Building the Foundation of 3X Pitching Mechanics

Gentile’s Taxonomy of Motor Skills of 3X Training for Pitchers
Action Function
Body Stability Body Transport
Environmental Context No Object Manipulation Object Manipulation No Object Manipulation Object Manipulation
Stationary Regulatory Conditions and No Intertrial Variability 1A

Body Stability

No Object

Stationary Regulatory Conditions

No Intertrial Variability

-3X Chest Open Med Ball Throws On Knee

-Start on knee, chest open to target without a ball

1B

Body Stability

Object Stationary Regulatory Conditions

No Intertrial Variability

-3X Chest Open Med Ball Throws On Knee

-Start on knee, chest open to target with a ball

1C

Body Transport

No Object

Stationary Regulatory Conditions

No Intertrial Variability

-3X Chest Open Med Ball Throws Full Stride

-Start standing feet straight before lift and drive, chest open to target without a ball

1D

Body Transport

Object

Stationary Regulatory Conditions

No Intertrial Variability

-3X Chest Open Med Ball Throws Full Stride

-Start standing feet straight before lift and drive, chest open to target with a ball

Stationary Regulatory Conditions and Intertrial Variability 2A

Body Stability

No Object

Stationary Regulatory Conditions

Intertrial Variability

-3X Open/Sep Med Ball Throws On Knee

-Start on knee, chest open to target then alternative to closed without a ball

2B

Body Stability

Object

Stationary Regulatory Conditions

Intertrial Variability

-3X Open/Sep Med Ball Throws On Knee

-Start on knee, chest open to target then alternative to closed with a ball

2C

Body Transport

No Object

Stationary Regulatory Conditions

Intertrial Variability

-3X Open/Sep Med Ball Throws Full Stride

-Start standing feet straight or closed to target before lift and drive, chest open to target then alternative to closed without a ball

2D

Body Transport

Object

Stationary Regulatory Conditions

Intertrial Variability

-3X Open/Sep Med Ball Throws Full Stride

-Start standing feet straight or closed to target before lift and drive, chest open to target then alternative to closed with a ball

In-Motion Regulatory Conditions and No Intertrial Variability 3A

Body Stability

No Object

Regulatory Conditions In Motion

No Intertrial Variability

-3X Chest Open Med Ball Throws On Knee

-Start on knee, chest open to target then alternative to closed, throwing to different locations (Inside and Outside Strike Zone) without a ball

3B

Body Stability

Object

Regulatory Conditions In Motion

No Intertrial Variability

-3X Chest Open Med Ball Throws On Knee

-Start on knee, chest open to target, throwing to different locations (Inside and Outside Strike Zone) with a ball

3C

Body Transport

No Object

Regulatory Conditions In Motion

No Intertrial Variability

-3X Chest Open Med Ball Throws Full Stride

-Start standing feet straight before lift and drive, chest open to target, throwing to different locations (Inside and Outside Strike Zone) without a ball

3D

Body Transport

Object

Regulatory Conditions In Motion

No Intertrial Variability

-3X Chest Open Med Ball Throws Full Stride

-Start standing feet straight before lift and drive, chest open to target, throwing to different locations (Inside and Outside Strike Zone) with a ball

In-Motion Regulatory Conditions and Intertrial Variability 4A

Body Stability

No Object

Regulatory Conditions In Motion

Intertrial Variability

-3X Open/Sep Med Ball/Baseball Throws On Knee

-Start on knee, chest open to target then alternative to closed, throwing to different locations (Inside and Outside Strike Zone) without a ball

4B

Body Stability

Object

Regulatory Conditions In Motion

Intertrial Variability

-3X Open/Sep Med Ball/Baseball Throws On Knee

-Start on knee, chest open to target then alternative to closed, throwing to different locations (Inside and Outside Strike Zone) with a ball

4C

Body Transport

No Object

Regulatory Conditions In Motion

Intertrial Variability

-3X Open/Sep Med Ball/Baseball Throws Full Stride

-Start standing feet straight or closed to target before lift and drive, chest open to target then alternative to closed, throwing to different locations (Inside and Outside Strike Zone) without a ball

