If you have spent any time on this site you have learned the importance of triple extension to building explosive power in the pitching delivery. The 3X approach to pitching velocity labels this as the 3X Factor to pitching velocity. It is the foundation to the entire approach but it isn’t the only factor. 3X Pitching also describes the 2X Factor to pitching velocity which seems to be overlooked by many who believe that increasing pitching velocity only comes in the discovery of one secret or one component. 3X is important and will have a tremendous effect on pitching velocity but in combinations with 2X it is what the elite pitcher needs to perform at his top velocity.
If you take a look at the 3X Pitching Profiles, which are measurements of speeds and distances of some of the best pitcher’s mechanics in the game, you will discover that most of these pitchers have either above average 3X into hip to shoulder separation or below average hip to shoulder separation with above average 2X. To truly understand what is going on here and how this effects velocity, it is important we first understand the relationship of 3X to 2X and hip rotation.
3X to 2X and Hip Rotation
Triple extension (3X) – Is the extension of the drive leg knee, ankle and hip flexor and it will usually extended in that order. The 3X approach to pitching teaches us that achieving 3X before front foot strike will create early hip rotation just at front foot strike. It will also promote more explosive trunk rotation which leads to optimal forward trunk tilt. This hip rotation is occurring early because when the drive leg achieves 3X before front foot strike, it pushes the hip flexor of the back hip forward before front foot strike. This will just open the hips a little, so when the front leg lands and stabilizes, the hips slam completely open towards the target. If the pitcher does not open the hips through 3X before front foot strike, hip rotation will happen late, reducing hip to shoulder separation.
Double Extension (2X) – This is the extension of the knee and ankle of the front leg at front foot strike into pitch release. The 3X approach to pitching also teaches us that achieving 2X before pitch release is critical to support hip to shoulder separation and it will transfer more energy or power into the ball increasing velocity. Taking 2X even farther into hyper-extension will force the hips to completely open towards the target. We know the more open the hips are towards the target at release, the more front leg extension will occur which will put more power and energy into the ball, increasing pitching velocity.
How 3X and 2X together Promote High Pitching Velocities
The best way to understand the relationship of 3X to 2X, is using the car crash analogy, which I have used a few times on this site. 3X would be the high performance car heading towards an immovable brick wall (2X). The passenger (test dummy) in the car is the ball. We do not know the effect of 3X to 2X until the car hits the wall. The farther the passenger flies out of the car, the more effective 3X to 2X worked together.
Just like when pitching, 3X is our acceleration system and 2X is our breaking system. If we increase 3X then 2X must support it to increase pitching velocity and vice versus. They work hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.
On the elite level, when a pitcher is working to break 90mph, the relationship of 3X to 2X becomes even more important. In the case of Brandon Morrow (see 3X Pitching Profile) he has an above average 3X with a below average 2X and he is a 95+mph pitcher. In the case of Justin Verlander (see 3X Pitching Profile) he has a below average 3X with an above average 2X and he is a 95+mph pitcher. The diamond in the rough here is that both these pitchers have an above average relationship between 3X to 2X. This is why they throw in the upper 90’s.
Let’s look at these pitchers and their 3X to 2X relationship, so we can learn how to improve our relationship of 3X to 2X. Brandon Morrow has one of the best 3X moves in the game but he has a below average 2X move to support it. If you watch his front leg stabilization in slow motion you will see that it never flexes or moves after front foot strike, it is stabilizing and supporting his explosive 3X, like the immovable brick wall in the car crash analogy. This is allowing all that power from 3X to slam the hips open into his stabilized but not extended front leg, like in the car crash analogy. If he had a weaker 3X, with his below average 2X, he would lose velocity but if he had an explosive 2X like Justin Verlander, to go with his explosive 3X, then what would happen? This would change the car crash analogy. The brick wall would now be replaced with another car moving towards the original car at the same speed. Let’s replace these cars with bumper cars so the impact is greater. Now what would happen to the passenger in the original car? He would project himself even farther out of the car at impact. So you can see how powerful 3X and 2X can be if they work together. You can also see how if you increase one and decrease the other, at the same rate, then you haven’t effected velocity but if you increase one without decreasing the other then you increase velocity. 3X to 2X go hand in hand, so you must understand their relationship before you can effectively use them to increase velocity.
How to implement 2X before Pitch Release
The key to implementing 2X into your delivery is through both the motor coordination training of the component through drills and strength and conditioning. Let’s look at them separately.
Motor Training 2X – When using drills like the Med Ball or Target throws in the 3X Pitching Velocity program you want to work to keep the front leg knee behind your heal when in these drills. This will allow you to more easily achieve 2X. Once the front leg knee pushes out over the front foot it becomes too difficult to achieve 2X. These drills will help you develop the motor coordination around 2X because when you are in these drills, you are positioned with your hips open to the target at start. 2X will not occur if your hips are closed towards the target. This is why it is difficult to practice 2X within your entire pitching delivery. If you are not opening your hips at front foot strike then it will be almost impossible to achieve 2X before pitch release. This is why I recommend using the drills in the 3X Pitching Velocity Program to train this 2X motor skill.
Strength and Conditioning 2X – This is important to support 2X because for a pitcher to achieve 2X before pitch release, he must have strong quads and flexible hamstrings to complete this movement. If a pitcher is able to get the hips open at front foot strike but does not have the strength to fire the quads against the force of the landing leg hitting the ground and his hamstrings are not strong and flexible enough to support this extension and forward trunk tilt movement then the pitcher will never achieve this velocity component. The 3X Pitching Velocity program uses heavy load training to develop the quad power along with lifts like the RDL’s to develop the hamstring flexibility.
The Science behind 2X to 3X
If you need more science to support this information in this article then please study more about the physics of impulse and momentum. You can actually put together the math that supports this 3X to 2X relationship.
Here are also the studies that support these pitching components.
NPA Velocity Study conducted 2005-2006
“The results from our study indicate that just about 80% of a pitcher’s real velocity comes from the torque of hip and shoulder
ASMI – Comparison of High Velocity and Low Velocity Pitch Deliveries
“Compared to the low ball velocity group, the higher ball velocity pitchers demonstrated less lead knee flexion velocity after front foot contact and greater lead knee extension velocity at the time of ball release. Extending the lead knee in this manner may provide stabilization allowing better energy transfer from the trunk to the throwing arm, and could be a critical factor in pitch velocity.
More open pelvis angle at the time of ball release (REL) also correlated with increased pitch velocity increased.”