One of the biggest question I get at the 3X Velocity Camps is will increasing velocity with the 3X Pitching mechanics hurt my control. I usually say, when you go from a go cart to a corvette, yes it is more challenging to keep the car on the road. Actually what happens with pitching is no different than going full speed in a go cart to a corvette. The central nervous system (CNS) must learn how to control the new faster movement. Once the CNS gets enough reps, it will program it into your muscle memory, so you can become more consistent.
Before we dive into the top 10 ways to improve your control pitching we need to first understand what makes good pitching control. I mean, is it enough to throw it in the strike zone or do we actually want the control to hit the same spot every time, even if the location is outside of the strike zone?
In this article, I will first define the deference between accuracy and precession and then I will give you all of the facts why 3X Pitching is both accuracy and precision focused. Finally the article will list the top 10 ways to improve your pitching control. DO NOT JUST JUMP DOWN TO THE BOTTOM TO READ THE LIST. You really need to understand what we mean by control, what the science of control teaches us and what is the best approach, pitching mechanics wise, that we must make to give ourselves the best opportunity to have pin point control when pitching.
Accuracy VS Precession Pitching
The best definition and explanation of the two is from wikipedia.
In the fields of science, engineering, industry, and statistics, the accuracy of a measurement system is the degree of closeness of measurements of a quantity to that quantity's actual (true) value. The precision of a measurement system, also called reproducibility or repeatability, is the degree to which repeated measurements under unchanged conditions show the same results. Although the two words precision and accuracy can be synonymous in colloquial use, they are deliberately contrasted in the context of the scientific method.
This means the successful pitcher is actually both accurate and precise. They can hit the same spot over and over again and move this location in and out of the strike zone. Here is an illustrating representing the difference between accuracy and precision for the pitcher.
The Science Behind Ball Control
A recent study called, Utilization and compensation of interaction torques during ball-throwing movements, has discovered that ball control is more precise when the initial movement of the kinetic chain comes before the elbow and generates the force production (1). This means if the shoulder does not drive the elbow then the elbow's primary function becomes force production over motor control which dramatically effects precision. The study did not start the throw before the shoulder in the kinetic chain so we are not sure if the initial force production is more effective starting farther down the kinetic chain but based on this studies model it gives that impression.
Here is what we learned from the study in there words:
Ball-throwing is one of the most skilled multijoint movements requiring excellent coordination between joints.
Dounskaia et al. (1998) suggested a hierarchical control, in which the role of the proximal muscle is to generate movement of the whole linkage and the role of the distal muscle is to produce corrections of the movement necessary to fulfill the task.
The role of the elbow muscle torque in three-joint throwing was to assist the effects of intersegmental interaction, whereas the role of the elbow muscle torque in two-joint throwing was to accelerate the limb by itself.
Skilled throwers can predict the back force from the ball and compensate for it by producing appropriate finger grip force (Hore et al. 1999, 2001). These findings indicate that poor throwers have not acquired the appropriate internal model for throwing.
The study also found that the wrist does not contribute to the ball speed:
As the length of the hand is shorter than that of the forearm and upper arm, the angular velocity of the wrist is less effective for increasing ball speed than the angular velocity of the elbow and shoulder. This may be one of the reasons why the wrist does not contribute to the adjustment of ball speed. However, a more feasible reason would be that the role of the wrist is to simplify the control of the finger grip force, leading to an accurate ball release.
There is another study called, The relationship between balance and pitching error in college baseball pitchers, that set out to prove that the conventional "Balance Position" was effective in reducing pitching error which the study proved it actually had no effect (2). Not only that but they discovered that having more sway into leg lift increased pitching velocity. Here is the results from the study:
The finding suggests a relationship between increased body sway at the balance point position with eyes closed and increased pitch velocity. The authors expected a negative correlation between sway velocity and pitch velocity. The explanation for this finding is unknown.
As for precision and accuracy the study discovered some critical information:
Therefore, individuals who are less effective at stabilizing their head during pitching delivery may experience imbalance leading to inaccuracy.However, college baseball coaches and pitchers may consider sport-specific exercises that stimulate the vestibular system.
