We have talked a lot about the importance of building power through a good strength and conditioning program, but an often overlooked factor is mobility. Mobility is a huge piece of the puzzle to throw gas on the mound and I’m seeing more and more guys come into the 3X Velocity Camp with very bad mobility. The problem is that they are coming into camp and have no clue why they can’t throw 90 MPH, but we take them through our mobility assessment and they have terrible hip range of motion and trunk rotation. Not that these are the only two things we look at, but they are two of the most important factors for generating velocity. How can you expect to make gains in velocity if you can’t even get yourself in the positions that high velocity pitchers mechanics take you through? You need to start addressing your mobility issues immediately if you want to be a 90+ MPH guy because it is a critical component to the high velocity pitcher.
Hip Range Of Motion Correlates To Pitching Velocity
The hips are like the transmission of a car. You can have all the horsepower in the world, but if your transmission is shot your not going anywhere. Same thing for a pitcher you can have a ton of power in your legs, but if you have no range of motion in your hips, it makes it difficult to efficiently transfer energy created from your lower half to your upper half. In a study called Passive ranges of motion of the hips and their relationship with pitching biomechanics and ball velocity in professional baseball pitchers by Andrew Robb he found that hip range of motion adversely affected pitching biomechanics and ball velocity. Here is the results of his study: (1)
One hip PROM parameter (total arc of rotation) was significantly correlated with ball velocity. The biomechanical parameters found to have significant correlations with hip PROM were trunk separation velocity, pelvic orientation, and stride length.
So, mobility in the hips not only correlates to ball velocity, but it helps with trunk separation, better known as hip to shoulder separation, as coined by legendary pitching instructor Tom House. Two of the key components to velocity we said at the beginning were hip range of motion and trunk rotation, both of which contribute greatly to hip to shoulder separation. This study is telling us that by improving hip range of motion we will also improve trunk rotation, giving us more opportunity for hip to shoulder separation and therefore greater velocity. For icing on the cake, the study shows that good hip mobility also increases stride length which is an indication of more power from the lower half and perceived velocity to the hitter.
The Joint Mobility of the High Velocity Pitcher
Here at Top Velocity we have recorded the biomechanical movements of hundreds of high velocity pitchers and measured the joint ranges that their pitching mechanics use to generate their elite ball speed. Here is an average range of motion in each joint that is required to map their high velocity movements.
- Dorsiflexion/Planterflexion = 20/60 degrees
- Hip Internal/Extremal Rotation = 40/40 degrees
- Hip Abduction = 50 degrees
- Hip Extension/Flexion = 30/100 degrees
- Trunk Rotation Right/Left = 90/90 degrees
- Shoulder Internal/External Rotation = 50/160 degrees
Mobility Is Important To Developing Power
Mobility is important on the mound, but it is equally important in the weight room when developing an explosive lower half. We need good overall mobility to have proper squat technique and it is crucial for Olympic lifts. Both of these lifts are very important to building an explosive athlete in the 3x Pitching Velocity Program. You will not be able to squat and do Olympic lifts properly if you don’t have good mobility. If you can squat ass to grass while maintaining a neutral spine you have pretty good overall mobility. Jerzy Gregorek (this guy has some serious mobility) Olympic weightlifting champion shows us the proper depth and technique of the squat here.
Most of the time we are seeing in our 3x Pitching Velocity Camps that guys with poor mobility are having trouble performing the lifts correctly which is hurting them when it comes to developing elite explosiveness that high velocity pitchers have.
How To Develop More Mobility
We have established that mobility, especially hip mobility and trunk rotation, is crucial for pitching velocity, but we haven’t explained how to develop better mobility. We have all of our athletes spend time doing mobilization exercises everyday. We recommend doing some when you wake up, before bed, before workout (only if your mobilizing something keeping you from proper form), and after workout. The more you attack the problem the faster it is resolved. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring your flexibility and mobility because it is a very important piece of the puzzle for the high velocity pitcher. If you are having trouble with mobility check out Kelly Starrett at Mobility Wod. He has a bunch of great videos on YouTube and has a great book that we like called Becoming A Supple Leopard. Also, follow us on twitter @topvelocity/@stevenguadagni or instagram @topvelocity/@stevenguadagni for Mobilization Mondays where we will post one exercise every Monday that we use with our athletes.
Mobility Pitching Reference:
- Robb, Andrew J., et al. “Passive ranges of motion of the hips and their relationship with pitching biomechanics and ball velocity in professional baseball pitchers.” The American journal of sports medicine 38.12 (2010): 2487-2493.