Finally I got a spread in Baseball America! Seriously, my contacts at Baseball America where nice enough to post the article below for their readers and I wanted to share it with you. If you haven't bought the March edition I would recommend that you run out and get it because it is AWESOME! Especially page 25 😉
Baseball is America’s past time and because of this it is plagued by conventional wisdom. The movie, Moneyball is the perfect example of how this conventional wisdom has created an environment, in the recruiting process of a Major League organization, where the lower budget teams ability to compete against the big money teams is almost impossible. Until the likes of Billy Beane challenged the system, with an out of the box low budget approach, these big money teams always had an unfair advantage.
There is a similar environment today in the development of baseball’s young talent. This exists in all levels of the game, not just the professional ranks. This is an environment where only the genetic elites rise to the top. Not until the break through of “the little giant” did baseball learn that big and tall isn’t a requirement for the Major League pitcher. That little giant is Tim Lincecum. The story of his father who was an engineer, not a professional athlete, who taught Tim how to overcome his tiny frame by using science, was the hope that every average young pitcher needed to know existed. This meant going against the conventional wisdom of the game, listening to science and not the coaching philosophies of pitching from the past, was more than likely the better approach for the average pitcher.
Another key factor in the break down of this conventional wisdom is the evolution of the personal computer. Twenty years ago only big budget teams had the capability to video an athlete with a high speed camera and to slow down that video with the control to analyze every single movement he made. Today an 8 year old and his father, for less than $300, has access to this advanced technology. This technology boom along with the boom of the internet has sent the conventional pitching instructor or coach scrambling for science based information. This has lead to another boom in scientific research to discover the answers to how pitchers generate high velocities.
It is safe to say that much of the research has been done but this information has yet to return to the young talent who needs it the most. This information is revolutionary in that it is the reason why “the little giant” can play among the beasts of Major League Baseball and why more small pitchers and even average athletes can potentially do the same.
The Science Behind Pitching Velocity
There is so much information that these young pitchers need to know that it would be impossible to fit it into this short article. This is why I am listing the 9 most important factors to pitching velocity along with the source of the research for further education. You can also contact me personally for more information.
This information will have a tremendous effect on a young pitchers career because it had this effect on my own and the many others who I have coached with it. Here is a little story of how it changed my life to help you understand its magnitude.
I was 18 years old and finishing a great high school career in Louisiana. The problem was, I had been taught by conventional wisdom and my mechanics where atrocious. I accepted a full ride to a local junior college in hopes I could take an extra year to grow and mature, I was a late bloomer.
I started my freshman year with arm problems. It continued to get worse as time went on. The pain grew from annoying to excruciating. In my first college appearance I had made it through the 3rd inning without my arm falling off. Yes, I was in such pain that I was taking a massive amount of pain killers and still had to hit my arm repeatedly in between innings so I would feel the pain of the hit and not the pain of my throbbing arm. That 4th inning was like out of a movie. I threw a pitch and heard a pop and then my heart jumped out of my chest. I was removed from the game with a torn rotator cuff. In the mid 1990’s this was considered a career ending injury and all of the doctors told me I would never play again. I was young enough to believe them until I discovered the answers using my own will to break through the conventional wisdom of the game. This will to reach my goals and dreams, no matter how high the obstacle, was my only hope to defying the odds, my doctors and playing again.
I not only pitched again but topped out at 94mph and started my pro career in independent minor league ball for the San Diego, Surf Dawgs at 26 years of age. It took the science I discovered below, a training program that will turn any athlete into an elite athlete and the will to move mountains to make this comeback.
There was a key point during my comeback where I had most of this information. The problem was, it was not seamless. It had a lot of holes and I was forced to fill those holes with my own research through trial and error before it could benefit my performance. The result of this science and my own discoveries was not only a professional pitching career and increasing my pitching velocity to levels way above where they were before surgery, but a full comprehensive approach to high velocity pitching that anyone can benefit from. I have documented this revolutionary approach and I call it 3X Pitching.
9 Critical Pitching Velocity Components
These components are listed in order.
- Linear Force Vector - This terminology defines the position of the drive leg. Drawing a line from ankle to knee of the drive leg is the vector of force or force vector. This is important because studies show ground reaction forces (GRF) of the high velocity pitcher are at their peak levels in the drive leg just before the front foot lands.(1) This means the drive leg must first be in a linear position towards the target for these forces to occur. Most low velocity pitchers never align their force vector and therefore generate very little GRF. Learn more on the Linear Force Vector pitching.
- Triple Extension (3X) - This is the component that builds the force in the drive leg just like with sprinters and jumpers. Extending the knee, ankle and hip flexor of the drive leg just before front foot strike (FFS) is an elite movement. It is how the high velocity pitcher builds his stride and peaks his GRF just before FFS. Studies have also shown that more drive leg abduction correlates to more trunk separation which brings us to its counterpart, hip to shoulder separation.(2) Learn more Triple Extension pitching.
