you could take two different body types, with the exact same pitching mechanics and receive two different velocities.
The Final Answer To Pitching Velocity
Why do some pitchers throw harder than others? Because they have more external rotation after front foot strike, more forward trunk tilt, and they are able to generate more power with their muscular, skeletal, and chemical makeup, through the stretch-shortening cycle, during external rotation.
In conclusion, this study shows us pitchers that we must create more external rotation after front foot strike, along with more forward trunk tilt. This will allow us to maximize our body's potential to reach its top velocity. Once we accomplish this then we must train our body's to produce more power than we are capable of creating. This is only possible through a strength and conditioning program that is focused on remodeling more fast twitch muscle fibers. Fast twitch muscle fibers are the only muscle fibers that can generate power. This is why I highly recommend the 3X Pitching Velocity Program. It takes this exact strategy to gaining pitching velocity, with the velocity drills, which train you to develop more external rotation with the 3X approach and forward trunk tilt, along with the Fusion System, which is a strength and conditioning program that focuses on remodeling more fast twitch muscle fibers.
The next study I will be looking out for is, the one that shows us athletes how to remodel more fast twitch muscle fibers in a short amount of time, which will increase the power we can generate during the stretch-shortening cycle. Stay Tuned!
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