4D

Body Transport

Object

Regulatory Conditions In Motion

Intertrial Variability

-3X Open/Sep Med Ball/Baseball Throws Full Stride

-Start standing feet straight or closed to target before lift and drive, chest open to target then alternative to closed, throwing to different locations (Inside and Outside Strike Zone) with a ball

pitching mechanicsIt is critical for the advancement of baseball that more coaches use the table above to evaluate, train and set goals for a pitcher’s development through building elite pitching mechanics. The progression of movement from Stationary Regulatory Conditions and No Intertrial Variability to In-Motion Regulatory Conditions and Intertrial Variability allows a coach to take a pitcher from the very basics of movement or pitching mechanics to the most advanced form of training elite movement for a pitcher. The problem with conventional wisdom in today’s game is pitchers spend most of their time in the entire pitching delivery never progressing through basic steps of motor control. This prevents them from mastering simply movements or pitching mechanics before moving on to more advanced movements. It’s like teaching a baby to run before it crawls. Skipping steps will always retard progression and lead to poor performance and potential injury because it doesn’t allow the brain to build a foundation of basic movements or pitching mechanics.

Evaluation Through Pitching Mechanics

The best practice for using Gentile’s Taxonomy of Motor Skills with 3X Training for Pitchers as an evaluation system would be to take a pitcher through each drill one at a time progressing by category. Once the pitcher is unable to complete the drill from a specific category without proficiency then the rating for the pitcher is labeled after the number and letter listed for that category. For example, if the pitcher can complete the 3X Open/Sep Med Ball Throw on Knee without a ball but cannot perform it effectively with a ball to at least 45 feet then the pitchers rating is a 3A.

Development of Pitching Mechanics

Following the evaluation of the pitcher using Gentile’s Taxonomy of Motor Skills with 3X Training for Pitchers the chart can now be used as a training plan to help the pitcher develop elite movement through the pitching delivery. In a well-elaborated training plan, the (exercise) tasks which have to be performed should maintain an optimal challenge for the patient (Wuest, Langenberg & Bruin 2013). The pitcher could start from the beginning category 1A and progress to the next category 1B once they have become proficient in the previous category. Once the pitcher advances to the categories 4A-4D the pitcher could begin to perform the drills with not only a baseball but on a mound at 60 feet 6 inches. This way the pitcher is slowly developing segments of movements of the elite pitching delivery to the final drill which is all the segments of movements used in the entire elite pitching delivery.

Closer inspection of Table above reveals that the taxonomy can be divided into seven difficulty levels. More specifically, starting from 1 of the 16 skill categories, a category-based progression in task difficulty can be achieved either through a horizontal shift to the right or a vertical shift downward. Accordingly, seven levels of difficulty can be distinguished which define a progressive increase of complexity in diagonal direction (Wuest, Langenberg & Bruin 2013).

Pitching Mechanics Goals

Once the chart has been mastered, goals could be established by using biometric measurements of movements, radar readings of the balls thrown and number of proficient reps per category. Pitch location could also be used to set a goal in the training progression. Goals should only be set once the movements have been mastered. It is a strong enough goal initially to develop the ability to perform the movement.

If baseball could change the conventional wisdom of only using throwing distance, throwing reps and throwing ball weight for player development to using a system like Gentile’s Taxonomy of Motor Skills with 3X Training for Pitchers then I truly believe the epidemic of arm injury all the way down to the youth level would be almost eliminated while the advancement of performance measurements like ball velocity would continue to rise. The best chance for this to happen is at the bottom levels of the game, not the top. More little league coaches need to stop the trends of travel baseball showcases and tournaments and promote more player development like with the Gentile’s Taxonomy of Motor Skills with 3X Training for Pitchers.

Pitching Mechanics Reference:

  1. Wuest, S., Langenerg, R.V., (2013) Design considerations for a theory-driven exergame-based rehabilitation program to improve walking of persons with stroke. European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 11, 119 – 129.
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