- Separation - The result of the previous components at FFS should be explosive hip rotation. This means the force was linear and through 3X it was applied to the back hip causing the hips to open into a stable front leg. If the throwing arm is moving into the cocked position at this exact moment, which means the shoulders are still closed to the target, then optimal hip to shoulder separation should occur. This is the conversion of linear power to rotation torque. Studies have shown that high velocity pitchers not only generate more hip to shoulder separation at this moment but they also have a larger margin of separation-timing between peak pelvis rotation speeds and peak trunk rotation speeds.(3,4) Learn more about Separation pitching.
- Early External Rotation - This is the moment the arm is activated. If this is following optimal hip to shoulder separation, then the arm should move into maximum external rotation (MER) as quickly as possible. Studies show high velocity pitchers have more elbow flexion during cocking, therefore they move into MER earlier and faster than low velocity pitchers.(5) Learn more about Early External Rotation pitching.
- Forward Trunk Tilt - During MER the high velocity pitcher is moving the trunk forward at a higher rate. Studies have shown that the high velocity pitcher has more forward trunk tilt during external rotation than the low velocity pitcher. (5,6) Learn more about Forward Trunk Tilt pitching.
- Elbow Extension - Following MER and forward trunk tilt, the high velocity pitcher does not pull the arm down. He extends the elbow into pitch release. Studies prove higher velocity pitchers move into elbow extension quicker than low velocity pitchers.(5,7) This creates a release point out and over the head, not in front of face.
- Internal Rotation Pronation - High velocity pitchers also internally rotate and pronate the throwing arm earlier following MER. Studies also show that this component is critical for arm health.(8) It helps reduce stress to the UCL during acceleration of the throwing arm. Learn more Internal Rotation Pronation pitching.
- Stabilization - It is critical for the conversion of linear power to rotational torque that the lead knee land flexed, but stable. Studies show that high velocity pitchers land with more lead knee flexion than low velocity pitchers, but have less added flexion after FFS. (4,5,7) Learn more about Stabilization pitching.
- Front Leg Extension (2X) - A last chance for the pitcher to make a significant increase in pitching velocity comes at the moment of MER. Studies show that peak GRF occur in the landing leg at this moment and continue to extend the leg into pitch release. (1,4,5,7) Learn more Front Leg Extension pitching.
Pitching Velocity References
1. MacWilliams BA, Choi T, Perezous MK, et al. Characteristic Ground-Reaction Forces in Baseball Pitching. Am J Sports Med. 1998;26(1): 66-71.
2. Robb A, Fleisig G, Wilk K, Macrina L, et al. Passive Ranges of Motion of the Hips and Their Relationship With Pitching Biomechanics and Ball Velocity in Professional Baseball Pitchers. Amer J Sports Med 2010; 38(12).
3. Tom House, PhD, et al. National Pitching Association Velocity Study conducted 2005-2006.
4. Matsuo T, Escamilla RF, Fleisig GS, Barrentine SW, Andrews JR. Comparison of kinematic and temporal parameters between different pitch velocity groups. J Appl Biomech. 2001;17:1-13.
5. Werner SL, Suri M, Guido JA Jr, Meister K, Jones DG. Relationships between ball velocity and throwing mechanics in collegiate baseball pitchers. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2008;17(6):905-908.
6. Glenn S. Fleisig, Tomoyuki Matsuo, Rafael F. Escamilla,
Steve W. Barrentine, and James R. Andrews, et al. Kinematic Differences Between Highly-skilled And Less-skilled Baseball Pitchers. American Society of Biomechanics, 1999 conference.
7. Glenn S. Fleisig, James R. Andrews, et al. Comparison Of High Velocity And Low Velocity Pitch Deliveries. ASMI 2007.
8. P Langer, P Fadale, and M Hulstyn, et al. Evolution of the treatment options of ulnar collateral ligament injuries of the elbow. Br J Sports Med. 2006 June; 40(6): 499–506.
The 3X Pitching Velocity Program
To learn more about the 3X Pitching Velocity Program and the revolutionary approach to increasing pitching velocity called 3X Pitching, visit these sources below.
- 3X Pitching 101 Video
- 3X Pitching Forums
- 3X Video Analysis
- 3X Pitching Velocity Program
- 3X Pitching Velocity Camp
Author Brent Pourciau
Brent Pourciau is currently an advisor to several D1 University Organizations. He is a retired professional pitcher and a USA Weightlifting Certified Sports Performance Coach. He has published several books and programs on high velocity pitching and currently works with all levels of pitchers to help them increase pitching velocity. You can contact Coach Brent at 985.878.5103 or through TopVelocity.net.
3X Pitching Podcast Episode 6
The sixth episode of the 3X Pitching Podcast covers this article. Check it out!
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