The results found that high levels of anxiety have a significant negative effect on accuracy in table tennis (3).Vickers (4) examined gaze behavior (eye movements) in expert and nonexpert female college basketball players during free-throw shooting. The results indicated that experts (those who made 75% of their free throws) fixate their gaze earlier and for a longer duration during the preshot phase of the free throw shot than nonexperts. Additionally, experts demonstrated absence of gaze fixation on the target during the shot phase of the free throw. Vickers concluded that accuracy in the free throw may depend on the ability to turn eye tracking on and off at select times.
3X Pitching Precision Accuracy
The reason the revolutionary approach to improve pitching velocity called 3X Pitching is both precision and accuracy focused is because its foundation is more linear than rotational. When the pitcher takes the more linear approach as define in my latest article, Studies Show Rotational Transverse Pitching Reduces Velocity, then the final move going into arm acceleration is in the sagittal plane which means the pitcher is launching his body towards the target instead of being more transverse rotational and moving across the zone into pitch release.
Another key reason 3X Pitching is precision and accuracy focused is because it believes in loading the shoulder as early as possible following shoulder rotation. This means the arm must hit maximum external rotation following shoulder rotation and at the moment of front leg extension (2X). This will prevent a "Pull Down" which will disrupt intersegmental interaction of the CNS using the forearm to control the pitch as stated in the first study cited in this article.
3X Pitching also is built around the approach that the "Balance Position" is a negative component for the high velocity pitcher.
Top 10 Ways to Improve Pitch Control
These tips and advise for improving pitch control can be trained both in and off-season.
- Use more Linear over Rotational Movements in Pitching Delivery - Moving more dominantly in the linear direction towards the target makes less work for the arm to change path to stay on target at pitch release.
- Load the Throwing Arm Early into Maximum External Rotation - Putting a maximum load on the throwing arm in external rotation earlier in the arm path would initiate maximum force production before the elbow starts acceleration. This will then give the forearm the opportunity to make adjustments and control the pitch better.
- Do Not Over Grip or Grip the Pitch Aggressively - The fingers need to be available to change positions to control the pitch during the last few milliseconds before pitch release. Over gripping the ball would hinder this control by the CNS.
- Stabilize Your Head in Your Pitching Delivery - Your head is where your computer is which is control in your body. If you lose control here how do you expect to keep control somewhere else in your body?
- Avoid the Balance Position - Yes, the balance position was not effective in support accuracy or better balance. It actually worked against pitching velocity which 3X Pitching has been claiming for years.
- Relax Before and During the Game to Reduce Anxiety - Listen to calming music before a game if you are a high anxiety guy. Also practice good breathing technique to help you control your anxiety during the game.
- Pick up the Target Earlier - Do not wait until you have started your delivery to pick up the target. Zone in early to find your pin point location.
- Avoid Losing Focus When Fixated on Target - Avoid getting tunnel vision. This is when you become mesmerized with the target and you actually lose focus. The target becomes blurry or less in focus.
- Sharpen Your Inner Ear - Stop listening to load music. It is hurting your game. Practice picking up hard to hear sounds in the distance or instruments in a song.
- Diminish Your Visual and all other sensory Input - You can do this by practicing with your eyes closed on foam pads.
Pitch Control Reference
- Hirashima M, Kudo K, Ohtsuki T. - Utilization and compensation of interaction torques during ball-throwing movements. - Department of Life Sciences (Sports Sciences), Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan. - J Neurophysiol. 2003 Apr;89(4):1784-96. Epub 2002 Dec 27.
- Marsh DW, Richard LA, Williams LA, Lynch KJ. - The relationship between balance and pitching error in college baseball pitchers. - Saco Bay Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, Kennebunk, Maine 04043, USA. - J Strength Cond Res. 2004 Aug;18(3):441-6.
- WILLIAMS, A.M., J. VICKERS, AND S. RODRIGUES. - The effects of anxiety on visual search, movement kinematics, and perfor- mance in table tennis: A test of Eysenck and Calvo’s processing efficiency theory. - J. Sport Exer. Psychol. 24:438–455. 2002.
- VICKERS, J. - Control of visual attention during basketball free throw. - Am. J. Sports Med. 24:S93–S97. 1996.
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If you are serious about your career and are insanely driven to put yourself into an extremely small percentage of pitchers who are potential D1 prospects, top-level draft picks or you just want to reach your potential on the mound then this program is the best chance you have to make your dreams come true.
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